In the sport of powerlifting, the body plays the role of a human crane. Consequently, the champions exhibit extreme physical density. The denser you are, the more efficiently you can lift. To take advantage of this principle, many iconic powerlifters, usually taller competitors, undergo epic bulking periods to join the superheavyweight division and reach their full potential. Below, I present to you four of them.
John Kuc (b.1947) from Kingston, Pennsylvania is one of the most legendary powerlifters of all time although many zoomers haven’t heard of him.
Kuc was the first man to squat 905lbs/410.5kg [ace-bandage knee wraps only] and total 2300lbs/1045kg in a major international competition with strict judging. He did at the AAU World Powerlifting Championships on November 11, 1972, as a superheavyweight weighing 322.25lbs/146.4kg.
One of Kuc’s major motivations to reach that bodyweight was to improve his squatting leverages. In 18 months, he went from 242lbs/110kg to 330lbs/150kg. To reach that number, he force-fed himself. Rumor has it that together with his training partner Jim Williams he would overload on bananas after their workouts.
In an article entitled “Advanced Squat Training”, John Kuc says that he witnessed a direct correlation between squat strength and bodyweight gains:
“For every 5-lb. increase in bodyweight per month my squat jumped 10 lbs. There were no tight suits, thick belts or good knee wraps at that time either. I think that says a lot for bodyweight’s positive effect on squatting leverages.” [source]
Later, John Kuc went on a massive cut; he reduced his calories to 2200 and did extra walking as a form of cardio. He dropped 100lbs/45kg and reentered the 242lbs/110kg class as a much leaner version of himself. His bench press and squat went down 100lbs, but his deadlift improved.
In 1980, at IPF Men’s World Powerlifting Championships, John Kuc totaled 1000kg/2200lbs as 242lbs lifter and set a world record. His lifts at the competition were:
Squat – 377.5kg/829.4lbs
Bench press – 227.5kg/500lbs
Deadlift – 395kg/869lbs [world record]
Truman Hugh Cassidy (b. 1935) is a former powerlifter who in 1971 became the first superheavyweight world champion with a three-lift total of 2,160lbs/981kg. To win the title, he performed the following lifts 100% raw [not even knee wraps]:
Squat – 800lbs/363.6kg
Bench press – 570lbs/259kg
Deadlift – 790lbs/359kg
To improve his levers, Hugh Cassidy (5’10/178cm tall) did a massive bulk which took him from 185lbs/84kg to 300lbs/136.36kg and earned him the nickname “Huge”.
Hugh decided to upgrade his bodyweight after analyzing the height to bodyweight ratios of the present champions.
How did he bulk up? In a detailed article entitled Hugh Cassidy: The Thinking Man’s Strength Strategist Marty Gallagher (one of Cassidy’s powerlifting students), explains the bulking process as follows:
“To add muscular firepower, to become thick with muscle, Cassidy force-fed himself, like a sumo wrestler. He purposefully and methodically and routinely and ravenously ate 5,000 + calories each and every day.”
Besides a former champion powerlifter, Hugh Cassidy is also a metal sculptor and a jazz musician.
George Leeman (b.1991) also known as “babyslayer” on the Internet is one of the most popular contemporary heavy-bulking powerlifters. His journey began when he was a 15-year-old teenager weighing 200lbs/90.9kg.
By the time he was 19 years old, his bodyweight had reached 385lbs/175kg. At the peak of his bulk, he could overhead press 350lbs/159kg whereas his squat and deadlift were well over 700lbs/318kg.
However, after an injury and a period of depression, Leeman decided to lose weight. He dropped 150lbs/68kg in 18 months and got in a shape surprising many of his online followers.
In September 2012, George Leeman [21y.o.] deadlifted 380kg/836lbs in the 140kg/308lbs weight class in a USPA (United States Powerlifting Association) contest.
In 2015, Leeman won another prize, this time as a superheavyweight, by deadlifting 909lbs/413kg and setting a new raw American deadlift record.
George Hechter (b.1961) is another powerlifter who joined the superheavyweight class through dedicated bulking. Before choosing the path of the barbell, Hechter was a high-school wrestler stopping the scale around 175lbs/79.5kg.
At 16 years of age, he met the strength coach Bill Starr who encouraged Hechter to lift. The same year, Hechter entered his first competition already weighing 223lbs/101kg. Hechter fell in love with powerlifting and continued to compete.
To become a superheavyweight lifter, he bulked up by drinking three gallons of milk every day [3xGOMAD for short.] [source].
In 1985, George Hechter competed in a USPF meet in Honolulu and set one of his best totals – 1075kg/2365lbs as 160kg/352lbs lifter. His lifts from the meet are as follows:
Squat – 437.5kg/962.5lbs
Bench – 265kg/583lbs
Deadlift – 372.5kg/819.5lbs
Just like the other men on the list, George Hechter decided to get leaner at one point. He lost 126lbs/57.272lbs and acquired “Hollywood looks”.
Does fat make you stronger?
In barbell lifting, extra weight helps, even if it’s lard, by adding stability and “cushioning”. As surprising as it may sound to some, a fat beer gut makes it easier to get out of the bottom of a squat. Ditto for huge fat thighs.
Anyone who’s ever bulked can confirm this. Once the fat is gone, there’s less “architecture” to support you; it’s harder to lift.
If the extra fat was entirely useless or detrimental, powerlifters wouldn’t be carrying it. At the end of the day, they do everything in their power to turn their bodies into ultra-efficient bio forklifts.
Should I bulk if I am natural?
Naturals who bulk heavily always end up fat and unattractive. Unlike roiders, natties do not have huge muscles countering the effect of lard on one’s physique.
The more muscle you have, the fatter you can be without getting negative points for it.
For instance, a guy with a massive pectoral musculature has an easier time camouflaging his gut. Meanwhile, when your belly is 1-meter “ahead” of your chest, it becomes the body part instantaneously captivating the crowd.
But the scholars say that I need to carry 3.5lbs per inch of height. What does this mean?
It’s a formula for reaching “proper powerlifting density” [lol].
If you are 5’11” tall, the output is: 71×3.5=248lbs/112kg
In reality, natties cannot reach those numbers without turning into sumo wrestlers.
Moreover, similar formulas do not take into account the fact that people have different skeletal mass and structure. Don’t try to satisfy those numbers.
Can I gain more muscle mass if I bulk up?
You will not break the natty limits by force-feeding yourself. It’s literally impossible. No amount of food can overwrite the body’s inbuilt growth mechanisms and limits. Only anabolic steroids can do that which is why they stimulate hypertrophy so effectively.
It’s true, however, that a man carries more lean mass in a “bulked up” state. In other words, when you bulk up, you gain some lean mass that isn’t present when you are lean, but those gains inevitably evaporate when you go on a diet.
When you take into account the total amount of the supplementary lard-induced lean gains and the fact that some of it is water, you will understand that the benefits received from living the life of a fat brah aren’t that big when you’re natural.