Why powerlifters are fat?

I have noticed that most powerlifters do not have as good muscle definition as bodybuilders. That’s understandable, since powerlifters do not really care about the appearence of their body.
But the heavyweight powerlifters have no muscle definition at all. Most of them also have huge pot-bellies. Why?

Having muscle and having muscle definition are two very different things. Most competitive powerlifters have as much if not more muscle than bodybuilders, and it is hard, powerful muscle that sits under a layer fo fat. These guys are bulky, but their working muscle under the fat layer is NOT flabby.

A lot of “fat looking” guys are quite strong. In many cases, stronger than the buff guys.

In powerlifting it’s not only about muscle, but balance, and being simply from a physics perspective being heavy can assist you in counterbalancing, and adjusting for the weight as you attempt to hoist it.

See powerlifting myths

During competition season, you want to maintain as much muscle as is humanly possible. That means not being defined.

Why? :confused:

It’s not possible to gain only muscle, or lose only fat. That’s just not the way the human body works.

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I hadn’t thought of it, but I see the point. You can either try to look fantastic by having a very low body fat percentage with large muscles, or you can live with the fat and never sacrifice any muscle for any reason. You can’t slim down without losing some muscle probably. I’m saying this largely because it hasn’t been done. Look at the competetive weight lifters. None of them have been able.

The problem with muscle definition is a simple one.

I’ll take developing a six pack for example.

In general you need to go under 10% body fat for your “abs” to show through.

The problem is, it’s very hard to lose overall body weight and not interfere at all with muscle development.

Say you start off as someone simply way too fat, say 5’8" 260 lbs. As you lose weight you will gain muscle mass. But that’s because at that level you don’t have to do a lot to burn a lot of calories, but at the same time you’re still consuming enough food for muscular growth.

Building muscle requires input. Lots of the right kinds of food.

Bodybuilders have to constantly do a balancing act, they don’t want to eat too much food or it will create fatty buildups that hurt their physique.

If they eat too little, they soften up a bit, which also hurts their physique.

The powerlifter has decided they just want to continue building muscle, period. And it’s very easy for them to just go way over this “balance point” and simply consume far more than they need, that way there is always enough protein and such to build up muscle.

It’s theoretically possible to keep a bodybuilders body and become very strong. But so far not any human that I have known has been able to keep the balance so well that they can become a professional-grade powerlifter with a bodybuilder’s body.

Tony Atlas was a very well developed bodybuilder who won a lot of state-level powerlifting championships. But he’s one of the few exceptions and he never made it big time as a power lifter.

Typically the body fat% of a bodybuilder is lower than that of a powerlifter.

The raw strength of a powerlifter, the raw muscle size, is almost always superior to that of a bodybuilder.

You also have to remember that most of the world championship caliber powerlifters are just VERY big guys right from the get go. Most of them are over 6’5" and big guys like that just have a very hard time keeping fat off ANYWAYS.

I didn’t know that muscle and body fat were connected in that way. Thanks!

It isn’t that muscle and body fat are necessarily connected.

Though I should tell you that if you are working on getting a cut physique, weightlifting is part of it, but losing bf % is important as well.

If you’ve been working out a lot for a long time, and don’t have showing abs, then more than likely you have well developed abdominal muscles that are just covered by a bit of fat. Men have to get below 10% body fat to show their abdominal muscle.

A man can go down to around 8% in my opinion and that’s about as low as you should go and remain healthy. Honestly 12% a very good level, you don’t have abs, but I think you’re a very healthy person at that level and I think their may be some dangers we don’t know about at going way too low in bf%.

Anyways, back to the point. You need lots of calories and other nutrients to properly build muscle. And it is just a lot easier to build muscle if you are eating WAY more of everything than you need. Bodybuilders try to create a balance or “maintanence” diet where they eat roughly exactly what they need to keep their muscle mass/body fat in a roughly permanent stasis.

Powerlifters want muscle growth, period, so they eat as many high protein and other high-value foods as they can to just get as strong as humanly possible.

Usually all the huge ass guys that you see on tv lifting huge amounts tend to have not really a gut but not exactly a six-pack either, but once I was watching the MET-RX worlds strongest man or whatever that show is called and some of the guys that weighed nearly 300 and yet had a well defined six-pack and plenty of muscle…I imagine it is very difficult to be so large, muscular and defined at the same time so how do huge athletes like this do it…Would it be that much more difficult to be well-defined and still have a large amount of muscle.

Actually, plenty of powerlifters are short.

The only thing I can add to the discussion is that powerlifters tend to have large frames for their height; essentially, they’re bulked up uber-mesomorphs, which gives them a distinct mechanical advantage. You’re just not going to see gym-fit ectomorphs at the world-class level.

Don’t forget sumo wrestlers. They may be fat, but I certainly wouldn’t want to fight one.

Holy, I’m using a T-jack cite before Ultrafilter!

27 Reasons to be Big.

To be sure, this isn’t a serious answer, but it’s worth reading just the same. Check out “assuming the position.” :eek:

Heh. I was toying with the idea of posting that, and probably would’ve got around to it sooner or later.

:confused: :confused: :confused: I’m probably heavier than some of these powerlifters (well over 300 pounds) but I don’t understand some of these. Do these guys really get out of breath by walking 20 yards? Or have problem reaching their backside?

No lie, during competition season, these guys are fat and out of shape. The difference between them and the average American is that they can bench 600+ lbs.

Keep in mind too that these guys are going for lifting something once and maybe three or four times over the course of an evening’s competition. They really don’t want to waste time with the endurance exercises. In this case more muscle = more power and muscle takes a lot of energy (compare to distance runners, bikers, etc.).

It does strike me as odd that one would choose a sport that so negatively affects their quality of life.

I assume that powerlifters compete in different weight classes. Do the smaller (lighter) lifters have more definition? I thought a saw one of those “Olympic Moments” moments about a Greek lifter (actually of Greek descent but born elsewhere) who was pretty popular and he looked pretty ripped.

FTR, bodybuilders go through a bulk up stage, where they add fat and muscle before dieting. They add more muscle than is needed, so that when they trim weight and reduce body fat %, even when losing muscle mass, they fall back to the muscle mass desired and have gotten down to ridiculously low body fat levels.

A body builder would have a hard time trying to add only muscle, and not fat when in serious bulk up.

Power lifters arent’t going to sacrifice strength. Reducing one’s weight and body fat would jeopardize the strength gained.