Are Powerlifters Natural

More and more fitness enthusiasts are being encouraged to train like powerlifters in order to become big and strong. Famous authors of strength literature such as Mark Rippetoe and Pavel Tsatsouline have made barbell lifting popular among the youth, but they have also spread a lot of misconceptions because, just like everybody else, they decided to remain politically correct and are refusing to cover the drug part of the game.

Popular training gurus often bash bodybuilding and claim that mainstream training methods are inferior for natural bodybuilders who don’t have the luxuries of steroid users. While this may be true, in some cases, the very same men promote the use of routines prepared by professional powerlifting coaches and former champions such as Boris Sheiko, Marty Gallagher, Kirk Karwoski, Ed Coan and many more. All of the mentioned individuals were on steroids during their competitive careers and yet they are the poster boys for many of the popular powerlifting books, sold to ignorant beginning lifters. It’s not uncommon for a whole book to use professional powerlifters as examples of how one should train, while avoiding the drug topic completely. In fact, that holds true for 98% books written and sold in the USA.

That’s why a lot of young boys and girls are being left with the impression that for some reason powerlifting and the heavy lifting associated with the activity is somehow supposed to produce amazing muscle gains without the help of anabolic steroids or other muscle enhancing drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth because drug usage among powerlifters is as common as it is in bodybuilding. Yes, obviously you can get bigger by lifting heavy weights but nowhere near the level of the guys on the covers of fitness magazines and strength books. Not even close.


Powerlifters, just like IFBB professionals, are using a ton of gear (anabolic steroids, growth hormone, diuretics, insulin…etc) to get strong and ready for a contest. It is safe to say that the number of steroid free elite powerlifters is zero.

The number one factor determining strength and muscle mass is the male hormone testosterone. By definition, men produce 20 times more testsoterone than women. The differences between males and females, as far as strength and size are concerned, are apparent and you don’t need a million dollar survey to see it. This goes to show you that it would be foolish to believe that in era, when even table tennis players are using banned substances, strength athletes would say “No!” to doping. If anything bodybuilding, powerlifting and weightlifting sports where anabolic steroids are the heart of the activity. Take away drugs from sports and all records will be cut by 20-50%. The most apparent differences will be be observed in the strength & muscle department.

There are examples of former powerlifters, such as Matt Kroczaleski, who have successfully converted from professional powerlifting to professional bodybuilding. The two sports are similar enough to each other and allow transition. In his prime the weightlifting legend Kirk Karwoski had physical stats similar to an IFBB pro – his weight was about 280lbs (127kg), his body fat 8% and the size of his upper arms (biceps and triceps) – 21 inches. All of that muscle was packed on a relatively short 5’8” frame. Essentially, those are the statistics of a professional bodybuilder before a pre-contest phase during which the body fat is reduced to 5%. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Despite all of this, there is a new generation of aspiring natural lifters/bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts who continue to chase a pipe dream, and believe that by training “like powerlifters” they will be able to overcome the fact that a natural bodybuilder can only build so much muscle size. The common trend is to support the idea that exercises such as heavy squats and deadlifts increase the production of testosterone in the body, but until this day and age there is zero evidence to this, and even if it was true the amount would be minuscule and there would be absolutely no visible results. Lifting heavy weights may be a very hard thing, but just because something is hard it does not make it more effective than it is.

Another deception which gives hope to people that training like a powerlifter will turn them into mean machines is that there are a lot of misleading articles talking about the so-called powerbuilders. Powerbuilders are lifters who compete in both – powerlifting and bodybuilding, or at least use the principles of powerlifting and the three lifts (bench press, squat and deadlift) are the core of their routines. One of the guys to blame for this misconception is Michael O’Hearn who claims to be a natural bodybuilder, while being bigger than an IFBB pro from the 70s and 80s. {impossible!} First, he is not a natural bodybuilder, and second powerbuilding is not as effective as its supporters proclaim it to be. Money circulation in bodybuilding and powerlifting has always been based on finding new and “revolutionary” ways to train, which in return are supposed to generate more revenue from merchandise sales.

The popular powerlifter and coach Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell has said in many of his interviews that he’s been on anabolic steroids for over a few decades and the only way to get as strong as physically possible is to use drugs. Virtually all of his serious athletes, part of Westside Barbell, are using performance-enhancing drugs to break records.

To summarize:

  • elite powerlifters carry as much muscle mass as IFBB professional bodybuilders;

  • elite powerlifters are extremely strong and compete against the best in the world;

  • lifetime professional coaches such as Louie Simmons have openly admitted usage of anabolic steroids among powerlifters;

  • there are athletes like Matt Kroczaleski who show that converting from elite powerlifting to IFBB level of bodybuilding can be done fast;

The good old quote by Robin Cook goes: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck!” holds true once again, but in the end, everybody should be free to make a personal choice.

{you decide!}

Disclaimer: NattyOrNot.com does NOT support the usage of illegal substances. The content above is solely for informational purposes and is NOT written by a medical professional. The website is not responsible for any kind damages that may be caused by the uploaded articles – the very same way a knife seller is not responsible for the actions of his clients. Be wise – love yourself and your body.