I've heard of people actually just getting really huge (obese) to be able to generate more force. I don't know how effective it is, but I've seen 300-400 lb. people who don't regularly lift weights/go to gyms and can pound the daylights out of regular gym-goers. Not to mention that muscle-size isn't key to strength 100%, so this could explain that the process is biomechanical components to it more than just muscle.

As examples, very heavy people often have larger wrists and chubbier hands, so this could be an automatic advantage in armwreslting, grappling, etc., at least in some ways. Also, heavy people eat huge amounts of calories, so it's possible that they still build power from regular daily activities more than skinnier people would. You also have to consider that heavier people can be much harder to move.

For an example to that previous statement, consider wrestling someone who weighs 400 lbs. and walks the same as someone who weighs 170 lbs. It's extremely unlikely that the heavier person will be easy.

When they walk around, they are carrying 2x or more weight than you are, and they are walking the same as you or more, possibly. Odds are, their legs are pretty powerful without specific workouts.

So I was thinking of having a diet like this - gain weight slowly (fat) and see how the gain increases demands on my body that require adaption and strength gains. Since I can't decide not to walk weighing 300 lbs., but can decide to not squat one day, I am actually forced to get stronger by getting fatter.

This may sound ridiculous at first, but I used to weigh 255 lbs. at 5'9" at 16 and I could bench 200 lbs. without working out. How? I was active, conditioned to my bodyweight, and could move well. I grew to that weight and that required me to gain much more strength, but not necessarily muscle or health.

I remember being able to lift much heavier weights back then too, specifically over 300 lbs.

Now, I am 21 years old, 5'9" still, and weigh 200 lbs. Guess what? I can't do any of that anymore.

Also, when you are fat and you come running at a person, they are more likely to fall, even if they are strong weight lifters because your running weight

Not to mention that I hate exercise so much that it's almost like it's genetically coded to not like it, and any exercise I do is not "natural feeling", but forced, in any variation/weight/type/form. Being fat is key for me.

My question is, how strong can I get by just getting fatter and adapting to this weight regularly?

I don't care about bench much but want to deadlift 500 lbs. without working out much. If I gain enough weight and lift some random heavy stuff, I think I can come close over years of on-and-off lifting. It doesn't have to be in good form, but I just want to pull it off the ground, even for a 1/4 inch.

Don't tell me that fat doesn't make people stronger because it does. If it didn't, you'll have to explain lots to me then about do nothing people in the 400 lb. range who can lift their own bodyweight in deadlifts without lifting anything but a fork. This guy is an example:

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And this one ... both are/were over 500 lbs.

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These athletes do not have a strong weight training dedication, yet they prove that they have enough strength to be in professional wrestling at a high-profile level and even boxing. Clearly, as you gain fat, strength comes somehow, depending on how active you stay. I want to be fatter and stronger.

  • 7
    Your assumption that these guys don't lift is wrong. Check yourself. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 8:22
  • Why get fatter? Just buy a weighted vest, ankle weights and wrist weights. A heavy set can add over 100lb. This way you get the strength that you're talking about without getting fatter. While it's not as "forced" as being fat is, it's nearly just as easy, all you have to do is put them on in the morning and then away you go.
    – Aequitas
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 22:34
  • The strange thing is I understand his assumption , I had an fat friend that started the gym with me and he was lifting alot more than me and after 4 months he lost weight and I gained weight and he was lifting harder than when he started even tho he looked more fit.We did the exact program 4 months.I understand we did not follow the same nutrition but still how is it possible that he got weaker and I got stronger? Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 11:09

2 Answers 2


Don't Confuse Size with Genetics and Training

My former coach won the genetic lottery as someone who can just naturally get beastly strong. An example of that genetic pool, he took his mother to the weight room and she squatted over 300 lbs on her first day with no prior training. I'm pretty sure she was sore after that.

There are several power lifters who are quite overweight and who have incredible lifts. There are also many examples of power lifters who are quite a bit leaner and lift just as much weight (Dan Green is one example).

The fat guys that destroy skinny guys can do that in part due to different leverages, different amounts of muscle on their frame, and a majorly different focus in their training. Don't discount the effect of training to lift heavier things vs. just trying to look good naked.

There's a rumor that for every 4 pounds you gain one of it is muscle. I haven't seen anything authoritatively address this rumor, but that's also at a very high cost.

Mass Affects Some Exercises More Than Others

What people fail to realize is that mass changes your leverages. That increase in ability isn't always an increase of strength. Bench press is one of those lifts that is positively affected by an increase in mass. However, there does come a point of diminishing returns.

I know a guy named Norman Rice, who is one of the outliers who took StrongLifts to a squat and deadlift in the 600s and bench over 400 lbs. He also ate to get through plateaus, did the resets, etc. He is also very likely someone who got the genetic jackpot like my former coach.

When Norman went back over his records, he found that he got too fat to squat. As he got heavier, his squat went down and he had difficulty completing the movement. He had to loose weight to squat more.

