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Bodybuilders or Powerlifters – Strength vs. Physique

Bodybuilding and powerlifting are similar almost exclusively in the aspect that both involve weight training and competition.

Bodybuilding requires a strict discipline of diet, measurements, and some muscle control; powerlifting has a strong focus on lifting great weights through muscle and tendon strength and muscle group coordination, aesthetics aside.

Both are highly artistic methods of training the human body, but let's delve into the details.

Just as there are different kinds of muscle fibers, there are different kinds of muscle growth. Sarcoplasmic growth, the main focus of bodubuilders, increases the fluid surrounding the muscle and the size of the blood vessels around the muscle. This essentially inflates the muscle, giving it and the veins a pumped look and feeling. This kind of growth has no real effect on strength.

Myofibrillar growth focuses on the increase of strength by thickening the actual muscular fiber that's surrounded by the sarcoplasm. 7 Seconds to a Perfect Body is a program that capitalizes on this kind of muscle growth.

Exponential strength increases can occur without much change your muscle size. Training one may contribute a bit to the other, but that isn't the focus.

Bodybuilders maintain a very strict menu to reduce fat and maintain this sarcoplasmic muscle size. Professional bodybuilders can spend more time planning out and preparing meals than the time spent working out!

That body is made mostly in the kitchen. Furthermore, they eat a lot of high protein foods and drink lots of water to keep that growth level as high as possible in their recovery phase.

Sometimes bodybuilders will completely cut carbs, but that could prove detrimental; instead, scheduled carb doses should be taken to give energy boosts for the builder and optimize health.

Cheat days are also a fun way to indulge from time to time. You know you're a bodybuilder when you have carbs so seldomly that you've gotta take a picture of it. A one week slip in their menu can cost multiple weeks of progress for a bodybuilder.

Bodybuilders also focus on isolation exercises to: 1.) maintain perfect, all around symmetry to outperform competition and 2.) improve their skill at flexing individual muscles to improve their display and give them an edge over competition.

Powerlifters concentrate on muscle group contraction rather than isolations. This gives them a great advantage in compound exercises like squats, deadlifts or bench presses because their muscle groups work together to lift the weight.

Powerlifter diets do pack heavy protein to aid that dense, myofibrillar muscle growth, but it's often less specific. I know powerlifters that eat like some of my college frat friends, though still maintaining a rather dense, muscular physique.

If it's the powerlifter physique you seek, perform low rep exercises, use heavy weights and contract your muscles maximally to encourage dense muscle growth and connective tissue development.

Powerlifters, more often that not, are the ones you'll see doing 700 lb deadlifts, 800 lb bench presses, and overall incredible amounts of weight. Bud Jeffries has squatted over 900 lbs, and has a program that can teach you to do the same

Watch him here do a 1000 lbs raw squat from the very bottom position, which requires immense tendon and ligament strength, in addition to intense muscle power.

Because a powerlifter has to lift heavy, they've gotta use various training methods that focus intensively on strength - the physique comes as a benefit of such strength.  

Isometrics are used by a number of powerlifters, although you won't hear it used often in bodybuilding circles.  (If you're looking to build muscle size even with using isometrics, Maximetrics is a critical program for you to buy. True strength AND size will result.)

High volume, low to moderate weight exercises will give a great blood flow to your muscles and help with that sarcoplasmic boost needed for a bodybuilder.

Remember that isolation exercises will be the focus, though not the entirety, of bodybuilding workout and heavy, compound lifts will construct a powerlifter's training menu.

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