In my experience, the vast majority of guys who are concerned with body comp and making a specific weight class aren’t even close to optimally filling out their frame for powerlifting-specific performance. I think too many guys see these genetic outliers like John Haack and think that they can keep progressing in powerlifting while looking like a physique competitor (Haack’s frame/build makes no sense for the weight he moves, drugs or not).
Case in point, Haack and Gibbs next to each other. These guys are roughly the same weight and similar totals, but holy hell look how much taller Haack is! Gibbs, in my mind, represents a more typical powerlifter build, and Haack is just a freak.
A while back I came across something I think was published by Shieko, a table of optimal weight class based on a lifter’s height.
Most guys I’ve met who are fairly lean (under 20% BF) are quite a ways off from these targets. However, everyone is sold this dream of “lean gains” that promise you can get big and jacked without ever losing your 6-pack. So they’ll gain a bit of weight, lifts will go up, then they “cut” back down, lifts go down, and 2 years later they’re still 30 lbs under their ideal body weight and have barely made any improvements to their totals. But hey, they still have that 6-pack!
If anyone is in doubt of how gaining weight affects your performance, try this simple experiment. Test your maxes, calculate your Wilks. Then spend 6-months eating like an asshole, with the goal of trying to gain AT LEAST 15-20 lbs. Test again and see how much your Wilks went up. I damn near guarantee that unless you’re starting at a higher body fat % (above 20%) your Wilks will have make a significant improvement.
I know Wilks is not perfect, but for an individual and sub-50 lbs weight difference I think it’s a valid tool for making relative strength comparisons.
Sorry I know this is all sort of rambling/ranting… it just pisses me off how many guys short themselves on performance for the sake of body composition.