Essentially for some lifts, there is a point of inverse returns, not just diminishing returns.

Muscle Moves Weight, Not Fat

Your skeletal muscle is what generates force to move weight. Fat is simply energy reserves, and adds to the weight the muscle has to move. A focus on building muscle and making it stronger will always outperform simply eating more and training the same.

Getting weaker when you get smaller

Here's something to consider. Remember how I mentioned that as you get larger your leverages change but you aren't actually any stronger? That's what's going on here. It's not that you are getting weaker, it's that you never truly had the strength to begin with.

Contrast your experience with mine. I worked with a coach to lose weight and get stronger. I was competing in powerlifting at the time. I started at 308 lbs and could bench 275, squat 440, and deadlift 485. In the space of 6 months I lost 20 lbs, weighing in at 282 for my competition. Losing 20 lbs off my frame, I was able to bench 290, squat 450, and deadlift 510 without a belt. Take time and read that a few times. I lost weight and got stronger in the same amount of time.

My story is not unlike some other well known strongmen. For example, Kalle Beck can put more overhead now that he's 175-185 than he could when he was 220.

What's the difference between my experience and yours? It's the work I put in to get stronger. I'm getting healthier and stronger while you are trying to rely on getting bigger to do all the work for you. Another key factor is that it sounds like you were more active in the past than you are now.

I can't condone getting fat to get stronger. Particularly when you hate exercise anyway. Why care about how strong you are? If you aren't going to put in the effort to develop the strength it doesn't matter. How strong can you get at 5'9" and getting back to 260 lbs? Not as strong as you can get by putting in focused work and dropping to 180. Not by a long shot.

  • To add to this, often powerlifters (dead, squat, bench) find that because they can reduce their ROM for bench (within the rules) by having a large belly/chest they aim to achieve a specific bodytype. Reduced ROM means higher weights can be pushed on bench.
    – John
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 10:55
  • @JJosaur, I addressed that in the last section. Changing leverages doesn't get you stronger, and the idea of putting on fat to move more weight is rightfully no longer the prevalent opinion in the unequipped powerlifting community. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 13:26
  • Must have been a older video I watched then, they said "Big belly means I don't have to press the bar as far".
    – John
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 14:04
  • 1
    The bar hits around the sternum, any lower and you are actually making the bench more difficult. Also, I don't have enough experience with equipped lifting to speak on that side of things. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 17:02

Stop Making Excuses

Don't tell me that fat doesn't make people stronger because it does.

Of course many fat people are strong. Of course people get stronger faster if they aren't trying to stay under a certain weight while training. But there's that key phrase: 'while training'. The examples you cite fight sumo and lift weights. There's no magic here: hard strength work plus eating a lot equals big and strong.

Consider wrestling someone who weighs 400 lbs. and walks the same as someone who weighs 170 lbs. It's extremely unlikely that the heavier person will be easy.

You're making up excuses while sitting around instead of wrestling and testing your ideas. Yes, bigger people are sometimes harder to wrestle. Sometimes. Often a big fat person who doesn't train is easier to wrestle because they're unathletic, weak, slow, and ignorant of technique. They can fix that by training--either getting stronger and staying the same size, or by losing weight, or by learning to wrestle.

If [being fat] didn't [make you strong], you'll have to explain lots to me then about do nothing people in the 400 lb. range who can lift their own bodyweight in deadlifts without lifting anything but a fork.

OK, I'll explain: most of those people didn't just lift a fork, they trained. A very few people are genetically gifted, and so can rest on their laurels and still have a little strength. It doesn't sound like you have those genetics, so you're left with training. That's great! That means that you have the ability to change your body.

I hate exercise so much that it's almost like it's genetically coded to not like it, and any exercise I do is not "natural feeling", but forced, in any variation/weight/type/form. Being fat is key for me.

Fuck every bit of that.

It doesn't feel natural because you don't do it. If you do it for a long time, it'll feel natural. If you're 21 then it's just about physically impossible for you to have tried very many variations of training and exercise--you simply haven't been alive long enough. Stop making excuses and get to work.

Find Satisfying Training

Training doesn't have to be guilty, self-hating work. Just go to the gym and get the work done three or four times a week. Yes, it's hard. No, it doesn't have to be an awful grind. It can be a satisfying challenge, where you beat old records and prove yourself over and over again.

I really enjoy strength training. The sense of controlled progress (three sets of five reps at 90 kilos today...three sets of five reps at 92.5 kilos next week...) and the continual personal records works for me. Running works for some people. Team sports work for yet other people, individual sports likewise, and yoga and Pilates and workout videos and circuit training and so on all work for some people.

Forcing yourself to do any sort of exercise as a punishment or a chore is going to suck. But with a bit of practice (and trying different kinds of workouts), exercise can become something that takes time, effort, and money, but is rewarding, satisfying, and even fun. You can feel your body getting better, faster, stronger, you can feel your mood improving, you can take pride in lifting more weight or running a faster 5k.


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