The Differences Between Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Arguably the two most popular styles of weightlifting are bodybuilding and powerlifting. You’ll see both powerlifting and bodybuilding gyms all around Singapore. Of course, these two weightlifting styles have many similarities. But their differences are what determines the preference of the people for each style.

Overview of both styles


As the name suggests, bodybuilding is all about sculpting your body to achieve an aesthetic physique. Muscle mass, striations, body proportions, and posing are all included in the criteria of bodybuilding. It’s about achieving that “Herculean” or “Greek god” physique as most bodybuilders like to say.


Powerlifting, on the other hand, is a strength sport that is centered around the “Big 3” barbell movements: The bench press, deadlift, and the squat. A powerlifter has to master these three so that he/she can lift as much weight as possible for each lift.


The main goal of bodybuilding is to simply to look as good as possible. As said earlier, it focuses on creating aesthetics through muscle size, definition, and overall symmetry. That means almost all muscles are targeted to make them look as big or as defined as possible. This means a variety of exercises are used from both compound and isolation exercises.

For powerlifting, the main goal is to become stronger so as to lift more weight in the 3 barbell movements mentioned earlier. The priority for powerlifting is strength and form. For one, because one is lifting heavier weights, having the correct form will significantly reduce injury. The judges in competitive powerlifting also look at the form above all else.

Training program

Because of the focus on physique, the bodybuilding program is much stricter. For starters, the bodybuilders training program is divided into the bulking and cutting phases. During the bulking phase is when the bodybuilder generally grinds it out at the gym, doing heavy lifts to increase muscle size.

This is accompanied by consuming a little more calories than you burn to maximize size and muscle gain. The cutting phase is when the bodybuilder starts focusing on shedding the fat gained from the bulking phase. It’s also when he focuses on isolation exercises to bring out the definition in every muscle.

Powerlifting, on the other hand, is a lot less strict since the focus is on strength and not appearance. This is the reason why you see powerlifters who have bigger guts and generally appear “fatter”. Before, many powerlifters didn’t mind what they were eating as long as they eat a lot so that they get more energy and more mass.

Nowadays though, they have begun to eat a lot healthier. Powerlifters also don’t need to the gym as often. This is because of the focus in strength during workouts, which means the body will be more tired and require more time to rest.