Difference Between Weightlifting and Body Building

You may sometimes focus on powerlifting, weight lifting and bodybuilding training throughout your lifting career. To optimize your training efforts, it’s crucial to grasp how these two lifting approaches vary.

So, what distinguishes Bodybuilding from powerlifting? Bodybuilding training places less emphasis on weight lifting and more on maximizing muscular hypertrophy (growth). Maximal strength is the goal of powerlifting training, particularly in exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Consequently, everything will be drastically modified, including the workout methodology and programming. We’ll look at 8 distinctions between training for powerlifting, weight lifting and bodybuilding in this post.

Let’s get going!

What is the essence of Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is primarily about building muscles and getting stronger while looking better. In this sport, people usually work on one muscle group at a time to make their muscles grow better.

Even though many people like Bodybuilding and want to compete, they can’t join big sports competitions like the Olympics. Some people think they should be able to, but the official organizations that run the Olympics say Bodybuilding isn’t a sport. So, bodybuilders often take part in other famous competitions like Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe instead.


A Brief History of Bodybuilding


Bodybuilding differs from weightlifting because it’s mainly about making your body look good. It started in the early 1900s, and people like Eugene Sandow made it popular. Bodybuilding contests like Mr. Olympia are famous in the fitness world.

Who are some of the successful and respected people in Bodybuilding? Well-known names include Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman, Frank Zane, Dorian Yates, Lee Hayney, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What Exactly Constitutes Weightlifting?

Weightlifting is a sport where people lift heavy barbells in two main ways: snatching and doing the clean and jerk. Even though it might seem simple, it isn’t straightforward. You must train for years to get good at these moves because they’re very detailed. If you make a mistake, you can get seriously hurt. Weightlifting is known for being very serious and challenging and is part of the Olympics. They judge how well you do in competitions based on your weight, gender, and age.

A Brief History of Weightlifting

Weightlifting has existed for a long time, even in ancient places like Greece and Egypt. It became an official sport in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. In the Olympics, weightlifting focuses on two main lifts:

  • The Snatch

In the Snatch, athletes lift a heavy barbell from the ground straight up over their heads in one smooth motion. Doing this takes a lot of speed, power, and being able to bend your body well. Judges look at how much weight you can lift successfully.

  • The Clean and Jerk

The clean and jerk is a bit more complex. First, you have to lift the barbell to your shoulders (that’s the “clean” part), and then you have to push it overhead (the “jerk” part). It takes explosive strength, precision, and good coordination, like the Snatch.

What Constitutes Powerlifting?

Powerlifting might seem similar to weightlifting in its name and how it looks, but it’s an entirely different sport. While weightlifting has two main moves, powerlifting focuses on three main lifts: the bench press, squat, and deadlift. This sport hasn’t been around for as long as weightlifting and is not part of the Olympics yet. However, it’s gaining popularity; many skilled athletes and fans love it.

Comparison weight lifting and bodybuilding

Both Bodybuilding and weight lifting are competitive sports. The International Powerlifting Federation and the International Bodybuilding Federation are the two most prominent governing organizations for their respective sports.

Powerlifters compete in the squat, bench press, and deadlift to lift the most weight for one repetition. You get three chances to raise as much as possible in a powerlifting competition. The heaviest effort in the squat, bench press, and deadlift are added together to decide the winner, and this calculation is known as the “powerlifting total.”

You may participate in many physique divisions in Bodybuilding, fitness, wellness, and bikini. Each category has a unique “look” upon which the judges base their decisions. The requirements generally depend on the amount of “muscle mass” permissible and the kinds of posing techniques used.

Weight lifting and body building enthusiasts are not all competitors. For those who do, it’s crucial to understand the precise requirements of each action as stated in the sport’s norms and regulations.

Exercise Choice

Weight training improves muscular mass, strength, flexibility, and overall performance in powerlifters and bodybuilders. However, each training program’s specific workouts will vary greatly. The squat, bench press, and deadlift are the three primary exercises used in powerlifting. It follows that every activity planned must directly benefit these three motions.

As a result, powerlifters use a variety of variants, such as:

  • There are three types of squats: front, pause, and tempo
  • Bench press: inclined bench press, bench press with a small grip, bench press with a lengthy pause
  • Deadlifts include stiff-leg, deficit, and snatch-grip variations.

While many of these same powerlifting motions are programmed in Bodybuilding, they are less heavily focused. Several isolation exercises that are focused on certain muscular groups may be seen more often in bodybuilding programs, including:

  • Back: Wide-grip rows while seated.
  • Shoulders: Lateral dumbbell lifts and machine shoulder presses
  • Biceps: preacher curls with dumbbells and cable bicep curls
  • Rope tricep press downs and dumbbell skull crushers for the triceps.
  • Glutes: glute kickbacks and barbell hip thrusts
  • hamstrings: swiss ball and machine leg curls


Proper workout form is essential to both powerlifters and bodybuilders. This is because neither can take a chance on an injury that may prevent them from participating in their sport for weeks or months. Bodybuilders employ a lifting technique that extends the range of motion on exercises, in contrast to powerlifters who use a lifting process that reduces the range of motion in practice.

Moving the weight from point A to point B requires less effort, and a lower range of motion is employed in powerlifting. To narrow the range of motion and increase the weight that may be lifted, every aspect of the action is thus examined. For this reason, powerlifters often utilize the sumo deadlift or an arched back position during bench presses.

The reverse is true for bodybuilders. To stress the muscle at various lengths, they wish to do an exercise over its complete range of motion. This will increase muscle injury and the adaptations to hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Exercise Splits

Exercises are scheduled throughout the week, called the “training split.” The training split in powerlifting is divided into each of the powerlifting exercises, with a focus on having “squat,” “bench press,” and “deadlift” days.

