Powerlifting and weightlifting are two entirely different sports, and yet I have heard many people use them interchangeably. Aside from their meaning, history, and other vital details, what most lifters and future lifters want to know is about which of these two is stronger.
Who is stronger: powerlifting or weightlifting? While some individuals may disagree, I believe that powerlifters are much stronger, simply because they go for mere brute strength. On the other hand, weightlifters rely more on the technique that combines strength and speed, although some may argue that powerlifting also involves a few methods as well.
When it comes to the battle of strength, powerlifters are the winner. It is because weightlifting is more about technique, combining speed and power more complexly. In general, powerlifters are stronger, but weightlifters are more powerful.
These two train for a unique type of athleticism. For average people, it is hard to tell the difference between the two, but they are unique in their way. Both have their pros and cons, and the physique of the lifters are just some of the disparities.
The Strength Test
It may be difficult to come up with a clear comparison as to who is much stronger than the other. Weightlifters concentrate on their skill that will let them lift heavier weights more than their mass. Meanwhile, powerlifting is mainly about the strength to lift something heavy.
Powerlifters do shift huge amounts of the big three exercises namely squats, deadlift, and bench press. Then again, weightlifters may argue that a powerlifter will have a hard time doing a clean and jerk.
In my experience as a trainer, it does come down to a matter of opinion as to which between weightlifting and powerlifting needs more strength. However, powerlifters who ventured into weightlifting, such as Shane Hamman who became an Olympic weightlifter, said his new sport was more difficult than the first one.
According to the world record holder, weightlifting involves more technique, since taking weight from the ground all the way to above his head was more difficult. For him, he worked harder in weightlifting than with powerlifting.
While the comparison above may not mean anything to either lifter, here are some key points to take in regarding which sport is stronger:
In weightlifting, much greater power is produced, meaning these lifters generate more power as they move at higher velocities in comparison with powerlifters despite their name. This assessment is based on all percentages of one-repetition maximum (1RM).
Most athletes know that the ability to create high levels of power, while moving explosively is more important than the capacity to generate massive amounts of force in one single effort.
Powerlifting can help with developing the strength of the muscle, which is why I recommend it for those who want to train to increase their strength. The training for this sport involves various movements that necessitate high force without quick actions.
For those training for hypertrophy or for increasing the size of the muscle cells, slow speed training in powerlifting is the best way to achieve the goal. Such a method allows the muscle to stay under tension for a more extended period, which is one of the essentials in hypertrophy training.
As for weightlifting, the movements here emphasize squats (high force) and cleans (high velocity). These exercises, I believe, are among the best ways to develop not just strength but power and speed as well.
High-velocity training, such as in weightlifting is advantageous for those who want to increase their rate and power output.
Improving the ability to the maximum requires both force and velocity, which should be enhanced through training. According to scientific research, combining high-speed and heavy resistance training can be more effective than merely focusing on gaining high power or force.
Most trainers will agree that powerlifters are stronger than weightlifters. However, weightlifters are praised more because of their techniques. Powerlifting is devoted to strength. Take a look at the comparison below:
A powerlifter can press 200kg. He can clean and jerk around 230kg.
Meanwhile, a weightlifter only presses 160kg. However, he can clean and jerk 230kg as well.
The values above are approximate, but you may be able to understand the difference between the two at this point. Weight is picked up from the floor to the powerlifter’s shoulders. While holding it in his hands, he will then push it all the way above his head.
As for the weightlifter, he will lift the weight above his knees to suddenly push it and let it rest on his shoulders. He will then stand up as the bar stays on his shoulders. The weightlifter will proceed to use his legs for pushing the weight a little bit. At the same time, he will push himself with the bar above him as he stands up.
What are the Main Dissimilarities between Powerlifting and Weightlifting?
At first glance, you can see the most apparent difference between powerlifting and weightlifting in the competition lifts:
- Weightlifting: This sport uses snatch and clean and jerk, which are two overhead movements.
- Powerlifting: It involves squat, bench press, and deadlift. These three do not require vertical overhead movements.
Aside from the techniques above, the speed of execution is also an element that separates the two types of lifting. Powerlifts are typically done at a slower tempo, especially compared with weightlifting or more specifically Olympic lifts.
Weightlifting misses are common mainly because of the speed — and not because powerlifting seems to have a simple technique. It is more about the amount of time available that allows powerlifting to be successful. In contrast, a snatch and clean and jerk should be in the right path or should be opened up in the correct sequence; otherwise, it will result in a failed lift.
Weightlifter vs. Powerlifter Physique
Powerlifters and weightlifters have a muscular physique. Both are not bodybuilding programs, even though some people who train to become lifter can get a bit confused.
Powerlifters are often bigger and heavier than weightlifters. The increased muscle mass results in more body weight, which is not something that powerlifters worry about. Depending on the athlete, being heavier can be a performance advantage.
Powerlifting training last long but the movements do not induce bodily inflammation, especially when compared to bodybuilding. As with weightlifting, the training is designed to stress the central nervous system and not the muscles and body itself.
It is why powerlifters can train for several hours without suffering from muscle fatigue and failure, leaving them with some more power in the tank even after each repetition.
Weightlifters can also increase the frequency of their training. The explosive moves often involve training that pros do. Therefore, achieving strength when muscles contract allows the development of fast twitch muscle fibers. However, performing only snatches cleans, and jerks can result in losing tons of upper body mass, which is why athletes who only train with these three moves are a bit smaller than powerlifters.
Which is Better for You: Powerlifting vs. Weightlifting?
When choosing between powerlifting and weightlifting, you should know a few things so you can go for the right one for you:
Both types of lifting need you to wear specific shoes and a belt. Most lifters use a singlet or spandex bottoms and shirts. Selecting weightlifting will require more patience because it focuses on the technique.
Powerlifting needs you to be patient as well but this time, for soreness. Both are repetitive since you will have to perform the same movements several times a week.
Weightlifting movements can be quite technical, which is why it is necessary that you have a qualified instructor who will teach you the exercises. Sport can lead to accidents and injuries. However, as long as you know the right technique and you have the proper equipment, weightlifting should be safe for you.
Perfecting your weightlifting technique can take time and a considerable amount of coaching. Nevertheless, this sport can excellently demonstrate your technique, balance, power, strength, and agility.
As a trainer, I have recognized that powerlifting mostly has a positive influence on different lifting goals. From gym rats to those who want to become bigger and stronger to elite athletes with multimillion-dollar contracts use the three power lifts.
Does increased muscle size mean increased strength?
The short answer is yes. Bigger muscles lead to superior force, which is why it makes sense that men with bigger muscles are typically stronger than those with smaller muscles. Strength increases help in maximizing power, which is the primary goal of most athletes as they train.
Is weightlifting dangerous?
Some people believe that weightlifting is an injury-prone sport. With the higher rate of failure than powerlifting, the athletes expose themselves to such risk. However, it is wrong to think that weightlifting is more dangerous than traditional exercises.
Additionally, it is not true that single-joint movements can provide the same benefit as with weightlifting, particularly when it comes to enhancing performance. If weightlifting is performed correctly, it can even be safer than other training or sports activities.
Please read my next article about “What Accessories Should I Use In Weightlifting?”
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