These Are the Differences Between Powerlifting vs. Powerbuilding

Powerlifting and powerbuilding are each extraordinarily standard kinds of coaching. It’s arduous to disclaim the visceral pleasure of getting stronger, and constructing muscle may be simply as satisfying. Powerlifting is each a power sport and the pursuit of maximal power throughout a couple of key workouts.

Then again, powerbuilding entails pursuing each power and muscle concurrently. Powerbuilders intention to get sturdy and shredded within the gymnasium. Nonetheless, all is just not sunshine and rainbows – there’s a disadvantage to splitting your focus. 

A bodybuilder doing dumbbell lateral raises.
Credit score: Bojan656 / Shutterstock

Whereas there are some stark variations between powerlifting and powerbuilding, there are additionally some important areas of overlap that will make your remaining resolution a bit difficult. To take advantage of knowledgeable resolution that you would be able to, right here is all the pieces that you must learn about powerlifting vs. powerbuilding.

What Is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a sport that culminates in a contest that exams the maximal power of your squat, bench press, and deadlift. Even with out the aggressive part, leisure powerlifters take their craft simply as severely.

As a powerlifter, your coaching routines and restoration techniques will all be tailor-made towards producing will increase in your 1-repetition maximum (1RM) of the “Huge 3” lifts. Nonetheless, leisure powerlifters additionally prepare for the broader aim of accelerating their full-body power.

What Is Powerbuilding?

Powerbuilding blends two kinds of coaching — powerlifting and bodybuilding. Though powerlifting and bodybuilding are formalized sports activities with separate parameters and competitions, powerbuilding itself is loosely-defined and relatively forgiving. It’s not a acknowledged sport, however a coaching philosophy. Powerbuilding workouts often prioritize a serious barbell motion sample (squats, hinges, presses) earlier than diving into extra muscle-group-specific coaching for hypertrophy. 

That is principally much like how bodybuilders prepare, nonetheless some bodybuilders choose out of heavy barbell-based exercises in favor of extra isolation strikes. Powerbuilding balances these two paths, holding power on the forefront whereas nonetheless accounting for muscle achieve.

A bodybuilder doing the dumbbell inclined press.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

[Read More: Nutrition for Athletes — How to Eat for Muscle and Performance]

Within the lengthy haul, powerbuilding can get you tremendous sturdy, tremendous jacked, but in addition function a launching level for a extra targeted foray into powerlifting or bodybuilding sooner or later. The principle disadvantage right here is that powerbuilding requires you to separate your efforts: pursuing power and muscle concurrently and equally will sluggish your fee of progress in comparison with specializing in one after the other.

Powerlifting vs. Powerbuilding Coaching

Specificity (or how comparable your coaching classes look to your competitors or aim) is among the defining traits of powerlifting. In powerbuilding, this layer of strictness is a bit thinner; in an effort to get stronger you definitely want to coach heavy, however your train choices are extra broad. 

Programming Kinds

Powerlifting particularly focuses on movement patterns. Any train that you simply carry out ought to be in service of bettering your bench press, back squat, or deadlift indirectly. Powerlifters definitely make the most of isolation workouts throughout their accent work, however you’ll method these strikes via the lens of bettering your maximal aggressive lifts.

Powerbuilders aren’t certain to a few particular workouts, which opens up potentialities in exercise design. As a powerbuilder, you’re free to go for variations of the press, squat, or hinge that could be extra comfy for you. When you’ll nonetheless pursue power in these workouts, you’ll observe them up with extra time spent on constructing a well-rounded physique through gear like machines, cables, or free weights.

An athlete doing a single-arm dumbbell row.
Credit score: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

Each approaches depend on periodization. That is significantly true for powerlifters, the place arduous plateaus and long-term stalling may be devastating to your aggressive prospects. Even for powerbuilding objectives, a periodized program has been proven to be superior to a non-periodized possibility in eliciting features. (1)


Frequency is a crucial consideration for any kind of high-intensity training. Barbell workouts may be extremely skill-dependent, which means that getting an ideal return in your funding (power, muscle, or some mixture) will rely on how effectively you execute the train itself.

For each powerlifting and powerbuilding, you’ll wish to choose a frequency that lets you finest get better between classes and accrue significant technical apply. Powerlifters usually prepare their aggressive lifts anyplace from 2-4 instances per week, with completely different depth or quantity parameters every time. (2)

[Read More: The Best Foods for Energy Before, During, and After Your Workouts]

Powerbuilders can apply this philosophy to their coaching as effectively. When you start your two weekly leg days with the again squat, you’re working with a suitable frequency for ability improvement as effectively. General, powerbuilders and powerlifters each hit the gymnasium between 3-6 days per week, albeit with completely different weekly buildings to their exercises. 

