Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding: Which Is Finest for You?

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are two widespread types of weightlifting. 

Whereas they share similarities, the purpose of every is kind of totally different.

A bodybuilder’s focus is aesthetics. They purpose to develop giant, outlined, proportioned muscular tissues and keep a low physique fats share to impress the judges at bodybuilding reveals (and lurkers on social media).

Conversely, a powerlifter’s goal is to squat, bench press, and deadlift as a lot weight as attainable whereas competing at a “powerlifting meet.”

Due to these divergent objectives, bodybuilders and powerlifters practice and food regimen in distinct methods, which causes their physiques to vary, too.

On this article, you’ll be taught the distinction between powerlifting and bodybuilding, how every type of coaching impacts your physique, whether or not powerlifting or bodybuilding is the perfect coaching type for you, and extra.


Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting: Overview

Powerlifting is a sport that entails competing to elevate as a lot weight as attainable on the squat, bench press, and deadlift for a single rep (a one-rep max).

As such, powerlifters typically spend the majority of their coaching time training these “competitors lifts,” doing most of their units within the 1-to-5 rep vary and resting wherever from 2-to-10+ minutes between units.

Most powerlifters additionally do a couple of “accent” workout routines, such because the entrance squat, incline bench press, and Romanian deadlift, to reinforce their efficiency on the competitors lifts.

Powerlifters have a tendency to arrange and periodize their coaching to be as sturdy as attainable as they strategy a “powerlifting meet” (competitors).

In distinction, bodybuilding is a sport that entails making an attempt to achieve as a lot muscle as attainable whereas sustaining aesthetic proportions and symmetry and a low physique fats share.

To attain this, bodybuilders place much less emphasis on the squat, deadlift, and bench press (although most nonetheless embody them of their coaching) and as a substitute practice every of their muscle teams with quite a lot of quantity, utilizing quite a lot of workout routines, greater rep ranges (wherever from 8-to-20+ reps per set) and shorter relaxation durations between units (60-to-90 seconds, for instance). 

It’s price noting that, technically, anybody centered on constructing muscle whereas staying lean or getting leaner is a leisure bodybuilder. For the needs of this text, although, I’m referring to aggressive bodybuilders.

Aggressive bodybuilders additionally manage their coaching and food regimen to maximise muscle development in the course of the “low season” (the time of yr after they don’t compete in bodybuilding reveals) and reduce muscle loss and physique fats as they strategy a bodybuilding present.

Throughout bodybuilding reveals, opponents stand on stage whereas judges rating their our bodies primarily based on their muscle mass, definition, and steadiness and symmetry.

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Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting: Physique

Each bodybuilders and powerlifters are closely muscled. Nevertheless, their physiques are inclined to look totally different for 2 causes:

1. Bodybuilders keep low physique fats ranges to intensify their muscle definition, whereas powerlifters keep moderate-to-high physique fats ranges to maximise their power efficiency. 

(Some powerlifters additionally consider that having a considerable amount of stomach fats, or “power-belly,” aids their efficiency by shortening the vary of movement within the bench press and giving them one thing to rebound off on the backside of the squat.)

2. Bodybuilders practice to attain an “X-frame,” a physique that contains broad shoulders, broad lats, a cinched waist, and enormous quads. Additionally they purpose to develop small muscle teams that “polish” a physique, such because the biceps, triceps, abs, rear delts, and calves.

In distinction, powerlifters don’t have any aesthetic objectives. However for the reason that bulk of their coaching consists of pushing, pulling, and squatting heavy weights, they sometimes develop giant shoulders, traps, and pecs, a thick waist, and massive glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Listed here are some examples for example these variations:


(Legion athletes from high left to backside proper: Lauren Dannenmiller, Max Strazny, Rachael Becker, Chris Barakat, Jesus Olivares, Katyliftz, Nico Flores, and Sarah Lanzillo.)

Powerlifting or Bodybuilding: Which Is Finest for You?

In reality, only a few folks ought to practice like a powerlifter or bodybuilder.

That’s as a result of most individuals don’t need to dedicate their whole coaching and food regimen routine to maximizing their efficiency on three workout routines. Nor are they motivated by lengthy, high-volume exercises and strict weight-reduction plan that may disrupt their temper, sleep, and social life usually required for aggressive bodybuilding.

