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What's The Difference Between
Muscle Building Workouts & Power Lifting?

By: Peter Harris

Why do you want to train with weights? You should ask yourself this question before you start a weight training program. If you have a specific reason for weight training or goals you want to accomplish then you will more than likely choose the style of weight training that will help you attain those goals.

What are your goals with weightlifting?

If you are looking to achieve power and strength then you should consider a powerlifting routine. Powerlifting comprises what it says - lifting weights to gain power. There are three major lifts in powerlifting - the bench press, squat and deadlift. A powerlifting routine will center itself around training to improve these lifts. If you are looking to achieve a sculpted body with ripped muscles then you will want to perform a bodybuilding routine. Bodybuilding routines focus on developing the look of your individual muscles by toning and shaping them. These muscle building workouts will help you achieve muscle definition so you can look your best in your summer beach wear!

So what's the difference between a powerlifting routine and a bodybuilding routine?

Bodybuilders train with higher repetitions and higher number of sets per body part while powerlifters use lower repetitions and a lower number of sets per bodypart. For example, when working on developing the bench press lift a power lifter may do some variation of the following: Bench press, Incline bench press, Military press, Bent-Over-Rows and Skull crushers. Sets and repetitions may look like this - 4 to 6 sets of 4 to 6 repetitions of each exercise. The amount of weight lifted should force you to struggle to complete each set and each repetition to constantly challenge the muscles. This type of lifting strengthens the muscles and makes you stronger. There are several different exercises that can be substituted for your various body parts. You will have to pick and choose depending on your weak areas and what you need to develop to maximize your core lifts.

A bodybuilder will focus on higher repetitions and a higher number of sets per body part. So staying with the above chest example a bodybuilding routine may look like this: same exercises as described above but the sets and repetitions would be in the range of 6 to 8 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. In order to lift weights at more sets and repetitions you need to adjust the amount of weight you are lifting. If you want to tone, shape and define your muscles then this type of weight training is for you. You will gain strength when performing a bodybuilding routine, just not at quickly or as much as if you were powerlifting.

So where should you start?

If you are new to weightlifting then my advice would be to start with a muscle building workout (i.e., a bodybuilding routine). I say this because this type of routine uses less weight. You won't be inclined to try and lift more than you are capable of lifting. You will be able to focus on learning how to perform each exercise properly, with good form. This will help you prevent injury and will maximize your muscle development. When you are ready to increase your weights you will be able to better handle the additional poundage's with less risk of injury. An important point to remember is that in the first 3 to 4 months of starting a training program your muscles are inefficient - meaning they are not performing to their maximal ability. After 3 to 4 months of training your muscle contractions become more efficient so with each contraction you are recruiting a greater number of muscle fibers. So an experienced weightlifter gets more benefit from a lift than an inexperienced weightlifter.

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