Comparison of Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Many people visit the gym for different purposes. Some people come to the gym to lose a few extra kilograms, some want to prepare their bodies for the summer season, and other people choose the gym for a professional career. However, a beginner who comes to the gym to train professionally faces a difficult choice – bodybuilding vs powerlifting.

Do you want to have a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or do you want to set records for lifting heavy weights? This article will help you learn the key difference between powerlifting and bodybuilding. This will help you make the final choice on a question like «powerlifting or bodybuilding».

What is Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is a kind of sport that prioritizes muscle size and shape. Intense weight training leads to hypertrophy of muscle tissue and the athlete’s acquisition of magnificent relief of the body. The main task of an athlete is to gain quality muscle mass and get rid of subcutaneous fat, so that at the next competition worked out muscles looked flawless. 

To achieve this goal bodybuilders resort to a variety of different training systems, as well as follow a certain diet and rest regime and take special sports nutrition. During training, separate muscle groups are isolated and trained one by one. To work out each muscle of your body, you will need a lot of patience, as it is quite a long process. A very important point in bodybuilding is nutrition, which is 50% of success. Today, there are many famous bodybuilders that almost every person on the planet knows about.

What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a strength sport, and its representatives strive to lift the maximum possible weight in the «golden three» exercises (bench press, barbell squats and deadlift). The athlete’s main goal is to increase strength in basic exercises. At the same time, they do not seek to increase body mass to stay in a small weight category and lift weights several times greater than their own. 

This is made possible by a certain training scheme. This is the reason why powerlifters look completely different from bodybuilders. In powerlifting, muscle volume and fat deposits are completely irrelevant, and you are only required to be strong. You are also not required to follow strict diets, unlike bodybuilding.

powerlifting vs bodybuilding

What’s the Difference Between Powerlifting and Bodybuilding?

Many people think that powerlifting and bodybuilding are similar disciplines with minimal differences. However, this is not the case, and we will tell you why. The main difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting is the goal. The primary goal of a bodybuilder is to form a harmonious and proportional body, and fat deposits should be practically absent. In powerlifting, it is necessary to perform one of the three exercises once with the maximum weight.

Special attention should be paid to the comparison of powerlifting physique vs bodybuilding physique. It is not difficult to guess that the shape in professional bodybuilding should be with large muscles and a minimum amount of fat. Remember what Arnold Schwarzenegger looked like in his prime years. This is a great example of a bodybuilder’s form. Powerlifters, in turn, don’t focus on their shape. It doesn’t impress other people.

Work out

Since the goals of these two greatest disciplines differ significantly, the approaches to training also look quite different. Let’s start with the features of training of bodybuilding representatives:

  • In bodybuilding, an athlete works with a weight with which he can perform up to 12 repetitions. This is the optimal load for muscle mass growth.
  • The principles of exercise are also different. In bodybuilding, isolation exercises are used to work the muscles, which must be done under control.

Powerlifting has its own features in the training process. Here are the main points we can highlight:

  • Powerlifting athletes work with weights close to the limit (about 5 repetitions).
  • Powerlifting athletes mainly do basic exercises, which can be used to load several muscle groups.

In simple terms, bodybuilders aim to gain muscle mass from training, while powerlifters want to improve their strength performance.


What is the difference between the nutrition of powerlifters and bodybuilders? You can find a lot of information on this question on the Internet because the nutrition of these athletes is very different. For example, powerlifters try to consume more calories so that their body gets bigger. The diet of bodybuilders depends on the phase in their preparation for competition. There are two phases – bulking and cutting. During the bulking phase, the athlete actively gains weight and muscle mass. The cutting phase is characterized by the removal of excess water and fat deposits from the body. 

Your choice will determine how exactly you will need to compose your daily diet. However, in any case, it must be properly balanced and have a full range of essential macro and micronutrients. It must necessarily contain proteins, amino acids, full vitamin and mineral complex, only in this way the athlete will be able to contribute to the fastest possible achievement of new sporting successes.


