Previous studies have brought to attention the relationship between lean muscle mass and maximal strength in classic male powerlifters.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the influence of height on maximal strength relative to lean body mass (MaxREL) among male powerlifters and American football players in the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, and the total.
METHODS: Eighteen male junior drug-tested classic powerlifters (age: 21.2 ± 1.2 years, height: 174.1 ± 7 cm, body mass: 83.2 ± 12.4 kg, lean body mass: 68.3 ± 9.1 kg, squat: 199.9 ± 32.8 kg, bench press: 126.9 ± 20.3 kg, deadlift: 229.6 ± 33.3 kg, total: 556.4 ± 83 kg) and seventeen NCAA Division II American football players (age: 20.3 ± 1.2 years, height: 185.4 ± 8.1 cm, body mass: 111.8 ± 23 kg, lean body mass: 88.7 ± 13.1 kg, squat: 229.6 ± 29.8 kg, bench press: 148 ± 21 kg, deadlift: 224.9 ± 28.5 kg) were included in this study. Maximal strength in each lift was determined from either a powerlifting meet or testing from the sportsmen supervised strength and conditioning program. Athlete’s anthropometry was tape-measured while their lean body mass was measured with a bio-impedance scale. MaxREL was calculated by dividing maximal strength in each lift by athlete’s lean body mass. Linear regression analyses were computed and considered statistically significant at p < 0.05.
RESULTS: The statistical analyses yielded the following correlations and prediction equations: Squat MaxREL = -0.0236*height (cm) + 7.0238 (r = -0.6, SE = 0.3, p = 0.001); Bench press MaxREL = -0.0128*height (cm) + 4.0688 (r = -0.54, SE = 0.19, p = 0.001); Deadlift MaxREL = -0.0426*height (cm) + 10.63 (r = -0.75, SE = 0.36, p = 0.001); Total MaxREL = -0.079*height (cm) + 21.722 (r = -0.75, SE = 0.72, p = 0.001).
CONCLUSION: These results show that height has a negative influence on maximal strength relative to lean mass. In other words, the taller an athlete for a same lean body mass, the lower the strength potential. Possible explanations for these results, including body segment proportions are discussed. Future research should continue exploring the influence of anthropometry on maximal strength in homogeneous groups of high-level athletes to allowing the uncovering of body proportion associations and provide evidence to support strength and conditioning specialists.