Bodybuilding Vs. Power Lifting

by | Jul 9, 2018

Beginners in the gym might think that power lifting and bodybuilding are interchangeable terms, but while both offer a great workout, they are not the same thing. Both of these forms of increasing muscle mass employ lifting weights, adhering to a proper diet and getting the right amount of rest on a daily basis. They both involve bulking up and lifting weights, but that’s where similarities end since the goal of bodybuilders and power lifters are different.

What is bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is the art of sculpting a muscular, symmetrical, and visually appealing physique. A bodybuilder typically trains a specific body part each day of their training split. A split is breaking up a workout routine into smaller parts, so you can do more exercises per body part. People of all ages perform bodybuilding exercises for the increased strength, health and physically fit appearance they produce.

What is power lifting?

Power lifting measures absolute strength by lifting the most amount of weight in one repetition.  Power lifting, a strength sport where you compete in the squat, bench press and deadlift, allows you to build muscle and burn fat. Power lifting, like other forms of heavy resistance training, strengthens your skeleton and reduces your risk of injury in other sports and activities.

Difference between bodybuilding and power lifting

One need not actually compete in order to practice power lifting or bodybuilding. It comes down to your goals. Power lifting and bodybuilding are both intense disciplines that aim for different measurable results.

Bodybuilders typically perform sets between 6-12 reps, which are generally ideal for muscle building.  For this reason, power lifters lift heavy weights with only three to four repetitions. In bodybuilding, an athlete must work on cardio and strength training along with bulking and cutting. Maintaining a diet suitable for building mass is important; there must be a right combination of drink, food, recovery, and supplements. Building mass, having the right nutrition, and cardio and strength training all work to shape your body into a build that has a lot of muscle while getting rid of excess body fat and water. Power lifters train for the brute strength necessary to lift weights in a competition. Diet is much more important in bodybuilding than power lifting.  Rather, the diet for power lifters is what can give them the most amount of energy. Food with high fat, high calories and high protein is what most power lifters eat.

Power lifters generally have a platform they use in order to perform their competition lifts. Competition lifts generally include deadlifts, bench presses, and squats. Unlike power lifters, bodybuilders use exercise to sculpt their body and increase muscle size, definition, and symmetry. Bodybuilders generally compete on stage for the best body created by heavy workout regimens as well. At the end of the day, the end goal of a power lifter is gaining as much strength as possible, whereas a bodybuilder seeks the perfection of the human body.

Good form is important in both bodybuilding and power lifting, but each camp has a very different view of what good is.  In bodybuilding, good form reduces the number of muscles being used, to isolate the individual muscle being worked as much as possible. Good form in power lifting incorporates as many of the strongest muscle groups possible into each lift.

To conclude, power lifters must perform the squat, bench press, and deadlift. While these compounds lift stimulate multiple muscle groups and have a large potential for strength gains. But a bodybuilder will be able to choose from a lot more variety in terms of angle, tempo, and exercise selection.  A power lifter will mostly train the three lifts, with variations (to correct weak points in the lift) and accessory work. A bodybuilder is likely to train body part splits with reps in a hypertrophy range, and a focus on volume.

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