Familiar with weightlifting sports such as powerlifting and bodybuilding? You probably may have watched these in sports competitions on television.  You may have thought that these kinds of sports are for showing your hulk-like physique, or your building muscle mass. It is beyond that concept. In fact, these sports are good prevention from the risk of osteoporosis, maintaining weight loss, and keeping your muscle healthy.

Moreover, have you ever wondered how Powerlifting and Bodybuilding differ from each other? To those who are new in weight sports, both may seem similar to you, but later as you go on in this strength training program, you will surely see the difference. Let’s go and check it out!


What Is Powerlifting?

It is a sport focusing on lifting heavy weights on 1RM (repetition max) performance. As per Nat the owner and head coach at Nemesis Powerlifting and Performance Powerlifting Program revolves around the following three lifts: back squat, deadlift, and bench press to produce the maximum amount of muscular force.  It focuses on lower repetition ranges from 1–5 reps with long rest time intervals. Powerlifting is about performing your best. It is a battle of who can squat, bench press, and deadlift the most. The following exercises are good mornings, Romanian deadlifts, and lunges.

What Is Bodybuilding?

It is a sport based on their overall physical appearance, muscle size, symmetry, and definition. Its goal is to focus on weight loss and muscle growth. This strength training is more intensive than powerlifting because you will spend time lifting weight from 8-15 reps, using machine-based weights, barbells, dumbbells, and isolation movements. Its rest interval is 1-2 minutes between sets. Bodybuilding exercises are lateral shoulder raises, bicep curl variations, and triceps extensions.

Now, let us try to compare the differences between Powerlifting and Bodybuilding:

These Sports May Have Similarities, But The Difference Lies In The Competitive Performance Goals.

  • Rep Ranges : Bodybuilders usually have training in the 8-12 rep range, which is the best for muscle growth, maximizing tension, and promoting metabolic stress. Powerlifters are trained in the 2-5 rep range since a competition requires only a single rep at a time. However, they also use the 8-12 rep range if they are not close to qualified to compete.
  • Rest Periods: According to research, 3 minutes has a better effect for bodybuilders to have a good muscle building. However, to maximize metabolic stress, they occasionally have 30-60 seconds of rest. Shorter rest periods can help them to pursue the pump/burn in a workout. Powerlifters have long rest periods than bodybuilders to minimize fatigue between sets and ensure no interferences in pushing heavy weights. 
  • Exercise Selection: Bodybuilders use compound movements and isolation movements for their muscles to fully develop and ensure their physique is perfect and symmetrical. Powerlifters’ exercises revolve around performing the three lifts with consistency. Both groups use accessory or isolated exercises to target weaknesses, but their definitions are different. Bodybuilders use these exercises to build muscle groups that aren’t developing as others. On the one hand, Powerlifters use them to boost their weaknesses in specific movement
  • Internal vs. External Focus: Bodybuilders are trained in internal focus, with the “mind-muscle connection” to emphasize muscle contraction in a given movement. Hence, bodybuilding increases muscle activation. Powerlifters use external focus in weightlifting, and they use external cues.
  • Cardio: Bodybuilders usually do traditional cardio for fat burning and some health benefits. Powerlifting associate’s better cardio with number of sets and exercise. They use things such as weighted carries, sleds, and other forms which is specific to powerlifting. Cardio seems more prevalent in the powerlifting group.

Therefore, these two sports rely on resistance training, but the goals of the competition are different. Powerlifting aims to increase maximal strength in three lift movements. Bodybuilding aims to reduce body fat and maximize muscle mass to extreme levels. You may see its downsides, but both can also reap benefits that can improve your overall fitness and strength.

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