Author Identifier

Christopher Latella


Wei-Peng Teo


Jemima Spathis


Daniel van den Hoek


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research


National Strength and Conditioning Association


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2020


Latella, C., Teo, W. P., Spathis, J., & van den Hoek, D. (2020). Long-term strength adaptation: A 15-year analysis of powerlifting athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(9), 2412-2418.


Strength is a fundamental component of athletic performance and development. This investigation examined the long-term strength development of powerlifting (PL) athletes. The rate of strength gain/day was assessed in 1897 PL athletes (F = 626, M = 1,271) over a 15-year period (2003–2018). Independent T-tests explored sex differences in baseline absolute (kg) and relative strength (kg·body mass−1 [bm]) recorded from the first competition, and strength gain/day (kg·d−1). Analyses based on initial strength quartiles were conducted using one-way analysis of variances with significance set at p < 0.05. Bivariate correlational analysis tested for relationships between strength gain/day and baseline strength, the number of competitions, and mean days between competitions. Males had greater absolute (M: 513.3 ± 99.8 kg, F: 289.4 ± 55.7 kg, p < 0.001) and relative (M: 5.89 ± 1.04 kg·bm−1, F: 4.27 ± 0.85 kg·bm−1, p < 0.001) strength at baseline. Overall, strength gain/day (F: 0.12 ± 0.69 kg·d−1, M: 0.15 ± 0.44 kg·d−1, p = 0.318) was similar between sexes. However, the strongest males showed a lower rate of strength improvement (0.102 kg·d−1) compared with least strong males (0.211 kg·d−1), p = 0.010. No differences were observed across quartiles for females. Correlational analyses revealed significant but weak negative relationships between strength gain/day and the mean days between competitions for females (r2 = −0.120, p = 0.003) and males (r2 = −0.190, p < 0.001). Similar relationships were observed for baseline strength (r2 = −0.073, p = 0.009) and the number of competitions (r2 = −0.111, p < 0.001) for males. The results suggest similar strength adaptation between sexes. The strongest males improve more slowly, possibly due to a ceiling effect. Collectively, the findings provide novel evidence of real-world long-term strength adaptations that may be particularly useful to understand athlete development, to aid periodized programming, and to benchmark strength over time.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.