Workout routines and Tools

As a powerlifter, your exercises primarily encompass barbell workouts to provide the particular power and coordination diversifications you’re searching for. Your accent work, although, will contain instruments equivalent to bands, cable machines, and even calisthenics training.

Whereas powerbuilding exercises contain barbell coaching as effectively, they’ll usually abandon free weights a bit earlier into the session in an effort to preserve some high quality gasoline within the tank. To actually give attention to pushing arduous for muscle progress, intention for extra secure instruments like cables or machines

A bodybuilder doing a cable machine flye.
Credit score: Bojan656 / Shutterstock

Equally, powerbuilding makes use of higher-repetition sets earlier within the exercise, making it simpler to focus on particular muscle teams in isolation. For instance, you might use instruments equivalent to dumbbells or machines for units of 8-15 repetitions versus a powerlifter aiming for 3-6 with free weights.

Powerlifting vs. Powerbuilding Vitamin

Your dietary habits have a big impact in your efficiency no matter what you’re coaching for. Each powerlifting and powerbuilding require speedy muscle recovery between exercises to maximise their outcomes. Refined variations in coaching objectives can impression dietary issues.

Powerlifting Vitamin Objectives

Powerlifting exercises may be extraordinarily grueling, significantly if you’re “peaking” for a contest or are within the depths of a high-intensity week of exercises. In both case, it’s best to prioritize getting sufficient protein and whole energy to gasoline your exercises and make sure you’re recovering appropriately.

[Read More: The Complete Guide to Pre-Workout Supplements]

Though powerlifting is a weight class sport, sustaining a selected physique composition isn’t essentially essential. Energy relies upon totally on motor ability competence; how a lot muscle you carry issues, however you don’t want a certain quantity of muscle to achieve powerlifting. So long as you match inside your required weight class, you needn’t fear an excessive amount of about how a lot muscle or fats you’re carrying (although extra lean tissue is, in fact, higher than much less).

Powerbuilding Vitamin Objectives

Powerbuilding’s cut up give attention to each power and aesthetics signifies that that you must eat to each gasoline your exercises and preserve a suitable physique composition. In sensible phrases, this implies consuming sufficient to build muscle and prepare arduous, however not an excessive amount of that you simply placed on undesirable fats. 

[Related: The Definitive Guide to Bodybuilding Meal Prep]

To perform this, you have to to as soon as once more set calorie and protein targets, however you additionally will probably must make use of some type of dietary planning and caloric management. Having phases of progress (or bulking) and instances to minimize (lose physique fats) are frequent in bodybuilding, and carry over successfully to powerbuilding as effectively.

An athlete doing a back squat.
Credit score: Floor Image / Shutterstock

[Related: The Gymgoer’s Guide to Whey Protein]

A bulking phase will push you right into a caloric surplus to realize weight. It’s extremely advisable that you simply take a protracted, sluggish method right here in an effort to maximize muscle gain and decrease fats achieve together with it. That is significantly necessary as you achieve extra expertise and your fee of muscle achieve slows. (3)

A reducing section employs a strategic calorie deficit to lose as a lot physique fats as attainable and lean out. Just like a bulk, it’s best to method this with a long-game mentality. The sooner you shed weight — particularly as you get leaner — the upper chance of muscle loss together with it. (4

Powerlifting Vs. Powerbuilding Competitors

Powerlifting is a coaching fashion for some, however in reality is a reliable power sport. The trail of a aggressive powerlifter will finally lead in the direction of a contest (or meet, as they’re known as): A day the place you go face to face with different athletes and check your prime squat, bench press, and deadlift performances. 

Powerbuilding is extra of a coaching philosophy — it has no particular sport of its personal to prepare round. Nonetheless, because it double dips in each powerlifting and bodybuilding methodologies, it may be used as an introduction to extra inflexible powerlifting or bodybuilding programs.

Powerlifting Competitors

Powerlifting competitions will separate you into weight courses to go head-to-head with equally sized rivals in testing your maximal power. There are three workouts — the squat, bench press, and deadlift — throughout which you get three makes an attempt to submit your highest rating (efficiently accomplished repetition). The athlete with the very best mixed whole weight lifted between all of their finest makes an attempt per train might be declared the winner.