If we talk about competitions and tournaments, then here, powerlifting and bodybuilding differ from each other as much as possible. Representatives of bodybuilding compete among themselves, where the main indicator is the shape of the body. In powerlifting competitions, success depends solely on the strength of the athlete.

  • Bodybuilding competitions are usually held in two stages – body show and exercise program. On the first day bodybuilders show themselves in 7 poses, after which the judges give marks. On the second day athletes perform free exercises to musical accompaniment. The winner is determined by the highest number of points.
  • As we have already said, the basis of powerlifting is three main exercises, which include squats with a barbell, barbell bench press and deadlift. This is how the competitions in this discipline are conducted.

Powerlifting competitions are much faster and the results are announced on the day of the tournament according to the athletes’ weight lifting results. In bodybuilding, the judges pay attention to muscle volume, leanness of the body and the ability to pose correctly.

powerlifting vs bodybuilding

What are the Benefits of Powerlifting and Bodybuilding?

For a complete comparison of powerlifting vs bodybuilding, many factors need to be analyzed, including the main benefits that both sports provide. Below we have prepared for you a detailed comparison table of the benefits of both sports.

Powerlifting’s staple principle is overload, the gradual use of increasing amounts of weights during training. This results in a higher magnitude of strength gain, not only in the three basic lifts [squat, bench press, and deadlift] but also in other lifts for sport and everyday use.Bodybuilding aims at super-compensation – the process of building large muscles through methods such as high-volume training, moderate weights, short breaks between the sets, and a concentration on the «feel» of the contraction/pump. This puts emphasis on the increase in lean muscle mass, which is a great benefit that is derived from this type of training.
It is a fact that in powerlifting training the muscles are loaded heavily. This helps in building stronger bones, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues thus making the athletes less prone to injuries. Such a powerlifting benefit can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition characterized by the loss of bone density, causing the bones to become more fragile and susceptible to breaks and fractures.Bodybuilding is majorly centered on shape development and over-accumulation of muscles and tissue in the body. This leads to improved self-perception.
The compound movements and heavy loadings involved in powerlifting brings about muscle fiber micro-tears and metabolite stress. This increases activity in the endocrine system and ushers in high levels of testosterone and growth hormones in men and women.Nearly all bodybuilding training splits feature cardio workouts such as running, swimming or high-intensity interval training. It enhances the heart health, and the lungs, helps in burning calories. It also has other health benefits such as lowering the risks of diseases.

Choosing between the matter of powerlifting vs bodybuilding is quite difficult, as they are both great sports that offer many benefits to the athlete.

Tips for Achieving Better Results

No matter what sport you choose, powerlifting or bodybuilding, there are some general recommendations to improve your results. We have collected such useful tips so that you can achieve better effects faster.

  • Regular training. Hitting the gym regularly is the key to success in sports disciplines such as powerlifting and bodybuilding. However, it is important to create the right exercise program.
  • Proper nutrition. The best solution is to consult a professional nutritionist or athletic trainer who can customize your diet according to your goals.
  • Rest. Both powerlifting and bodybuilding require the athlete to get adequate rest. In order for muscles and strength to grow, the body needs more rest.
  • Sports supplements. Sometimes, all the above methods can’t guarantee the best results. In this case, athletes take steroid supplements. Such medications usually work on the basis of synthetic hormones that improve endurance, stimulate muscle growth, and increase strength performance. In our online store, you can find a large selection of the best injectable steroids for sale.

Only by following a comprehensive approach athletes can become the best in their chosen sport. This scheme of work was used by the most famous and successful bodybuilders and powerlifters.

Final Thoughts

Bodybuilding and powerlifting have many similarities as well as differences. One sport is aimed at improving the body, while the other is aimed at maximizing the strength performance of the athlete. It is quite difficult to determine which of them is more popular, since everything depends only on the goal that the athlete sets for himself. 

They are united by regular training in the gym, special nutrition and frequent use of steroid supplements. Strongmen from powerlifting and bodybuilding perform such comprehensive training in order to show the best results in future competitions and set personal records.