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Resistance training for strength and muscle growth is awesome but should you opt for weightlifting or bodybuilding training?
And what’s the difference between these two forms of training programs?
We asked a range of strength coaches for their input and this is what they told us.
Weightlifting is not the same as powerlifting competitions or powerlifting training. In powerlifting, you focus your efforts on three specific disciplines: deadlift, squat, and the bench press.
In weightlifting there’s no bench press, deadlift, or squat, instead, you are focusing on dynamic barbell lifting. In particular, the snatch and the clean and jerk.
If you watch Olympic lifting then you will be familiar with these two moves as they are the basis for Olympic weightlifting.
However, as with powerlifting, the main objective of weightlifting is to lift as much weight as possible in the two styles.
The competitors are given a barbell with a set weight and then have three attempts to lift it.
Their highest weight in each of the two lifts is how much weight they use to score the individual. Weightlifters compete in age, weight, and gender classes.
If you think weight classes are going to be easy because you only have two moves to pull off? Think again.
To get these lifts right, you need to develop explosive power and incredible speed as well as strength training to handle the weights themselves.
Competitive weightlifters spend 6 days a week training and there’s a focus on aerobic conditioning which isn’t present in powerlifting and bodybuilding.
So, in addition, to pushing weights, you also spend a lot of time running around and doing kettlebell swings and similar activities.
Weightlifters may also use these weightlifting apps to guide their routine.
Weightlifters tend to have a very low body fat percentage and each muscle group constantly undergoes “micro-tearing” which means it is great for building lean muscle.
Exercise science is used to tailor the routines for a weightlifter to see that they can move heavy weights effectively and the focus is on moving maximal weight in competition.
A bodybuilding program, on the other hand, is all about maximizing muscle mass for its aesthetic value.
The focus is always on how to maximize muscle hypertrophy as this helps to bulk up muscle size.
In a bodybuilding competition, there’s less emphasis placed on assessing training styles and more emphasis on look and how well you can pose.
You want to look at least as good as these Instagram vegan bodybuilders if you intend to compete at a high level in bodybuilding competitions.
The rules for each individual category and competition may be unique to that competition which makes bodybuilding at a competitive level quite demanding.
As we just mentioned, bodybuilding at a competitive level is much more varied than weightlifting and that means the training for bodybuilders tends to be less specific.
That means you’re free to get creative as you work on your muscle definition and there’s no need to worry about the maximum weight that you can lift.
Typically, you will look at undergoing a regime of high-intensity resistance training and seek to achieve a medium to a high number of repetitions as you do.
This is the most effective way to develop individual muscle groups and most bodybuilders will focus on specific muscle groups each day and then allow those groups to recover as they work on other muscle groups on subsequent days.
One thing you may not be aware of is that bodybuilders tend to spend a lot of time on nutrition and supplement planning as these can make a huge difference to your overall look.
When you want to build muscle mass, there’s no exercise that’s more effective than bodybuilding.
High volumes of high-intensity resistance exercises are all about creating the conditions for muscles to grow.
It’s also very easy to get into bodybuilding when compared to the other sports and you may not even need a coach to get going. Any exercises using free weights and training machines are likely to help start the process.
We take a deeper look at the benefits of bodybuilding here.
All exercise is good exercise even just basic cardio exercise will make you feel better. But increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat can often be best achieved by using a specific discipline. Bodybuilding and weightlifting are both similar and very different.
If you want to boost your strength and stay trim, then weightlifting is almost certainly going to be the specialization you choose. If you want to bulk up and increase muscle mass as a priority? Then bodybuilding is going to be your bag.
We recommend that everyone starts their time in the gym with some simple strength training for beginners before getting involved in a choice between powerlifting and bodybuilding and weightlifting.