Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding – Similarities and Differences

The debate over Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding has been going on for a long time. While outwardly speaking both Bodybuilding and Powerlifting might seem awfully similar, considering they involve moving heavy irons with your body, often using what seem to be similar techniques to an untrained eye, they actually couldn’t be further apart. The two are completely different disciplines, from the purpose, impact, methodology, etc.

Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding – Similarities and Differences

So here we’re going to highlight the major differences of Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding.

#1.  Purpose – Strength or Muscle

Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding

First off, the two serve completely different purposes.

The purpose of Bodybuilding is just what the name says it is. That is, it focuses on your body, your physique, with the purpose of developing the muscles along with an aesthetically pleasing plane. That is the major purpose of bodybuilding, to lose fats, build muscles, or prepare for contests. To this end, equipment like Hammer Strength machines and dumbbells work wonders.

However, Powerlifting serves an entirely different purpose. Those who practice powerlifting are more focused on building their strength as much as possible, it focuses on raw strength to the negation of any physical or aesthetic concerns. It is just about making you as strong as possible.

#2.  Speed – Slow or Rapid

Speed -Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding

At first glance, the difference between the speed at which it is carried out is fairly obvious. Olympic lifting, that is Bodybuilding, is done in rapid successions, while the Powerlifting reps are more spaced out, and go at a slower tempo in order to create maximum tension and retain it.

As a result of this time difference between each successive reps, bodybuilding generally experiences more misses. With powerlifting, you generally have a longer time to get the lift just right.

#3.  Reps – Correct tempo

Reps -Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding

The way you perform the reps contributes a lot to your body and strength. If you want to build a bigger body, stronger pecs, then you should perform a variety of reps, anything from the range of 1 to 15. Furthermore, these reps should be of varying natures, for example, you can do 3 sets of 8 reps or 5 sets of 12 reps, etc. This variation will help you keep your regime interesting and challenging at the same time.

However, if you’re a powerlifter and you aim to enhance strength then you should limit your rep range to from 1 to 5. You can increase the number of sets, and in accordance with the weight go from 1 to 10 sets even, but you should never exceed 5 reps per exercise. In fact, if you limit your rep range even further, to just 3 to 5 per exercise, that would be ideal.

#4.  Weight – Heavy Or Light

Weight - Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting

This is a major difference for Bodybuilding and Powerlifting.

Bodybuilding is a more dynamic exercise, as can probably be seen by the most dynamic range of reps themselves. However, even when it comes to lifting weights, Bodybuilding depends on a whole range of criteria. As such, during competitions judges won’t be putting much stock on how much weight you can lift. In bodybuilding, people can achieve the desired results with higher reps, more tension, etc, and as such even lighter weights can work wonders.

However, with Powerlifting there is only one endgame, how much weight you can lift, and as such powerlifters can hardly be seen lifting light weights.

#5.  Grip – Width Between Hands

Grip -Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting

If you want to pump up those chest muscles then you should go for a medium grip, as going too far will stress your shoulder joints more, and going too close will make the exercise focus on your triceps more than your chest.

However, for Powerlifting, the rules are different. In this case, your aim is to build strength and as such your bar should have to go as low a distance as possible, which can be achieved with a wider grip. Your hands should be as wide as possible with a greater arch so your bar has a lower distance to travel.

#6.  Rest – Recovery Time

Rest - Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting

This follows along the lines of the rep tempo that we’ve already established. To build your body, a rest time of just about 1 to 3 minutes should be sufficient to give you enough recovery time and maintain strength as well.

However, if your aim is to build strength by lifting heavy then you need to wait well over 3 minutes between sets, and for the really difficult lifts, you should even wait for 10 minutes or so.

These are of course just some of the most noteworthy differences of Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting. However, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know whether you agree with this list, whether some other differences come to mind, or if you have some tips to share for either of these then do comment down below. Also, now that you know what the differences between Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding are, you can set your own goals and start working for that!

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