When you are new or planning to get into strength training, powerlifting and bodybuilding may seem similar, given that the two revolve around weight. As a result, some people may find them confusing, especially when trying to select the most suitable strength training program. For this reason, understanding their key differences is vital to help you choose a program that meets your desired results.
This article compares and discusses powerlifting and bodybuilding programs. It will also share the benefits of incorporating each into your fitness routine with or without a competition plan.
Powerlifting is a competitive sport that assesses the maximum possible weight one can lift for one repetition. Competitors compete on three lifts: squat, deadlift, and bench press, and each has three attempts to reach their maximum weight lift. They must also follow specific techniques as required by the governing body. Assuming that competitors followed the proper techniques, the winner is determined by adding the maximum weight lifted in the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
However, powerlifting competition is classified into various weight categories called dot scores. This is the ratio between a lifter’s body weight and the weight they lift. Therefore, the lifter with the highest coefficient is considered the winner of this approach.
Since the powerlifting goal is to achieve utmost performance in the deadlift, squat, and bench press, the training will focus on achieving absolute strength in these movements. You will be exposed to various exercises in each lift to help you strengthen the muscles required to attain maximum performance.
Some exercises expected for squat lifts include the usual squat, front squat, pause squat, and leg press. Other exercises under this category are Bulgarian Split Squat, good morning, and leg extension. If you are new to the powerlifting sport, note that the squat lift is the most critical among other lifts. It is designed to work out your muscles, increasing their strength and endurance.
In the case of bench press, you will be exposed to exercises like Feet-Up Bench Press, Close-Grip Bench Press, Dumbbell Chest Press, Dumbbell Chest Fly, Tricep Pushdown, and even push-ups. Unlike the squat, which focuses on building the lower body muscle, the bench press strengthens the upper body parts (the shoulders, chest, and arms).
Finally, there is the deadlift, which primarily works on the hips and the back. Here, you will expect exercises like Pause Deadlift, Rack Pull, Deficit Deadlift, and Romanian Deadlifts. Other exercises under this category include Barbell Row and Ab Wheel Roll-Out.
However, powerlifters generally opt for sumo or standard deadlift, medium to wide-grip bench presses, and low bar back squat variations. An advanced powerlifter will try various variations to test which one they are strongest in.
Bodybuilding is the sport of maximizing muscle size, symmetry, and definition. Competitors pose on stage on bodies revealing outfits such as bikinis or speedos, where they are judged according to their elegance. In other words, bodybuilding competitions aim at showing off your hard-earned muscle mass.
Usually, a bodybuilding training program is hypertrophy-focused – a continuous muscle development. As a result, it will require significant resistance training with dumbbells, barbells, and weight lifting to maximize muscle growth. Since a bodybuilder is needed to achieve balanced muscle growth, they will require slightly higher sets of weight lift repetitions to stimulate more muscle growth.
Although a bodybuilder will lift significant heavyweights, it should be slightly lower than a powerlifter but with more repetitions. The rest period between sets is shorter, around 1 to 2 minutes. However, a bodybuilder should expect most powerlifting exercises such as bench presses, squats, etc. But, triceps extension, lateral shoulder raises, and biceps curl variations are more frequent in bodybuilding than in powerlifting.
If you plan to take a long-term bodybuilding program, you must incorporate heavier training, almost maximum weight, with lower repetitions. It helps improve your strength, eventually allowing you to lift heavier weights with more repetitions.
While bodybuilding and powerlifting rely on weight training to achieve results, their purposes are incredibly different. For example, weight lifting helps improve strength in powerlifting while it helps increase muscle mass in bodybuilding. However, they both produce fitness results expected from resistance training. Check out the benefits of each.
Understanding the differences between powerlifting and bodybuilding makes it easier to select the most appropriate program, depending on your desired goals. Besides, you don’t have to be a champion to join a fitness program; you can do it to achieve a healthy life.