The Difference of Weightlifting, Bodybuilding and Powerlifting?

Kettlebell-weight_Omaha BarbellFor those who are just beginning their fitness programs, it can be a bit confusing determining the difference between weightlifting, bodybuilding and powerlifting, as some mainstream fitness magazines interchange the names quite often. All three can help you lose unwanted weight, tone your body, build lean muscle and make you stronger, however, there are major differences between each category. Below, our Omaha Barbell gym members have provided a basic description of each fitness program and specific goals they accomplish.

The Basics of Weightlifting

Weightlifting is largely a generic term which can be applied to either of the two categories above, especially when bodybuilding or powerlifting are simply just a part of an overall long-term weightlifting program. For our purposes here at Omaha Barbell, we define weightlifting as an exercise program that aims for an elevated, overall level of fitness.

The primary purpose of weightlifting is to become stronger, tone the body, burn some body fat and build some lean muscle mass. Weightlifting encompasses the fitness goals of a much broader spectrum of the general population. As mentioned above, it is recommended to determine what your goal is with any fitness plan. If your goal is not to become a professional lifter or become a competitive athlete, weightlifting is the ideal starting point. Weightlifting routines normally begin with lighter, more moderate weights and allow for flexibility as the term does not mandate the strict discipline that is required of serious powerlifters or bodybuilders.

The repetition range for weightlifting normally falls between the other two categories, so that would be 8 to 12 repetitions per set with about 3 to 4 sets for each exercise. Be sure to research all fitness programs to determine which would be ideal for you. Remember, proper form is required with any of these programs as safety is of the extreme importance at Omaha Barbell.

The 411 on Bodybuilding

At Omaha Barbell, we believe the primary goal of bodybuilding isn’t to increase strength or lose body fat, rather it’s aimed at maximizing lean muscle mass and enhancing symmetry. In reality, any supplemental exercise will cause some gain in strength and loss of body fat, at least initially. Symmetry is achieved by working the entire body with emphasis on adjusting any imbalances in appearance or size.

With bodybuilding, workouts need to be customized to account for genetics and to address differences in muscles that tend to develop rapidly versus those that are smaller and undersized. Essentially, bodybuilders focus on a combination of isolation exercises and compound exercises forcing their muscles to adapt and grow.

Omaha Barbell gym members targeting bodybuilding should target sets ranging from 8 to 15, repeated 3 to 5 times with short breaks in between of 30 to 45 seconds. The goal here is to increase time-under-tension, focusing on increasing sarcoplasm (a liquid component of muscles). Another technique to increase time-under-tension involves moving the weights more slowly than normal, just on the lowering portion of the exercise or in both directions.

The 411 on Powerlifting

Powerlifting is exactly what it sounds like – it focuses primarily on building strength. To accomplish your strength goals by powerlifting, a person will lift much heavier weights than normal for fewer repetitions. This type of exercise builds myofibrils which are threadlike filaments that make up the contractile part of a striated muscle fiber (also referred to as strength cords).

With powerlifting, an elevated level of safety is required, as you should never perform a powerlifting routine by yourself. At Omaha Barbell, we always advise to have either a training partner or a spotter when powerlifting. If neither is available, modify your routine to incorporate lower weights and higher repetitions.

The focus with powerlifting isn’t on time-under-tension, rather it’s on more sets with reduced repetitions with increasingly heavier weights. Instead of shortening the time between sets, powerlifting requires more rest between reps, sets and workouts. At Omaha Barbell, typical repetitions for powerlifting are in the 3 to 6 rep range. It’s not uncommon to see powerlifters performing 1 rep max sets. Proper form is paramount to reduce the risk of injury.

Come on down to Omaha Barbell Gym

If you are looking at getting into weightlifting of any kind, Omaha Barbell can help you meet your ultimate goals. We offer a friendly and supportive atmosphere for our members, and we offer help whenever it is needed. Feel free to swing by or call us anytime at (402) 594-4485 to schedule an appointment; we’d love to show you why we’re the best.

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