Weightlifting vs Powerlifting: Which One Should You Choose?

Weightlifting vs Powerlifting: Which One Should You Choose?


Are you trying to build a stronger, more muscular physique? Do you want to challenge yourself to lift heavier weights and push your limits in the gym? If so, you may be considering weightlifting or powerlifting as your preferred method of strength training. While these two sports may seem similar at first glance, they have distinct differences that can make all the difference in your fitness journey.

In this blog, we'll delve into the differences between weightlifting and powerlifting, so you can make an informed decision about which discipline is right for you. So, whether you're a seasoned lifter or just beginning your fitness journey, this guide will help you choose the right path toward achieving your strength and fitness goals.


What Is Weightlifting?


 man lifting heavy weights in gym

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Weightlifting, also referred to as Olympic lifting or weight training, is a competitive sport in which athletes lift weights in two distinct Olympic lifts: the clean and jerk and, the snatch. In the snatch, the weight is lifted from the ground to overhead in one swift motion, while in the clean and jerk, the weight is lifted from the ground to the shoulders, and then from the shoulders to overhead.

Weightlifting is considered an Olympic sport and is well-known for its inclusion in the Olympic games. An Olympic weightlifter typically trains with low reps and high sets of Olympic lifts, along with other exercises designed to improve their strength, technique, and explosiveness. Due to the high level of technical skill required to execute the lifts correctly, this sport demands a lot of practice and mastery. Athletes must possess excellent mobility, strength, and power to lift heavy weights successfully.


What Is Powerlifting?


 mans hands about to lift heavy weights

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Powerlifting is a strength-focused sport that includes three primary power lifts: bench press, deadlift, and squat. Athletes aim to lift the heaviest weight possible in each of these three lifts and typically train with high reps and low sets, as well as accessory exercises to improve their technique and strength.

Unlike weightlifting, powerlifting allows athletes the freedom to use their preferred lifting techniques, provided they adhere to the competition guidelines. It is worth noting that this sport is not currently featured in the Olympic Games.


Powerlifting vs Weightlifting: What's the Difference?


Now that we have explored the basics of powerlifting and weightlifting training, let's delve deeper into some of the key differences that set these two sports apart:


1) Types of Competition Lifts


 legs of heavyweight lifter

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The most significant difference between weightlifting and powerlifting is the type of competition lifts that athletes perform. Weightlifting focuses on two specific lifts, the clean and jerk, and the snatch, while powerlifting involves three different lifts, bench press, deadlift, and squat. While all these lifts require strength, powerlifting places more emphasis on lifting as much weight as possible while weightlifting demands greater technical skill and explosiveness.


2) Training Environment


The training environment for weightlifting and powerlifting can also be different. Weightlifters typically train in Olympic weightlifting gyms, with specialized equipment. Powerlifters, on the other hand, can train in a more traditional gym setting.


3) Training Methodology


 man lifting heavy weights

Credit: Envato Elements/ NomadSoul1


Weightlifting and powerlifting have different training methodologies. Weightlifters focus on low reps and high sets of the snatch, and clean and jerk, along with accessory exercises to improve their strength, technique, and explosiveness. On the other hand, powerlifters typically use high reps and low sets of the squat, bench press, and deadlift, along with accessory exercises to improve their strength and technique.


4) Equipment Used


Both powerlifting and weightlifting use different equipment. In weightlifting, athletes use a specialized barbell and weight plates, along with specialized shoes, wrist wraps, and knee sleeves to improve their lifting performance. On the other hand, powerlifters rely on standard barbells and weight plates, along with a lifting belt that provides additional support and stability during heavy lifts.


5) Body Type



man lifting weights in gym with muscular arms
Credit: Envato Elements/ Prostock-studio


Athletes in weightlifting and powerlifting tend to have different body types. Weightlifters usually have a leaner and less bulky physique with lower body weight and muscular development. In contrast, powerlifters tend to have larger and more heavily muscled bodies. The reason for this difference is that powerlifting primarily focuses on pure strength, whereas weightlifting places a greater emphasis on technical skills.


6) Governance


The organization in charge of regulating weightlifting tournaments all over the world is called the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). It establishes the rules and regulations for weightlifting events, establishes weight classes, and enforces anti-doping policies, among other responsibilities.

Powerlifting, on the other hand, has multiple individual governing bodies, each with its own set of rules and regulations. The most notable governing body for powerlifting is the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), which oversees competitions worldwide and sets standards for the sport.


7) Muscles Worked


 woman heavyweight lifting

Credit: Envato Elements/ wollwerth


Weightlifting and powerlifting involve lifts that target distinct muscle groups. Weightlifting exercises are designed to engage multiple muscle groups in both the upper and lower body, such as the shoulders, upper back, arms, legs, and core. In contrast, powerlifting is focused on targeting primarily the lower body muscles including the legs, glutes, and lower back, as well as the chest, shoulders, and triceps.


Which One Should You Choose?


 lower legs of man about to lift heavyweights

Credit: Envato Elements/ realsportsphotos


Choosing between weightlifting and powerlifting depends on your individual fitness goals and preferences. If you want to develop explosive strength, power, and technique, then weightlifting might be the best choice for you. However, if you want to focus more on building raw strength and body mass, then powerlifting might be the best choice.

Another factor to consider is your body type and fitness level. Powerlifting might be a better fit if you're already heavily muscled and have a lot of strength. However, if you're leaner and more athletic and want to develop explosive strength and power, then weightlifting might be a better choice.




Weightlifting and powerlifting are two popular competitive sports that involve lifting weights in different ways. While both sports may appear similar, they have significant differences that set them apart.

Regardless of which sport you engage in, recovery is essential for optimal performance. To help with recovery, Acupoint massage balls are designed to alleviate muscle soreness and tension. By using these massage balls, athletes can potentially recover faster and perform better during training. Shop with us today.


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