Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting: Battle of the Titans

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are two sports centered on resistance training using weights.

Powerlifting and bodybuilding may seem to be very comparable if you’re new to weightlifting in general.

While both sports depend on weightlifting, the objectives of each activity are quite different.

What about bodybuilding vs powerlifting? Let’s examine the nuances of each sport and advice on how to include both into your training regimen – even if you don’t want to compete.

Keep on reading for our full breakdown of the bodybuilding vs powerlifting conversation. 

What Is Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is, at its most basic level, the process of constructing one’s physique via a structured exercise and diet program.

We believe that the “regimented” part of this description helps to distinguish bodybuilding from general fitness. Most gym-goers would be quick to point out that they aren’t bodybuilders. And, so many bodybuilders would be upset if they were grouped in with the ordinary gym-goer.

Understanding Competitive Bodybuilding 

Bodybuilding competitions take it a step further. Competitive bodybuilding is developing your physique. As well as consuming as much body fat as possible. And, then competing against other competitive bodybuilders on a stage. You’re all mostly undressed and covered in spray tan and body oil.

Every bodybuilding competition needs you to execute a predetermined list of postures with other competitors. But, many also ask you to perform a brief solo routine (60 seconds or less).

It varies on the category, but the most ripped and jacked contestant typically wins. Symmetry is important. However, many people would tell you that symmetry was more important in the 1980s and 1990s. While today’s bodybuilding is all about bulk.

Competitive bodybuilding is the pinnacle of physique sports by many. The final incarnation of humanity.

Each participant in a bodybuilding competition should be the most jacked and slim they’ve ever been. This necessitates the use of specialized training and dietary methods.

Finally, the distinction between bodybuilding and competitive bodybuilding begs a specific question. It’s the issue of whether or not you are a true bodybuilder if you have never competed. While philosophizing on such teeth-grinding issues is beyond the scope of this article, there is a distinction to be made. 

What Is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a lot more straightforward to define. Powerlifting is essentially a sport in which participants compete to see who can bench press, squat, and deadlift the biggest weight.

While individual wins in each category are exciting, your “total” is calculated by adding your greatest weights on each lift. If you’ve ever come across an Instagram account of a mid-tier level powerlifter, chances are they put their total in their bio. It may also be a component of their user name. Doesn’t it say a lot about powerlifting?

In a nutshell, a powerlifting competition consists of three lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift, in that order. Each participant has three tries at each lift – four if they’re attempting to break a record on their fourth attempt.

Every lift is evaluated by three judges, and at least two of the judges must “white light” your lift in order for it to be successful. A squat must break parallel, a bench must halt on your chest, and a deadlift should be completely locked out. Red lights are usually always the consequence of missing any of those components.

Powerlifting Classes 

It’s worth noting that there are (at least) two distinct classifications in powerlifting: geared and raw. There has recently been a movement to differentiate raw from raw + wraps, but it isn’t worth addressing here.

Regardless, geared powerlifting requires the use of squat suits. Also, bench shirts, and deadlift suits. While raw powerlifting simply requires the use of a belt, knee wraps (or sleeves), and wrist wraps.

Elbow sleeves are permitted in certain federations. We see monster squat and bench numbers in geared powerlifting. But, deadlift suits don’t assist as much. After all, there’s no unconventional element in a deadlift.

As a result, a geared powerlifter nearly always out squats and sometimes out-benches his or her deadlift. A raw powerlifter, on the other hand, typically deadlifts more than squats and nearly always benches less than squats or deadlifts.

Finally, the main distinction between bodybuilding and powerlifting is that in a bodybuilding competition, you must present yourself in the best possible light.

In a powerlifting competition, on the other hand, you must give it your all. As a result, it’s worth discussing a few common training factors and how they may vary between bodybuilders and powerlifters.

Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting: Highlighting the Differences

The major distinction between the two is that for powerlifters, the maximum weight lifted for the deadlift, squat, and bench press is all that matters.

So, the absolute goal of everything is strength and greater numbers. In bodybuilding, you’re evaluated on your looks. This includes displaying massive, massive muscles that can also be used to lift massive quantities of weight.

The Stage and Location

Bodybuilders and powerlifters both compete on a platform or stage.

The squat, bench press and deadlift are the three competitive exercises in powerlifting. The only thing on your mind would be how much weight you could lift while executing each of these exercises correctly.

In bodybuilding, the person who has the best appearance wins, and this “look” is determined by three factors.

Muscle size for all the muscles you can show off, the definition for how well these muscles show, and, of course, symmetry are all factors to consider. So you’ll be concentrating on how effectively you can shape your physique to satisfy all three requirements.

Body Weight and Nutrition

Both powerlifters and bodybuilders rely heavily on their diets. You’ll need to adjust your diet to assist you to lift big weights or show off your muscles more effectively. It will, of course, aid in determining the weight class you are eligible to participate in.

For powerlifting and bodybuilding, there are many weight classes. Weight classes vary per federation, but individuals are evenly divided across them so that contests are as fair as possible.

Powerlifters don’t need to monitor their weight or be lean in general. The only goal is to lift as much weight as possible, and the larger you are, the more likely you are to be able to lift more.

You’ll only need to be concerned about your weight if you’re competing in a particular weight class. As a result, the diet of a powerlifter is less specialized. During the off-season, powerlifters also tend to bear extra body fat more easily.

Diet is particularly essential for bodybuilders. Since being slimmer allows you to display greater muscle definition. That is a key element in winning.

A bodybuilder’s diet is more precise. And, bodybuilders prefer to maintain their leanness throughout the year, even during the off-season.

This is why you’ll find that high-quality supplements, like those from, are essential to ensure that your nutrition covers everything your body needs. 

Techniques in Building Muscles

It’s crucial to train for muscular failure. Or, to the point where you can no longer complete a rep in excellent form. That is if you want to develop larger, stronger muscles.

Powerlifters, on the other hand, must be able to schedule enough recuperation time in order for their muscles to function at their best.

It’s also about quality, not quantity. This means that pushing yourself and becoming “accustomed” to doing squats, bench presses, and deadlifts with a bad technique will only lead to failure during the competition lift.

Because powerlifters are always pushing themselves to lift bigger and heavier weights, they are at a higher risk of injury. And, lifting extremely heavy weights while not in top shape may be hazardous.

The Ratio Between Strength and Size

In general, the larger the muscle, the more powerful it is (and vice versa). However, muscular development differs between powerlifters and bodybuilders.

Powerlifters typically train with heavier weights and fewer reps, such as five reps or less with loads greater than 85% of one-rep max. Myofibrillar hypertrophy, or an increase in muscle dense tissue, is common with this kind of exercise.

Bodybuilders often exercise with modest weights and rep ranges of six to twelve. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, or the increase in fluid levels in muscle cells, is aided by this type of training.

Because of the different types of muscle density or size increase, you may see a lot of powerlifters who don’t look particularly strong but can lift a lot of weight – and a lot of bodybuilders who have impressively muscled bodies but don’t have a great strength-to-weight ratio.

Weight Training: Simplified

If you’ve been thinking about integrating bodybuilding or powerlifting into your regular gym routine, things can be a bit confusing at first. 

But, hopefully, our guide has shed some light on the different avenues of bodybuilding vs powerlifting. This way, you can make your decisions with a solid foundation. 

And, if you liked reading our article, then you’ll love checking out our additional tips and tricks. All of those (and much more) will be available in our fitness and health sections. 

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