Powerlifting Made Me Gain Fat Around Belly

I would assume you have a relatively low volume for your training days.

  • Start incorporating higher volume for your main lifts so to aid more caloric output.
  • After going high intensity for your main lifts, kick back and work on lighter weights on assistance movements. Even consider doing supersets or increasing time under tension for your assistance movements. This can increase your heart rate (which comes hand in hand with caloric output) at the same time it doesn’t neglect your main lifts and can even benefit them in the long run. More muscles > More potential for strength gains.

That would be one hell of a world though.


Calories in VS Calories out is likely the issue but there could be some weird hormonal thing, we’re not Doctors, go get some blood work done if you’re super concerned.

As for powerlifting making you fat- what exactly is your training compared to your previous training style?

How do you KNOW you’re in a caloric deficit, what are you basing your macros/calories on? What’s your height, what’s your weight?

You’ve given us virtually no information to go off of.

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Not exactly contributing much to this discussion but maybe you’re just gaining trunk mass. What was your training like previously and how does it differ now?

This was my thought as well. In the past couple of years I’ve gotten thicker through the middle despite staying in the same weight class. This is evidenced by the need to move my belt to new holes.

CT wrote an interesting post about this recently.

Ok sorry guys for the total lack of info. Here is the real deal here:

My training INTENSITY has gone up immensely but you guys are on spot with the volume being lower. Most of my life I have been doing endurance based activities (mostly extreme sport and martial arts), and for the past 2 years my training has looked like this: (I did powerlifting for a while 2-3 years back, but when I moved and couldn’t afford a gym membership that changed.)

Main sport was (still is during winter when the swell is big) surfing, especially big wave surfing. Lots of paddling, lots of getting pounded by waves, 2 hours is a ‘quick’ session and when the waves are firing it’s more around 6-8 hours of water time in a day, often for 3 days in a row. During flat spells I’d be working with kettlebells and with a big tire, doing everything from kettlebell sport (mostly with a pair of 20kg bells since that is the heaviest pair I have, and my heaviest single is 28kg, when I had access to heavier bells I’d work with a pair of 32kg bells, so when dropping down to the 20kg bells my volume went crazy) kettlebell juggling, tire flips, and all kinds of conditioning type work. Before surfing basically took over my life I did martial arts for about 8-10 years on top of school sport (mostly rugby and athletics) and skateboarding for hours. My average amount of hours doing some sort of physical activity of a decent intensity was around 20 hours a week minimum. With powerlifting this has decreased IMMENSELY, but the intensity of the workouts limits me to around 3-6 hours a week, due to the need to recover. On top of that I’m ALWAYS hungry, as my body just WANTS to grow, since I’m doing both high intensity and high volume. I do however control this by making sure as much of my diet as I can control (I live with others and dinners are more often than not out of my hands, although it tends to be healthy, lean meats with veggies and some starch.) is weighed and my macros and calories counted to make sure I don’t overeat. I did however only start doing this about 3 weeks ago when I noticed that I’m gaining fat. Most of my work is 70-85% of my 1rm but I make a point of it to do at least 1 rep with a minimum of 90% of my 1rm on whatever specific lift I’m doing. Look, I’m still lean by most standards (11% bodyfat) but I’m used to being around 6-8%, maximum 9% during the festive season. (I’m in the southern hemisphere, so Christmas is in summer and most of the crazy stuff I do happens in winter.) I have one big issue though, if I want to get to my goals in powerlifting I can’t start doing an excess amount of endurance training. How do I get my body to stay in single digit body fat while focusing on pure strength?

Be patient and diet smart and make gains slowly. This is why if you go to a powerlifting meet you will see guys and girls of all shapes and sizes. Its not exactly advantageous to to stay at single-digit bodyfat while also training to get bigger and stronger.


Yea this is what I realized looking at powerlifters. But quite frankly I miss abs so defined that it turns into an 8-10 pack. I miss having veins on my fucking abs. But quite frankly, I can’t complain about what happened to my arms and legs, it’s flippin amazing. I’m just one of those idiots who wants everything at once. But I think if I do 6 weeks of pure powerlifting training and diet, getting to 12% bodyfat, followed by 2 weeks of mixed training till I’m at 8% bodyfat. (It doesn’t take me too long.)

Oh yea, also, I’ve been under quite a bit of stress the past while, and that is probably the number one cause of WHERE the fat went.

As many others have covered, the basics of it is calories in vs calories out so if you feel you have put on weight, fat in particular, then you are either eating more than you think and an appreciable amount of calories are slipping through the cracks somewhere, or you have your numbers set too high for the volume of training…simply put if all that vigorous activity before burns an average of 400 calories more per day than you do now in powerlifting and you havent tweaked your calorie intake to match that, that’s where it’s coming from. Also have you actually gone and gotten a more in depth bf test done to be sure? If you said that your other skin fold measuring spots have decreased, but your bf has increased around the stomach that screams insulin sensitivity possibly. Without seeing every detail of what you calculate and do it’s hard to try and give definitive answers, but someway, somewhere, you are missing something based simply on the pretty much immutable cal in vs. cal out.

You can still do a lot of conditioning while powerlifting. Granted, you have to ease into it.

Basically, it’ll kind of look like HIIT. Do something really intensely like sprint push a sled or battle ropes or sledge hammer or heavy bag work for 15 seconds then rest 30s. Rinse and repeat for 10-30 minutes.

