Why are powerlifters fat?

Many popular powerlifters are in possession of big unaesthetic guts, resemble walking refrigerators, and experience significant difficulties in putting on shoes. An average person would never think that these guys are training hard because they are just way too fat and unhealthy looking.

Hugh Cassidy, powerlifter fromt the 70s

Hugh Cassidy, powerlifter from the 70s

Does fat help you lift more weight?

Even though fat isn’t a contractile tissue, it allows you to lift more.

The extra bulk makes the squat and the bench press easier. For example, when you are at the bottom of a squat, the extra fat around your waist clashes against the thighs. This results in extra tightness and respectively a rebound. When you bench, on the other hand, the extra bulk reduces the range of motion and provides more stability.


Out of the big three (squat, bench press and deadlift), the only exercise that does not benefit from extra fat is the deadlift. It’s harder to get into a proper deadlifting position when you are a fatso.

Conclusion: Fat helps 2 out 3 lifts. Seems like a good reason to get fat, doesn’t it?

The sacrifice

Just like pro bodybuilders, powerlifters are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The popular bench press specialist Scott Mendelson said in the movie Power Unlimited that he consumes about 10, 000 calories every day to maintain his weight and strength. This an amount that the average person consumes in 4-5 days.

At the end of the day, being obese is certainly neither healthy nor pleasant, but the downsides seem to be acceptable to the obsessed powerlifters.

They are not all fat

Honestly, most powerlifters aren’t fat. In fact, only some of the heavyweights are truly fat. Many guys from the lower weights classes are even ripped.

The reason why the powerlifting world is always associated with obesity is that the heaviest guys are usually among the strongest and get more exposure.

Do powerlifters take steroids?

Yes.  As Louie Simmons from WestSide Barbell has said ”You cannot be as strong as possible without taking steroids.” You can read more on that subject here.

Dieting is hard

Following a strict nutritional regimen is extremely difficult, sometimes even harder than lifting heavy barbells. Being on a diet makes the path to strength a lot less enjoyable.

image source: thoughtsandsquats.tumblr.com;

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