Why Do Strongman Look Fat? – [Here’s Why]

I’m sure you have a mental image of an athlete that is close to mine when you hear the word athlete. Regardless of the sport, it’s normally someone slim and athletic, with a six-pack thrown in for good luck. This is particularly relevant when picturing gym-goer lifting weights.

So, why do certain fitness competitors, such as strongmen, weightlifters, and powerlifters, seem to be overweight? It defies logic for someone at the high standard of a power sport to be both obese and overweight.

Believe it or not, it makes perfect sense, and here’s why.

Why do Strongmen look fat? Strongmen that bear a lot of fat are usually included in the free category, where there is no weight restriction. Being bigger helps a powerful competitor to carry more weight, so applying fat to their bodies functions in their favor.

But this isn’t the whole picture since sometimes strongmen competitors don’t bear a lot of weight, so why do others have fat and some don’t?

Reasons Why Strongmen Look Fat

 1- Genetics

There are no two power athletes exactly. They can look alike in that they both have a lot of muscle, but genetics still play a part. If you look closely, you’ll see that each athlete has varying quantities of muscle in different body parts.

One strongman competitor may have massive legs and quads but lack arm size, while another may have massive shoulders and chests but lack leg size.

Not just that, but height and body dimensions play a significant part in a power athlete’s physique. When you look at how each of the lifts, you can tell.

Brian Shaw is a prime example of this. Check out this video and see how he deadlifts in comparison to a more traditional deadlift. This is attributable to the dimensions of his frame. This is the only approach for him to deadlift based on his biology.

Not just that, but genetics play a significant role in which various athletes succeed and struggle.

When you raise weights, you would more likely find this. You can be automatically fine at bench press and shoulder press but fail with squats.

This is popular in Strongman as well. Also, the best and most committed power athletes fail for such activities.

So, what does this have to do with Strongman being overweight?

We just discussed how genetics influence your (and any strength athlete’s) body, strengths, and weaknesses.

However, being the best all-arounder is the aim of a strongman. To be effective in Strongman, a competitor must excel in all competitions, rather than excelling at one and stumbling at others.

As a result, each competitor must interact for their own body to prepare in such a way that they are at their best in any situation.

For others, this means being lean and slimmer, while for some, it means packing on a lot of weight to become heavier, fat included.

Any strongmen competitors do well because they are fatter and stronger than others. Speed and distance competitions often favor younger, leaner competitors, although this is not always the case.

2- Societies Expectations

We are continually taught in our modern world how unhealthy and harmful it is to be overweight. Being severely overweight or obese may result in a slew of health issues, including premature death.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that becoming overweight or obese is synonymous with leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

Not just that, but there is a shame associated with being obese, which is a major cause of depression and distress for thousands of individuals in Western society.

When you combine this with the reality that gyms and weight training are synonymous with shedding weight and improving one’s body, it’s plain to understand where this idea of what a strength athlete might look like stems.

Is Being Fat as an Athlete Even That Big of a Deal?

Gaining weight and shedding fat is also the highest concern for many people. Stronger and leaner, it’s the best of all worlds.

However, everyone’s aspirations and expectations vary, and for certain individuals (including powerlifters and strongmen), intensity is the name of the game. Body and beauty take a back seat and aren’t as critical to some individuals.

This goes even deeper for elite strength sports, where athletes can deliberately add on weight to get an advantage over others, they couldn’t care less about how they appear.

Eddie Hall, in his later years as a strongman, is a prime illustration of this.

People can often press and take risks to gain an advantage over other players, which is the essence of competitions. This applies to every sport or competitive endeavor.

As a result, often fitness athletes and strongmen would add massive quantities of weight in order to gain dominance at the expense of their wellbeing. It’s not valid for any competitor, but it was definitely true for Eddie Hall, who acknowledged that his body size wasn’t manageable in the long run and decided to shed a ton of weight after winning the World Strongest Man title in 2017.

Advantages of including extra weight in a strongman

When it comes to adding power and weight, it is usually very tough to do so without also losing overweight. Muscle, strength, and fat are both intertwined. For this cause, many athletes, including bodybuilders, will go through bulking and cutting processes.

This maxim, of course, extends to natural athletes; nevertheless, certain laws may be twisted with the aid of a variety of dubious external substances.

When you look at nature, you can see that powerful animals, such as bears and hippos, like to wear fat on their bodies.

As long as you are not morbidly obese or severely overweight, you might say that holding a little extra fat in the search for strength and muscle is more normal and healthier than getting totally shredded and sliced as we see in the media all the time.

Furthermore, having a little additional body weight while performing heavy lifting is more likely to shield the joints and organs than getting fully shredded. This is, of course, a generalization that can differ from person to person based on their biology, as previously mentioned.

Strongman vs Bodybuilder [KEY Differences]


Are strongmen considered obese?

Obesity is common among pro-strongman athletes and superheavyweight powerlifters because, in order to get as strong as possible, incorporating fat together with muscle is unavoidable.

Lifters who are heavy in their weight division carry relatively less extra body fat in the lower weight groups (97 percent of powerlifters).

Are strongmen healthy?

Strongman as a discipline is not linked with many fatal health problems. The most serious “health complications” are joint and tissue injuries caused by pulling uncomfortable, ridiculously large loads for as long as possible.

Are strongmen stronger than bodybuilders?

It takes a ton of calories to achieve the strength standards needed to be called an elite-level strongman. Strongmen are much tougher than bodybuilders and they prepare for maximum power, while bodybuilders only show off their sculpted muscles.


Strong men often seem fatter than they are because they have a lot of muscle across their midsection to hold their bodies upright when doing hard presses, squats, and deadlifts. To the untrained eye, it may resemble a potbelly when coated in fat.

Powerlifters consume plenty to ensure optimal strength increases, and often create weight, in order to obtain the most strength possible. Bodybuilders feed to maximize muscle gain but not gaining weight. Bodybuilders, on the other hand, go into a cutting process in which they concentrate on removing weight.

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