During the initial lockdown, the only viable excuse for leaving the house was to do exercise. With little else to do, many people have finally gotten round to working on their physical fitness. No longer can you wheel out the excuse that you don’t have the time. You literally have nothing else to do.
To get into peak shape, you might have ordered a set of dumbbells or made it out to the gym when it was allowed pre coronavirus restrictions. But what if you want to learn a little bit more? We’ve covered one of the first questions we get asked by weightlifting newcomers: just what is the difference between powerlifting and weightlifting?
To help answer this question, we’ve put together a piece that aims to break down the crucial differences between the two.
At a glance
Olympic weightlifting has two competitive lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.
Powerlifting instead concentrates on three different kinds of barbell lift: the bench press, the squat and the deadlift.
You can casually refer to weightlifting as lifting weights. But Olympic weightlifting, the competitive pursuit, refers strictly to two competitive dynamic barbell lifts – the snatch and the clean and jerk.
Competitors are divided into different categories based on gender and weight. They have three attempts at each lift. An Olympic weightlifter’s score totals up the highest weight lifted for each individual exercise. The higher the score, the more likely they are to win.
Competitive powerlifting works in a similar way. Powerlifters are often obsessive about their weight owing to their placement in different categories depending on their weight.
Competitors get three attempts at each lift. The highest weight lifted using proper technique accounts for their score. Their highest successful attempt at the squat, deadlift and bench press are all added together to give their total score.
Goals and training
Weightlifting in general – aside from Olympic weightlifters and professional athletes attempting to improve their muscles in specialised ways to benefit their performance – tends to be about building a toned upper body that’ll earn you envious glances on the beach.
The vast majority of gym goers are simply there to improve their physical appearance – with no thought for the practical applications of their newly chiselled bodies.
Powerlifters meanwhile, are solely concerned with the functional applications of their training. It is geared solely towards increasing your one rep max.
Because it revolves around three different exercises, all training efforts are so oriented around these particular lifts. Yes, there is scope for other ancillary exercises in training – but not to the same extent as is typical in weightlifting.
Olympic weightlifters concentrate on flexibility and endurance. A sustained Olympic weightlifting training regime can improve both of these in spades.
What do they have in common?
Weightlifting and powerlifting are both massively demanding pursuits that put real strain on your body in order to progress. Either a person has built up the physical constitution to lift a certain weight or they haven’t. They’re both great tests of your discipline, commitment and endurance.
If your goal is to cut fat, they’re great for that too. They’ll increase your resting metabolic rate, vastly improving your body’s ability to render fat into muscle – even when you’re just sat at home with your feet up.