In addition, you can also do some feeder workouts. Start with just some light easy accessory work meant to prevent injuries and build muscle balance like TKE’s, band pull aparts, ultra high rep band tricep extensions and some light bodyweight or db work. Start with 2 15 minute sessions. Normally, it takes a long time to work up to 4 30 minute sessions, but with your background, it might not take long at all.

Regardless, if any of that is taking away from the main training sessions, you’re doing it wrong. It’s easier to do too little and add, than it is to do too much and subtract.

I know Louie Simmons, head of Westside BB, has tons of good info on conditioning, feeder workouts, and doing assistance work that can help immensely with body comp. Like supersets, trisets, giant sets, 2-4 minute sets where you can rest but never let go of the weight.

If you like your abs so much, go back to your previous routine and drop the powerlifting.

In all honesty, your training intensity hasn’t gone up. You only just started strength training or what you like to call it, “powerlifting”.

What were your gym lifts before you started “powerlifting” and what are your current lifts? What’s your height/weight? Attach photos of what you used to look like and what you look like now.

Call me crazy but the issue isn’t powerlifting, the issue is you. I’ve friends who compete in the physique category who mainly train using a powerlifting styled program.


Powerlifting didn’t make you fat. Eating too fucking much made you fat.


If I’m trying to up my strength(which is different from gaining muscle) I generally train more singles in the 75-90 range trying to move them as fast as possible. Keeps the volume low and works your absolute strength.

After the main work, I use very high reps and light weight; sets of 20-50 using a combination of bands and light dumbbell work. It allows me to get a pump and push blood to the areas I worked without lifting heavy and putting on anywhere near as much muscle as if I was using medium weight for lower reps.

For instance, if it’s a bench day, I’ll work up to a few heavy singles. Then hit the triceps, delts, upper back and biceps for 1 or 2 sets each of very high reps.

The biggest thing is nutrition. You want the energy to lift heavy so carbs are good on training days. If it’s a non-training day, then try and keep it mostly fruits and veggies for carb intake.

Training more than 4 days per week probably isn’t a good idea if this is your goal. No matter what, there’s always gonna be a tradeoff.

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lol It’s obvious with some of these replies that some guys barely read the thread while others actually read it and has some good and honest advice.

Ok, so here is the breakdown:

I realized the reason for the gain around the belly while my overall fat percentage remained relatively stable. I gained a total of 4% bodyfat over the course of 2 and a half months. I didn’t get ‘fat’ I just didn’t like where the fat was gaining was going. (Instead of evenly over my body, it all went to my abdomen and suprailiac.) During this time I also gained a pretty huge amount of muscle which is pretty damn awesome.

Now, I lost half of this 4% I gained at this current point in time. (I started my efforts to lose it about 5 days ago, so this is quick as fuck.) How? Quite simple, I added 2 things to my training while keeping my diet stable. After my heavy lifting I do 20 minutes of conditioning. Similar to how most of the exercise I got involved my abs (surfing requires constant core stabilization, sex is self explanatory for anyone who’s done it right, martial arts is obvious, most if not all of it involves core and abs) I made sure to do core-based work. So no spin-bike. I did 10 minutes of rowing machine followed by 10 minutes of kettlebell snatches. Doing this after lifting heavy, while my metabolism is through the roof, proved very effective. The fact that it stimulated blood flow to the abdominal and oblique region also helped a lot. Fat sizzling away quickly. Best part, it didn’t affect my strength performance, and actually helped with recovery. Today I took my Deadlift from 510lb to 530lb, without even realizing it. (I miscounted the weight when loading the bar, due to the gym having gotten new plates and me just slamming them on there after my previous set of 5, trying not to lose the mental space that the heavy set gave me.) So in the end I figured out that the problem lied in the type of exercise my core was getting didn’t promote blood flow to that region, which affected how much fat was used in that region for energy. (Which would explain why at a caloric deficit I’d lose fat everywhere but there.)

Just btw, I didn’t ‘get fat’. I’d hardly call 11% bodyfat ‘fat’. I just gained fat in the wrong areas. In any case I’m at 9% now, my abs are defined again, and I’m happier than ever with my body. Much more muscle, and almost the same amount of definition as before. I’m going to continue cutting till I’m at 7% then I’ll slowly build again till I get near 10% before cutting down to as lean as possible while keeping my strength up. Oh yea, I’ve been eating slightly more since I changed my training to compensate for the extra work. Just so some of you know, I calculated how much calories I was burning, what my metabolism was, and established the amount I needed to consume, made sure 30-40% of it was from protein (40% in off days due to lower carbohydrates and fats) and that the remainder was split evenly between fats and carbs. Also, I avoided starch as far as I could and focused on getting my carbs from fruits and veggies except on lifting days.

Are you actually getting your bodyfat% measured?

Interesting theory. So all you need to do is get blood flowing to certain areas to lose fat, huh? I don’t even know what to tell you.

I seriously doubt you could reduce your body fat by 2% in 5 days. Its probably water retention. Nothing you are saying here makes much sense. Go read some books on sports nutrition. Or just switch to bodybuilding because you seem to be obsessed with ab definition.


Umm…am I the only one scratching his head over this thread? I must be getting stupid as grow old :cry:


Op…what is your Height and weight?

Um…ok , kind of explain why your bodyfat % went up considering you dropped some training volume… would also explain why it was in single digit in the first place.

Side note: Love how only on the internet people act like single digit BF% is the norm. Considering old timers in the know have stated that Arnold won the Mr.O at 8 %.


What?! Is there any scientific literature to back up what you’re saying?

Oh and answer the freaking questions mate, we need some context.