Powerlifting vs Weightlifting

Most people use the terms of powerlifting and weightlifting interchangeably and some even think it is the same thing. There are however, a few subtle and major differences between the two styles of weight training. This article will look at the differences between the two in terms of the equipments used, speed of the movements and their outcomes. So you know exactly the style of training to choose to achieve your desired goals. It will also give you a basic idea of the rules and regulations of these barbell sports if you wish to compete in either.

Competition Lifts: The most glaring difference between the two is the competition lifts. Weightlifting involves the snatch and the clean and jerk, both of which are overhead movements. Powerlifting on the other hand uses the back squat, bench and deadlift none of which are directed vertically overhead. Also weightlifting is an Olympic sport so it comes under one governing body whereas there are different Powerlifting Federations with their own set of rules. A weightlifting competitor will get 3 attempts on the snatch and clean and jerk each. This is same for a powerlifter who has 3 attempts on the squat, bench and deadlift. The highest weight is recorded on each of the 2 or 3 lifts and the competitors are ranked based on total weight score.

Speed of the lift: One can tell just by looking at weightlifting movements that they are done quickly compared to the squat, bench and deadlift. You will never see a weightlifter grind out a snatch or clean. This is because the movement demands, the lifter to lift the weight off the floor in the shortest amount of time. The lift will be missed or incomplete if the lifter takes a lot of time to execute the movement. Powerlifting movements on the other hand are easier to correct during the lift as biomechanically the movement can be completed in more amount of time than snatch or clean and jerk. That is why some people suggest that there is not much power element in powerlifting as the force is applied over greater amount of time. Also as speed is so vital in weightlifting, the weight on the bar is less compared to powerlifting. In powerlifting the stronger athlete always wins however successful athletes are quicker and more agile in weightlifting. Proper technique is of greater importance for weightlifters as most missed lifts are due to breakdown of technique rather than lack of strength. Powerlifters tend to focus more on programming to get stronger and better at the lifts. Frequency of training for weightlifters is also greater compared to powerlifters as they have to engage their neuromuscular pathways more frequently so that they don’t ‘lose their touch’ with the movement.

Outcomes: It is a myth that powerlifters have greater percentage of slow twitch muscle fibres due the slow tempo of lifts. However due to the volume of work and hypertrophy exercises, powerlifters appear bigger and bulkier than weightlifters. Weightlifters are very lean and muscular compared to powerlifters as lower the weight, greater their ability to move their body quickly. They also have to exhibit a high level of force in a short amount of time; therefore there is a greater carry-over from weightlifting style training to sports where speed is vital.

In summary, weightlifting and powerlifting are two completely different types of barbell sports. The movements involved in weightlifting are quicker and explosive compared to powerlifting where the emphasis is on lifting the maximum amount of weight you possibly can.

Enquire Now