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Top 5 Reasons Bodybuilders Are Bigger Than Powerlifters

Quite a lot of people believe that growing muscles requires only tension. This approach to fitness is way too simple, there is so much more at stake when it comes to chiseling your body. You have to ask yourself what degree, duration, frequency, and type of tension you wish to inflict upon yourself and what result you consequently wish to accomplish. That is why there is a huge difference between bodybuilders and powerlifters, even though they might seem like they are doing the same thing to reach their physical peak.


The Difference

Powerlifters may look jacked and burly, but they didn’t achieve the same hypertrophy as bodybuilders have. It is all in the training. Leave genetics and drugs out of this, we’re just looking at this from a natural perspective. The crucial difference is that powerlifters “just” wish to lift a huge amount of weight in just one rep, while builders opt for higher rep ranges, a mind-muscle connection, isolation training, and other methods which increase muscle gain. The bottom line is, lifters are all about strength, while builders are all about size. You can aim to accomplish both of these goals, just don’t sacrifice your training intensity over your powerlifting totals.

powerlifting vs bodybuilding

1st Reason – Higher Reps

Bodybuilders are extremely efficient at packing muscles and one of the ways to do that is by training in a moderate rep range (6-12). There is a huge hypertrophic difference between these two classes of muscle sculptors. Employing higher reps will result in a greater increase in size of the so-called Type 1 fibers, or “slow twitch oxidative” fibers. Powerlifters simply don’t allow sufficient time under tension for the significant development of these fibers.

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2nd Reason – Pumping

Even though pumping is considered to be a short-term training effect, it can still cause greater muscle development if done properly. This occurs due to cellular swelling which causes an increase in protein synthesis, while decreasing its breakdown. Combine this with a higher rep training style and you have a recipe which induces growth.


3rd Reason – Time Under Tension

TUT can easily be calculated so here’s a little math for you to put things into perspective: let us presume that a bodybuilder does a bench press consisting of 225 x 12, 275 x 10, 315 x 8, and 335 x 6, while a powerlifter does 315 x 5, 365 x 3, 405 x 1, and 415 x 1. When you compare the total results of this exercise, a bodybuilder has lifted almost 10,000 pounds, while the powerlifter has lifted about 3500 pounds. They may lift more weight at once, but bodybuilders expose their muscles to stress much longer (72 seconds) than lifters (20seconds).

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4th Reason – Muscle Isolation

Powerlifters are known to utilize their entire body to lift such vast amounts of weight, whereas bodybuilders tend to include a lot of single-joint movements in their training. When someone has a chiseled body, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are strong. However, large muscles like quads, pecs, delts, and lats, when stimulated independently, will definitely provide you with more size. Muscles do not always get worked evenly throughout their entire length, buy only by training from multiple angles can you fully activate all of the fibers which make up your muscles, thus maximizing their development. Muscle isolation is just one of many powerful coaching questions, so do not shy away from learning more about the methods of building muscle mass.


5th Reason – Manner of Execution

Not everything is about resistance. The manner of execution plays a vital part in stimulating muscle growth. For instance, if you focus on lifting a bench press with a wider grip, elbows flared, and bar lowered to mid chest, you will accomplish more with your pectoralis rather than just narrowing your grip with slightly tucked in elbows and bar lowered to lower chest which enables an easier lift. The key to powerlifters is to deal with substantial amount of weight in the easiest manner possible, while bodybuilders have a different approach – they may lift less, but they position themselves so that the muscles can feel the stress.



Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and has spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for a better life. He is an all-around fitness adviser and his words are strong as an Australian Bull.

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