Powerbuilding vs Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting – Differences Explained

When I first got into lifting, I was a borderline obese kid in my late teens.

I didn’t really care about much more than getting in shape and looking good.

Over time I lost a lot of weight. Eventually packed on a good amount of muscle, and learned a lot in the process.

I had started growing into the ideas of cutting and bulking. I was bodybuilding.

I didn’t like how it made me feel…

I’d got a bit older at this stage and while looking good still mattered, as it does to most of us, it wasn’t the biggest focus in my life.

I’d packed on some decent size over the winter of 2009 gaining 20lbs. In the Spring I started cutting.

I hated it. I felt weak. I looked flatter. I felt small.

Enter Powerbuilding – What Is It?

I quit cutting and started focusing on just enjoying my size and going after lifting bigger weights.

Setting PRs became my new focus.

The thing was I knew all about Powerlifting.

I knew it wasn’t for me.

I started to read about a concept called Powerbuilding.

What Is Powerbuilding?

Powerbuilding is a hybrid.

It’s a hybrid of both bodybuilding and powerlifting.

Something that other oddballs like myself found they liked more than either of the other sports.

There is a more balanced focus on both strength and physique. You want to look good, but also be able to lift heavy shit…

Differences Between Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

In case you were wondering about what the differences between these two sports were in the first place…


Bodybuilding usually uses a wide range of exercises, where most training programs focus on a higher volume of repetitions.

The end goal is to look as muscular as possible while maintaining certain proportions that give your physique the desired aesthetic.


The main outcome of powerlifting is being able to lift the heaviest weight possible on the Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat. Sometimes people also throw the Overhead Press into the equation as one of their top compound lifts to focus on.

The training methodology taken to do this is different to bodybuilding. Usually focusing on heavier weights for fewer repetitions. It’s also common to see ramping or pyramid style lifting utilized.

Why Powerbuilding Is The Best Of Both Worlds

Due to the way our physiology is made up, we’ll usually gain muscle via hypertrophy quickly when we first begin training.

Over time this effect becomes less pronounced due to the law of diminishing returns.

So you have to make a conscious choice after the first year or two of your training as to what you want to pursue.

If you don’t really have a massive preference, or you just want the best of looking good and being strong then powerbuilding could be for you.

In my popular Push/Pull/Legs Routine for beginners, I formulated this plan based on powerbuilding principles.

The overall idea being that I would help enable beginners to gain strength and size at the same time. Something we should see naturally, but definitely want to see a more pronounced result of when we start training.

That routine still works well for me as a powerbuilder now, even though I’ve changed things up slightly in order to allow for my optimal effective frequency.

The other thing I really love about powerbuilding, is that it never gets boring. One of the things I always loved about bodybuilding was the ability to mix up my workouts more. It keeps things interesting and for me that matters a lot as I love training.

Cost Difference

One thing that rarely gets mentioned about powerbuilding is the difference in cost.

Where bodybuilding and powerlifting are both more specialized, costs increase accordingly.

Bodybuilders often prefer the gym setting as they can have access to a wider variety of equipment.

Powerlifters often prefer strength training gyms as they have access to lots of weight, and often quite vitally, spotters.

As a powerbuilder, I’ve found that I’ve needed a little less gym equipment than most.

I’ve been able to set up a modest gym in my garage with a decent power rack, a solid bench and a few choice accessories.

You might need to buy more plates than an average bodybuilder, but equally, you’re not going to need a round thousand lbs of plates like a powerlifter might want.

The main reason I founded ggphysique.com was to cater to those who want to workout from home, so it only seemed logical that I covered powerbuilding at some point.

Related: Best Home Weight Sets Reviewed


One of the things I have always loved about powerbuilding is the simplicity, and it shares that in common with powerlifting.

Train hard, sleep well, eat enough of the right things and you’ll see results if you’re consistent.