Powerlifting is a very specific style of weightlifting. Some people workout to tone up, others are trying to build their body to a certain shape or look, athletes are looking to improve performance, and powerlifters are looking to increase strength in specific lifts.
Unlike strongmen competitors who look to gain strength over a variety of actions of abilities, powerlifters have a goal to increase what they can lift in the core exercises of their sport. That is not to say that they aren’t interested in building up other aspects of their bodies or increase endurance and strength in other areas. But some people seem to think so.
So let’s look at some of those myths and determine if they are real or just stories.
- Bodybuilders are more Muscular than Powerlifters – Many famous bodybuilders were also great powerlifters. Franco Columbo was well known for his amazing feats in the squat and deadlift. Most of the modern Mr. Olympia winners have a solid background in the three core lifts. Muscle itself is a result from the work you put in. Now bodybuilders are typically more defined than a powerlifter because of the difference in the sports.
- Powerlifters Don’t Have Big Arms – This is a visual misconception. Most powerlifting routines do not focus on the same style of exercises such as concentration curls or other ‘finishing’ exercises that bring out added muscle shape. A Powerlifters arm can easily be as large but the biceps might not have the same well rounded shape when flexed or the triceps might not have the same well developed horseshoe look.
- You Need Short Arms for Big Bench Presses – Actually you need proportional arms or slightly longer arms. Shorter arms become more of a detriment because of the speed you can generate. Typically speaking people who are in normal proportion are the strongest because their muscle size is adequately matched for various motions and movements.
- You Get a Big Butt Powerlifting – You actually get a very strong set of legs including glutes which leads to a better rounded rear end. Powerlifters usually end up with legs that are thick and powerful from squats and deadlifts. If you compare that to many of the stick-legged bodybuilders then yes I guess you do get a bigger rear.
The Bottom Line
Most of these myths are just that. An athlete is an athlete. Yes the body shape of a powerlifter can be different. But almost all serious bodybuilders, from Mr. Olympia to NFL players do the same type of basic power lifting programs in the offseason to build core strength and muscle size. The difference is other disciplines incorporate other varieties of training into different cycles such as speed training, body sculpting, or fat loss phases.
When doing anything involving weight training to try and change and better your body it truly is a matter of getting out what you put in. You should never bypass doing something beneficial just because of silly misconceptions. In fact, most people will benefit from including a few powerlifting cycles into their routines now and again.