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Bodybuilding, powerlifting and weightlifting are all forms of strength training, but they each have their own specific goals and techniques.

Bodybuilding is a form of strength training that focuses on building the size and symmetry of the muscles. Bodybuilders use a variety of techniques, such as lifting heavy weights and using high repetitions, to build their muscles and improve their physical appearance. Bodybuilding is what you find most often associated with lots of dietary supplements, the 8-15 rep ranges and more isolated muscle group workouts (e.g “arm day” or back day”).

Powerlifting is a sport that focuses on increasing strength by lifting heavy weights. Powerlifters compete in three lifts: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. The goal of powerlifting is to lift the maximum amount of weight possible in each of these lifts. Powerlifting is usually characterised by low reps and heavy weights, and is often used as a method of strength training for other sports. Usually a powerlifter will train at least two of the big movements in a session, with some supplementary exercises afterwards.

Weightlifting, also known as Olympic weightlifting, is a sport that involves lifting weights in the form of the snatch and the clean and jerk. Weightlifting is a *highly* technical sport that requires a high level of skill and coordination. Weightlifters must be strong, but they also need to have good technique, power and speed to lift the weights successfully.

What are the drawbacks of each approach?

For bodybuilding, the main drawbacks are the potential for overtraining and, in order to succeed at higher levels, the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bodybuilders often train very hard and use a variety of supplements, which can lead to overtraining and injury if not done properly. In addition, the use of performance-enhancing drugs is a major factor in bodybuilding, as some bodybuilders need to use these drugs to be competitive on stage. Of course, “bodybuilding” can be done by anyone, and impressive results can be gained by anyone without the need to use PEDs. Most general gym-goers are doing a form of bodybuilding, whether or not they actually call it that!

Here at RWF, we have a zero tolerance approach to performance enhancing drugs and as such we don’t tend to have many members that would be considered bodybuilders.

The main drawbacks of powerlifting are the potential for injury and the lack of overall physical conditioning. Powerlifting involves lifting very heavy weights, which can be dangerous if not done properly. In addition, powerlifting typically focuses on just three lifts, which can lead to imbalances in the muscles and poor overall physical conditioning. Often, powerlifters neglect supporting exercises in favour of the lifts they enjoy. At RWF, we train people in powerlifting and we make sure they support these lifts – which helps to reduce injury rates and actually long-term, improves performance.

Weightlifting also has its drawbacks, such as the potential for serious injury and the high level of skill and technique required. Weightlifting involves lifting very heavy weights overhead in a fast, dynamic fashion, which can be dangerous if not done properly. Weightlifting is a highly technical sport, and it can take years of practice to master the snatch and the clean and jerk. As such, most people won’t progress beyond using comparatively light weights compared to bodybuilding or powerlifting. It’s perfectly possible to build muscle training in this way, but it’s not optimal if strength and muscle gain are your main focus.

So is the best approach a blend of all three?

It really depends on your goals and what you are looking to achieve. Each of these forms of strength training has its own unique benefits, and a blend of all three may be the best approach for some people. For example, if your goal is to build size and symmetry, bodybuilding may be the best approach. If you are looking to increase strength and power, powerlifting may be the way to go. And if you are interested in the technical aspects of lifting and want to compete in weightlifting, then weightlifting may be the best approach for you.

However, it is important to keep in mind that each of these forms of strength training has its own unique downsides, and it may not be necessary or advisable to combine them all. Most “normal” people, who just want to get fitter and stronger, benefit from a combination of powerlifting and bodybuilding, put together into a rounded plan by an experienced coach. If you want to find out how you can devise a plan based on YOU, get in touch. We’d love to help!

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