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How Strong is a Gorilla? Silverback Strength vs Humans (Grizzly, Lion, Croc)

Just how strong is a gorilla? How does it compare to a human? In this post, you'll learn about a gorillas strength, including how much it can lift, it's bite strength and more. Who would win between a gorilla and a grizzly, a lion or a crocodile? Lets see!

how strong is a gorilla

Epic Guide to Gorilla Strength

How Strong is a Gorilla?

Gorillas strength is about 10 times their body weight.

Many sites claim that a gorilla can lift anywhere from 4 to 27 times their body weight. But the most common statistic that I can find states a gorilla's strength at 10 times their body weight.

If we take an average weight of a 400 lb (181 kg) for an adult male mountain gorilla, that means that it could hypothetically lift upwards of 4,000 lb (1,810 kg)!

Gorilla Strength, Size, and Speed Summary

  • Strength: 10 times body weight (estimated)
  • Strength compared to humans: 6 times human strength (estimated)
  • Bite Strength: 1,300 PSI (stronger than a great white shark or lion)
  • Running speed: 25 mph (40 km/h)
  • Arm span: 8'6″ (2.6 m)
  • Weight: 430 lb (195 kg)
  • Height: 5'6″ (168 cm)
  • Color: Black (adult males have a silver “saddle” on their back). Adult male gorillas are known as silverbacks.
  • Range: Eastern Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Learn more: Guide to Mountain Gorillas

But before we get started, I want to make one thing clear. No one really knows how strong a gorilla is. They haven't competed in strong man (ape) competitions. And no one has fought a gorilla against a bear (thankfully). This post is a combination of facts and conjecture.

There is a surprising absence of real data on the strength of a gorilla. In this post, I've accumulated a collection of facts and some assumptions to get the conversation started. Let me know in the comments what you think!

How strong are gorillas

Gorilla Strength Comparisons

How much stronger is a gorilla than a human? At least 6X stronger than a human, everything else being equal. Which, of course, it isn't.

Limitations: Gorillas don't have training in lifting or fighting. For a proper comparison, we would need to compare two individuals of equal size and training.

Here's how a gorilla would do with some common lifts used to measure human strength.

Bench Press: Gorilla vs Man

Because of their disproportionate arm/leg length ratio, they are not really built for this type of competition. But let's just have fun and go with it anyway.

  • Strongest Man: 885 lb (401.5 kg) by Blaine Sumner. World Record for Heaviest Bench Press (Male)
  • Gorilla: 4,000 lb (1,810 kg)

Here's a spirited discussion on a gorillas prospects for being a bench press champion.

Squats: Gorilla vs Man

Gorillas have shorter legs, limiting the range of motion – make that lift easier. But they also spend most their time on four legs – keeping their leg muscles from developing even more impressive strength.

  • Strongest Man: 1,036 lb (470 kg) by Andrey Malanichev at Boss of Bosses II in Mountain View.
  • Gorilla: 2,000 lb (905 kg) They spend most of their time crab walking – meaning that their legs are not nearly as developed nor as strong as their arms.

Deadlift: Gorilla vs Man

This would easily be the gorillas best event. Shorter legs and longer arms make gorillas mechanically favored for this lift.

  • Strongest Man: 1,102 lb (500 kg) Eddie Hall set a world record by completing a half tonne deadlift in Leeds, UK.
  • Gorilla: 2,400 lb (1,089 kg). This is based on a 6x ratio. The basis for this projection comes from a report from 1975, that was reportedly covered in Guiness Book of World Records: “100 lb chimp achieving a deadlift of 600 lb with ease.”

For more, check out this video comparing professional weight lifters to gorillas.

Silverback Gorilla Breaks Banana Tree

Displays of strength are uncommon and seldom captured. In this video, you'll see a gorilla pull a banana tree over – and bust in into kindling as if it was a tiny branch. If you've ever seen a banana tree up close, you'll know that this isn't nearly as easy as he makes it look.

The video is fuzzy and shaky – but shows his strength nice and clear.

Watch on YouTube

Why Are Gorillas So Strong?

Gorillas have exceptional strength thanks to something known as robusticity. They have both exceptional jaw strength (because of their bamboo diet) and high ratio of muscle mass which helps in competition for mates.

They have a unique physical structure, including “total body mass (TBM), forelimb to hind limb mass, joint configuration, and corresponding muscles” (Wiley). It seems strange to many that they are so robustly built and yet are omnivores.

gorilla vs human

Are silverback gorillas aggressive?

Yes, but only sometimes. Mountain gorillas are relatively docile animals.

