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Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting

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I always hear the question:

“I just starting lifting. Should I do bodybuilding or powerlifting style?”


Quick answer:

It depends on your goal.


To clear a few things up, bodybuilding focuses on gaining muscle mass (big muscles), and powerlifting focuses on strength (lift heavy).

That is not to say there is a good overlap between the two. Look at elite powerlifters - they are BIG. And elite bodybuilders are STRONG. You can’t have huge muscles and not have the strength that goes with them. And it definitely helps to have big muscles to get strength.

But in the general sense, powerlifters focus on strength, and bodybuilders focus on size.

So do you want beach body muscles, or do you want to lift heavy stuff?

Powerlifters focus mainly on the “big three” lifts - squat, bench, and deadlift.  Bodybuilders train all muscles, typically in isolation. Again, there is crossover.

In the general sense of lifting, strength training goes for 3 - 5 repetitions of the exercises per set. Higher weight, less volume, more strain builds stronger muscles and tendons.

Mass training goes for 8 - 12 repetitions per set. Lighter weight, more volume, more blood flow through the muscle.

One can debate that you need a good foundation of mass before you lift heavy. Others say you need a good foundation of strength before you lift volume. Again, you will get big powerlifting, and you will get strong bodybuilding. Choose your poison.

I don’t see any pro’s or con’s for either. I choose powerlifting because I see strength as more applicable in real world situations, and I’m too lazy to do high volume work. But that’s just me.

Whichever you choose, stick with it, and lift that iron.

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Last Updated (Friday, 13 February 2015 21:41)