Do you have to be fat to be strong?
I have competed in Natural Body-building for quite a few years now, but this year I have decided to see what I can achieve in Drug-free Power-lifting instead. My training has changed to some extent to be more strength based, and I’ve added some extra exercises that will help me in the lifts. I have been researching the lifting techniques and in doing so I have come across a lot of information basically saying that you have to eat big to lift big. One of the first questions I would like to answer for myself is why so many power-lifters carry extra useless weight (are fat), and if there is an actual advantage or is it just an excuse to indulge? Coming from a body-building background I know that I will lose strength at the end of competition preparation, when body-fat is unhealthily low. I feel really strong and healthy around 10% body fat, so why would you then have to look like a pregnant man to lift heavy?
I have decided to perform my own little experiment:
Back-ground information on my Powerlifting plan:
- As I’m 53 years old I will compete in the M3 division (50-54)
- I feel my best just over 90Kg (90-92) so I have decided to compete in the 100Kg class (90-99.9Kg) (In body-building I usually compete at around 85-86Kg). My weight at the Powerlifting Novice Qualifier (5th Feb 2012) was 99.5Kg, and I actually had to take my shoes off at the weigh-in to even make my class.
- I intend to go on a slow diet to get rid of unnecessary fat (I don’t like being this fat!) until my strength gets affected. I personally think I can reach 90-92Kg without losing any strength. The Australian Championships are on July 19th so there is plenty of time to get ready.
I cannot see the advantage of the extra fat. We cannot flex the fat and in both dead-lift and squat the legs have to lift the fat around the waist as well, and I would rather have an extra 10Kg on the bar instead.
In Power-lifting, the lifts (squat, bench and dead-lift) are added together to make a total figure. In my case I am aiming for 180+150+220Kg which will give a total of 550Kg. A formula is then used so that the total gets multiplied with a number according to your body weight. The heavier you are the smaller the number is. For example if I would weigh in at 99Kg my total gets multiplied by 0.5565 which gives a total of 306.1Kg, but if I weigh in at 90Kg it gets multiplied by 0.5853 which gives a total of 321.9Kg. This means that if I can lift the same amount at 90Kg as I would at 99Kg the total weight would automatically be 15.8Kg better. Lose 8-9Kg which makes me feel (and look) much better and I would be more competitive at the same time…. Hmmmm, let me think about that!
These extra 8-9Kg I have been walking around with for a little while now actually interfere with my mobility and I can feel that it is even changing my posture. There is no wonder that people with big stomachs have sore backs!
For me it seems so obvious that a Power-lifter who competes in weight-classes, where you get penalised for every extra kilo you carry, would benefit from coming in as light as possible without losing strength.
The question I will answer to myself over the next couple of months is how fat do I really have to be, to be as strong as I can. There must be an optimal power-lifting weight, and I intend to work mine out.