T Nation

Power Lifter Body?

Hey, guys…I’m trying to process a statement made by one of the Pro’s who possesses one of the more aesthetic physiques.

I’m paraphrasing, but in essense he said:“If you LIFT like a powerlifter, you will end up with the BODY of a powerlifter”. UUUmmmm…

So my questions (and confusion!)

1)If two guys are really pushing the poundage (a bodybuilder and a powerlifter), is there something inherently different in their lifting that will lead to different results? In other words…isn’t a heavy bench and heavy bench? Or is it more a question of their differences in emphasis, focus and make-up of their workout schedule?

2)Are the differences in physiques more a question of diet? (I’ve read of many a powerlifter who could put down the groceries with little concern about it’s content! By the way, a SUMO’s diet is pretty “clean”, but there are just amzing AMOUNTS of food!).

Well…let’s discuss this…and hopefully clear up some confusion!

I would consider myself a power lifter and I would also say that I have a powelifters body.

By this I mean I am big and barrel chested but not ripped. So I guess my interpitation would be BF%. I am certanly striving for a body builders body and I will get there through proper diet and lifting routines. This brings up another question it seems to me that body builders do much more muscle specific work while I strive for big compound movements.

Your thoughts? KraigY

Just chalk it up to another pro bodybuilder who just spouts out words before thinking first.

1) You can apply this question also to the "differences" between a man and a woman. By training with weights, will a woman start to look like a man? We all know this to be impossible: first of all, we all have the same type of muscular structure (we all have pectorals, lats, romboids, traps, etc). There would be slight differences in attachments and of course, difference of skeletal structure. Combine that with maybe, a higher degree of bodyfat and genetics, and the visual differences are there. Nevertheless, it's all more individual, than gender (IMO). So, the same can be said here. You have a short, stocky guy and a taller, leaner guy: it's not due to the training, but due to the physical structure. I mean, just look at the Worlds Strongest Men competitors: there is a variety of structures there. Or any Powerlifting meet. Also, a bodybuilder more than likely is concentrating on isolation movements, while a powerlifter is concentrating on compound movements - and a powerlifter doesn't have to get lean for contests like a bodybuilder. Also, Franco Columbo was a powerlifting competitor. He even trained as a powerlifter while competing as a bodybuilder.

2)I agree about the diet. And yeah, them SUMO wrestlers eat ALOT, but they do maintain a mostly clean diet. Wild.

I guess it all boils down to that I don't believe in the "if you train like a powerlifter, you're going to look like a powerlifter" - I put that right up with, "if you train like a man, you're going to look like a man."

Here’s my take. A lot of the bodybuilders I know don’t necessarily have to eat a lot of food, but they eat clean. Instead they use buckets of steroids. Kind of makes up for it. My opinion is that genetics and diet are most determinant in whether you look like a bodybuilder or powerlifter. Powerlifters aren’t really known for paying too much attention to their diet. Having bodyfat actually helps them. It prevents injury and poundages are higher with a decent amount of fat. Genetics obviously determine how lean or fat you can get. Diet plays a role, but a lot of guys could never be 3 or 4% bodyfat no matter how they eat. The type of lifting probably isn’t all that different between the two. Powerlifters focus more on their main lifts (bench, squat, deads) and supplemental type stuff while bodybuilders will do an array of exercises to hit each muscle and take less rest b/t sets. Overall though I think genetics and diet are the two biggest factors on what you look like.

I think your that what your pro was referring to is the difference in asthetics between a bodybuilder and a powerlifter. Yes, most powerlifters do seem to be more concerned with overall food intake than it’s macronutrient breakdown,but if you could magically lower an elite heavyweight powerlifters BF % down to 4 or 5 you would have a body that looked very different to that of a pro bodybuilder. Powerlifters train for strength in the squat, bench and deadlift, they don’t give a shit what they look like. With our powerlifter at 4 - 5 %BF you’ll see a guy with a huge set of traps, triceps, spinal erectors, glutes and a gut that looked like it had a pair of 25 year old twins in it. Compared to the pro bodybuilder his legs would look like they should be hanging out of a nest.Most of the powerlifters who can squat over 800 lbs have minimal ( comparitive ) quad development. Fred Hatfield, the first guy to squat over 1000 lb, didn’t look like he trained his legs at all.Hardly asthetic - it’s technically called the inverted lightbulb look.
Our pro bodybuilder, on the other hand, is concerned with increasing muscle size while maintaining proportion, although this proportion bit seems to have fallen by the wayside in modern times. Mr Adonis does’nt give a hoot about his squat, bench or dead max. On stage, he is judged by his appearance, end of story. How he arrived at his cosmetic self is unimportant.
Besides the obvious differnces in diet, its the training that makes the difference in appearance between the two. Pure squat, bench and dead strength/power training strategies are a very different animal than pure hypertrophy/proportion strategies.

