Powerlifters are heavy, fat, and strong. Does that sound like a contradiction? It’s not. A typical powerlifter has a high body fat percentage, but they’re also able to lift super-heavy weights. How is this even possible? Whether you’re an athlete, coach, or just someone who enjoys reading about other people’s experiences with exercise, you probably know that strength training can help you lose fat and gain muscle.
Why Are Powerlifters Fat?
The short answer is: because they eat a lot of food. But, powerlifters tend to eat more than the average person because they need more calories and protein to build muscle and recover from training. This means that most powerlifters are constantly ‘dirty bulking’ and gaining weight, despite their constant efforts to lose it. The result is that most powerlifters have above-average body fat levels, which makes them appear fatter than they are. I’m 5 foot 11 and weigh 80 kgs, with 14% body fat. After spending 1-year lifting weights I’ve gained 4 kgs of muscle & 1 kg of fat. My friends with average body fat are now calling me ‘Skinny’.
How Does Powerlifting Help You Lose Weight?
1. Jump-start your weight loss
Let’s start at the very beginning: with weight loss. Powerlifting can help you jump-start your weight loss program as well as maintain your weight loss goals afterward. That’s because it burns fat and calories at a rapid rate. If you do it right, you can expect to burn up to 1000 calories per workout! On the other hand, if you’re doing cardio exercises, you can expect to burn only about 200 calories. That’s a significant difference! Weight loss can happen rapidly with powerlifting, but it’s not guaranteed. It all depends on your diet after your workouts. If you’re not careful, you can gain weight from powerlifting!
2. Strengthen and tone your body
Another benefit of powerlifting is strengthening and toning your body. You might think that when you’re lifting heavy weights, you’re just building muscle and nothing else. You’re wrong! When you power lift, you engage your entire body in the exercise. You engage your core muscles, your arms, your back, and even your legs. The result: more toned muscles and a slimmer, healthier body! If you’re new to lifting weights, you might think that you need to start with really light weights and slowly progress to heavier and heavier ones. Nope! You can start with really heavy weights and still progress to even heavier ones!
2. Develop muscle density and strength
Another benefit of powerlifting is developing muscle density and strength. As you lift heavier and heavier weights, your muscles get larger and denser. They also get stronger and tougher. That’s one reason why powerlifting is so good for athletes. It can also help you to prevent injury when lifting heavy objects or doing other activities. Having strong and denser muscles is especially important for women. That’s because aging is accompanied by a reduction in muscle density and strength in women. Powerlifting can help prevent that!
3. Burn calories while resting
Another benefit of powerlifting is burning calories while resting. We’ve already talked about how powerlifting burns a lot of calories during the workout, but it also burns calories while you’re resting! Anaerobic exercise like powerlifting increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR is the number of calories your body burns while at rest. It’s the difference between the calories you burn and the calories you take in. If your RMR is high, your body burns more calories and fat than if it’s low.
How Does Strength Training Help A Powerlifter?
1. strength training prevents possible injuries.
A lot of people who lift heavy weights often develop shoulder impingement. This is caused by the acromion process, which is the boney part of your shoulder that your rotator cuff muscles and ligaments are attached to. Over time, lifting heavy weights with improper posture can cause the acromion process to impinge on your rotator cuff, which causes inflammation and leads to pain when lifting anything with your arms above your head. If you are a powerlifter and want to prevent this from happening to you, then strength training is going to be your best option. The reason for this is that you won’t be lifting weights as heavy as a bodybuilder would be lifting anyway. When you are lifting lighter weight with good form, you aren’t going to damage your rotator cuff or impinge your acromion process.
2. Strength training builds muscle.
While you might think that powerlifters are trying to drop muscle mass and lose weight, that’s not the case at all. Building muscle mass is very important when you are trying to improve your powerlifting performance. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. This means that if you have more muscle, you will be burning more calories throughout the day, even while you are sleeping. Building muscle mass and increasing your strength are both going to help you to improve your powerlifting performance. When you have more muscle, you have a higher metabolism and you can eat more calories without gaining weight. This is great for powerlifters because they have to be very disciplined with their diet to make sure they are eating enough calories to spur muscle growth without gaining too much fat along with it.
3. Strength training builds core strength and stability.
The core is essentially the center of your body when you are standing upright. This includes all of your abdominal muscles, your lower back, and your pelvic floor. Having strong core muscles is extremely important for lifting heavy weights because it gives you more flexibility and stability when lifting. Not only that, but it also helps to prevent injuries from occurring. When you are lifting heavy weights, there is always a risk of your lower back being injured. Having strong core muscles not only helps to support your lower back but also helps to distribute the weight being lifted more evenly across your back. Having good core stability also helps you to maintain good posture.
4. You’ll have more discipline when dieting.
One thing that powerlifters have to be very disciplined about is their diet. If you are serious about competing in this sport, then you know that you have to be very strict with your diet and make sure you are eating the right amount of calories every day. This is especially important during the off-season when you are gaining muscle mass. But if you are struggling to stay disciplined with your diet, then you may need to add in some type of strength training routine to help you stay on track. Adding in resistance training will not only help you to build muscle when you are trying to gain weight, but it will also help you to control your cravings while dieting. While dieting, it can be hard to stay disciplined and maintain your focus since you probably aren’t seeing results as quickly as you would like. Adding in some strength training will give you something else to focus on and keep you disciplined.
The Dangers of Being a Powerlifter
- One of the dangers of being a powerlifter is that you’ll become sedentary. Lifting heavy weights is a significant effort and is not conducive to everyday activities.
- You’ll probably need to reduce your daily caloric intake to maintain your weight. If you do this, it’s common to have less energy to engage in other activities.
- This can lead to a sedentary lifestyle that’s bad for your health. It’s important to remember that powerlifting is a sport.
- It’s okay to enjoy it, but it shouldn’t become your whole life. You need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating right, and taking the time to enjoy other activities.
The Importance of Body Composition for a Powerlifter
- Body composition refers to the ratio of fat to muscle in your body. Powerlifters don’t need to be ripped, but they do need to have a higher body fat percentage than athletes in other sports.
- A powerlifter should have a body fat percentage that is high enough to support their strength goals. As an example, the current powerlifting world record holder has body fat in the low teens.
- If you have too little body fat, you’ll have trouble recovering between workouts. You’ll also be at risk of injury because your joints aren’t supported by enough cushioning.
- If you have too much body fat, you won’t be able to lift as much weight. This can decrease your performance and prevent you from hitting your potential as a powerlifter.
Powerlifting is a great way to build strength, but it’s also a great way to gain weight. For many powerlifters, gaining weight is the desired outcome because it will allow them to lift heavier. If you want to gain weight, you need to lift heavy and eat a lot. Beyond that, you can use various supplements to speed up the process. If you’re already a powerlifter, there’s no reason to gain even more weight.