How Are Bodybuilding And Powerlifting Similar And Different?

How are bodybuilding and powerlifting similar and different? Get the opinions right here as our forum members explain the similarities and differences between the two sports. Read on...

TOPIC: How Are Bodybuilding And Powerlifting Similar And Different?

The Question:

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are very similar, but then again, they are also very different. Sure both involve moving weights, but are completely different sports. There is a major difference in the body of a bodybuilder and a powerlifter.

How are bodybuilding and powerlifting both similar and different? How is the training similar and different?

What are the benefits of both?

Is there any hostility between powerlifters and bodybuilders?

Do you incorporate powerlifting into your bodybuilding routine? How so and why?

Bonus Question: What do you prefer; bodybuilding or powerlifting? Why?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:


        1st place - 75 in store credit.

        2nd place - 50 in store credit.

      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ for more info.

1st Place - mivi320


Bodybuilding and powerlifting are very similar, but very different as well. Both sports involve moving heavy iron, but the goals of the two sports are completely different.

Bodybuilders focus primarily on building muscle, losing fat, contest preparation, or simply maintaining size and strength. Powerlifters direct their attention to getting as strong as possible on the core lifts such as the deadlift, squat, and bench press.

Bodybuilding & Powerlifting:
How are bodybuilding and powerlifting both similar and different? How is the training similar and different?

Comparing bodybuilding and powerlifting is like comparing apples and oranges, but believe it or not, the two share several similarities.

When the word "bodybuilding" comes to mind, I immediately think commitment. A bodybuilder must utilize cardio, weight training, supplementation, proper recovery, and diet to fully meet his or her goals.

When the word "powerlifting" comes to mind, I immediately think of big burly men pushing heavy weight and devouring all sorts of food - whether it be healthy or not.

With that being said, let's take a look at the similarities and differences between bodybuilding and powerlifting.


    • Both bodybuilders and powerlifters go through a "peaking phase." This peaking phase for a bodybuilder entails that the trainee starts a "bulking" program - where he or she eats well over caloric maintenance levels (all clean foods of course) and lifts with gut wrenching intensity.

      This peaking phase is not a lifestyle, but more like a job. The main goal here for the bodybuilder is to gain as much muscle as possible!

      The peaking phase for a powerlifter entails that the trainee focuses extensively on bringing up the core lifts and conditioning. During this time period, the trainee eats enormous amounts of food and lifts with gut wrenching intensity - just as the bodybuilder does in the off season when on a "bulking" program.

  • Both bodybuilders and powerlifters incorporate the principle of experimentation into their regimens. It's imperative to discover what works for you and what doesn't. For bodybuilding purposes, it's important to experiment with your nutrition and training.

  • Both bodybuilders and powerlifters also incorporate the idea of sleep and recovery. Think about it - both types of trainees are breaking down muscle fibers on a constant basis. Therefore, recovery and recuperation is key to attaining your goals.

  • Both bodybuilding and powerlifting take quite a bit of mental preparation. For bodybuilders, this includes having the mental capacity to keep going and never giving up when you're practically running on an empty tank - just 2 weeks out of a bodybuilding contest. For powerlifters, this means having the mindset to nail that 650 pound deadlift - no matter what!

  • Bodybuilders incorporate the same lifts which powerlifters perform, but use a different rep range. Bodybuilders use the bench press and squat and even the deadlift!


  • Bodybuilders train for pure size, where as powerlifters train for brute strength. Training for the powerlifter implies training in a very low rep range - 2-4 reps and many singles is the crux of the powerlifter's routine. These reps are completed with maximal poundage and extremely long rest periods.

  • Bodybuilders are more concerned with diet and concerned with appearance than powerlifters. A powerlifter clearly doesn't care about appearance, as the main goal in the sport of powerlifting is to move as much weight as possible. Proper diet either makes or breaks a bodybuilder's appearance, and that is why it is imperative for bodybuilders to make smart food choices!

  • Have you ever seen a powerlifter do cardio? I didn't think so. Bodybuilders focus not only on strength training and diet, but on cardio as well. When losing fat or preparing for a contest are the goals of the trainee, cardio is absolutely key for bodybuilders!

  • Bodybuilders train with "the big 3," but also train with compound movements and isolation exercises - something powerlifters fail to do. Don't get me wrong, powerlifters do train every body part, they just do it in a different manner. They focus on full body lifts rather than several accessory lifts to target the muscles.

What are the benefits of both?

Both powerlifting and bodybuilding have their benefits. For example, both sports teach the trainee the importance of discipline and dedication. You have to have the perseverance to hit that big squat or place within the top 3 competitors in your weight class. You have to possess the dedication to commit yourself day in and day out!

One of the biggest benefits of bodybuilding is the fact that it improves your appearance significantly. As a result, you will have more confidence and be much happier with yourself! Not to mention the fact that you'll now be attracting the opposite sex!

One of the biggest benefits of powerlifting is the fact that you will develop a much better connection with your body, as you will test your limits day in and day out of the gym by attempting heavy weights - never second guessing yourself! As a powerlifter, you will also develop a greater sense of self confidence and perseverance!

Is there any hostility between powerlifters and bodybuilders?


Sometimes bodybuilders often rip on powerlifters for being "overweight" and "fat." Powerlifters often rip on bodybuilders as being "pretty boys."

However, the fact of the matter is that powerlifters who diet down to take up bodybuilding often come out looking the best. Bodybuilders such as Ronnie Coleman and Johnnie Jackson were former powerlifters and just look at their physiques!

Click To Enlarge.
Former Powerlifters.

In the grand scheme of things, it is this writer's opinion that the hostility isn't as severe as it was a couple years ago. I think both sides have learned to respect each other. After all, we all share the same passion - lifting weights!

Personally, I have a new found respect for powerlifters after I became good friends with a powerlifter who has competed locally and attends the same gym as I do. After seeing this guy train and place 1st in several local powerlifting competitions, I developed a new found respect for guys like him!

Do you incorporate powerlifting into your bodybuilding routine? How so and why?


I incorporate the "big 3" into my bodybuilding routine and train in the low rep ranges from time to time. Doing so has enabled me to get the best of both worlds and develop my strength levels. With my increased strength levels, I also increased my mass and size as well!

I also use bench presses with chains and bands from time to time - a typical powerlifting training method. Doing so has allowed me to create more resistance and amplify my training!

I also do Full Squats whenever I hit a plateau on my "bodybuilding squats" - which consist of me squatting way below parallel. Doing so has allowed me to break my plateau and has also generated some new growth in my lower body!

Click Play To Start The Video.
Barbell Full Squat
Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Quadriceps
Other Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Calves, Glutes
Equipment: Barbell
Mechanics Type: Compound

I truly feel as if all bodybuilders should incorporate some powerlifting methods and "the big 3" into their routines - regardless of his or her goals. They will allow you to shock your body into growth and conclusively increase your strength, which opens the door for some wicked size gains!

Bonus Question:
What do you prefer; bodybuilding or powerlifting? Why?


I like to describe my training style as a cross between powerlifting and bodybuilding. My main goal is training for size, but I love going into the gym and pounding out low reps with some heavy weights!

I train for brute strength (in the 2-5 rep range) on all of the core lifts and this has allowed me to increase size and strength. I got the idea of training this way from's very own Derek Charlebois, as he uses this same method of training!

So all in all, I prefer powerbuilding as I like training for size, but have a passion for attacking some heavy weights and testing my limits!

Live life to the fullest, Mike

2nd Place - CinciBoy23


When somebody can look at you and say "Wow, are you a bodybuilder," or "You're on steroids!" (Sometimes taken as an insult to the many steroid-free athletes), then you may have met the goals of a bodybuilder.

An accomplished powerlifter however may hear different comments though such as, "You are a monster," or "You're massive!" Obviously some people may confuse the two sports though seeing as both involve lifting weights all the time. But that is where many of the similarities end.

Bodybuilding & Powerlifting:
How are bodybuilding and powerlifting similar and different? How is the training similar and different?

A bodybuilder can be defined as someone who is in the process of developing the muscles of the body through proper diet and training techniques. A powerlifter on the other hand is somebody who focuses on increasing the weight they can lift in the bench press, squat, and deadlift, until they are the best in their weight class.

Similarities Of The Two Sports:

  • The first similarity is of course, the lifting of heavy amounts of weights for an accumulation of hours and hours. Both athletes must be focused on the weight and moving it at all costs. If the reps aren't completed, you aren't going to reach your goals. It's similar to any regular 9-5 job. If you don't complete the task (set of reps), you aren't going to get paid (strength or muscle increase).

  • Both sports incorporate the idea of proper diets and nutrition. It is common knowledge in both sports that if you aren't eating the foods that your body demands after intense workouts, you won't gain the desired amount of muscle mass or strength.

    Some people who I go to school with are prime examples of a lack of good diet while lifting. They lift after school 3 or 4 days a week and size and strength gain is limited because of their lack of nutritional knowledge.

  • In both sports, overtraining is a possibility. Therefore one must give his or her body ample time to rest between training sessions. It's like making a horse race for you after not letting it sleep or eat for a while after its training session. It simply won't be able to perform at its top level, just like an overworked bodybuilder or powerlifter.

  • Athletes of both sports must find what is right for them. One person's routine may have completely different results with another person. This is why trial and error is a big factor in both sports.

Differences Of The Two Sports:

    • You can separate a bodybuilder and a powerlifter most times just by looking at them. The bodybuilder will appear to be a toned, muscular, athletic looking person where as the powerlifter may look muscular, but out of shape and "fat."

      The truth is, a completely dedicated powerlifter will not care about his looks and will focus solely on the weight that he is determined to move. The lack of good body appearance may make him appear fat, but in his sport, his body could be considered a work of art depending on how much he can lift.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Gene Rychalk.

  • While the diet aspect of both sports is similar, it does have its differences. A bodybuilder's diet must be planned, structured, and complete, to achieve the desired physique. A powerlifter's diet, while still very organized, may be less clean, and possibly higher calorie in an attempt to fuel his or her muscles completely without underfeeding them at all.

  • Cardiovascular exercise is another difference in the complete training of both sports. To be a well known and accomplished bodybuilder, you MUST do some form of cardio in the cutting phase, which I will get into very shortly. The excess body fat accumulated while bulking needs to be shed so cardio is a key part of bodybuilding.

    A powerlifter on the other hand need not worry about cardio at all. The only thing cardio can do to them that they would care about is depleting the strength that they have worked so hard to achieve.

  • Cutting, as mentioned before, is a part of bodybuilding not found in powerlifting. Cutting is the process leading up to competition or maybe summer time. A successful cut stage will leave you with a low body fat percentage with those hard earned muscles coming out through the layer of fat that has been shed. The goal is to minimize muscle and strength loss while maximizing fat loss.

  • Competition is another part of both sports. The competition in bodybuilding is basically you the bodybuilder, standing up on a stage, and flexing the muscle you have worked to achieve and hoping the judges see something in you that the other competitors lack.

    In powerlifting, the competition is simple, who can lift the most weight in the 3 main lifts (bench press, squat, and dead lift).

    In both sports, competitors must prepare by eating the correct foods. In bodybuilding this may mean cutting back on carbohydrates somewhat pre competition to get to the lowest safe body fat possible and for powerlifters it may mean eating more than they already normally do, to get the highest level of strength they possibly can before the competition.

What are the benefits of both?

There are many benefits to both sports depending on how you look at it. For a bodybuilder, benefits could range from good health, nice physique, more attention from the opposite sex, and high self confidence. When you have all of these benefits going for you, it will lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle which is arguably the most important thing in life, happiness.

You won't meet many depressed bodybuilders because lifting weight and exercising is a big stress reliever. When you exercise, your mind releases endorphins that ease your stress levels and make you a happier person without using any illegal substances.

In my opinion there are fewer benefits to powerlifting but still there are some. One benefit to powerlifting is a huge boost in self confidence when you bench that huge amount of weight as everyone looks in awe. I can imagine the great feeling of pride that comes along with achieving your goals of lifting the enormous amounts of weight that some natural powerlifters are capable of.

With both sports comes the benefit of good discipline and determination. To be successful at either one, both of these must be present. Slip ups in the diet, missing workouts at the gym, and being lazy aren't going to get you to where you want to be.

Is there any hostility between powerlifters and bodybuilders?

Yes and no. There will always be the guys who have a huge ego and are determined to show that their sport or what they do is best, but overall, most bodybuilders have great respect for each other and powerlifters alike. Both sides know what determination and perseverance it takes to accomplish your goals.

My experiences in the gym are that there is a mutual respect for all people in the gym, whether they are a powerlifter or a bodybuilder. Some people may argue for hours which sport is best, but in the end they will end up with a mutual respect for the other sport after hearing the intense training that both athletes must endure.

Do you incorporate powerlifting into your bodybuilding routine? How so and why?

Yes, it would be somewhat stupid not to. The main three lifts of a powerlifter are a great tool for building mass for any bodybuilder. The bench press, squat, and deadlift are all great for putting on pounds of that precious muscle. These lifts incorporate many muscles therefore helping to pack on pounds of muscle to you frame.

Any bodybuilder who isn't using these three lifts should definitely start. They have helped me increase strength and size quite effectively throughout these last 6 months or so.

Bonus Question:
What do you prefer; bodybuilding or powerlifting? Why?

Personally I prefer bodybuilding. When the benefits of both sports are compared, bodybuilding is the clear winner to me. Sometimes I think about being a powerlifter and how much more fun it could be, but then I see some of the pictures of accomplished bodybuilders and I can't help but be amazed.

Bodybuilding is an amazing way to boost your happiness without the use of drugs or alcohol. Bodybuilding is always a challenge and that is why I like it. It never gets boring or dull.

3rd Place - zdcisme123

[ Q ] How are bodybuilding and powerlifting both similar and different? How is the training similar and different?

A: Bodybuilding and powerlifting are both put in the same category of lifestyles when looked at it from the eyes of someone outside the sport, but to the people of the sports, they know it is very different. To "them" its both about lifting weights to become more powerful and physically fit than the average man by as much as possible, to us it might be a little more like this...


Both of the sports obviously involve putting up weights to achieve more strength and size; ultimately to become the most dominant person in the sport they are involved. They both have to change up their diets and monitor every single thing they eat to get the desired effect to their physique, whether it be size or strength. In my eyes, and a lot of others, that fairly much sums up the similarities.


To start it off, the sport of bodybuilding is all about who looks like they can lift the most weights whereas powerlifting is who CAN lift the most weights in the three main lifts ( squat, deadlift, and bench press).

To achieve these two different goals, someone on the outside might think that you do pretty much the same thing, lift a lot of weight. That is right in the fact that both bodybuilders and powerlifters lift weights, but the way they do it and the way they supplement that lifting is A LOT different.

If you are bodybuilding you might be found in the gym 3-5 times a week lifting for up to an hour and a half at weights that are slightly lower than they could lift for a 8 reps max so they can rep more around the range of 12-14, thus building up more mass while really not putting on as much strength as they could by doing more weight for less reps as powerlifters do.


Enter the amount of weight you can lift (in pounds) and the number of reps you can lift it for.

Powerlifters keep their rep range in the 3-6 range with longer rest so they are able to lift more weights and become stronger. Also bodybuilders go through a phase of bulking and cutting where they manipulate their caloric intake and cardiovascular training depending on the phase.

During bulking they add more calories so they are able to put on a lot of weight, but they watch their fats and carbs so they don't put on too much fat. The reason that putting fat on is so important to them is because when they go into their pre-contest cutting phase, they want to be able to easily get the fat off their frames without losing any or very little muscle mass.

When they are going into competition they want to have as little body fat as physically possible in order to show off their muscularity without any interference from body fat. After all, its all about how the judges see you.

Powerlifting on the other hand, the athletes are not judged at all on how they look, just on how much they can lift, so they tend to let their fats and carb intake go high because it will build more muscle. That's why they appear to be "fat."

Although they seem to just let themselves go, in truth they monitor what they eat just as much as a bodybuilder does, they argue that they do even more.

People who powerlift have to get all those carbs and fats and proteins, they do not want their weight to go up off fat too much or their weight class will go up and they will have to be competing against other people who might have less fat and more muscle. That would make competing a lot more difficult. As you can see, both really do have to manipulate their nutrition to get the desired effects.

[ Q ] What are the benefits of both?

A: The benefits of both these sports is controversial. If you are a bodybuilder who lifts and eats naturally (without any form of steroids) then your nutrition and exercise are ultimately making your heart and body better.

On the other side, cutting your body fat a lot to very low amounts can be dangerous to your health. It truly depends on what you are using as supplementation. It can be really healthy, or really detrimental to your health.

Powerlifting is similar, its all about what you are taking in to your body. Lifting weights, when done properly is never going to be bad for you. The only way that will happen is if you are using incorrect form and lifting weights that could injure yourself.

Also it could depend on what you consider good health. If you think being able to run 20 miles without falling apart is a good measurement of fitness, then they are not really what you are looking for. But if you want a non-obese person who has a healthy heart and regularly watches their food intake and exercises, bodybuilders and powerlifters are the epitome of health.

[ Q ] Is there any hostility between powerlifters and bodybuilders?

A: I have never really been in the situation where it is powerlifter against bodybuilder in real life so I could not tell you. Both have goals that set them apart from everyone else in this world so they have a lot to relate about. On the other hand, I have seen a lot of online arguments about which is more important, how much you look like you can bench press, or how much you CAN bench press. Kind of depends on the situation.

Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding
"What do you think is healthier, powerlifting or bodybuilding?" - Doll Steak
[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] Do you incorporate powerlifting into your bodybuilding routine? How so and why?

A: Yes I am a strong believer in training like a powerlifter and eating like a bodybuilder. Of course half the time I train like a bodybuilder because its necessary if you want to tone and define your muscularity. But to switch up your routine its really a great idea.

The way I usually incorporate the powerlifting routines is that every couple of months I will switch to it to shock my body into new growth, and to blast through plateaus. Powerlifting can definitely put on some major mass to your body in a short amount of time. If really demanding but the strength results are mind blowing.

So now you are wondering... Well why does it matter how much you are gaining strength-wise - all that matters is how much it looks like you can lift. Well when you go back to your bodybuilding routine, you are able to lift a lot more weights for your old exercises, which will shock your muscles into even more growth! The cycle goes on and on and I have never hit a plateau for very long with this and I am always gaining more strength and size!

BONUS QUESTION: What do you prefer; bodybuilding or powerlifting? Why?

A: Although there are many awesome benefits to powerlifting (being able to pretty much take down whoever you want at any time) I will always say that I am a bodybuilder. When a person bodybuilds, their physique is constantly getting better and when they walk around with their shirt off, the bodybuilder is always going to get more looks for the ladies than the powerlifter, even if he can kick everyone's butt!

When a person is bodybuilding, they can see strength gains AND size gains that can push them through lifting and life in general with the added incentives of boosting their self esteem. Also you just cannot beat the rush of being on stage, win or lose.


Review Of Other Articles
Or "Why Wasn't Mine Picked?"



  • Generally well written and nice flowing conversational style.


    • Some of the paragraphs would have been more readable if broken down into two or more sections.

Comments: An informative and interesting read. Some fine tuning on the delivery side may make this writer a tough contender in future efforts.

Making the work more pleasant to read and having something to set your submission apart from the pack sometimes help an article chance of being accepted.

Read your work out loud. If you pause in the middle of a paragraph, ask yourself if you are "changing gears". If you are pausing to shift subjects, another paragraph is usually a good idea.