[Read More: Build a Titanic Torso with These Bodybuilding Chest & Back Workouts]

Oftentimes a “finest lifter” of the whole meet might be declared based mostly upon a calculation made evaluating whole weight lifted and scaled to body weight between rivals.

Powerbuilding Competitors Choices

There aren’t any powerbuilding competitions. Nonetheless, those that partake in powerbuilding can often use their features in additional particular contexts. 

You’ll be able to prepare as a powerbuilder and construct power within the squat, bench press, and deadlift, albeit probably at a slower tempo, whereas additionally constructing substantial muscle. By holding main power coaching at its core, you’ll be able to merely peak and compete in powerlifting at your leisure.

Powerbuilding will also be a much less particular methodology of constructing important muscle in preparation for a bodybuilding present. Just like peaking for powerlifting, powerbuilding can put together you in the course of the off season the place you should have a a lot bigger quantity of energy and restoration to play with. When you enter a “prep cycle” to weight-reduction plan down for a bodybuilding present, you’ll be able to shift your coaching away from compound actions if you happen to want to spare some vitality.

Can You Do Each Powerlifting and Powerbuilding?

In reality, combining powerlifting and powerbuilding quantities to semantics. Powerbuilding is already a mixture of coaching kinds, in spite of everything. 

In actual world phrases, mixing the 2 would merely take the type of including extra accent work to a powerlifting routine, or doing extra barbell workouts in a powerbuilding exercise. That stated, there are some key factors to contemplate if you happen to’re pondering of mixing the 2.

  • You’ll probably want to switch a number of the train choice and quantity to peak in your powerlifting meets.
  • You will have to remain on prime of your weight class necessities.
  • Periodizing your major powerlifting workouts is a should.
  • Your powerlifting workouts will probably stay staples inside your program.

Pattern Exercises

It might provide help to determine between powerlifting and powerbuilding to see a pattern of every exercise. Right here’s a structure of a chest or “push” exercise from each a powerlifter’s and powerbuilder’s perspective.

A bodybuilder doing the dumbbell press on an inclined bench.
Credit score: Bojan656 / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Best Full-Body Bodybuilding Workout for Beginner to Advanced Lifters]

Observe that each exercises start with free-weight barbell workouts. The powerlifter will focus extra on accent work that dietary supplements their efficiency of the bench press as a ability, whereas the powerbuilder will proceed to hammer their pecs and triceps with different workouts for muscle progress.


Observe: AMRAP = as many repetitions as attainable.


The Energy Is in Your Palms

Powerlifting and powerbuilding give you a tough option to make. They each will assist you to get stronger, develop your physique, and luxuriate in a number of the finer experiences within the weight room (together with however not restricted to hitting private information). The main rub is the place you place your highest priorities in coaching. 

Powerbuilding offers you the choice to diverge from the slender pursuit of maximal power in trade for some muscle features on the facet. The tempo of each might be slowed, however you received’t must finally concede both.

Powerlifting could also be a bit extra inflexible in its necessities, however if you happen to’re chomping on the bit to check your mettle in maximal power, it’s in all probability best for you. Weigh your choices alongside your objectives — whether or not it’s powerlifting or powerbuilding, the facility is in your fingers.


  1. Williams, T. D., Tolusso, D. V., Fedewa, M. V., & Esco, M. R. (2017). Comparability of Periodized and Non-Periodized Resistance Coaching on Maximal Energy: A Meta-Evaluation. Sports activities drugs (Auckland, N.Z.), 47(10), 2083–2100. 
  2. Rhea, M. R., Ball, S. D., Phillips, W. T., & Burkett, L. N. (2002). A comparability of linear and day by day undulating periodized applications with equated quantity and depth for power. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 16(2), 250–255.
  3. Iraki, J., Fitschen, P., Espinar, S., & Helms, E. (2019). Vitamin Suggestions for Bodybuilders within the Off-Season: A Narrative Overview. Sports activities (Basel, Switzerland), 7(7), 154. 
  4. Aragon, A. A., Schoenfeld, B. J., Wildman, R., Kleiner, S., VanDusseldorp, T., Taylor, L., Earnest, C. P., Arciero, P. J., Wilborn, C., Kalman, D. S., Stout, J. R., Willoughby, D. S., Campbell, B., Arent, S. M., Bannock, L., Smith-Ryan, A. E., & Antonio, J. (2017). Worldwide society of sports activities diet place stand: diets and physique composition. Journal of the Worldwide Society of Sports activities Vitamin, 14, 16. 

Function Picture: Bojan656 / Shutterstock

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