But you can expect aggression in a few settings.

  1. If his group is attacked or threatened, the silverback will protect the group, protecting it with his life.
  2. Males will show aggression to each other to establish dominance.
  3. Males and females will occasionally display aggressive behavior but this rarely leads to serious injury.
  4. Females frequently act aggressively toward each other.
Gorilla strength

Gorilla Vs.

These “battles” are purely hypothetical for a whole bunch of reasons. The greatest of which is that most of these “opponents” don't reside in eastern Africa where the mountain gorillas live.

Gorilla vs Grizzly Bear

For this hypothetical battle, we'll imagine an Eastern Gorilla vs a Grizzly.

Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

  • Weight: 430 lb (195 kg)
  • Height: 5'6″ (168 cm)
  • Color: Black (adult males have a silver “saddle” on their back – thus “silverback)
  • Range: Eastern Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Bite Strength: 1,300 PSI
  • Running speed: 25 mph (40 km/h)

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.)

  • Weight: 400 – 790 lb (180 – 360 kg)
  • Height: 6'6″ (198 cm)
  • Color: Brown
  • Range: North America, with the majority in Alaska
  • Bite Strength: 1,250 PSI
  • Running speed: 35 mph (56 km/h)

According to Joe Rogan, they are both evenly matched. The gorilla has superior agility, but the bear has claws, more teeth and is much larger.

The outcome of the battle depends on who struck first. The bear could likely kill a gorilla in one attack. But the gorilla has the strength to pull apart the bears mouth.

Watch on YouTube

Watch on YouTube


Gorilla vs Lion

This is a possible encounter, seeing that both mountain gorillas and African lions inhabit the same general area in east Africa.

However, lions spend their time on the savannah. Which might as well be worlds away from the mountains – the natural habitat of the silverback. Gorillas live at an altitude of 5,400 – 12,400 ft (1,650 to 3,790 m). It is unlikely that these two animals would ever meet.

African Lion (Panthera leo.)

  • Weight: 385 lb (175 kg)
  • Length: 6′ to 6'10” (184 – 208 cm)
  • Color: Silvery grey to dark brown
  • Range: North America, with the majority in Alaska
  • Bite Strength: 650 PSI
  • Running speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)

The lion has a brutal, unforgiving bite. The gorilla has overwhelming strength but it's hard to say if it could tackle a lion armed with a mouth full of teeth and claws built for hunting.

The battle could go either way – depending on time of day, terrain and strength of the individual animals. Here's more on this virtual animal battle.


Gorilla vs Nile Crocodile

This is about as abstract as the previous matchup. Gorillas live high in the east African mountains. Nile crocodiles live in the Nile River (and surrounding waterways).

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

  • Weight: 500 – 1,650 lb (225 – 750 kg)
  • Length: 11.5′ to 16.4″ (3.5 – 5 m)
  • Color: Dark bronze
  • Range: Freshwater in Africa, primarily in central, eastern and southern regions.
  • Bite Strength: 5000 PSI (the most powerful bite in the world)
  • Running speed: 21 mph (35 km/h)

A few key differences are emerging. On land, the gorilla has the upper hand in terms of speed and agility. But the crocodile has an overwhelming bite – more than 4 times the pressure a gorilla can produce. But even if the gorilla could evade the crocs insane mouth, I'm not sure what it would to do stop it.

And if they enter the water, it would be over very quickly. The croc rules the rivers and lakes.

Silverback gorilla strength

Gorilla vs Humans

So based on what we have considered, a human could not go hand to hand with a gorilla and succeed. In fact, he would only survive if that was what the silverback wanted.

Here are a couple of videos to put their strength compared to ours into perspective.

Watch This Gorilla Encounter in Uganda

Watch on YouTube

And here's a glimpse of the power in a silverback gorilla. Watch how easily he knocks down this tourist.

Watch on YouTube

The Only Way to Defeat a Gorilla

According to the Infographics Show, there is just one way for a human to beat a gorilla in a hand to hand battle: military grade exo-skeleton. It's probably true.

Watch on YouTube

gorilla vs

More reading: How fast can a crocodile run?

So there you have it. The strength of a silverback gorilla compared to humans, grizzlies, lions, and crocodiles.

Your Turn

What's your opinion? How strong do you think gorillas are? Have a reference or video to share?

Please post it in the comments – I want to improve this post and make it better. Stats and facts are quite sparse on this topic.

About the author: Bryan Haines is co-editor of Uganda365 – and is working to make it the best source of information about Uganda travel. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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