Information on how to run faster, lift stronger and think deeper

Will powerlifting build muscle mass [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jul 17, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Will powerlifting build muscle mass

Will powerlifting build muscle mass

Powerlifting will not build muscle mass, your body will. This is important and a concept that many beginners get wrong. The first priority for getting bigger is your body, diet, genes, and hormones. Everything you do in the gym is an afterthought to this. Powerlifting can stimulate your body's need to grow more muscle in case all other factors like nourishment, and rest are fulfilled. 
Subscribe for free

What is your why

Before we go into the details of whether powerlifting builds muscle mass, let me ask you a couple of questions:
  • Why do you want to build muscle mass?
  • Why do you want to get stronger?
  • What happens when you do?
  • What happens if you don't?
While you may think that these questions are weird, they will make a huge difference to your long term success. Sit down and reflect on them. Even better, write down and refine the answers to these questions. This will make it a lot more likely that you will achieve your goals. Life will get in the way of your dreams and ambitions. You have to have a strong framework in place to stay on course. Many people go about their lives like this:
  • What do I want
  • How do I get it
  • Why do I want it
This approach will pull you in hundreds of directions and get you nowhere. Based on how your brain works you will want hundreds of different things in a day. If you make this the guiding principle of your life your resources will be scattered, you will never be satisfied and always want more. This dynamic changes 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. Your thoughts and actions will become more connected. This will lead to success and happiness. If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's thinking and fast and slow. Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle will change your life.
This is at the heart of this paragraph. Everything else is an afterthought.

What is the main driver of building muscle

More often than not people get caught up in the details of which exercises to do how often and at what intensity. This is not where the music plays when it comes to building muscle. Building muscle is mainly affected by:
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Diet
  • Hormones
Your genetic predisposition is something you can not do a lot about. This is also why bodybuilders and powerlifters do not spend a lot of time thinking about this. Sports programmes on a national level and the military do though. You will find ideas and experiments on how to genetically alter athletes and soldiers to make them fitter and more resistant. Still, let's not get into X Men first class and stick with what the average joe can do.
Your diet is the second main factor which influences how much muscle you can build. The very simple principle here is the more calories you eat, the more you grow. The cleaner the calories you eat, the more likely it will be that it turns into muscle instead of fat. The more stress you put your body under without breaking it, the more likely it will turn this food into muscle. There are a million and one permutations of these principles out there. Spent your time on getting the big picture right, then worry about the detail. Generally, your body is lazy. If you feed it but do not challenge it, it will store the food as fat instead of building muscle. This is the easier of the processes. This is why inactive people who eat a lot get bigger in a different way than people who are active and eat a lot.
The last point is hormones. Hormones are very powerful in making you grow. Every teenager and cattle owner knows. Hormones are very potent to impact our bodies in certain ways. Teenagers have them in abundance that is why they usually do well-building muscle and doing sports. The older you become, the harder it will be to produce a surplus of hormones to make you grow. Your body sees less of a need for it. There are natural ways of keeping your production of hormones up. This is mainly staying physically, mentally and sexually active.  Still, you will not get back to the levels you had when you were younger. This where steroids come in. Many steroids tinker with how many hormones you have in your body. If you do it, it is highly recommended to do it under the supervision of a doctor. In most scenarios this is illegal, so stay away from it.

Powerlifting vs bodybuilding

Powerlifting and bodybuilding build mass with a different focus. Bodybuilding wants the muscle to be as big and defined as humanly possible on the frame that you work with. Powerlifting wants muscle that is as dense as possible. The denser and stronger and smaller the tissue the better for powerlifting. You want to pack as much power into as little space as possible. Bodybuilders want to pack as much mass as possible into a limited amount of space. These are two very different goals. If your main goal is building mass, the sport of bodybuilding is a better pick for you than powerlifting. Powerlifting will still build more mass than most other activities you can do.

Powerlifting programs to consider


Will powerlifting build muscle mass

Not really. Your body builds muscle mass. Your body is more likely to build muscle when it is nourished, well rested and challenged on a regular basis. Hormones will either speed this process up or slow it down. Powerlifting can stimulate the production of hormones and put your muscles into a state that your body will feel the need to build more muscle. Bodybuilding style training might ave a bigger impact to achieve this end.

Topics: Fitness, Strength, Rogue, Powerlifting