Gorillas have gotten a lot of hype lately and you’ll find that there are numerous forums out there with a “gorilla versus something or another” discussion still raging. While a gorilla couldn’t take down a fully grown grizzly bear, there’s little doubt that they are immensely strong. But, how strong are gorillas? How much can gorillas lift?

In terms of bench pressing, an adult, male gorilla can lift anywhere between 1,800lbs and 4,400lbs. The disparity between the two weights is dependent on how much the gorilla weighs. Gorillas can also deadlift around 1,800lbs, which is taking the weight from the floor and raising it over their heads.

That’s pretty impressive, regardless of what you think about the strength of other animals. Gorillas are generally considered to be anywhere between 4 and 10 times stronger than an average human, so getting into a scrap with one is an automatic loss.

What are the strength metrics of a gorilla?

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When it comes to the raw strength and power of a gorilla, there is more to it than just deadlifting 1800lbs, which is incidentally twice as much as the strongest human can lift. How much can they squat? What’s their biting power? How much weight can a gorilla pull?

The muscle mass of a gorilla is four times denser than that of a human, which explains a lot. That muscle mass and density contribute to a strength factor that translates a gorilla’s strength into ten times that of its body weight.

A male silverback weighs (on average) 400lbs and so that weight explains why they could bench press up to 4,400lbs in weight. Only the Mountain Gorilla is considered to be slightly heavier than a Silverback, on average.

What is the biting power of a gorilla?

A gorilla’s bite force is around 1,300lbs per square inch, which is one of the strongest biting forces in the world. Coupled with long and powerful fangs, gorillas can easily bite through bamboo, which they normally bite just enough to break before they snap it in two with their bare hands.

To put their bit force into perspective, 1,300lbs per square inch is twice that of an adult male lion. It’s equivalent to that of a bull shark and not far behind that of the hippopotamus, which has a bite power of 1,820psi. A gorilla has more biting force than a grizzly bear, even though it’s a close thing.

It’s a staggering level of biting power for a mammal, especially in the ape class. They can chew through bark like we chew spaghetti and they bare their teeth in terrifying displays of aggression. A gorilla could bite the arm off of the largest human on earth as easily as you could bite off a piece of cheese.

What is the punching power of a gorilla?

If a gorilla were to rear back and punch you in the face, be thankful that it decided to end the encounter in that way because you would never feel a thing. The impact would be so fast and vicious that it would shatter your skull like hot glass.

It would instantly force all of your front teeth into the back of your throat and you would be busy assuming room temperature on the ground, instantly. A gorilla can punch with anywhere between 1,300 and 2,700lbs of force.

Even on the low end, such a punch to the head would likely mean death, from a slow brain bleed if nothing else but probably much faster. It’s not just the punch force, however. Human bones are stronger than steel, even though they are more brittle than steel.

A gorilla’s bones are three times the density and strength of human bones while being much heavier. It would be similar to being punched in the face with a Chevy when you weren’t paying attention.

All of these things combine to create a level of punching power that no human or animal wants to be on the other end of.

How much can a gorilla throw?

A gorilla is capable of throwing a 900lb object a fair distance, whereas an extremely healthy and strong human can throw about 220lbs a fair distance. There have been several studies concerning the overall strength of a gorilla, most notably a 1924 experiment in which the above gorilla tossed 900lbs like it was a toy.

Even the chimpanzees in that study showed phenomenal strength in comparison to human beings with a pull force of 847lb compared to a human’s 220lbs.

If the average human being weighed 175lbs, a fully grown, Silverback Gorilla could easily toss five human beings that were stacked on top of one another. Perhaps not far enough to do any real damage, but an impressive feat nonetheless.

How strong is a gorilla compared to a human?

We’ve already encountered several facts above that should give you a pretty good idea of how much stronger than humans gorillas truly are. Several factors are just so far in a gorilla’s favor that it’s an embarrassment of riches in comparison to humans:

  • A gorilla’s upper body strength is 6 to 7 times that of a human’s
  • The density of a gorilla’s muscles is 4 times that of a human’s
  • A gorilla’s bone density is 3 times that of a human’s
  • A gorilla’s biting power is 1,300 psi versus a human’s 162 psi
  • A gorilla’s spinal column is shaped like a bow, giving it more power than our S-shaped spines
  • Gorillas, like humans, have opposable thumbs with far more gripping power
  • A gorilla’s ribcage is twice the size of a human’s

This list can go on and on. The point is, that there is no comparison in the strength of gorillas to that of humans. The only area in which humans dominate gorillas is in intelligence, where ours far surpasses that of a gorilla.

The different types of gorillas

When most people think about gorillas, they almost always conjure up images of silverback gorillas. However, there is more to gorillas than just the silverback. Let’s have a look at four different types of gorillas and how strong each type is.

How strong is the lowland gorilla?

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The lowland gorilla is the same thing as the western gorilla, in case there is some confusion as to why we listed an Eastern Gorilla without a western counterpart. These are considered to be the smallest of the gorilla species, so their strength is lower in relation to their weight.

However, it is still equivalent to that of other gorilla species that end up being in the same weight class as the same rule of thumb applies to Lowland Gorillas that applies to all gorillas.

Small or not, a lowland gorilla is still going to weigh more than a fully grown man that spends his days in the gym.

How strong is the eastern gorilla?

gorilla of Rwanda
Photo by Simbi Yvan / Unsplash

A full-size Eastern Gorilla can reach 400lbs in weight, which means that its overall strength is comparable with that of a Silverback. That means it is considered to be stronger than its Eastern Gorilla cousins.

Even though the Eastern Female Gorilla only reaches a weight of around 220lbs, that means that she can lift up to 2,000lbs and could definitely toss around a human being like a ragdoll.

How strong is the mountain gorilla?

I photographed this gorilla in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Photo by Leila Boujnane / Unsplash

The mountain gorilla is considered to be the strongest of the species simply because they weigh the most, which translates into an extreme level of raw power. However, the one thing that truly separates the Mountain Gorilla from the rest is its skin and fur.

A Mountain Gorilla’s skin and fur are the thickest of all the gorillas, due to the colder winter climates that they live in. If there ever was a true Yeti living in the world, it might be easily confused with a Mountain Gorilla, that can stand to more than 6’ in height.

A Mountain Gorilla can easily top 450lbs, although most of them do not, and the females can reach roughly half of that, making them one of the strongest females of all of the groups.

How strong is the silverback gorilla?

Photo by Mike Arney / Unsplash

Most of the information that we covered above is based on the Silverback Gorilla, so you probably have a good idea of what their strength capabilities are. A Silverback is going to be pretty comparable to a Mountain Gorilla, even though it may be a shade off in terms of strength.

However, the species are so close that the differences between the Silverback and the Mountain Gorilla, in terms of strength again, are virtually negligible. In fact, the heaviest gorilla ever recorded happened to be a Silverback Gorilla, despite their slightly larger Mountain Gorilla kin.

Final thoughts

The gorilla is certainly not the strongest living being on earth. We may not even know what that is, especially since the vast majority of our ocean depths have never been explored. However, it’s still an impressively powerful animal.

What makes the gorilla’s power so unique and awe-inspiring is the fact that they are also very fast animals, slinging around raw power with an alarming grace. Gorillas truly are a powerful and dynamic species.