I would agree with what everyone else has said about aesthetics. Most powerlifters could care less about symmetry or body fat %'s. I was thinking, though, that powerlifters also train with heavier weights and lower reps (compared to most bodybuilders). I’ve heard it said that powerlifters have a “dense” look, possibly because the training they use works the contractile portion of their muscle fibers more. Not sure how valid that is really, but it is something to think about.

People who do better in powerlifting are usually the ones with larger waist line.I train like a bodybuilder still i have more of a lean powerlifter look (large waist, not much of a V shaped back, etc…)

Most bodybuilders I know would do good training like a powerlifter for a period of time. I think the muscle development is a little different between the 2. Powerlifters tend to have good traps, triceps, erectors, glutes and hamstrings. How many bodybuilders would do better focusing on those bodyparts? Personally I think the typical bodybuilder look is rather funny and totally non-functional…especially the wayyy overdeveloped quadriceps and zero hamstring development found on many.

Ops, fucked up in there.

The primary reason that people say that power lifters lift to look like power lifters is because of the rep range that a power lifter is working in. Power lifters often work in a rep range of under 5 reps, where as a bodybuilder will work in a rep range of anywhere from 6 to 15 reps (depends what training ideology you believe). This results in the use of primarily fast twitch fibres, which is only around half of your muscle fibres, and ultimately results in stronger but smaller(volume) muscles. In terms of diet, power-lifters need mass to lift mass, and will resort to eating more than a bodybuilder to ensure that the work in the gym isn’t wasted (catablosim). A power-lifters goals are focused around the weight they lift, rather than the physique they obtain. Because of this bodybuilders rarely work in the lower rep ranges ( < 5), but at the same time would never go very high in reps (all slow twitch fibre use). So if it’s a bodybuilders physique your after, only train really heavy once and a while (same goes for high reps) and eat clean, so the effort you put in equates to the results you receive.

Many have touched upon the “rep range” being the
difference between a bodybuilder’s physique and the
power-lifter’s physique. One trains with hi-reps 6-12; the
other, low reps 1-5. However, no one has mentioned
cadence or how the rep is performed.

Example: I, have a bodybuilder's look but train with lower rep ranges - 4 to 6 reps (mostly 6). But unlike a power-lifter, I use exaggerated cadences, usually performing 3 second negatives. Power-lifters, on the other hand, tend to minimize the negative portion of the lift (These guys don't want to be sore for 3 days!) Likemost BB'ers, I concentrate on feeling ever rep in the target muscle being worked on; I don't believe power-lifters do this!?

Any thoughts...?

have to agree with Joey Z. A powerlifter is just concentrating on shifting a weight from point a to point b and he often doesn’t care whether he uses momentum, muscle contraction, tissue leverage or joint/ tendon strength to get it there. the bodybuilder will be focusing on concentrating the weight on his/ her muscles, training for feel and pain. I would suggest that if you took twins and had one train like a powerlifter and one train like a bodybuilder, the powerlifter would far and away be the first of the two to bench 400lbs. but when the bodybuilder caught up (eventually) he would have the bigger pecs.

Some powerlifters go for the big gut because they use it in the squat as a resting “device” when reaching the bottom position. They descend to the bottom until their bellies rest on their quads and get a little help in the bottom position. They almost get a rest and some resistance against spinal flexion due to their gut.

Obviously, I’m not saying all Powerlifters do this, but some do. So sometimes their physiques are functional in the sport.

Generally, a bodybuilder takes a light weight and makes it as difficult as possible to lift with proper form. A Powerlifter takes a heavy weight and makes it as easy as possible to lift with proper form. Training is inherently different as a result.

But, some powerlifters compete at single digit body fat too, so figure that out. Interestingly enough, once the weight classes get above say 90kg or 100 kg, the poundages actually start to decrease in comparison to the 80 or 90 kg classes. Again, go figure.

A while ago I attended (In the audience) the European Championships in Powerlifting and in allmost all classes from 90 kg and below I could pick out at least one competioner who, with right diet, would have a chance on winning some national bodybuilding shows here in Europe. I talked it over with some of the spotters and some other staff and they did agre with me on most of the atlets chanses in BB (Spotters/staff have the advantage to see the atlets more closely than the audience.)