Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding: Which Is Greatest for You?

Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding: Which Is Greatest for You?
Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding: Which Is Greatest for You?

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are two standard kinds of weightlifting. 

Whereas they share similarities, the objective of every is sort of completely different.

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

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

Due to these divergent targets, bodybuilders and powerlifters prepare and weight loss plan 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 one of the best coaching type for you, and extra.


Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting: Overview

Powerlifting is a sport that involves competing to lift as much weight as possible on the squat, bench press, and deadlift for a single rep (a one-rep max).

As such, powerlifters generally spend the bulk of their training time practicing these “competition lifts,” doing most of their sets in the 1-to-5 rep range and resting anywhere from 2-to-10+ minutes between sets.

Most powerlifters also do a few “accessory” exercises, such as the front squat, incline bench press, and Romanian deadlift, to augment their performance on the competition lifts.

Powerlifters tend to organize and periodize their training to be as strong as possible as they approach a “powerlifting meet” (competition).

In contrast, bodybuilding is a sport that involves trying to gain as much muscle as possible while maintaining aesthetic proportions and symmetry and a low body fat percentage.

To achieve this, bodybuilders place less emphasis on the squat, deadlift, and bench press (though most still include them in their training) and instead train each of their muscle groups with a lot of volume, using a variety of exercises, higher rep ranges (anywhere from 8-to-20+ reps per set) and shorter rest periods between sets (60-to-90 seconds, for example). 

It’s worth noting that, technically, anyone focused on building muscle while staying lean or getting leaner is a recreational bodybuilder. For the purposes of this article, though, I’m referring to competitive bodybuilders.

Competitive bodybuilders also organize their training and diet to maximize muscle growth during the “off-season” (the time of year when they don’t compete in bodybuilding shows) and minimize muscle loss and body fat as they approach a bodybuilding show.

During bodybuilding shows, competitors stand on stage while judges score their bodies based on their muscle mass, definition, and balance and symmetry.

Find the Perfect Supplements for You in Just 60 Seconds

You don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy. But the right ones can help. Take this quiz to learn which ones are best for you.

Take the Quiz

Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting: Physique

Both bodybuilders and powerlifters are heavily muscled. However, their physiques tend to look different for two reasons:

1. Bodybuilders maintain low body fat levels to accentuate their muscle definition, whereas powerlifters maintain moderate-to-high body fat levels to maximize their strength performance. 

(Some powerlifters also believe that having a large amount of belly fat, or “power-belly,” aids their performance by shortening the range of motion in the bench press and giving them something to rebound off at the bottom of the squat.)

2. Bodybuilders train to achieve an “X-frame,” a physique that comprises broad shoulders, wide lats, a cinched waist, and large quads. They also aim to develop small muscle groups that “polish” a physique, such as the biceps, triceps, abs, rear delts, and calves.

In contrast, powerlifters have no aesthetic goals. But since the bulk of their training consists of pushing, pulling, and squatting heavy weights, they typically develop large shoulders, traps, and pecs, a thick waist, and big glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Here are some examples to illustrate these differences:


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

Powerlifting or Bodybuilding: Which Is Greatest for You?

In fact, only a few folks ought to prepare like a powerlifter or bodybuilder.

That’s as a result of most individuals don’t need to dedicate their whole coaching and weight loss plan 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 a substitute, a compromise between these approaches works greatest—“powerbuilding,” mainly.

By way of coaching, this implies doing three-to-five 45-to-60-minute power coaching exercises per week, focusing primarily on compound workout routines that can help 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 fitness center to do isolation workout routines that spherical out your physique. 

Try this text for a coaching program that fills this invoice:

Hypertrophy Coaching: Greatest Exercise Program for Hypertrophy

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

The right way to Get the Physique You Need With Versatile Weight-reduction plan

As with coaching, most individuals occupied with feeling and looking out nice year-round ought to comply with a extra average strategy with their weight loss plan—not getting fairly as fluffy as many powerlifters nor as lean as bodybuilders, whereas nonetheless permitting their physique fats share to rise and fall via a sequence of mini cuts and bulks.

Alternatively, if you would like an train program and weight loss plan plan that works synergistically that can assist you acquire muscle, lose fats, and get wholesome quick, then try my best-selling health books Greater Leaner Stronger for males and Thinner Leaner Stronger for ladies.

(Or for those who aren’t certain if Greater Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger is best for you or if one other power coaching program is likely to be a greater match to your circumstances and targets, take Legion Power 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.)

Discover the Greatest Weight loss program for You in Simply 60 Seconds

What number of energy do you have to eat? What about “macros?” What meals do you have to eat? Take our 60-second quiz to get science-based solutions to those questions and extra.

Take the Quiz

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

Powerlifting includes coaching to carry as a lot weight as doable 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 includes coaching to realize as a lot muscle as doable whereas sustaining aesthetic proportions and symmetry and a low physique fats share.

To attain this, bodybuilders prepare every muscle group with loads of quantity and a wide range 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 product of 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 for those who don’t do Olympic weightlifting.

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

And if you would like extra assist deciding which sort of belt is greatest for you, try this text:

The right way to Discover the Greatest Weightlifting Belt for You

Some Nutritionists Cost Lots of of {Dollars} for This Weight loss program “Hack” . . .

. . . and it is yours at no cost. Take our 60-second quiz and be taught precisely what number of energy you need to eat, what your “macros” must be, what meals are greatest for you, and extra.

Take the Quiz

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


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

Or you’ll be able to comply with a “powerbuilding” program, which is a mode of coaching that purports that can assist you maximize muscle and power acquire concurrently.

Keep in mind, nevertheless, powerbuilding packages usually don’t ship on this promise. 

That’s as a result of it’s a must to prepare barely otherwise to attain these targets, which suggests most powerbuilding routines won’t ever be as efficient at serving to you acquire pure power as powerlifting packages or as efficient at serving to you acquire muscle as bodybuilding packages.

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