T Nation

Choose Weightlifting or Powerlifting?


I do not want to be a bodybuilder. I do not want to use steroids either. I am willing to spend years training to get good enough to compete. That will be the ultimate goal of my training. Right now I am just trying to gain much needed strength, mass, and power.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a weightlifter rather than a powerlifter or vice-versa? What led you to making this decision?


I think thats a decision YOU have to make for yourself. As it has to do with both your goals and your values.

My suggestions is that you do ALL the lifts. Bench, DL, back/front/OH squat, snatch, and clean & jerk, (including pull ups, split squats, etc) and see how your body responds to them, and see how u like them.

As for me I stared out with a PVC pipe trying to learn the movments. Then moved up in weight... as I trained, read, and analysed the effects on the training on me (gotta keep that journal) I started to like the Olifts better. Eventually I came in contact with some Olifters and I've been training with them since.


i always was intrested in powerlifting since i was 16 but i'd say when i joined american iron 2 years ago. i didnt train their long only a month and i trained like a bb then . i met chad aichs and i seen him and his team train , i just wanted to do that , so 5 months later i found the standard template and since the end of march of this year i've been training as powerlifter


You're always good enough to compete...


I train for powerlifting these days, but more olympic lifting has been making its way into my routine purely for variation.

Main reason i started powerlifting was because i used to compete in elite level martial arts, given the time contraints (TKD training, university + coaching, strength and conditioning) and i could'nt invest the time into learning olympic lifting techniques to get them to a level where i would benefit from them (ala joe defrancos reason for not doing them).

Id say start competeing soon because you then learn to build your training around competition approach and subsequent deload. Plus the competition experiance is one i encourage becoming accustomed with. Ive seen guys who where great in the gym and lost their focus on the plaform due to in-experiance.


I love weightlifting. It looks really cool. It's gymnastics with heavy weight.

If you want to do it- give it a try. A few points to ponder though:

WLing requires a great deal of technique training. As such your progress will be extrememly limited if you can't get with some more experienced lifters. Check the USAWL website for teams in your area.

While powerlifting is very much influenced by technique- especially once you throw gear into the equation- the basic 3 lifts can be done with not a lot of technique. If you get stronger, your squat, bench and dead will go up- this is not necessarily the case with your snatch and C&J.

If you are a larger and/or older guy with various nagging, injury-prone knees and shoulders, WLing is a rough game to get started in. I speak from some experience here and -frankly, weightlifting can be rough on your body.

It's ballistic movements with no support gear. When I squat or bench, I can put on some kind of bench shirt to protect my shoulders, briefs for my hips, knee-wraps, etc.

If you plan on remaining drug-free, you can compete in either sport. Arguably, there is a fair amount of drug use in the upper echelons on both sports. However, this is all up to you.


I was forced; sexually, into my first PL meet.

I did well so I stuck with it.

Hopefully not too many BB's read your post or they might think that you don't want to be a BB because they all take 'roids. (they don't)

But honestly; I think I realized that I wanted to do more power lifting when I first dead lifted 315. It's a small amount; but at the gym I was at....only me and my training partner lifted that much (for dead lift). The looks we got when training and the feeling of power and strength (and the respect that came with) was what won me over.

There are a few ways to be bigger, faster and stronger then everyone else....Powerlifting is just one of those ways.


Both are awesome.

And if you start off serious, you're gonna compete within months of starting. No matter how good/crappy you are. Competition just makes your training that much more aggressive and is fun.

Personally I am a Weightlifter. I decided I wanted to be a Weightlifter after watching weight Lifting. The speed, flexibility, strength, and coordination needed drew me to it. Once I started, I just found the lifts incredibly fun. The simplicity of practices was also great, no tempo, no fancy assistance work, just basic lifting.

But Powerlifting is also really sweet. These guys are strong and huge and just pushing mind bendingly huge weights. The Raw Power associated with PLing is incredible.

Like mentioned above, drugs are just as prominent in bodybuilding as it is in OLing and PLing. You can compete locally drug free, but there are bound to be drug users at the national level. The desicion is up to you.


I am incredibly clumsy and would kill myself and bystanders if I tried to do competitive weightlifting. :slightly_smiling:


Sounds like me, I've always said that weightlifting requires far too much coordination for someone as spaztastic as I am.


This really made me laugh. I love watching weightlifting and the combination of strength and fluidity. I would absolutely go for it if I could afford coaching, mainly for the reason that it is so unique. Not here, but ya know what I mean. But it's a goal for the future. Heck, I still am figuring out the basic stuff.



The first lifting competition that I ever watched was a weightlifting competition. I thought it was awesome, but not for me. Me throwing weight up over my head can only end in disaster.



I have a hard enough time with push presses and balance.


Thanks for the great post everybody. The reason I do not want to be a bodybuilder has nothing to do with drug use. I just don't find posing on stage appealing. Anyways I was just wondering what yall thought. I will have to make a choice before too long If I want to get competitive.


Have you read Dan John's From the Ground Up? Check out his website. He recommends that you pick a competition and then just get started training with a coach or a team, if you're just starting. When he started, he hadn't even done the Olympic lifts, and his first coach made him compete three (3!) weeks later. Most coaches agree that competition adds great intensity to your training.

So if it's powerlifting or O-lifting and you want to be really good, just get with a team and start training for a competition.


I'm a strongman instead of a powerlifter at least in part because there's a lower barrier to entry (for me.)

Where I am there's a strongman show within a two and a half hour drive probably 8-12 times a year. It's rare that there's a PL meet less than 3 or 4 hours. Plus I didnt have teh $$ to spend on gear.

Strongman can be jsut as expensive, but it doesnt have to be. (PL doesnt either, I just didnt see the point in doing a raw meet since i could just as easily do that at my gym. Then again, just showing up to a meet that is vaguely nearby you is a great way to find crews in the area.)


I did actually come across his book "From the Ground Up" while searching this site. It is in my bookmarks. I looked through it and it is VERY informative. Can't wait to read the whole thing. Thanks for the advice I will try to get with a team and compete soon since so many of you feel it is the best approach.


To answer a question that you did not ask, after I read
Kubik's "Dinosaur Training", I completely broke with any desire to do bodybuilding.

No disrespect to Powerlifting, but I just find Oly lifting to be more fun. That's me and, of course, other people might have the opposite experience. Also, I had a huger rotator cuff problem from bench pressing that really reduced my training for a year and a half. That also probably influenced my decision.

Also, at least on this side of the San Francisco Bay, there seems to be more Oly lifting than Powerlifting.


I prefer the limit strength aspect of PLing over the speed-strength aspect of WLing. Whichever on you choose, good luck.