You have to understand the differences to see the similarities.
It’s a comparison that many people make. The bodybuilder versus the powerlifter. Many people are unaware of the differences and similarities and have a tendency to lump them together in one group. When all else fails, rely on the laziness of the general observer to come to unfounded conclusions. There’s no doubt that bodybuilders and powerlifters share some similarities, there’s no avoiding it. But really, are they that much alike? Are they that much different? Well the answer is yes and no.
Like their title would indicate, powerlifters are individuals whose main goal and focus in training is to lift a considerable amount of weight in one sitting. They’re not hung up on form as much as their bodybuilder counterparts, neither are they concerned about working specific muscle groups. The whole idea behind the powerlifter is to acquire a great deal of strength through their training. Then there’s bodybuilders whose goals are different. Bodybuilders also lift a tremendous amount of weight in their training, but the difference here is that they focus more on technique and form. Why? So that they’re able to target specific muscles in the body to be sculpted to perfection. Every lift they perform is with a specific purpose. They lift heavier weights to put on bulk, but they have specific repetitions in order to build muscle mass, which in turn will build muscle definition.
But of the two athletes who is really lifting more weight? Well there are two things to take under consideration. The amount of reps that are performed as well as the resting period. The idea behind powerlifting is to not only lift heavy weight but maintain that gathered strength. The physique is taken out of the equation and instead the core idea of gaining strength remains at the forefront. Because of this powerlifters traditionally will perform less reps and have a longer rest period than a bodybuilder. The bodybuilder realizes that in order to sculpt muscle they’ll have to have perform higher reps and will also need to have a short resting period. They have to attack the muscle group over and over, break it down and allow it to build up in order to see results.
For instance, if a powerlifter and bodybuilder were to each bench 225 lbs the powerlifter may perform a set of five reps with a two minute resting period afterwards, while the bodybuilder on the other hand will perform ten reps with a one minute resting period between sets. In a one lift max out situation the powerlifter would ultimately beat out a bodybuilder because the focus is in the strength department. But essentially the bodybuilder is lifting more weight. The powerlifter’s five reps of 225 lbs equals out to 1,125 lbs while the bodybuilder’s ten reps are tallied at 2,250 lbs. Now this is merely an example in terms of the amount of weight lifted by each party and solely for comparison. Powerlifters in reality will usually lift much heavier weight than 225 lbs, but the comparison shows the basic priority of the two athletes. For powerlifters it’s less about reps and more about functional strength. For bodybuilders, powerful as they may be, it’s less about functional strength and more about form and reps. They’re sculpting the ultimate body not trying to lift a car over their heads.
So how can a bodybuilder benefit from doing powerlifting? Well for starters powerlifting will definitely help to gain bulk. In the current landscape of professional bodybuilding you’re not going to make any waves unless you have the size to compete against the current generation of mass monsters. Lifting heavy like a powerlifter will undoubtedly give you the size necessary for competition. But stray to far and you’ll find yourself focusing too much on strength and not enough on sculpting.
The training may be somewhat different, but that doesn’t mean these athletes don’t have their similarities in their training. Powerlifters do also target muscle groups much like a bodybuilder albeit in a different way. They target the groups that will improve their lifting ability, like their legs and abs. They may not be trying sculpt these muscle groups, but they must be trained rigorously as well. Even if they were performing the exact same workouts the bodybuilder is concerned with burning fat and building muscle for not only strength, but aesthetics. In truth there are a lot of things that both athletes could teach each other to greatly enhance their training.
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