Skeletal muscle mass and architecture of the world’s strongest raw powerlifter: A case study

Takashi Abe, Samuel L. Buckner, Kevin T. Mattocks, Matthew B. Jessee, Scott J. Dankel, J. Grant Mouser, Zachary W. Bell, Jeremy P. Loenneke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: World powerlifting records within the super heavyweight class are typically held by those with not only the greatest absolute muscle strength but also the greatest amount of skeletal muscle mass (SM). Case Presentation: We examined the absolute and relative SM and muscle architecture of a 30 year old drug-free raw (i.e. without the use of powerlifting supportive equipment) powerlifter (1.84 m standing height and 183.1 kg body mass) who competes in the super heavyweight division and holds world records in the squat (477.5 kg), deadlift (392.5 kg), and total (1105 kg). Because the MRI magnet is too small for very large athletes, we used an ultrasound prediction equation to estimate SM. We also used ultrasound to determine muscle architecture (isolated muscle thickness, pennation angle and fascicle length). This powerlifter had large values of fat-free mass (138.6 kg) and total SM (58.0 kg) compared with previously published values. When calculating the powerlifting performance per unit SM, this lifter not only had high levels of absolute strength but also had high levels of relative strength per unit SM, particularly in the squat. Similarly, muscle thickness and pennation angle of the vastus lateralis were close to the highest values previously reported in the literature. Conclusions: These results suggest that this powerlifter may be close to a physiologic limit with respect to muscle size and geometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61763
JournalAsian Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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