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OK, so you’re heading to the gym and you’re ready to improve yourself but you’re not sure if you should do strength training, bodybuilding, or bodybuilding and strength training?
Don’t worry we’ve got you.
There are real similarities between these types of training but some marked differences that should make it easy for you to decide what’s the right kind of training for you.
Firstly, we should note that both strength training and bodybuilding are forms of resistance training.
We’ve got a good guide to strength building for beginners that walks you through this idea in more detail but basically, resistance development works by pushing your muscles hard enough that they develop “micro-tears”, this isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it promotes the growth of more muscle tissue.
However, each discipline takes this idea of using resistance in a different direction.
A bodybuilder is all about building muscle mass. They are not focused on lifting weights or functional strength but instead they throw themselves into hypertrophy training.
Hypertrophy training is designed to create as many of those micro-tears in the muscles as possible to develop increased muscle size.
People engaged in hypertrophy training will see increases in their strength too but this is a side benefit and not the objective of the training session.
A bodybuilder will gain muscle and increase muscle mass but they are often quite a bit weaker than they first appear because their muscles weren’t designed with strength in mind, they were designed to look good when competing on a bodybuilding stage.
A strength training session, on the other hand, is all about increasing the maximum force that you can bring to bear during weight training and other forms of exercise.
This works with low reps and high weight training volume that not only trains your muscles but also your central nervous system to effectively use your body when you’re lifting.
A strength-trained individual is likely to bench press far greater levels of weight than the equivalent bodybuilder could bench press because they’re each focusing on different uses for their muscles.
You will also find that your average strength-trainee has less of that “perfect physique” of a bodybuilder because they don’t spend lots of time on isolation exercises to hone a particular muscle group but instead, use their training volume to get stronger.
That means if low body fat maintenance is something that’s important to you – bodybuilding techniques are more likely to get results than strength training will.
It all depends on what your fitness goals are.
Take a look at these benefits of bodybuilding, for example, they’re all positive right?
Well, the same is true for strength training, there are plenty of benefits.
The differences, however, are also pretty clear – hypertrophy programs are all about muscle gains. So, if you want to be a lot stronger than you are now? Then bodybuilding is probably not your best option.
You can gain some level of strength but the primary goal even in heavy training as a bodybuilder is to sculpt your body.
If you compete, you will be judged on the way you look and the way you pose – nobody is going to care if your compound lifts are amazing or if you lift heavier weights than someone else.
Bodybuilding is less likely to lead to injury too according to sports medicine professionals because enhancing muscle size is easier than building strength when it comes to the strain put on connective tissues.
You will eat well as a bodybuilder too because bodybuilders tend to follow a balanced nutrition program that is meant to aid muscle hypertrophy and muscle growth.
A strength-trainee, on the other hand, may not have energy stored so well in their muscles but they will have a much greater degree of muscular strength.
This kind of training program is ideal if you don’t care if you build muscle or not, but want to be able to move as much weight as possible.
How much weight you can move is limited by your overall size and your biological sex but if you spend enough time developing your strength?
You will find that you can outlift any bodybuilder of a similar size, comfortably.
So, there you have it. Strength training, unsurprisingly, is for strength gains. Bodybuilding for muscle gains. It is very much down to what you want from training protocols as to which you focus primarily on.
You can always opt to move from one discipline to another if you find that your goals change over time too.
If you want to start with strength training, powerlifting training, or bodybuilding then it can help to have one of these best compact home gyms available to enhance your personal training regime and give you more opportunities to workout.