Bodybuilder? Do you even powerlift?

By: Joel Janssen


There’s a disconnect between the powerlifting and bodybuilding communities – however the two might have more in common than ya think. Name the greatest bodybuilders of all time and people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo and Ronnie Coleman come to mind.

They not only share illustrious bodybuilding careers, but also the use of powerlifting as part of their training programs. There are the three greatest advantages of incorporating powerlifting into the bodybuilder’s routine:

The bench press, squat and deadlift should be the basis of any workout routine.

These three lifts change physiques. Compound lifts target multiple muscle groups at a time and builds overall strength. Both of these factors are useful to the bodybuilder as it gives more time to work lagging muscle groups in a workout. Powerlifting training fits the adage “you gotta lift big to get big,” and this is the best way to build overall muscle mass.

Progressive Overload

It’s the idea of continually increasing load on muscle to result in increased strength and size. If you don’t continue to place demand on your muscles, they will atrophy. Conversely, if you continue to increase demand on your muscles they will hypertrophy.

What does any of this have to do with powerlifting or bodybuilding? Well, powerlifters are focused on continually increasing their max lifts (progressive overload) to place better from competition to competition.

If the bodybuilder applies the same philosophy they will ensure they are continuing muscular development. It’s not enough to adopt powerlifting lifts and hope for increased muscle mass, these lifts must be coupled with progressive overload to maximize muscle hypertrophy.


Reduced Risk of Injury:

Injury is the greatest fear of bodybuilders, and a common occurrence among many. Once again powerlifting comes to the rescue.

Bodybuilding typically sacrifices form in favour of technique that allows isolation of specific muscle groups. Although this may seem tempting, the increased risk of injury heavily outweighs any possible benefits one may see from using “bodybuilding form.”

Powerlifters must be very conscious of their form to allow them to lift tremendous weights, and do so safely. The root of proper form in powerlifting can be isolated to maintaining neutral spine position.

This keeps loads on the spine low, and significantly lowers risk of injury. This form will be transferable to other lifts as well, therefore decreasing injury risk across the board, something any bodybuilder would be happy to hear.

Got any other power-lifting tips for bodybuilding?

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JoelMy name is Joel Janssen and I’m a powerlifter with roots in bodybuilding. I started weight training as a means to become a better hockey player, and lifting has now outlived my hockey career. I am currently completing my BSc undergrad degree in Honours Kinesiology at uWaterloo.

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3 responses to “Bodybuilder? Do you even powerlift?

  1. Nice blog here man, I encourage all involved in bodybuilding to respect the world of power lifting because it’s totally different. Im currently at 365lbs on Bench and 495lbs on squat deadlift Im at 515lbs clng and jerk 225lbs any tips as to how I can get stronger??? I love how you can learn so much from others. I will follow you please do the same if you see fit too.
    Isaac Hall

    • Joel Janssen

      Depends what you are looking to excel in I guess. My advice would be to focus on one lift in particular and try to increase it by means of a change in programming and related exercises, while maintaining your other lifts. For example I just did smolov for squats because I have been focusing my energy towards increasing my squat max. However this should also end up helping my deadlift too, so there is still potential to increase your other lifts at the same time. Also start logging your macros if you don’t already, it makes modifying caloric intake a lot easier when your not guessing what you are eating. I would suggest taking a look at smolov, westside or jim wendler’s programs as they have been successful for myself and many others. By this point I imagine you know roughly what type of program works best for you so try to use that to your advantage as well. If you have any other questions or want to bounce some ideas message me on facebook

  2. Reblogged this on Isaac J Hall II and commented:
    I tell all body builders to respect the world of Power Lifting because it’s totally different…

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