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Which is better powerlifting or bodybuilding [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Sep 11, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Which is better powerlifting or bodybuilding

Which is better powerlifting or bodybuilding 

It depends on your goals. If you want to lift heavy go for powerlifting. If bigger muscles are your main interest go for bodybuilding. 

What is your why

Before we go into the details of which is better powerlifting or bodybuilding, let me ask you a couple of questions:
  • Why do you compare the two? 
  • Why do you want to change? 
  • What happens when you do 
  • What happens if you don’t 
These questions will make all the difference between your success and failure. Research shows that people who write down and reflect on their goals are more likely to succeed. So get a pen and paper and think before you act. Once you made a plan go and conquer. Many people go about their lives like this: 
  • What do I want 
  • How do I get it 
  • Why do I want it 
This is a very good way to get your knickers in a twist. Focusing on what you want will make you run in a hundred directions while you arrive nowhere. What you want changes hundreds of times a day depending on who you are with, what you do and where you are. Making this the center of attention will spread your resources thin and scatter your time between too many activities. Something interesting happens when you flip the order of these questions on their head: 
  • Why do you want something 
  • How do you get it 
  • What needs to be done 
This way you will focus on what matters to you in the long run. You thinking will become more cohesive. This way your thoughts and actions will become more connected. Success is the likely outcome with more ease. If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's thinking fast and slow. Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle will change your life. 

What do you want to do

To decide whether powerlifting is better for you personally you need clarity on your goals. When you research these sorts it means that 
  • You are probably not happy with your body 
  • You want to get more muscle 
  • You want to become stronger 
  • All of the above 
Getting stronger and more muscle usually comes with the personal insecurity of not being accepted. I have been there and have been bullied because of being a fat kid. That probably never really went away. That is ok and you will probably be better off admitting to it. Still, what is it you want out of this. The ladies? fame? Money? Beloved there better ways than powerlifting and bodybuilding to get those. 
Whatever you fancy, know why you want it. This will make it easier to go forward. For me, lifting is fun and keeps me fit. As I like to improve and aim high I want to compete. Ultimately it might even turn into something that will pay the bills. Who knows. 


Powerlifting is the sport of the total. Your total is a result of the sum of three lifts. These lifts are the bench press, squat, and deadlift. For each lift, you get three attempts. The best attempt for each lift makes it into your total. 
A big difference to lifting in the gym is that your performance is judged. The referees observe your lifts from different angles. They decide whether your lift meets the standards of the federation you compete in. You need two out of three to agree so that the lift counts. 
Your total usually splits into 40/40/20. Your squat and deadlift usually contribute 40% each while the bench press adds about 20% to your total. From these numbers, you can see that you are better off building big legs than arms for powerlifting
Powerlifting is great is it is very objective. You either lift the weight or you don’t. The process of getting stronger is a long one and only for the patient. It is also more likely that you do well in this sport without taking steroids than in bodybuilding. If you want to build strong character and be sure that winning is mainly about strength and less about presentation this is the one for you. If you want a lot of muscle powerlifting is inferior to bodybuilding. I personally would say that powerlifting is more suited to introverts than bodybuilding is. 


Bodybuilding is the sport of building the biggest physique possible with the least amount of fat. There is more to it, but this is how I would boil it down. In bodybuilding competitions, your performance will be judged on
  • Size of your muscles 
  • Definition of your muscles 
  • The symmetry of your body 
  • Stage presence 
  • Choreography 
Based on this it is a lot more subjective and depending on how judges see you and their interpretation of the rules you are competing in. It is also a lot less likely that you will go anywhere without steroids. You can probably say this about any elite sport nowadays but it is especially true about bodybuilding. 
Staying almost naked on a stage is not for everyone. Also the constant eating. To put on a lot of muscle you have to eat a lot. Eating 5000 to 10000 calories of good food is no fun. Try it and you will understand. 
Bodybuilding is the better choice if you want to look like the hulk or pack on a lot of muscle in a short amount of time. You are more likely to die of cardiac arrest than breaking your back Compared to powerlifting

Which is better powerlifting or bodybuilding 

It all depends on your goals which you to line out first. If you want to get stronger powerlifting is the better choice. If you wanted to build big muscles go with bodybuilding. 

Topics: Powerlifting