Are Powerlifters Really That Strong? Powerlifters may appear very strong but there is more to the story.

Powerlifting has always been a dick measuring contest.

Who is going to lift the most weight?

Who is going to be “the strongest man in the world”?

How can I add more plates to the bar?

Those are the questions constantly troubling the heads of motivated powerlifters.

The desire to lift heavy weights can become an obsession eating your from the inside out. Despite the obstacles and the obvious negative sides of the sport, powerlifters are willing to sacrifice a lot.

In order to achieve the highest levels of strength powerlifters train very hard, take a lot of steroids, eat like pigs and use supportive gear. They tell you:

“We do it because we love it and we want to be insanely strong.”

Question is: why would somebody give everything to become strong? Doesn’t that make you weak in real life?

Powerlifters may be lifting thousands of pounds but that’s just for the show. Unless you’re an insider you can easily be deceived by the number of plates on the bar. The truth is that powerlifters are much weaker than you think.

Powerlifters are only strong when they have the luxury of operating in perfect conditions. When you take them out of that artificial world and all access to steroids and large quantities of food is stopped, the numbers will drop tremendously. When you remove lifting gear, it gets even scarier. And finally, when you make the heavyweight powerlifters drop all unnecessary bodyweight, the records fall by 200 – 700+ lbs.

As they say : “Reality is stranger than fiction.

Pin Those Glutes, Baby!

Powerlifters often make fun of bodybuilders for being drug monkeys, but modern powerlifting has been built on steroids just like bodybuilding. The rise of powerlifting numbers and the rise of bodybuilding took place at the same time. The reason is, of course, the improvement of anabolic steroids.

Similar to bodybuilders powerlifters frequently visit steroid forums and carefully elaborate drug cycles. The small guys who have to fit in a certain weight class are taking drugs that don’t promote water weight gain while still offering tremendous strength improvements. This is why in the lower weight classes most powerlifters look like fitness models with super thick physiques.

The heavyweight lifters are also on a lot of steroids but not all of them are lean. Many live with 52 + inches waistlines.

However, there are also heavyweight champions that are lean and can compete in professional bodybuilding shows.

Kirk Karwoski, as natural as Ronnie Coleman

Kirk Karwoski, as natural as Ronnie Coleman

In the image above you can see the famous powerlifter Kirk Karwoski. He is 280 lbs at 5’8″ @ 11% BF. It shouldn’t take you a lot of time to realize that the above physique is impossible to achieve naturally – no matter how heavy you lift.

Belly Benches All Day, Baby!

Powerlifters are willing to bend the rules in order to put more weight on the bar. That’s why we get to see fat whales performing ridiculous things that are somehow supposed to be accepted as proper lifting.

One of the best movements is the belly bench press. The whole idea of doing a belly bench press is to shorten the range motion and be able to lift more weight. The famous bench shirt also contributes to this phenomenon since it changes the natural bar bath observed during a raw bench press. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised when you see a powerlifter sticking his gut out searching for contact with the bar during a heavy bench press attempt.

Related article: Why are powerlifters fat?

The shenanigans do not end here. The list of tricks that powerlifters use to make themselves look stronger than they are is long:



In order to squat heavier weights powerlifters rely on monolifts which remove the walking out part of the squat. This saves energy and allows the lifter to assume a really wide stance that would otherwise be impossible to recreate after a walkout.

As a result a lot more weight and lifting gear is being used. Whenever you hear that somebody has squatted 1200 lbs or something equally ridiculous the squat is usually performed in the described fashion.

Squat Suits And Bench Shirts

Powerlifters rely on squat suits and bench shirts in order to lift more weight. Depending on the tightness of the equipment sometimes over 400 lbs can be added to a lift. The world record for a raw bench press is about 720 pounds. At the same time there are people who can bench over 1000 lbs + with an army of bench shirts underneath.

Reduced Range Of Motion

Wenhua Cui from China @ deeps squats

Wenhua Cui from China @ deeps squats Note: There are powerlifters claiming 1 000 lbs squats who can’t squat 500 lbs in the style presented above.

Most powerlifters squat high. Reaching parallel is a thing of the past and even if it wasn’t, parallel squats are still not full squats.

You may not believe it but a 900 lbs Westside style squatter who uses a monolift, super wide stance and a few squat suits may not be able to do a clean, below parallel, walked out Olympic high bar squat with 500 pounds.


It’s also worth mentioning that powerlifters rely on incredible arching during the bench press. The things that people would do to just put a few more pounds on the bar seem to be lacking integrity and style.

Water Weight Manipulation

Many powerlifters lose ‘fake weight’ in order to fit in a weight class and lift more iron. A good example would be the popular powerlifter/bodybuilder Matt Kroc who has records in the 220 lbs class and when he achieved those records he was 240 – 250 pounds.

How did he fit in the weight class? He lost 20 lbs of water during the weight in which was a lot of time before the actual contest and he regained it all back for the contest. Is this fair? Maybe it’s fair according to the man made rules, but in reality that man was 240 lbs and not 220 lbs.

In conclusion

Powerlifters are very strong – there is no doubt about that. However, the sport can obtain a lot more style, if all of those cheap techniques to lift more weight are stopped. Unfortunately, this probably won’t happen since a lot of big egos will be hurt. This is why the big boys hate removing plates from the bar.

One comment

  1. Paul Grunt

    There is equipped and raw powerlifting – your article is about those who use gear. Not right to paint all of us with the same brush. I guarantee I am stronger than you – under imperfect conditions and no gear – and I am only one of many who fit this bill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *