With his immense shoulders, mighty delts and regular high-placings in the formidable Mr. Olympia competition, Markus Rühl is one of the legends of 21st-century bodybuilding.
Yet, his journey to the top included both adversity and sporting disappointment.
Let me lift the lid on his incredible story, remarkable resolve and unfailing determination.
Markus Rühl Wiki
Date of birth: 22nd February 1972.
Height: 5 feet 10 inches (177.8 cm).
Weight: 273-315 pounds (123.8-142.8 kg).
Profession: Bodybuilder, social influencer and entrepreneur.
Nickname: The German Nightmare.
About Markus Rühl
Born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1973, it was never on the young Markus Rühl’s mind to become a swole mammoth.
As a youngster, he was a keen soccer player. However, his dreams of making it into the professional leagues were curtailed—suffering a knee injury at the age of 18.
His doctor recommended that he hit the gym to rebuild his leg strength. Markus Rühl was impressed by the definition he gained from resistance exercise, so he started working his entire body.1
He became totally addicted.
In four years, Marcus Rühl grew from an athletic 139 pounds to a serious 242 pounds. He entered his first competition—the Bachgau Cup—and took the overall victory.
Marcus Rühl progressed steadily through the local, regional and national ranks—finally gaining his Pro Card in 1999.
For the next decade, the German Nightmare regularly placed in the most prestigious bodybuilding competitions on the planet.
He retired from professional competition in 2010. Today, the Markus Rühl 2019 figure makes his primary income from his supplement and apparel line, Rühl’s Bestes.
He speaks little about his private life. Although, the Markus Rühl Alicja Krafczyk marriage was a widely reported story in 2017. Currently, he lives with his wife in Roßdorf, Germany.
If you want to hear more about his life from the man himself, here’s an interview with the behemoth.
Markus Rühl Net Worth
Those in the know estimate that Marcus Rühl has a net worth of around $1 million.
Markus Rühl Bodybuilding Career
Since gaining his Pro Card in 1999, Markus Rühl became a regular competitor in the bodybuilding circuit.
The golden period for him is generally accepted to be between the years 2000 and 2006. During this time, he won the 2000 Toronto Pro and the 2002 Night of Champions.
Furthermore, he placed fifth in the prestigious 2004 Mr. Olympia and third in the 2006 Austria Pro Grand Prix.
Here’s a brief overview of his career:
1999 7th place Grand Prix England
1999 4th place Night of Champions
1999 7th place Joe Weider’s Pro World
2000 1st place Toronto Pro
2000 5th place Grand Prix England
2000 7th place Mr. Olympia
2000 5th place Joe Weider’s World Pro Cup
2000 2nd place Night of Champions
2001 14th place Mr. Olympia
2002 8th place Mr. Olympia
2002 1st place Night of Champions
2002 2nd place Toronto Pro Classic
2003 3rd place Arnold Classic
2004 5th place Mr. Olympia
2005 5th place Mr. Olympia
2006 8th place Mr. Olympia
2006 3rd place IFBB Austria Pro Grand Prix
2009 3rd place New York Pro
2009 15th place Mr. Olympia
2010 7th place IFBB Europa Super Show
Markus Rühl Workout Program
For Markus Rühl, his workouts are all about the pumps. He uses these as an indicator of how he will train that particular day.
If he obtains a serious pump with the heavy iron, he’ll stick at it. If not, Markus Rühl will drop the weights and go for more reps.
Additionally, you can characterize his exercises by motion and control. Markus Rühl believes that ultimate muscles are built using the full range of motion. Furthermore, slow and deliberate extensions and contractions stress the muscles further, enhancing hypertrophy.
He adopts a powerlifting mentality. That is, the crucial element of effective mass gain is form—before weights or reps. He ensures that he performs each exercise correctly, squeezing the muscle at the uppermost part of the lift, for the most insane returns.
- Smith machine incline press 5 sets 12-4 reps
- Incline dumbbell flyes 5 sets 12-8 reps
- Dumbbell pull-overs (straight arm) 4 sets 12-8 reps
- Machine press 5 sets 12-8 reps
Here’s Markus Rühl pushing the chest hard.
- Front pull-downs 5 sets 12-6 reps
- Single-arm dumbbell row (incline) 5 sets 10-8 reps
- Seated cable rows 5 sets 10-6 reps
- Preacher curls 4 sets 10-8 reps
- Dumbbell curls 4 sets 10-6 reps
- Triceps push-downs 4 sets 10-8 reps
- Double-arm cable curls (standing) 4 sets 10-6 reps
- Single-arm dumbbell extensions 4 sets 10-8 reps
- Triceps extensions (cambered) 4 sets 10-6 reps
Here’s the German Nightmare working out his triceps:
Light cardio if required—although not recommended by Rühl himself.
- Leg presses 5 sets 12-4 reps
- Leg curls (lying) 6 sets 20-10 reps
- Hack squats 5 sets 12-4 reps
- Leg extensions 5 sets 20-10 reps
- Dumbbell shrugs 5 sets 12-6 reps
- Dumbbell shoulder press 6 sets 16-4 reps
- Upright row 3 sets 10-8 reps
- Alternating front dumbbell raise 4 sets 12-8 reps
- Lateral raise (bent-over) 4 sets 12-8 reps
- Standing lateral raise 5 sets 5-12 reps
Markus Rühl often utilizes one day per week to concentrate on a muscle group that he believes needs more attention.
Additionally, he will do heavy calf raises three times per week.
However, you’ll never find cardio in his training, considering it, in his words—purely for pussies.
Markus Rühl Diet
His philosophy is simple—eat constantly.