As an alternative, a compromise between these approaches works greatest—“powerbuilding,” mainly.

When it comes to coaching, this implies doing three-to-five 45-to-60-minute power coaching exercises per week, focusing primarily on compound workout routines that let you acquire muscle and power successfully and effectively (together with the squat, deadlift, bench and overhead press), and utilizing the rest of your time within the health club to do isolation workout routines that spherical out your physique. 

Take a look at this text for a coaching program that fills this invoice:

Hypertrophy Coaching: Finest Exercise Program for Hypertrophy

And as for food regimen, this implies following a high-protein, moderate-to-high-carb versatile food regimen, just like the one on this article:

Easy methods to Get the Physique You Need With Versatile Weight-reduction plan

As with coaching, most individuals focused on feeling and searching nice year-round ought to comply with a extra reasonable strategy with their food regimen—not getting fairly as fluffy as many powerlifters nor as lean as bodybuilders, whereas nonetheless permitting their physique fats share to rise and fall by way of a sequence of mini cuts and bulks.

Alternatively, in order for you an train program and food regimen plan that works synergistically that will help you acquire muscle, lose fats, and get wholesome quick, then take a look at my best-selling health books Greater Leaner Stronger for males and Thinner Leaner Stronger for ladies.

(Or when you aren’t positive if Greater Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger is best for you or if one other power coaching program may be a greater match on your circumstances and objectives, take Legion Energy Coaching Quiz, and in lower than a minute, you’ll know the proper power coaching program for you. Click on right here to test it out.)

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FAQ #1: What’s the distinction between powerlifting and bodybuilding?

Powerlifting entails coaching to elevate as a lot weight as attainable on the squat, bench press, and deadlift for a single rep.

Powerlifters sometimes spend most of their coaching time training these “competitors lifts” in low rep ranges and with lengthy relaxation durations between units.

Conversely, bodybuilding entails coaching to achieve as a lot muscle as attainable whereas sustaining aesthetic proportions and symmetry and a low physique fats share.

To attain this, bodybuilders practice every muscle group with quite a lot of quantity and quite a lot of workout routines and use excessive rep ranges and quick relaxation durations between units.

FAQ #2: Bodybuilding belt vs. Powerlifting belt: Which is healthier?

When most individuals consult with a bodybuilding belt, they’re truly speaking about an Olympic weightlifting belt, which is a thick belt, usually manufactured from leather-based, that tapers towards the entrance in order that it’s wider throughout the again than on the buckle.

Olympic weightlifting belts are designed like this in order that your higher physique can transfer extra freely throughout workout routines just like the clear and jerk and snatch. Nevertheless, the worth you pay for eradicating this materials is that it presents much less help. 

That’s why I don’t suggest you utilize a bodybuilding belt when you don’t do Olympic weightlifting.

The most suitable choice for powerlifters or these following power coaching applications like Greater Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger is a leather-based powerlifting belt that’s 3-to-4 inches broad, 9-to-10 millimeters thick, and that has a lever or single-prong buckle.

And in order for you extra assist deciding which sort of belt is greatest for you, take a look at this text:

Easy methods to Discover the Finest Weightlifting Belt for You

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FAQ #3: Are you able to mix bodybuilding and powerlifting?


You possibly can comply with a program like Greater Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger, which mixes points of bodybuilding and powerlifting that will help you acquire muscle by getting stronger over time. 

Or you may comply with a “powerbuilding” program, which is a method of coaching that purports that will help you maximize muscle and power acquire concurrently.

Keep in mind, nonetheless, powerbuilding applications usually don’t ship on this promise. 

That’s as a result of it’s important to practice barely in another way to attain these objectives, which suggests most powerbuilding routines won’t ever be as efficient at serving to you acquire pure power as powerlifting applications or as efficient at serving to you acquire muscle as bodybuilding applications.

As an alternative of shoehorning a bodybuilding and powerlifting program collectively, it’s typically higher to comply with a program that’s optimized for constructing muscle that additionally incorporates heavy weightlifting towards that finish (corresponding to my applications for women and men). 

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