T Nation

Apparently Bodybuilders Are Not Very Strong

I’d like to get the opinions of bodybuilders on this topic.

Wrote in another forum, “ BBing is not a strength sport, and most of them are in fact not very strong -“

My point was that one cannot have muscles as big as a bodybuilder WITHOUT being strong.


google “ronnie colman deadlift video”

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Bodybuilders are often quite a bit weaker than they look though, to say they are not strong is a fairly daft statement. Of course it does depend who you are comparing them to though.

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Ronnie had a Powerlifting background and is an exception, as I noted in the other thread. My overall point having been that BBing is the pursuit of hypertrophy and aesthetic, not strength. They are separate goals with separate approachs. I meant it, and stand by it. People that think different are going to have trouble reaching their goals and setting up their training. BBers would not train the way a Strongman or PL competitor would if they wanted success in their sport.

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The word “relative” was used. As in, relative to the average couch potato, sure they’re strong. Compared to other lifters in other pursuits, or even many men who do hard physical labour for a living, they usually are not strong.

It should be noted, the argument arose from the poster stating unequivocally that E2 is more androgenic than testosterone and more of it would only result in greater hypertrophy and gains. Just to be clear.

Bodybuilders have strength capacity that is not accessible because of the way they train. If Kai Greene or Phil Heath dedicated a year to strength training, their numbers would shoot up.


Exactly. It was not a slam, just a point of fact. They don’t train for strength, and OP is unaware of that as a possibility.


The argument that bodybuilders are weak always annoyed me, because they are not training for pure strength. Judging bodybuilders on their strength makes as much sense as judging powerlifters on their muscles, or strongmen on their Olympic lifting total.

Also, whenever they’re judged on their lack of strength, it’s usually on the 3 powerlifts, which many bodybuilders don’t even do after a certain point, and on their relatively low 1 RM, which they aren’t even training for. There’s a big skill element to the 3 powerlifts and having a big 1 RM that has little to do with “strength.”


You have to define the terms before any real debate can occur.

What is “very strong”?

Within the continuum of

untrained regular guy---------> world record holding pure strength athlete

I’d put an accomplished BB’r much closer to world record holder than untrained guy.

In fact, after thinking about it for a moment, they would overlap.


Well, usually you’ll see that the pursuit of one feeds the other at least somewhat so I’m not too keen on the word “separate”.

That doesn’t invalidate this statement though,

But then there are strong bodybuilders too. And it also depends on whom you count into the group. People that consider themselves bodybuilders? People that others believe to be bodybuilders? People that compete in bodybuilding? At what level?

I’m not sure that argument was made. Just that they aren’t “very” strong. But I agree with your contentions.

This’ll really define this thread.



No I’m not. I understand the difference between the goals of a power lifter and a bodybuilder. If I had to guess, I’d say that the average bodybuilder is stronger than 95% of the population. When someone is stronger than 95% of the population, I’d say that puts him in the “very strong” maybe even the “elite” category.

“Most bodybuilders aren’t very strong” is an ignorant statement.

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Maybe not very strong, but compared to most people, every jacked bodybuilder is far stronger.


I actually thought it was another forum outside of T-nation for a moment, but it wasn’t,

Can I ask though if you believe that

will do anything other than foster further disagreement? By weighing in your tone in that thread, and the creation of this one, I have a hard time imagining that you are looking for anything else other than for people to pile on, against, a statement another member made but I’m extending you the benefit of the doubt.

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As a 47 year old on TRT no where near my peak strength, I have a walk in off the street in shorts and a T-shirt raw squat of over 500 lbs, and i can pull 500 lbs for reps. This is no where near

levels of strength. Halfthor is taking a run at the current DL record of 500kg. So, how many BBers of any flavour are lifting what I lift? And I am no where near WR levels in any lift right now. Am I stronger than 95% of the population? I doubt it very much. I have lifted with many guys, from PLers to Strongmen to a BBer with an NPC card. The BBer was massive, and didn’t squat with more than 405 lbs. That was a lot more than the other BBers were using. Was that weak compared to the average Joe? Nope. Was it weak compared to Pro level guys in PL or Strongman? Yep. Sure was. And that is not a slam in any way, this guy knew what he was doing and was doing it very right. It just isn’t useful for the goal to pursue 1RM strength. I’ve seen plenty of guys that do not lift at all that are seriously strong, and I have worked construction with large BBers that couldn’t carry what I carried and did as a 13 year old boy on the job site.

So is one of three men in the world the only person out of billions to compare body builders to?


He’s One of the top three strongest in the world.

It’s a continuum man, not a dichotomy.


Nope , with the exception of Flex Wheeler all the all-time BEST bodybuilders were bull strong in one way or the other

Kevin Levrone
Shawn Ray
Lee Priest etc etc …all have videos of training super heavy at some point

Arnold benched 500, deadlifted 700

Both heavy progressive overload/strength work and focused pump n contraction work is necessary for most regular Joe’s


Hafthor also weighs 193 kg (425 lbs).

Again, your metric for what constitutes strong will ultimately dictate this. If it’s in relation to BW, then a bodybuilder deadlifting twice his bodyweight would be more adjacent to a world record holder than an untrained person starting off with a barbell (while there are physical labor workers that start better off than that you cannot simply omit that a large part of the world population is legitimately weak).

And also what @SkyzykS said :slight_smile:

You qualified it as World Rcord level being the overlap, so I used a WR number.