While this may seem like a stupid question to some. If you’ve read my Why Do Bodybuilders Tan post, you’ll understand that judges do not care if a bodybuilder is strong or not. They care about how they look. That’s right, no part of a bodybuilding competition actually judges how much weight those bodybuilders can actually lift. So, are bodybuilders strong?
Actually, bodybuilders are very strong. While the bodybuilding competition may not actually focus on strength, muscle is muscle. And on average, bodybuilders will find themselves way stronger than the average human. A huge part of bodybuilding is actually lifting heavier to actually grow those muscles. However, powerlifters will find themselves way stronger than their bodybuilder friends.
But, let’s cover why exactly this is. And let’s go even further and cover how strong a bodybuilder actually is compared to a normal human or even powerlifters!
How Are Bodybuilders Strong? I thought they were judged on looks, not strength?
Well, you’re absolutely right.
There is no point at a bodybuilding competition where bodybuilders are actually judged on their strength.
In fact, that’s why I’ve always said “the strongest guy doesn’t always win the competition”- but to many people that haven’t been to a bodybuilding competition, that doesn’t make sense.
Honestly, it didn’t make sense to me either. Isn’t it just like, they get judged on who has the most muscle?
Well, actually it’s far more complicated.
How Are Bodybuilders Judged?
Bodybuilders are judged by the definition, size, and mass of their muscles. There’s also a lot of other factors, but they largely aren’t important here.
The biggest thing is actually how good they look. If my friend and powerlifter Kody Sanders went on stage for a bodybuilding meet, he might be the most muscular- but he definitely won’t win.
And that’s the thing, Kody will EASILY be the biggest guy up there. He’s also by far the strongest. But, they are judging based on how his body looks, and not just overall ‘shape’.
They examine the deepest muscle striations and grooves. You need to be basically at 3% bodyfat and spend a ton of time actually building tiny muscles such as rear-delts, side laterals, and other things that will make your body look like a greek god.
So, Nothing Has To Do With Strength?
Nothing at a bodybuilding competition has to specifically has to do with strength actually.
So, this leads many people to wonder, ‘are bodybuilders strong?’
Because if they aren’t judged on strength, can’t all bodybuilders be weak? Not exactly.
To Get These ‘Defined’ Muscles, You Need To Lift a Lot of Weights
So let’s back up the truck here.
Now that we know you need really defined and shredded muscles, how exactly do we get these muscles?
Many people believe that bodybuilders don’t need to lift heavy weights to actually grow these muscles. A ton of people believe that simple small weights or resistance bands can do this.
Actually, this is false.
Bodybuilders need to be lifting super heavy weight, weight that is far heavier than most people will ever even come close to lifting.
Honestly, I can’t blame anyone for thinking this. So many stupid Instagram influencers try to promote some weird kettlebell programs that involve you swinging around 10 lb balls in the air all day and promising you’ll be the next Arnold.
Bodybuilders NEED To Lift HEAVY Weight (400+ lbs)
Sure, the bodybuilding competition isn’t judged on strength.
But in order to get muscles that are that big, I doubt you’ll ever find a Mr.Olympia competitor that isn’t benching/squatting/deadlifting at least 400 lbs.
The thing is, those muscles will not grow to that massive size without an incredible amount of resistance being applied to them. That resistance is benching 400 lbs, deadlifting 700 lbs, and other things.
Even For The Small Muscles!
Even with something like side-laterals, bodybuilders are certainly going to be pulling their weight.
Many non-lifters will find themselves struggling to do 15-20 lbs for side lateral raises. A bodybuilder will be out there repping up 60-70 lbs for the side lateral raises.
While the side laterals may be a small muscle, the bodybuilders need to push it to its’ maximum limit just to make sure it pops out on the competition stage!
I’ve Heard Bodybuilders Are Super Weak At Their Competitions- What Gives?
If you google Are Bodybuilders Strong you’ll find some people talking about how weak bodybuilders are at competitions.
This is actually a very interesting topic to cover.
When bodybuilders are growing muscle for their show, they enter a phase called bulking. Typically, at their size, many of these bodybuilders NEED to dirty bulk in order to successfully put on muscle. This, unfortunately, puts on a lot of fat.
To lose a lot of this fat, bodybuilders undergo an extremely difficult ‘cutting’ process. I covered this a little bit in my Why Do Bodybuilders Wear Hoodies post.
But, in short- they need to basically eat very little for 12-16 weeks before their competition. This ensures that they lose basically only fat because it is such a short duration, combined with their incredibly tough training.
Basically, these guys are taxing their entire body to its’ limits to ensure that every ounce of muscle they have stays on, all while maximizing fat loss at the same time.
This means they have very little food, which is little energy, and their body is at its’ highest stress point.
Stress + No Food + No Energy + Tons of Body Changes + Dehydration = Lower Strength
Yes, so these bodybuilders will actually find themselves incredibly weak by the time a competition is around.
That’s why you see so many of them after a competition eating a big meal and just relaxing for a few weeks as their body recovers from the stress.
The fact is, eating very little, having no energy, putting your body through tons of composition changes, being stressed, and being dehydrated will really make your energy suffer.
But, They Are Way Stronger Than The Average Person Even At Their Weakest
While bodybuilders may be very weak at this stage, they will still certaintly be stronger than the average person even at their weakest.
Remember, these guys still have to train for hours a day to keep their muscles. And to be honest, ‘being weak’ is an understatement.
These guys might be weaker than when they are in their typical bulk phase, but they are still benching hundreds of pounds every single day without fail.
Conclusion of Are Bodybuilders Strong?
Well, turns out- bodybuilders are pretty strong. Even at their weakest points for competitions, bodybuilders will find themselves way stronger than the average person.