Why are powerlifters fat?

Powerlifters are often accused of being fat and far from aesthetic. Many of the popular lifters have big guts and look like walking refrigerators. They have trouble putting on their shoes let alone tie them. Walking upstairs is like mission impossible.

Hugh Cassidy, powerlifter fromt the 70s

Hugh Cassidy, powerlifter from the 70s

An average person would never think these guys are training hard because they are just way too fat and unhealthy looking.

Does being fat help  you lift more weight?


Of course, honey! The fact that fat is not contactable tissue does not mean that it doesn’t help you lift heavier weights.

Being overall bulkier and heavier will always make you stronger in lifts like the squat and the bench press which require a stable base. You will have a hard time finding a strong squatter who does not have really big legs and bulky look. The lift requires it.

Out of the big three {squat, bench press and deadlift} the only exercise that does not benefit from being fatter and heavier is the deadlift. Having a huge gut may somewhat allow you to bounce at the bottom of the squat but it does not help deadlifting one bit. If anything, getting into position is harder.

As far as the bench press is concerned, it’s the lift the most affected by changes of bodyweight. The more weight you lose, the lower your bench press goes.

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

The sacrifice

Just like bodybuilders powerlifters are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Even if it means getting fat as hell. It’s no uncommon to see powerlifters eat beyond the point of exhaustion. The popular bench press specialist Scott Mendelson said in the movie Power Unlimited that he consumes about 10 000 calories to maintain his weight and strength. To give you a further perspective – this is about the amount an average person would eat in 5-7 days.

Being obese is certainly not healthy nor pleasant but the downsides seem to be less important to the obsessed powerlifters.

They are not all fat

To tell the truth most powerlifters aren’t fat. In fact, only the super heavyweights are truly fat. The guys from the lower classes usually have thick muscular development and would not have much trouble standing next to a shredded bodybuilder. The classes above 220 lbs – 100 kg is where most of the fat guys compete.

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?

Of course, powerlifters do take steroids. 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

For many following a strict nutritional regimen is extremely hard. Sometimes even harder than lifting all those heavy barbells. Being on a diet makes the experience of trying to get stronger a lot less enjoyable and harder.

image source: thoughtsandsquats.tumblr.com;

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