What Exactly is a Power Belly?

Power belly drawing

The power belly (sometimes called a ‘power gut’), is a mysterious and oft-misunderstood feature of many strength athletes. But what is it, really?

In this article, we’re going to discuss the power belly questions you’ve been dying to have answered:

  • What is a power belly?
  • Is a power belly the same as a bubble gut?

And of course:

  • Did Eddie Hall swallow a barrel?

For answers to these questions and more, read on.

WHAT A POWER BELLY ISN’T

Not all bellies are made equal.

There are 4 categories of belly often confused for power bellies, but don’t be fooled.

  1. The Beer Belly.

Your cousin Steve does not have a power belly.

Man with beer belly

The ability to sink a case of piss over three hours at a casual BBQ might constitute a kind of ‘power’, but it’s the wrong kind. Not really the kind to be proud of either.

Sorry Steve.

  1. The Behemoth.

The Behemoth is a stomach that turns heads. It’s monumental. If NASA caught a glimpse they’d declare it a new planet.

This big boy is surely a power belly, right?

Well, no.

Consider the following question:

What is the difference between a fish and a whale?

“The size difference of course!”

Rookie mistake. Most whales are bigger than most fish, sure. But it’s not size alone that makes a whale a whale.

Indeed, a belly must contain more than loose, free-flowing adipose tissue to be the real deal. A true power belly is dense yet elegant, robust yet delicate. And like a whale, it has a certain dignity.

No matter how large The Behemoth is, it’s no whale and it’s no power belly.

  1. The Bubble Gut.

Deciding whether or not to classify the bubble gut as a power belly was a source of much personal turmoil.

Bubble gut, also known as Palumboism, refers to the distended midsection found on many a pro-bodybuilder. Though the use of certain PEDs is a suspected cause, the true nature of the condition isn’t fully understood.

It’s certainly a bold look though:

Bubble guts don’t exactly look good, but they are large, muscular, and belong to strong peoplehallmark traits of the power belly. This presents a dilemma.

On paper, it sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? A bubble gut is another term for power belly. Open and shut case.

And yet, it cannot be.

A simple criteria sheet isn’t appropriate. A power belly is a physical thing, yes. But it’s more than that.

Imagine if a committee sat down to discuss whether Bach’s compositions were really music. It would be preposterous.

Power bellies are akin to art. They have an essential element that can be felt, but never quite defined.

A bubble gut simply does not have this quality. And therefore, a bubble gut is not a power belly.

  1. The Lenny.

Okay, this one’s a little disturbing.

If you haven’t heard of Big Lenny, seeing is believing.

Big Lenny on stage in 2017. Viewer discretion advised.

It should go without saying, but this ain’t no power gut. Just what the fuck Lenny’s stomach actually is, well, that’s anyone’s guess. Common theories include bloating, ascites, or an extreme version of the bubble gut discussed above.

Personally, I’m on team alien parasite.

Fair warning, if you’re disturbed by the belly, don’t watch any more Lenny-related content. The stomach is just the tip of this deranged iceberg. Trust me.

WHAT IS A POWER BELLY?

Buddha powerbelly
Great wisdom and a strong core go hand in hand.

Put simply, a power belly is a strong set of abdominals with a tasteful layer of adipose fat on top. Like a big, fleshy ferrero rocher.

That’s it, really. Fat and strong.

If you meet these criteria, you might just be worthy of a power belly t-shirt.

Graph depicting densities of plutonium and power bellies.
Power bellies have been theorized by some to have a density comparable to that of plutonium. And technically they do. See?

THE HALL OF FAME

The magic of the power belly is that it can be found on all kinds of athletes, from all kinds of sports. I have carefully curated a few of the most impressive examples below.

Eddie Hall

Hall performing a deadlift pyramid up to 420kg, beltless.

Famous for being the first to deadlift 500kg, and the 2017 World’s Strongest Man, Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall possesses one of the strongest cores in the world.

Contrary to popular belief, his impressive midsection is a result of his grueling physical training – he never swallowed a barrel.

Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant

At 7’4″, and weighing in at over 500lbs, Andre the Giant possessed perhaps the largest power belly that has yet been seen.

Enjoying a successful WWE career throughout the 70s and 80’s, Andre’s feats are today a thing of myth and legend. He was once said to have downed 156 beers in a single sitting, so he couldn’t be accused of failing to put his superhuman stomach to use.

Hakuhō Shō

Sumo wrestler Hakuhō Shō

Turning now to the East, Mongolian athlete Hakuhō Shō is widely considered to be the greatest sumo wrestler who’s yet lived.

Hakuhō possesses a record 1146 career wins to his name. That’s over 1000 times his gargantuan torso has forcibly ejected his opponent from the dohyō for the win. In terms of overall output, his is a belly in a class of its own.


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