Aim: This study sought to better understand the relationship between anthropometric profile and maximal strength, as assessed in the sport of powerlifting as relatively little research has examined how differences in anthropometry may contribute to bodyweight-related differences in performance or between more and less successful lifters in the same bodyweight class.
Methods: To address this aim, 63 male powerlifters from an Argentine National Tournament were assessed for 31 anthropometric variables taken using ISAK (International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry) protocols. Body fractionation (adipose, muscle, bone, residual and skin tissue masses) was determined using the validated Kerr & Ross five way fractionation model of body composition that has yet to be used with powerlifters.
Results: Results indicated that the powerlifters showed very elevated values of mesomorphy, muscle girths, muscle mass, bone breadths, and all this accompanied by a medium to low stature. Most of these characteristics were more pronounced in the heavier divisions. The winners had significantly larger proportional muscle mass (53.9 ± 2.2%), muscle to bone mass ratio (5.3 ± 1) and crural index (1.21 ± 0.12) than the non-winners.
Conclusion: These comparisons reveal some potential key anthropometric determinants of high level powerlifting performance. These results further support the view that while powerlifters have unique anthropometric profiles, more successful powerlifters typically have higher degrees of muscle mass expressed per unit height and/or bone mass but similar segment lengths and segment length ratios to their less successful peers.