This differs from a bodybuilding split, which focuses more on segmenting each session into one to three muscle groups.

Here are two examples of training splits for Bodybuilding and powerlifting utilizing a four-day regimen:

Powerlifting Training Split Example

  • Squat Day + Deadlift Accessories on Day 1
  • Bench Day and Upper Back Accessories on Day 2
  • Day 3: Day of the Deadlift and Squat Supplements
  • Bench Day + Shoulder & Tricep Accessories on Day 4

A bodybuilding training split example:

  • Lower Body Day on Day 1 (Quads, Calves)
  • Day 2: Day of the Upper Body (Chest, Triceps, Shoulders)
  • Day Three: Lower Body (Glutes, Hamstrings)
  • Day Four: Upper Body (Back, Biceps, Forearms)

Rep Scales

Many would generally agree that bodybuilders utilize high repetitions, and powerlifters use low reps (1–5). (6-15).

This is such that lower rep ranges result in strength adaptations, and higher rep ranges result in transformations for hypertrophy.

However, this is not to argue that bodybuilders or powerlifters don’t gain from strengthening their muscles.

The percentage of time spent in each rep range, rather than the rep ranges themselves, makes the main difference. For powerlifters, the ratio of time spent in the lower rep range to the higher rep range is often 3:1.

Bodybuilders will spend, on average, 3:1 more time doing higher reps than lower reps. Imagine performing low or high repetitions for three months, depending on whether you’re a powerlifter or a bodybuilder, and then the other rep ranges for one month.


Bodybuilders often utilize lesser weights, whereas powerlifters typically use greater loads. This depends on the rep ranges and workout kinds used.

Powerlifters will utilize more of their 1-rep maximum (80–95%) since they do fewer repetitions on average than other athletes. On the other hand, bodybuilders would utilize a smaller proportion of their 1-rep maximum (65-80%) since they do more repetitions on average.

Refrain from mixing training effort with training load, however. Bodybuilders sometimes work harder than powerlifters because they utilize higher loads and vice versa. Powerlifters and bodybuilders continue striving to perform a training effort that is reasonably near their maximal capacity based on the rep ranges employed.

For instance, a bodybuilder lifting 75% for 12 repetitions would be as challenging as a powerlifter squatting 90% for 3. Although the weights vary, the training efforts are still strong since the rep ranges also change.

Rest Periods

The period between sets is referred to as the “recovery intervals.” When lifting a weight more significant than a portion of your 1 rep maximum, you often require additional recovery time before trying your following location. The converse is true when you raise less than a percentage of your 1-rep max. Less rest needs less weight.

As a result, powerlifters often rest for three to seven minutes between sets, while bodybuilders rest for one to three minutes. As a result, it’s not unusual for powerlifters to do 10 sets of the bench press in one hour, whereas bodybuilders would have completed 3–4 workouts in that time.


For both bodybuilders and powerlifters, recovery is crucial. Powerlifters must carefully consider how often to do their maximum lifts. Weekly maxing out of every exercise would not be suitable. Overtraining, burnout, and a rise in joint and tendon injuries would all result from this.

Bodybuilders must avoid doing too much volume too quickly. This could result in muscular discomfort that lasts longer than 48 hours. If so, any subsequent exercises will probably suffer since you can’t exert as much energy when your muscles are hurting.

Powerlifters and bodybuilders also use the following other recuperation strategies:

Outside the gym, partaking in low-stress activities like walking, meditating, or socializing with friends.
Organizing a training de-load phase: training for 1-2 weeks at a decreased volume and intensity.
Increasing blood flow and circulation using a device like the PowerDot may reduce inflammation by using electric muscle stimulation (EMS).

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Final Reflections

Although Bodybuilding and powerlifting use weight-training techniques, their objectives are distinct; powerlifters strive to lift more weight for one repetition on the bench press, deadlift, and squat. Bodybuilders strive to develop more bulk and symmetry in their muscles. Consequently, everything will be different, including their workout methodology and programming.

FAQs about weight lifting and bodybuilding


Q1. What are the key distinctions between weightlifting and Bodybuilding regarding goals and training approaches?

A1. Weightlifting and Bodybuilding have distinct goals and training approaches. Weightlifting primarily focuses on building strength and power through two primary lifts: the Snatch and the clean and jerk. These lifts require technical precision and are part of Olympic weightlifting. Bodybuilding, on the other hand, prioritizes muscle development for aesthetic purposes. Bodybuilders typically engage in resistance training, targeting specific muscle groups to enhance their size and definition.

Q2. Are there any common misconceptions about weightlifting and Bodybuilding that must be clarified?

A2. One common misconception is that weightlifting and Bodybuilding are the same. While they both involve lifting weights, their objectives differ significantly. Weightlifting is a competitive sport focused on maximal strength in two specific lifts, whereas Bodybuilding emphasizes muscle hypertrophy and aesthetics. Another misconception is that bodybuilders are not strong. Many bodybuilders possess significant strength, but their training goals prioritize muscle size and symmetry over maximal lifting capacity.

Q3. How do powerlifting, weight lifting and bodybuilding differ, and what factors should individuals consider when choosing one of these disciplines to pursue?

A3. Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, and powerlifting are distinct disciplines. Weightlifting involves the Snatch, clean, and jerk, emphasizing technique and explosive power. Bodybuilding centers on muscle development for aesthetics. Powerlifting, on the other hand, focuses on three primary lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift, with an emphasis on maximal strength. Individuals should consider their fitness goals, preferences, and body type when choosing which discipline to pursue, as each has unique training requirements and objectives.

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