During the off-season, the Markus Rühl diet consists of between 7000 and 8000 calories. I’ve included a typical daily plan below, which is his bare minimum. He indicates that he consistently eats between these meals.
He once said,
“Eat crap, and you’ll look like crap…good food, this is what it takes to get huge. Unless you do this, don’t bother wasting your time training…it will just be for nothing.”
However, he’s also inconsistent. On other occasions, he stated that he eats whatever he wants—including junk food. What’s more, he rarely counts macros or calories—except when cutting.
- 11 ounces of oats.
- 100 grams of protein powder.
- One pint of low-fat milk.
- 2 pounds of bananas.
- Four pieces of cake.
- 100 grams of protein powder.
- One pint of full-fat milk.
- 14 ounces of noodles.
- 5 ounces of turkey breast.
- Three protein bars.
- 50 grams of protein powder.
- One whole pizza.
- Seven ounces of potatoes.
- 5 ounces of rice.
- Eight ounces of chicken.
- Seven ounces of tuna.
- 5 ounces of rice.
Take a look at Markus Rühl eating to the max with cheat meals.
Markus Rühl Now
Although he retired from professional competitions in 2010, Markus Rühl remains active in the bodybuilding industry.
In an interview, he explained that he originally wanted to make it big in the movies—seeing the success of Dwayne Johnson and the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Although he starred in a few roles (as himself), including Muscle to the Max, and Iron Fire: Lost Gains he didn’t achieve the success of which he dreamed.2
Markus Rühl wife says she enjoys spending more time at home with her husband now that he’s retired from competing. But, that hasn’t prevented the main man from pursuing other ventures.
He’s made numerous motivational bodybuilding videos and in 2018 launched a supplement line, Rühl’s Bestes.
Was Markus Rühl on Steroids?
Take a look at any images of the Markus Rühl biceps, and you know the answer.
When interviewers challenge him about his use of synthetics, his answer is always the same—bodybuilders are tested in competition. That’s his go-to response.
He also stresses that you make muscle gains by lifting hard and heavy every day of the week, not through steroid use.
Yeah, but it helps.
Noone can compete at the top levels in bodybuilding without juicing—you wouldn’t even get through the qualifying stages.
The stories are that Markus Rühl would brazenly inject in the middle of the gym. His peers indicate that his favorite bulking cycle included a stack of exogenous testosterone, HGH (human growth hormone) and insulin.
In the early 2000s, the development of his ‘roid gut pointed to synthetic usage. This excessive consumption led to the Markus Rühl death rumors—which are entirely untrue.
Additionally, in the off-season, he was huge. It’s highly improbable that he didn’t achieve dramatic cutting without steroids. His contemporaries allege that Markus Rühl was a fan of Clenbuterol and Winstrol.
Markus Rühl Before and After
From a complete novice to bodybuilding competition entrant—the Markus Rühl transformation took around four years. During this time, he gained 103 pounds.
However, as he hit the big time, including Mr. Olympia, he reached an immense 325 pounds.
Take a look at the remarkable amount of mass that Markus Rühl built:
Here’s a video illustrating the Markus Rühl weight increases through the years.
Markus Rühl Supplements
During the off-season, Markus Rühl backs up his calorie-heavy diet with carb-based mass gainers.
Additionally, he admits that his staples in supplementation are:
- BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids).
- Whey protein isolate.
Here’s a video of Markus Rühl discussing his enhancement use:
His own supplement line, Rühl’s Bestes, includes products such as protein (whey and casein), citrulline (for massive pumps) and BCAAs (for increased muscle protein synthesis).
Markus Rühl Quotes: Motivation and Inspiration
Despite his mammoth and imposing size, Markus Rühl is incredibly affable and soft spoken.
His words of wisdom and motivation have pushed struggling bodybuilders during times of doubt and fatigue.
Here are some of his wisest words:
“You either can pose right for the picture, or you can move heavy weights – you really can’t have both.”
“I don’t do this to be healthy. I do this to get big muscles.”
“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that the most productive exercises are simple and compound.”
“Bodybuilding starts in the head. Those who are not ready to go beyond their spiritual limits will never become champs. There are many smart asses, but only very few of them are bodybuilders.”
“I’m called the German Nightmare because I scare the hell outta you. You look at my physique and think, damn, how does he get that big? If you want it enough, you can scare the hell outta people too.”
“My departure from the stage was a difficult and well-considered step for me. However, it was never a farewell to bodybuilding. I will stay true to the sport forever. It is so much more than lifting weights, it is a way of life and shapes a man for his whole life.”
Markus Rühl Frequently Asked Questions
“How Tall Is Marcus Rühl?”
The Marcus Rühl height is 5 feet 10 inches (177.8 cm).
“What Happened to Marcus Rühl?”
He retired from bodybuilding competitions in 2010. Since that time, he has been concentrating on making motivational videos and promoting his supplement and apparel line.
“How Big Are Marcus Rühl’s Biceps?”
During his training career, his biceps measured 24 inches in circumference (in the off-season).
“Was Marcus Rühl Mr. Universe or Mr. Olympia?”
He was neither. Marcus Rühl never competed in Mr. Universe. However, he placed fifth in the 2004 Mr. Olympia, which was won by the superhuman Ronnie Coleman.
Marcus Rühl Summary
With his phenomenal shoulders, enormous delts and eye-watering traps—Markus Rühl is one of professional bodybuilding’s legends.
The problem was, he competed in an era that had the likes of the swole mammoths Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman. If not for those guys, he may have been more successful.
Yet, the Markus Rühl story is one of triumph from adversity. He didn’t allow his soccer injury to set him back. Instead, he reinvented himself as a bodybuilder.
He shows us that whatever life throws at us, we can use misfortunes as positives, powering us through to success.
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