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Differences Between Bodybuilding and Powerlifting

Power Lifting Strength Training

The bodybuilding and powerlifting philosophies have clashed against each other for as long as time can remember. A longing fight for dominance created by the faithful followers of the respective training styles questioned both the relevance and the importance of these disciplines in every way imaginable.

Differences Between Bodybuilding and Powerlifting

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are both training styles born from the practice of weight lifting yet their individual purposes couldn’t be farther away from each other. Understanding the difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting can be the key behind unlocking one’s true physical potential.

Understanding the differences between Bodybuilding and Powerlifting

The main difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting begins and ends with their respective training philosophies.

Powerlifting is a raw sport that focuses on strength and explosiveness in three of the most important weight training movements known to man; bench press, deadlift, and squat.


The end goal of powerlifting is moving heavy amounts of weight from one point to another in the fastest and cleanest way possible; the name of the discipline says it all, power is the ultimate accomplishment.


Bodybuilding is completely different as it focuses on building one’s body as if it were a Greek sculpture. The weight room is an arena filled with tools that allow the human body to grow and acquire fine lines that are deemed impossible by the general part of society.

A bodybuilder learns to understand his body through a mind-muscle connection that enhances his physique from every possible angle. A powerlifter desires strength, power, and explosiveness; a bodybuilder, on the other hand, dreams of creating a beautiful piece of moving art.

Building Muscle and Gaining Strength

When it comes down to each form of training and their respective lists of potential benefits, bodybuilding has a lot more to offer than powerlifting. At the end of the day, the end goal of a powerlifter is gaining as much strength as possible, whereas a bodybuilder seeks the perfection of the human body.

A “negative” aspect involved with powerlifting that often gets overlooked is the lack of hypertrophy oriented training; a crucial factor needed to build an aesthetic physique that is disregarded by this training style.

Muscle will be gained from powerlifting; anyone who says otherwise is in the wrong, yet its effectiveness for hypertrophy is below the bodybuilding threshold.

Bodybuilding is superior to powerlifting in that sense, not only because it allows the body to develop itself proportionally but also because strength will be a common denominator as the years go by.

Ronnie Coleman, an eight-time Mr. Olympia achieved incredible feats of strength that world-class powerlifters could only dream about; proving that strength and bodybuilding are everything but strangers.

Conditioning and Performance

The difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting in conditioning and performance is even more noticeable. It’s safe to assume that two different training styles will offer different types of results when it comes down to endurance, but, can a bodybuilder keep up with a powerlifter and vice versa?

No matter how you slice and even if you add a little bit of hypertrophy training into the mix, powerlifting oriented workouts can be repetitive at times.

Strength programs that tend to activate the same muscle fibers over and over will eventually affect the human body in a negative manner, deeming it useless when trying to complete any noticeable feat of endurance like a complete bodybuilding workout.

Bodybuilding allows the athlete to change the exercise, the movement, the tempo, the range of motion, the repetitions, and the angles to achieve newer levels of development.

These small or drastic changes allow the human body to condition itself in a unique manner that allows it to improve its performance at the same time.

A classic bodybuilder will always strive to build a beautiful, functional and flexible physique that can do it all, a powerlifter will only excel it one field, and that right there is the main difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting.


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