A professional athlete’s body needs to be trained and conditioned in order to keep up with the rigors of a competitive sport — especially the hard-hitting, high-flying ones. An enlarged physical stature isn’t just mean-looking, it’s a necessity that factors into their skill sets. For instance, positional players like linemen or linebackers in football need to build up their arm strength to essentially overpower their opponents on the playing field. It also doesn’t hurt that a jacked up athlete looks pretty intimidating too.

These workout warriors take pride in flaunting their menacing muscles. I would too if I was bold enough to look like a balloon animal. On a more serious note, if you haven’t seen the type of strength training that these guys endure, you should definitely take a look. It’s absurd. Considering that they’re playing against the best of the best in their dedicated sport, it makes sense for them to religiously grow their muscles until they burst from the immense pressure. It’s just the nature of the sport.

Considering that they’re playing against the best of the best in their dedicated sport, it makes sense for them to religiously grow their muscles until they burst from the immense pressure. It’s just the nature of the sport.

This list covers the most pumped up athletes that are currently playing the game. Although there are plenty of candidates, these select few are the ones that “curled” their way to the top. Their vein-bursting biceps are very much a representation of their iconic identity.

Here’s a fun fact, one of these players even has multiple stories covering the evolution of his arms, I’ll let you be the judge of that one. Also, I’m sure most of you would agree with me that very few would want to be matched up against any of these guys, regardless of the sport.

15. Shawn Oakman

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If you aren’t familiar with the Baylor standout, I recommend that you start by searching for all the memes that were made in honor of him. They’re not just inappropriately hilarious, but they also showcase the incredible size of the man’s arms.

The defensive end also possesses an extremely long reach that spans nearly 36 inches. This is an absolute blessing for a defensive lineman and is a valuable asset that scouts tend to like. Although Oakman’s lower body needs some work, needless to say, he still anchors a massive physical frame that is an absolute force to be reckoned with. The Internet meme sensation declared for the 2016 NFL draft and is expected to be a major wildcard.

14. Steve Weatherford

via muscleandfitness.com

via muscleandfitness.com

Honestly, do you expect a punter to look this jacked? No, stereotypical punters should not look like this. They should be the scrawny guys on the bench. Weatherford on the other hand, has the body size to play safety in the league, heck, even linebacker if he wanted to.

The 6’2″ 230-pound punter works out maniacally. With six days of bodybuilding workouts and one active day of rest, he has the physique that people covet. Featured in several health and fitness magazines, Weatherford constantly showcases his astounding work ethic and continues to be a motivational figure for people looking to get in shape. My hats off to you Mr. Weatherford. And to think, this guy weighed around 100 pounds in high school.

13. James Ihedigbo

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The 32-year-old strong safety remains one of the burliest safeties in the National Football League today. His justified work ethic pays only partial tribute to the physically gifted body that he routinely takes care of. And, judging by the looks of the guy, he sure does take good care of it.

The high-velocity hard-hitter is an avid fan of total-body workouts. His fundamental approach to working out also factors into his style of play on the field. If you’ve seen Ihedigbo play, you know how hard he lay’s the hammer down on his foes. They’re what you call, emotionally scarring.

12. Samantha Stosur

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Australian professional tennis player has received waves of attention due to her incredibly sculpted biceps. They’re large, they’re mean, and they’re intimidating. Honestly, would you really expect to see an athlete have these types of arms in the sport of tennis? …Neither would I.

The 32-year-old even has a Twitter account dedicated to her arms — odd, but interesting nonetheless. Her awe-inspiring upper body strength helps her deliver that nasty serve that she’s known for. What’s her secret? Five days of intense training that involves boxing sessions, swimming, and weights. And get this, Stosur doesn’t even do bicep curls.

11. Mariusz Pudzianowski

via wikimedia.org

via wikimedia.org

Over a decade ago, Pudzianowski was an iconic figure in Strongman competitions. Today, he’s fighting in MMA. How does one transition from an event that relies on brute strength to one that requires agility, endurance, and tactical maneuvering?

The former Polish ex-bodybuilder was a high-profile signing when he initially joined MMA. After years of competing in Strongman events, it was time for a change of scenery. In 2009, his first bout with boxer Marcin Najman was an entertaining display of pure power. A series of heavy-fisted blows gave Pudzianowski the first win of his MMA career. Although his journey has been relatively turbulent given his inexperience, Pudzianowski’s dedication to the sport has led to a drastic improvement in his fighting approach, even at the drop-off age of 39.

10. Alistair Overeem

via mmamania.com

via mmamania.com

The former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion has an impressive build, no doubt about that. But what’s even more striking, though, is the movie-like transformation that his body went through over the span of his career. If you compare his frame now to how it was back in 2000, you’ll see what I mean.

“The Reem” stands at a lengthy 6-foot-6. He now weighs 265 pounds, mostly muscle mass. That’s a pretty drastic change from his earlier days.

Honestly, going from being skinny and lean to looking like a comic book character requires brutal training and patience, especially when height comes at a disadvantage. It’s safe to say that you don’t need to question Overeem’s discipline, his massive frame says it all.

9. Rob Gronkowski

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Most of you all know “Gronk”. He’s built like a semi and he’s known to drag defenders helplessly on the ground while bulldozing his way to the end zone. The tight end is also one of the pivotal pillars of the New England offense, when he’s healthy of course.

Gronk has also appeared in several fitness magazines that paid homage to his freakishly large body frame and his larger-than-life biceps. The gifted athlete has also been known to stay in “Hulk-esque” shape the entire year. That’s 365 days of going full-Gronk, considering those active rest days and the “mandatory” party boat leave.

