Do you have to be fat to be strong?

Posted by Hans Lindgren DC on 10 March 2012 | 0 Comments


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.  

Post your comment

You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Login Here.


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments