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How Powerlifting Changed Bodybuilding


This interesting article take a look at how bodybuilding has evolved over the years as it starts to incorporate elements of powerbuilding. After all, both sports require lifting heavy amounts of weight, but the overarching goal is where the two differ.

Over the years, bodybuilders have found that lifting heavier and lifting for strength, as do powerlifters, is actually beneficial for the overall goal of building muscle through hypertrophy. However, the two sports will never be too similar because of the drastic goal differences. Bodybuilders want to build muscle aesthetically, while powerlifters want to be able to lift as much weight as possible.

One other area that bodybuilding has adopted from powerlifting has been a renewed focus on the lower body for bodybuilding. Back in the day, the focus was mostly on the upper body, but now bodybuilders have discovered that working out the lower body is beneficial for the entire body as well, not just from a physical strength standpoint, but also for putting on muscle.

The next time someone talks about being a powerlifter or a bodybuilder, they may be a hybrid of the two, as these two terms are now becoming more and more enmeshed over the years.





The Powerlifting/Bodybuilding Crossover

When it comes to bodybuilding you really have to look outside the box for some alternatives to get your gains. Whether it’s a new training program, heavier weight, or increasing your volume, bodybuilding is a sport that is about differentiating your training in order to see more gains. When you first start out lifting weights, building muscle can be the simplest thing in the world, mostly because the body isn’t used to being under any kind of stress of tension from resistance training. For an experienced lifter however, growing new muscle is a tall task and can nearly seem impossible to accomplish. At times like these, it means trying some new methods in order to stimulate growth.

Powerlifting has become a crossover sport over the years. Many methods of training found in powerlfting have been adopted into bodybuilding training and visa versa. These days bodybuilders don’t want to just simply look the part, but they want to have functional strength to go along with their massive forms. There’s nothing worse than a bodybuilder who may be jacked, but can’t lift any substantial weight. It just doesn’t look right. So rather than focus on hypertrophy alone, bodybuilders are now focusing on building strength to go along with their muscle. But what elements of powerlifting have improved or hindered bodybuilding development?

1. Lower Body Training

There’s a reason that the saying don’t skip leg day caught on so quickly. Back in the day, bodybuilders were more concerned about building up their upper bodies more than their lower half. It meant massive arms, chests, and backs, but meant that the legs would pale in comparison. Thanks to the emphasis on building functional strength with squats and deadlifts, the powerlifting ideology took hold, making lifting heavy on leg day a priority. Ever since it took hold, leg day has become a necessity to every bodybuilder’s workout plan.

2. Heavy weight for bigger muscle

Like mentioned before, there are bodybuilders of many different schools of thought. The first thought process is that nothing else matters except getting a pump and hypertrophy, while the other is that functional strength should also take priority. Sure you don’t need to improve your strength to be a shredded specimen, but if you’re looking to put on size – volume lifting will only carry you so far. With lifting heavier for strength gain, bodybuilders soon discovered that volume coupled with heavy weight meant greater increases in strength and muscle growth. 20 reps of moderate weight is fine, but you’re likely to get better results by lifting heavier weight with slightly less reps for more muscle gain.

3. The Heavyweight Obsession

Now we may have just highlighted why lifting heavier weight can be great for muscle growth and functional strength, but there comes a point when relying too much on powerlifting tactics can backfire. If you’re relying solely on heavy lifting to look cut out of granite then you’re neglecting the biggest point of bodybuilding. As mentioned before, volume is going to help your gains, specifically when we’re talking about sculpting your muscle. Sure, the heavier weight will cause your muscle to grow, but for example, if you want your biceps to look like mountain peaks, then you’re going to have to do some volume training for hypertrophy. Simply put, too much of one thing is no good when it comes to being a powerlifter/bodybuilder hybrid.

4. Relying solely on the big 3

In both powerlifting and bodybuilding, the big 3 exercises (squats, bench press, and deadlifts) are the considered to be the holy trinity. For most powerlifters these three exercises are what they use to build up their strength levels. As a bodybuilder, relying on these alone will do great for your strength but not exactly for sculpting your form. Want well defined biceps? Then you’re going to have to do some curls. Want some impressive calves? Then calf raises are going to have to be thrown in at some point. Relying too much on the squat, bench, and deadlift – as great as they all are – won’t be enough to shred your body into the way you want.


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