Should Bodybuilders and Powerlifters train the same?

I can guarantee that a very high percentage of each camp will say no, but are they right? I personally say yes(in parts) which is why I devised the PowerHyper Program, a combination of Strength Training and Hypertrophy. You may ask why? Well in this article I will do my best to explain why.

So, let’s start at the beginning, bodybuilders generally see powerlifters as fat, lazy, and undisciplined when it comes to diet. And Powerlifters see Bodybuilding as an unathletic beauty contest, ok this is a massive generalisation, but you can see what I’m getting at.

Firstly, there is something we need to understand, whenever you lift a weight, you simultaneously create the stimuli for building muscle and increasing strength, you cannot completely separate the two, but what you can do is massively favour one or the other by how you lift the weight, there is our first similarity between the two disciplines.

So, what is hypertrophy? well in terms of training there are two types of skeletal muscle hypertrophy

  1. Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is the one that is more associated with bodybuilders cause it increases the demand for ATP and glycogen, this helps the muscles last longer with less of a need for maximal speed or power, in turn this creates larger muscle bellies without the increased fibres being utilized for peak performance. This can best be described, but not exclusive to a bodybuilding style workout, for example: Moderate weights for higher reps, shorter rest periods and increased blood flow, also known as the pump,
  2. Myofibrillar Hypertrophy is more the growth of muscle contractile parts. Larger fibres create more force which means more speed or strength, so I would say this style is more functional than Sarcoplasmic.

In Summary, surely combining the two styles would help both sports, larger muscles that are powerful, functional and with greater endurance? That’s got to be good for both sports?

If you want to get stronger or bigger or both, which in my opinion is the ultimate, then the two-work hand in hand. Let me explain,

Maximum strength development requires two things, making your muscle fibres thicker and then creating a stimulus that requires your body to figure out a way to fire those fibres in order to lift a weight. In conclusion:

Maximum strength requires Hypertrophy Development.

If You want maximum muscular development then you need to recruit it first, in this case, because of the high threshold motor units you need to progressively overload a muscle in a significant way, so yes, training for the pump is great, or going by feel is all well and good, but if you want maximum stimulus you can not ignore progressive overload. In conclusion:

Maximum Hypertrophy requires Strength Development

So, as you can see there is a massive crossover between the two sports and if your goal is to be the best you can be then why wouldn’t you aim to use all the tools you have at your disposal?

For Example, let’s look a Chest Routine or Bench Workout.

Now a powerlifter will use every possible way to increase his max effort in the Bench Press, whereas a bodybuilder is looking for maximum development in the pecs, so their approach to a bench press would be completely different which is great, but doesn’t mean they can’t use the same formula for the bench press, i.e., a 5 x 5 system, or a percentage based 5,3,1 system? Just done specific to their sport? The powerlifter will try to lessen the range of motion, use leg drive, and any other trick to move weight from A to B, whereas the bodybuilder will try use a full range, effective range of motion, focusing on only driving from the pec muscle.

The paths are different, but the goal is the same, increased development for both sports.

Then for the rest of the workout, they can adopt more of the hypertrophy high volume style to increase muscle size, and as I’ve said before, the two styles WILL help both sports.

Now I’m not saying Bodybuilders and Powerlifters should train the same way, because that’s not the case, what I’m pointing out, in my opinion, is that we can use elements from both styles to compliment the other. I mean the end goal is to be the best Bodybuilder or strongest powerlifter possible, so why on earth would you totally dismiss a style, or system that will ultimately only help you in your pursuit of greatness? Makes no sense right!!!!!!

This brings me back to my PowerHyper Program, a 4-week system that I’ve spent years perfecting, which incorporates elements of both disciplines, hypertrophy and strength training, to give you the best chance at Muscle size, strength, endurance, speed and power.

I’ve used this system myself, and I’ve also used it on many clients, with great results, it’s not a system for beginners as it involves a lot of advanced techniques, and high volume so it’s more suited to someone looking to step up to the next level of training.

Available to Download from The Powerlifting and Bodybuilding Sections at