South Africans are ranked the world's 40th in powerlifting, reveals research

Powerlifters are unique athletes competing in an exciting sport. Picture: Victor Freitas/ Unsplash

Powerlifters are unique athletes competing in an exciting sport. Picture: Victor Freitas/ Unsplash

Published Feb 8, 2024


New research has revealed that South Africans are ranked as the world's 40th physically strongest people, with rankings based on official powerlifting data.

The United States secured the top position as the world's strongest lifters while Libya was the highest-placed African nation.

According to the South African Powerlifting Federation powerlifting lifts/ excercise are the definitive measure of strength. Powerlifting is the ultimate strength competition.

The powerlifting athlete competes in three specific disciplines, each designed to measure different areas of human strength.

The sum or total of the best lift in each discipline determines the winner. Powerlifting is an exciting sport where athletes compete against the force of iron as well as other athletes.

Weight categories begin with the 43kg women's class and end in the men's over 120+kg class (unlimited). Powerlifters are unique athletes competing in an exciting sport. They move massive amounts of weight in hi-tech supportive gear that protects against injury.

In parallel findings, a medical aid scheme comparison website,, released data ranking South Africa as the 10th worst country in the world for unhealthy habits.

"Many bad habits can have a detrimental effect on our health but some are far more damaging than others," noted a representative from, emphasising the impact of behaviours on long-term health.

The report unveils that South Africa faces a high level of obesity at 28.3%, coupled with a 38% rate of physical inactivity.

The allure of smoky braais flavours contrast with the growing challenge between consuming junk food and traditional foods, particularly as the cost of living increases.

Moreover, as passionate discussions continue on the sporting front, debates challenge rugby supremacy.

South Africans may hail the Springboks as unrivalled rugby titans, while New Zealanders boast a superior win ratio for the All Blacks despite having fewer World Cup titles.

In light of these subjective rivalries, Lift Vault, an online resource for strength training, sought to determine the countries with the physically strongest men and women.

This comprehensive analysis sheds light on not only physical strength rankings but also the intersection of lifestyle choices and health in South Africa.

The comprehensive analysis of powerlifting data from the past 5 years provided by Open Powerlifting, researchers focused on three main powerlifting categories: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. These exercises test the strength and power of individuals in different ways.

The findings reveal that the United States is home to the world's strongest men and women based on these powerlifting categories. South Africa's men and women secured a mid-table position, ranking 40th overall.

Notably, they placed below Libya, the continent's leading nation in the powerlifting rankings, which secured the 36th position.

According to the data, the average strength levels for powerlifters in South Africa are as follows: an average squat of 530 lbs, an average bench press of 357 lbs, and an average deadlift of 594 lbs.

2023’s 10 Strongest Countries:

1. United States

2. France

3. Sweden

4. England

5. Canada

6. Italy

7. New Zealand

8. Germany

9. Spain

10. Australia

2023’s Five Weakest Countries:

81. Cayman Islands

80. Moldova

79. Panama

78. Sri Lanka

77. Cyprus

In an eye-opening revelation of brawn and might, a new data analysis by Lift Vault has crowned Texas as the powerhouse state of America, home to the nation's strongest men and women.

This finding might not come as a shock to those familiar with the Lone Star State's storied history of rugged individuals, among whom stands the legendary figure of Earl Campbell.

As a celebrated NFL running back, Campbell's robust approach to football perfectly encapsulates the Texan ethos of going all out — a philosophy that seems to extend to the state's modern-day muscle mavens as well.

The interactive map, a creation of Lift Vault, not only charts these bastions of strength within the world's strongest nation but also offers an enlightening perspective on where the powerlifters excel.

Kyle Risley, the mastermind behind Lift Vault, provides a word of encouragement for aspiring strength champions, "For the everyday gym enthusiasts scrutinising these figures, keep your chin up if your records don't quite match up!

This analysis showcases the elite of powerlifting, those who dedicate a significant portion of their lives to the sport." He adds with a note of appreciation, "Nonetheless, it's fascinating to pinpoint the hotspots of strength across the world. Hats off to the folks in the US and Texas."

Lift Vault's rankings are not just about raw power; they are meticulously calculated based on the Wilks score — a measure that levels the playing field by considering weight and gender, allowing for a fair comparison of relative strength across different categories.

This unique score system ensures that the title of strength is earned not just by sheer force but by proportionate power as well.