Perfect Body for Powerlifting

Ideal Body Dimensions for PowerliftingYou may be asking yourself, have I got the ideal body to become an elite powerlifter ? am I to tall/short ? are my arms too long and my legs too short ? In this article I take a look at the data from several powerlifting studies looking at the human body and how it performs in the sport of Powerlifting.

Key body variables for Powerlifting

World records show that male powerlifters in the lighter bodyweight divisions can lift in excess of five times their body mass in the squat and deadlift and over three times their bodyweight  in the bench press.  It has been suggested that powerlifters have very specific body characteristics that are of great advantage in developing max strength (Bale & Williams, 1987; Brechue & Abe, 2002; Mayhew, McCormick, Piper, Kurth, & Arnold, 1993a) .Powerlifters are in general, average to below average height, have high body and fat-free mass and have greater than average trunk and limb thickness, however a range of other body variables could also influence powerlifting performance. ((Brechue & Abe, 2002; Mayhew et al., 1993a; Mayhew, Piper, & Ware, 1993b)

The other body variables in Powerlifting

Based on biomechanical principles for third class levers, the shorter the lever, the
less work and torque are required to lift a load (e.g. the barbell). powerlifters who are of average or below average height with proportionally short limbs appear to be at an advantage compared with taller lifters with longer limbs. Powerlifters also possess a relatively large bony structure with wide dense bone mass (Johnson et al., 1990; Katch et al., 1980; Marchocka & Smuk, 1984).

Powerlifters anthropometric dimensions


Powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters tend to be  endo-mesomorphic (Bale & Williams, 1987; Pilis et al., 1997). compared to Bodybuilders who are balanced mesomorphs.

The Bones

Powerlifters have thicker bones in comparison to similarly sized Bodybuilders,with this being most evident in the bi-iliac (hip), femur, and humerus (da Silva et al., 2003; Fry et al., 1991; Johnson et al., 1990).  The powerlifters large bone structure allows for the accumulation of greater muscle mass per unit height (Mayhew et al., 1993a, 1993b). Thicker and heavier bones typically have an increased ability to withstand the massive compression and shear forces imposed on the body during powerlifting training and competition (Escamilla et al., 2000).

Lever Lengths (Body Proportions for Powerlifting)

Generally speaking, any powerlifter with a short stature will have a mechanical advantage over a taller lifter with other differences evening out across the three lifts, however studies have shown significant difference with stronger lifters having a significantly shorter lower leg than weaker lifters. (The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(8):2256-65 · October 2009).


A short torso and femur provide a mechanical advantage for the Squat.

Bench Press

Bench Press requires a thick  torso, combined with short forearms.


Long upper arms are an advantage for the serious deadlifter. A shorter torso also  improves the leverage in the deadlift.


See Also Journal of Sports Sciences, October 2007; 25(12): 1365 – 1376


Don’t forget, I am available for private fully qualified coaching in Gympie and the surrounding areas.

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5 Comments on "Perfect Body for Powerlifting"

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Cullen Griffin

I think I have a pretty good deadlift. I weight 200lbs and my max is 500lb at the moment. I’m 5”11 , but have a 6ft wing span. It’s weird , but I certainly can agree that that I have a slight advantage on my deadlift having longer limbs. Great Read.


My brother loves exercising and he is now buying some lifts to add up to his routine but he has thin bone structure, I dont know about it and he is just training by himself now, can you give some advice on where to start?


In my point of view, powerlifters should have the ability of continuation and practice a lot. The powerlifting has 3 fundamental things which are well eating, the exercising and start-up. It helps to promote heart health. I actually did not know that the short people have different mechanical over the tall people.


Hi there! I am lifting some weights but not doing heavy lifting, I don’t go to a gym. I just do it in my house. Just lift dumbbells weighing 2 kilos only and then lift my whole body with my feet using those dumbbells. I have a scoliosis by the way. Is it okay what I am doing? I feel that there are changes within my muscles. can I continue what I am doing?