Gymnasts vs. Powerlifters: Who’s stronger?

powerlifters-are-stronger-than-gymnasts

Can you even compare gymnasts to a guy like Doug Young? image via: bodybuilding.com; source: Powerlifting USA

Who’s stronger? Gymnasts or powerlifters.

Undoubtedly, powerlifters win this battle. They are much stronger than gymnasts regardless of what the online legends say.

Just compare elite gymnasts to elite powerlifters – the biggest gymnasts look like children next to the biggest powerlifters. I am sorry, bar stars, but powerlifters are simply stronger and bigger than you.


How much can a gymnast squat? Up to 1.5-2 times bodyweight depending on the training routine. In most cases, the number is under 350 pounds.

Who do you think is stronger? The average  5’5″ @ 135lbs gymnast with a hypothetical 2 times bodyweight squat (most cannot squat that) or the average 5’5″ @ 180lbs powerlifter with a 405lbs squat?

What about the deadlift?

When it comes to the deadlift, gymnasts do much better because the lift has a smaller range of motion and does not require as much quad strength.

Some elite gymnasts may deadlift a number close to three times their bodyweight if they have good proportions for the lift.

However, who’s stronger? A professional gymnast deadlifting 405lbs at 135lbs or a professional powerlifter deadlifting 600lbs at whatever bodyweight. The power guys still wins.

When it comes to the bench press, gymnasts do very well. There are rumors of gymnasts benching 2 times their bodyweight during their very first workout. Thus, pound for pound they have the potential to do as well as a gifted and dedicated bencher.

Nonetheless, the power guys win the bench battle too. Who is stronger? An average gymnast benching 275lbs at 135lbs bodyweight or an average powerlifter benching 350lbs at a higher bodyweight?

But gymnasts are stronger pound for pound.

The truth is that they are not. There are powerlifters in the lower weight classes deadlifting over 3.5 times their bodyweight.

But powerlifters cannot do gymnastic stuff.

Yes, but in this case, we are talking about pure brute strength – not skills, balance, jumping, acrobatics…etc. When it comes to absolute brute fucking strength, elite powerlifters outperform all gymnasts. That is a fact.

But gymnasts are light and ripped.

They are light because their sport requires it. If they had the legs and hips of a powerlifter, half of the stuff they do would be impossible.

Imagine a gymnast with massive legs and glutes playing on the rings with stuff like maltese and iron crosses. Who knows? Maybe after 20 years he will get there.

Gymnasts have no choice but to remain small in the right places. You have to do what you have to do.

“Powerlifters are fat fucks. Gymnasts will outperform them in every athletic event.

If we are talking about the heavy weight classes, this is true. Powerlifters often get really fat. However, I’ve seen plenty of shredded to the bone powerlifters in the lower divisions.

Besides, try putting a gymnast and a heavy powerlifter in a phone booth and tell me who’s gonna end up on top. {lol}

Denying the fact that a gymnast possesses a higher athleticism would be a blatant lie, though. If a gymnast tries to be a powerlifter, he would do average to good, but if a powerlifter tries to be a gymnast, he would do bad to worse to dead.

But powerlifters use a lot of steroids.

True. A big percentage of the strength and mass displayed by powerlifters comes from anabolic drugs. Steroids make you brutally strong compared to your natural self. Without the drugs, the records would easily drop by a few hundred pounds.

However, why do you think that gymnasts are natural? Compare the retro gymnasts to the modern ones, and you will be surprised, my friend.

Nevertheless, there are many elite level gymnasts who are truly natural. The sport does not require nearly as much drug abuse as powerlifting or bodybuilding.

At the end of the day, however, the question is who is stronger?

Therefore, steroid use does not change the result. Powerlifters have higher levels of brute strength. Can you even compare a tiny gymnast to a guy like Kirk Karwoski, for

Can you even compare a tiny gymnast to a guy like Kirk Karwoski, for example? Put them next to each other, and the gymnast would appear smaller than one of Karwoski’s legs.

Let’s get real now…

Unfortunately, it’s time to get back to our NATTY planet and admit the obvious – as natural lifters, we would be happy to have the upper body and even the overall physique of a pro gymnast. They are lean, muscular and athletic.

I can see why a natural would train like a gymnast, especially when it comes to the upper musculature. It’s effective, fun, motivating and does wonders for your athleticism. Moreover, you are required to stay lean in order to preserve your performance.

Nevertheless, I advise people to train with weights too. Basic weightlifting is more convenient and builds strong lower bodies.

People like that guy from Gymnasticbody.com (I have a story to tell, but will do it on another day.) always say that gymnastic bodyweight crap has a great carryover to lifting, but let me tell you something – barbell training produces superior and faster strength results because it’s scalable and basic.

Besides, why would you limit yourself? I have tried pure bodyweight in the past, and I have one word for it – boring.

That’s why I choose to “Jeet Kune Do” system.

Weighted dips? Hell, yeah!

Weighted pull-ups? Hell, yeah!

Squats? Hell, yeah!

Ring dips? Hell, yeah.

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