Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding: Which Is Finest for You?

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are two fashionable kinds of weightlifting. 

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

A bodybuilder’s focus is aesthetics. They purpose to develop giant, outlined, proportioned muscle 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 doable whereas competing at a “powerlifting meet.”

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

On this article, you’ll study the distinction between powerlifting and bodybuilding, how every fashion of coaching impacts your physique, whether or not powerlifting or bodybuilding is the very best coaching fashion for you, and extra.


Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting: Overview

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

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

Most powerlifters additionally do a number 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 robust as doable as they method a “powerlifting meet” (competitors).

In distinction, bodybuilding is a sport that includes making an attempt to realize as a lot muscle as doable 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 embrace them of their coaching) and as a substitute prepare every of their muscle teams with a variety of quantity, utilizing quite a lot of workout routines, increased rep ranges (anyplace from 8-to-20+ reps per set) and shorter relaxation intervals 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 decrease muscle loss and physique fats as they method a bodybuilding present.

Throughout bodybuilding reveals, rivals 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. Nonetheless, 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 prepare to realize an “X-frame,” a physique that includes broad shoulders, vast 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 haven’t any aesthetic targets. 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 large glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Listed below are some examples for example these variations:


(Legion athletes from prime 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 prepare like a powerlifter or bodybuilder.

That’s as a result of most individuals don’t need to dedicate their complete 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 typically required for aggressive bodybuilding.

As a substitute, 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 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: 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:

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

As with coaching, most individuals inquisitive about feeling and searching nice year-round ought to observe a extra reasonable method 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 a collection of mini cuts and bulks.

Alternatively, if you’d like an train program and food regimen plan that works synergistically that can assist you acquire muscle, lose fats, and get wholesome quick, then take a look at my best-selling health books Larger Leaner Stronger for males and Thinner Leaner Stronger for girls.

(Or if you happen to aren’t certain if Larger 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.)

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

Powerlifting includes coaching to raise 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 practising these “competitors lifts” in low rep ranges and with lengthy relaxation intervals 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 a variety of quantity and quite a lot of workout routines and use excessive rep ranges and brief relaxation intervals between units.

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

When most individuals check with a bodybuilding belt, they’re really speaking about an Olympic weightlifting belt, which is a thick belt, typically 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. Nonetheless, the worth you pay for eradicating this materials is that it gives much less help. 

That’s why I don’t advocate you utilize a bodybuilding belt if you happen to don’t do Olympic weightlifting.

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

And if you’d like extra assist deciding which kind of belt is greatest for you, take a look at this text:

The way to Discover the Finest Weightlifting Belt for You

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


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

Or you possibly can observe 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 applications typically don’t ship on this promise. 

That’s as a result of you need to prepare barely in a different way to realize these targets, 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 a substitute of shoehorning a bodybuilding and powerlifting program collectively, it’s usually higher to observe a program that’s optimized for constructing muscle that additionally incorporates heavy weightlifting towards that finish (akin to my applications for women and men). 

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