Training for strength versus training for aesthetics is very different. Powerlifting focuses more on the strength aspect of fitness whereas bodybuilding is a pure show of how aesthetically pleasing can the human body become.
However, powerbuilding, a portmanteau of powerlifting and bodybuilding is a combination of looking good while packing on serious strength. It is not a widely discussed topic in the strength training field. Despite many bodybuilders having followed similar training principles from the early days of Joe Weider’s Mr. Olympia,
Training philosophies for this style date back to early 80s, with powerlifter Doug Young’s training routine that was first exploring this concept, even though it was simply another training program. He held an impressive total record of 887kg while competing with 3 broken ribs.
What does it include?
The powerlifting aspect of this style of training means that one can immediately assume there will be compound lifts involved. Due to the hybrid aspect of strength and aesthetics, one can workout 3-5 days a week, depending on their level of fitness experience in the gym. This type of training however is highly unsuitable for those who are planning on competing for a powerlifting meet and should thus stick to powerlifting programs. Be it any type of training, it is important to take the guidance of a trainer to avoiding injury.
Nature of Training
Programming is very carefully done for people who wish to train powerbuilding. Due to the nature of compound lifts, it is recommended for beginners to train safely and establish a good foundation. A clear foundation in compound lifts, when combined with the rapid strength gain when starting out in a gym, can lead to better results. This will help one keep motivated initially.
However, there comes a time where the muscles peak when increasing strength and size. Here comes a time where the person must choose whether to go for strength or for size. Powerbuilding neglects the one rep max (1RM) aspect of powerlifting, a trade for the aesthetic part of training. Thus it may not be sustainable for those who are looking to improve strength beyond what is normal, in the long run.
Many have criticizes powerbuilding programs to be a waste of time. The training approach focuses on the best of both worlds, which is not ideal for those who are aiming to keep up with both. In order to achieve the most aesthetic looks, high volume training with lighter weights is the key whereas the opposite goes for strength, where you lift heavy for few. Therefore, one might proceed with unrealistic expectations and end up being successful in neither. Diet is another concern as aesthetics completely relies on diet, and in order to get strong, one needs to eat heavy too.
It is important to know that this training style is best suited for those who are not looking to compete in either sport. Powerbuilding offers a compromise for those who want to look good and be strong enough to play the part, but not compete. However, it might be a good approach for those who wish to venture beyond gym machines, typical goals and wish tread water in either sport.