The Differences Between Bodybuilding and Powerlifting
By Myprotein Writer Heather Geary
It’s true that both bodybuilding and powerlifting involve lifting weights, but the technique and the way the moves are executed, are completely different, as are the results and benefits we gain.
Bodybuilding focuses not so much on strength entirely, but also on aesthetics, especially for those entering competitions. This means in order for muscles to show, the body will need to be of a particular body fat. To lose fat and achieve an optimal body fat % most bodybuilders will utilize cardio, nutrition and supplementation a lot more than powerlifters.
Within the powerlifting sport, powerlifters focus on achieving a higher one rep max. This means unlike bodybuilders, the main goal at hand is to develop power and strength, rather than focusing on visible muscle mass and physique.
Bodybuilding Vs Powerlifting
The goal in bodybuilding is to train for size, whereby diet plays a crucial part in the way bodybuilders look. Bodybuilding competitions are judged on looks whilst powerlifting competitions are judged on how much weight a person can lift, appearance not being a factor. As a result powerlifters tend to possesses a superior level of strength meaning they can lift heavier with low rep ranges, compared to bodybuilders who focus on higher rep ranges, isolation training and mind-muscle connection to achieve muscle mass.
Diet is crucial to both bodybuilders and powerlifters, but the diets themselves differ greatly. Powerlifters need to eat enough in order to generate the energy needed to move heavy weights, not to improve the look of their body. Powerlifters main goal is to increase their strength and get as strong as possible. They use low reps with heavy as possible weight to increase sheer strength and most don’t partake in cardio as a means to help with the powerlifting. Calories required by a powerlifter are greater than that of a bodybuilder consisting of higher levels of carbohydrates for energy.
Many people wonder if you can gain as much muscle doing a powerlifting routine versus a normal bodybuilding hypertrophy orientation program. A powerlifting routine tends to have a longer rest periods and less metabolic stress than a bodybuilder routine. Volume has a direct correspondence with hypertrophy, the more volume means more hypertrophy, so a traditional bodybuilding routine of 6-12 reps does allow you to get the volume needed unlike powerlifting which uses 3 reps. The lower reps used in powerlifting contribute to strength gains. If stuck between choosing a routine you need to think about your goals, whether you want to increase your muscle size or increase your power and strength.
Recovery is an important process in both bodybuilding and powerlifting, both training types break down the muscle fibers so adequate rest is needed to recover. Both use similar movements, powerlifters focus more on compound movements such as the squat, deadlift and bench press, and whilst bodybuilders use these too they also include a lot of isolation movements for smaller muscles, for example the triceps.
A Take Home Message
In conclusion both sports require dedication and teach discipline, and will undoubtedly make you fitter and stronger, increase your endurance and confidence. However the main goal of bodybuilding and powerlifting differ greatly. Bodybuilding is increasing muscle size and altering body composition to decrease fat and increase muscle, whilst powerlfiting is designed for individuals looking to get stronger. As a result when choosing your sport, your diet, training and recovery should be tailored to your specific goal.