Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding: what are the differences between it?

powerlifting vs bodybuilding

In the bodybuilding industry, there are many sectors of powerlifting vs bodybuilding. Among them, powerlifting and bodybuilding are two. Both might sound the same for beginners as both deal with weight, but there are several differences between them.

Therefore, in this article, you will get to know about powerlifting vs bodybuilding in detail. Both of these are strong sport and held at the international level. If one is interested in the powerlifting side, s/he needs to practice carrying massive weights, whereas for bodybuilding also weights are required to be carried but not immensely.

Keep reading to know more as you will find all the information here that you are looking for so long.

What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a sport that deals with the back squat, deadlift, and bench press at the competition level. One will be rated based on the highest amount of weight he can carry at his 1 repetition. And in total, 3 chances will be given at each of the competition types.

There remain 3 judges to decide whether the powerlifter will be given white(pass) or red(fail) light. Each of the lifters will require 2 out of 3 white lights to make their lift count.

Last but not least, the heaviest weight they carried at each type will be added to count the total score. Moreover, different groups are created among the same gender, age, and body weight to make the playing field even up.

What is Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is a process to go through to build up muscle, power, and strength. It is possible after one follows the weightlifting exercises, proper diet chart, and takes adequate rest. So, it does not mean that you must have to go to the gym to get such a physique.

If you have the passion and necessary instruments like dumbles at home, you can get started as a beginner. A perfect bodybuilder has a wide shoulder, board chest, narrow waist, bulky arms, and stout legs. This dream body can be found without even steroids.

Moreover, lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and water should be taken. On the other hand, fat and oily food should be avoided. Depending upon all these, judges will rate the body physique of the participants.

Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding: Ultimate Differences

There are huge differences between powerlifting vs bodybuilding activities in the bodybuilding industry. You might already know that after going through the above definition carefully. But only the definition will not be enough to know the ultimate differences.

For this reason, we have created this section to give you sufficient information.


Both powerlifting and bodybuilding are done to take part in the competition. The two biggest competition platforms for such battles are International Powerlifting Federation and International Bodybuilding Federation.

In powerlifting, the lifter has to lift more weight than the other competitors in the bench press, back squat, and deadlift. All will be given 3 chances in each type to show their strength level. In the end, the highest powerlifting points will be selected to add to the final score.

On the other hand, in bodybuilding, the participant’s body physique, fitness level, and muscle strength are seen. The participants will be qualified if they can attain the perfect body structure told by the federation.

Selection of Exercise

As their motive is different, their workout plan and type is also different. But both need to carry weight to build up and strengthen their muscles.

In powerlifting, the lifter focuses on three major exercises.

  • Back squat: Tempo squat, pause squat, and front squat
  • Deadlift: Stiff leg deadlift, snatch grip deadlift, and deficit deadlift
  • Bench press: Long pause bench press, narrow grip bench press, and incline bench press

In bodybuilding, all the powerlifting movements mentioned above are held but not with the same emphasis. Instead, several exercises are targeted for definite muscle groups. These are:

  • Shoulder: Lateral dumbbell raises and machine shoulder press
  • Back: Wide grip pulldowns and seated row
  • Biceps: Cable bicep curls and dumbbell preacher curls
  • Triceps: Dumbbell skull crushers and rope triceps press down
  • Glutes: Glute kickbacks and barbell hip thrusts
  • Hamstrings: Swiss ball leg curl and machine leg curl

Workout Plan

Workplan refers to the daily exercise routine in a structured way throughout a week.

In powerlifting, a workout plan is made emphasizing three major exercises, and these days will be known as “squat days”, “deadlift days”, and “bench press days.”

Therefore, it is quite different than the bodybuilding workout plan as in bodybuilding, the emphasis is given on 1 to 3 muscle groups.

Below are examples of two different workout routines that is powerlifting and bodybuilding exercises. We have divided the activities into a 4-day plan.

Powerlifting workout plan:

  1. Squat + deadlift
  2. Bench press + upper back
  3. Deadlift + squat
  4. Bench press + shoulder, bicep, &tricep

Bodybuilding workout plan:

  1. Upper body (shoulder, chest, and tricep)
  2. Lower body (calves and quads)
  3. Upper body ( bicep, back, and forearms)
  4. Lower body (glutes and hamstrings)

Exercise Technique

Both powerlifters and bodybuilders should implement proper exercise technique. This is essential as none of them wants to be injured and be out of sports for weeks or months.

Powerlifters use the weightlifting technique to limit the exercise’s range of motion, whereas bodybuilders use the weightlifting technique to increase their range of motion.

In powerlifting, the less will be the range of motion, the less work will be required in moving the weight. Therefore, it is essential to reduce the range of motion to lift more weight. And that is why it is seen that the powerlifters practice sumo deadlifting technique or bench press arch.

For bodybuilders, it is the opposite.

They do exercise through the full range of motion to stress the muscle at various lengths. This process will only lead to more significant muscle damage by producing more incredible muscle growth.


In general, powerlifters carry more weight than bodybuilders. As in the competition, the powerlifters’ maximum weight will be counted for the total score they need to practice carrying more load.

Bodybuilders also carry massive weights but to gain the muscle that is not more than 40 to 50 kgs. In some cases, it might be more depending on the holding capacity of the person.

Beginner Powerlifting Program

If you are a beginner, it is ideal to choose either 3 days or 4 days powerlifting program. More than 3 to 4 days of powerlifting in a week can affect your muscle and tissue. So, go through the chart below properly to find your suitable one.

3-Day Option

Day 1 (Hypertrophy)
Exercise Sets×reps
Back squat 3×8
Bench press 3×8
Vertical pull 4×10


Day 2 (Power)
Exercise Sets×reps
Deadlift 3 ×3
Bench press 3×3
Vertical push 4×10


Day 3 (Strength)
Exercise Sets×reps
Back squat 3 ×4
Bench press 3×4
Horizontal pull 4×10


4-Day Option

Day 1 (Hypertrophy)
Exercise Sets×reps
Back squat 3 ×8
Bench press 3×8


Day 2 (Power)
Exercise Sets×reps
Deadlift 3 ×3
Bench press 3×3


Day 3 (Strength)
Exercise Sets×reps
Back squat 3 ×4
Bench press 3×4


Day 4 (Additional Work)
Exercise Sets×reps
Vertical pull 4×10
Vertical push 4×10
Horizontal pull 4×10

To Conclude

Carrying weight is essential in both powerlifting and bodybuilding exercises. This is the primary key to get a sturdy and robust body. One will not get selected in any of this competition with a poor physique and less strength. But there are huge differences between these two types of competition.

And that is why this article was written about powerlifting vs bodybuilding. Hope you have known about the ultimate differences along with the beginner powerlifting program. You can choose either powerlifting or bodybuilding to make your career.

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