T Nation

Fact or Myth: Some Just Weren't Meant for PL


I have been powerlifting on and off for 2 years now (mostly on, with a few months here and there where injuries/military schedule have set me back) and am happy with my results and am continuing to get results, but one thing I have always been unsure of is if my body type is right for powerlifting, and hopefully some day competing. Since I started training I went from weighing approximately 145-150 lbs and benching 175 lbs 1 rep max, squatting 185 1 rep max, deadlifting 225 1 rep max, to weighing 180-185 lbs and benching 265 1 rep max, deadlifting 405 1 rep max, squatting 315 x 8 (unsure of one rep at this time, had a large spike in gains and havent maxed yet).

I have a very slim frame (i still wear the same size pants as when I weighed 120) and am unsure if continuing to powerlift and gaining weight will be good for my body based on the fear that my smaller frame isn't going to be able to handle much heavier lifts. I really hope that this is NOT the case because I want to continue pursuing my goal of being able to some day compete. Let me know your thoughts, any feedback is greatly appreciated.


You will get stronger over time. In reality 2 years isnt that long of time.


I understand this, what I am getting at is that my bones are not going to grow in size, so should I be concerned with whether or not it is safe for me to continue to pack on muscle and lift heavier with my body type? It might sound like a silly question, but I am still curious if I have no reason to worry about it, or if I should actually worry about it.


2 years and a 40 lbs. bodyweight gain...nice. If you're going el' natural, I think you have less of a chance of gaining to the point where your body is going to break down. Between powerlifting and the military PFT, you should be in phenomenal shape...just eat as frequently as possible outside of that chowhall.


Actually lifting will increase your bone density.


So your main question is will it be safe to continue? With proper form and warmups, etc I don't see why it wouldn't be safe even if your body sucks at making progress. Unless you have some type of injury you are no different than the top power lifters except for the fact that your potential lifetime top 1RM numbers will be lower.

As far as competing goes you should do it because you want to and enjoy it. Everyone has different body types, may with some disadvantages but that doesn't stop them from at least trying.


I'm 5'6" and weigh 132. Last year I weighed 123 and competed squatting over 315. I'm neither young nor big boned. If you want inspiration for small boned lifters, check out the women that compete at 105lbs. They look like little dolls.

I'm not saying your a little woman. My point is that highly competitive powerlifters come in many shapes and sizes. Don't get the mind set that your frame will limit you. Your brain will limit you much more quickly than your build.


ANy human is meant for powerlifting. Your body adapt to stimulus provided you give it at least some amount of raw materials.....


it would be detrimental to your health to stop powerlifting, powerlifting is life without it there is nothing, but i agree with everyone else here our bone density will increase with the weights and with proper form u shouldnt have to worry bout anything


According to the Lander Formula your squat is around 395. That would make your total 1065 @ 180lbs bodyweight. If you weighed in at 181 lbs or less you would be tied for 17th place overall for the 2010 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation rankings. Look for yourself. That is really good considering you've only lifted 2 years. You can only go up from here.


People with certain builds and thicker joints might be better suited for PL than other people but that doesn't mean you should quit, it's probably not even something you need to care one bit about. It might matter at the very highest level but most never even reach that level, and I doubt it's that big a deal even then. Why don't you get there first before worrying about stuff you can't change?

You seem to be doing well so far, those are good gains for two years. Keep it up and don't let silly shit like this screw with your head, nothing good will come from that.



This Polish guy doesn't seem to have too massive a frame at under 67.5kg, but he's doing alright:


How the fuck do you get this strong..


Lift, eat, recover, repeat...

No one's built perfectly for this sport, but if its really what you want, you find a way to improve and keep going. As you put size on, your leverages will change and you may find that certain structural disadvantages can be overcome.

When I started lifting in 9th grade, i was about 5'10" and 180lbs and figured that my bone structure (narrow shoulders in comparison to my hips, somewhat short legs for my frame, little ass penguin arms) wouldn't allow me to hold a decent amount of weight. I graduated at 17yrs old, 6'1, 285lbs (played o-line all 4 years). Now, i'm 20 at about 270 with an elite total in PL after 2 full meets, hoping to get my pro total within 18 months... if theres a will, theres a way...


Thanks for all the feedback everyone, I guess I started thinking about this because I don't look like a powerlifter, I find it almost insulting when I get asked how to get in shape by losing weight because I am trying everything I can do to just the opposite.

I probably would have had even more gains, but between a shitty schedule, high metabolism, having few opportunities to get food during most long work days, sometimes not even being able to go to the gym because of work, and anytime we have to run long distances or do some type of cardio PT I feel like my progress gets slowed or even reversed sometimes.

I have fluctuated up to 175 back down to 158 back up to 188 and back down to 180 all in the last 4-5 months between an arm injury (hyperextended while grappling, not lifting) and having to run all the time. People would be much more likely to label me a "body-builder" than a powerlifter as a result of this, its pretty annoying and got me wondering about this whole "can my frame handle this" thing.

I legitimately did not know your bones also grow so that has me significantly more motivated than before about putting on mass and lifting. Thanks for all the information and advice everybody, I am convinced and really look forward to continuing training towards my goal.


The only thing that will hold someone back from improving themselves is their mindset. If you're a pussy, mentally, you'll never get stronger.

Physically, sure, there are optimal body types for PL, as there are for any other sport, but that doesn't mean you can't get better.

Keep at it, man.


Just remember that totals don't really tell the whole story. Look at your range of motion vs someone with shorter limbs. The biggest total in powerlifting doesn't really mean you're the strongest overall. There are only three lifts on a single plane. I know someone who can bench 400 at my bodyweight, but they have a short ROM with a barrel chest. It's no different than my 3 or 4 board press, when my arms are no longer in a disadvantaged position and I can push a lot more the same distance. These differences in body structure are more apparent in strongman because of the variety of events. One competitor will be good at the atlas stones where another will be better at the overhead press and vice versa. No matter how you look at it you should try to achieve personal records and not worry about comparing your lifts to others. It's like comparing apples to oranges.


In powerlifting, 2 years is like one day to a normal person. Be patient.


Like every other sport, not everyone is suited to become super-elite or a national or world level competitor. I would venture to say that most people can get stronger than they realize at first if they are smart, work hard, and stick with it. The other good thing about powerlifting is that you can compete for an entire career no matter what your natural ability. You also never know what your ultimate potential is until you try. Train consistently for 10+ years and you will get a better idea of what you true potential is.