8. Clay Matthews

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

When I think of Clay Matthews, the most resonating image that comes to my mind is when he sacked 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and mocked him by imitating his trademark bicep kiss. To add further insult to injury, he also prodded the QB when cameras picked him up saying, “You ain’t Russell Wilson, bro”. Cruel, but still entertaining. The guy’s a fearless predator, and he’s not afraid to let that loose that both on and off the field.

The 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the Year is undoubtedly the anchor of a somewhat stout Green Bay defense. The outside linebacker’s ferocity and unwillingness to give up on every play has driven him to elite levels and many consider him to be. Not only that, but he fights tooth and nail every time he hits the gym. His work ethic is unquestionably on another level, and he carries the guns to prove it.

7. Jamie Cudmore

via bcrugbynews.com

via bcrugbynews.com

Rugby is a sport that is littered with muscular athletes. Literally, they’re terrifying physical specimens that collide full-force into each other until they come out bruised and battered.

Now, there are guys in rugby that are quite large in stature, and then there are guys like Jamie Cudmore.

The colossal Canadian is well-known for his brutal display of power, as evidenced by his cranial-busting hits. His soul-consuming tackles come at a price, however. His unruly behavior has landed him in the doghouse several times, along with receiving numerous bans for going toe to toe with anyone that came his way. The testosterone-laden rugby star still plays today.

6. Arthur Zanetti

via rio2016.com

via rio2016.com

Olympic gymnasts are a rare breed. Their combination of size, skill, and mobility allow them to compete at the highest levels of competition. Now, if you have ever watched gymnastics, you probably know that most of the athletes are physically well-built. Arthur Zanetti is no exception. The 25-year-old gymnast out of Brazil is in the best shape of his life.

One of Zanetti’s finest achievements came in 2012 at the London Olympics when Zanetti gave Brazil its first Olympic gymnastics medal in the form of gold in the artistic gymnastics rings event. The following year, Zanetti received recognition at the 2013 Brazilian Olympic Awards. With an already impressive career resume on hand, I for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds for this strong-armed champ.

5. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey

via sara-clark.co.uk

via sara-clark.co.uk

The 28-year-old English native has to be one of the most muscular sprinters in the sport today. Think about it, the guy runs for a living, yet his arms are built like a tree trunk. What’s the need?

In 2005, Aikines-Aryreetey was awarded the “Rising Star of the Year” award by the IAAF as well as the “BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year” award in the same year. In 2006, he landed Gold in the World Junior Championships in Athletics.

Aside from being an accomplished sprinter, Aikines-Aryeetey is also an avid workout fanatic, as evidenced by his muscular frame. His workout routine consists of low rep, high-intensity sessions that just sound excruciatingly painful. While many have questioned his decision to “bulk up”, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for the guy as he continues to find success, provided he stays healthy.

4. Giancarlo Stanton

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

If Giancarlo Stanton isn’t launching 479-foot homers and embarrassing pitchers across the league, he’s in the weight room keeping himself in prime physical shape. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound powerhouse is one of the few elite hitters in the major league today and continues to make headlines with his ferocious swings — i.e. broken video scoreboard.

The Marlin slugger has made several appearances in magazines worldwide for his enormous physical frame. Needless to say, the guy keeps himself in great shape. His offseason workouts consist of routine heavy weight lifting mixed with speed exercises to maintain mobility.

3. Brock Lesnar

via ahdwallpaper.com

via ahdwallpaper.com

The former MMA heavyweight fighter was what you would call a “bull in a China shop”. He was devastatingly strong and fought with such brutality and strength that you would almost feel bad for the guy standing on the other side of the ring. Although he’s permanently done with Mixed Martial Arts, as he signed a contract back with the WWE, he still deserves a nod for his impressive physique.

Lesnar is in a class of his own when it comes to hard work and mental endurance. Growing up in a small rural community out in South Dakota, Lesnar learned the grueling lessons of life at an early age. It’s been said that the former fighter would even lug around tree logs while doing his chores for fun.

2. Adrian Peterson

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Known for his crafty moves and explosive acceleration, the Minnesota running back remains one of the league’s top offensive weapons. It doesn’t hurt that he also has one of the most vicious stiff arm’s the NFL has ever seen —  remember that 64-yard touchdown play against the Browns? Nasty.

Peterson also sports an incredibly large pair of vein-bursting biceps. His freakishly large upper body only compliments him in his downhill power-running style. At 30 years of age, Peterson continues to punish defenders game after game. Truthfully, it didn’t even seem like there was any drop-off in his production after a year off from the game. The physical aberration continues to prove to his coaches and to the NFL that he is an elite running back. Typically, you’d see these types of backs start to lose a step with age. But, we’re talking about “All Day” here.

Typically, you’d see these types of backs start to lose a step with age. But, we’re talking about “All Day” here.

1. Laron Landry

via performgroup.com

via performgroup.com

Laron Landry isn’t human. His cringe-worthy biceps are built like a damn freight train and furthermore, he’s taken over the throne as social media’s gym God. Somehow I don’t even think he’s done “nurturing” his arms either.

Landry is best known for his brutal hits on the field (and his less-than-impressive coverage skills). The 31-year-old is currently a free agent and is still looking for another shot in the NFL.

If you’ve followed the former safety throughout the entirety of his career, you would agree with me that his conceived “growth spurt” is ludicrous. The thing is, Landry already looked like a stud when he entered the league back in 2007. However, it soon became apparent that he wasn’t just striving for greatness, but also for muscular asymmetry. Congratulations Laron, you look like a real-life action figure.

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