There are many similar training principles and exercises between bodybuilding and strength training, regardless of whether you are trying to gain muscle or become stronger. Although bodybuilders and strength athletes train differently, that does not mean they should follow the same guidelines. I have written this article to help you understand how bodybuilding and strength training are different.
Why Do You Need Strength Training?
There’s nothing difficult about this one. Exercises that strengthen your muscles are called strength training. There are many ways to interpret that. Bodyweight exercises and resistance bands can also be used for strength training if you don’t want to lift weights. The best way to improve strength is, however, to lift weights.
Working against a weight or force is what strength training is all about. In progressive overload, the resistance gradually increases for your muscles to be forced to adapt.
The Bodybuilding Process: What Is It?
During bodybuilding, muscles are developed through exercise and diet for aesthetic reasons. The objective of competitive bodybuilding is to display muscular development, symmetry, and definition to a panel of judges who will compare your physique with those of your competitors.
The differences and similarities between bodybuilding and strength training are numerous.
- Strength training is not for everyone who wants to be a bodybuilder.
- Strength training, however, is a requirement for all bodybuilders.
Strength gains can be achieved in a variety of ways, one of which is by training for maximum muscle growth. A bodybuilder’s training practices are different from those of a powerlifter, for example. Furthermore, bodybuilders and strength athletes differ in their diet and exercise selection.
The following are the ten main differences between strength training and bodybuilding.
1. Strength training makes your muscles stronger; bodybuilding makes them bigger
There is considerable overlap here, of course. Even though bodybuilding makes you stronger, it is not the primary objective. You not only grow stronger and bigger muscles when you train for strength.Bigger muscles are generally stronger. It is complex, however, to determine whether muscle strength is related to muscle size. Hypertrophy does not necessarily equate to muscle strength gain. The lifters in several strength-training studies gain larger muscles without becoming stronger at the same time. As a result of strength training, your peak power increases, and your muscle fiber quality improves. You will become stronger and build muscle as you continue to do strength training and bodybuilding.
The best way to look like a bodybuilder is to train like one most of the time. Strength training should make up the majority of your workouts if you want to become as strong as possible
2. Lifting heavy weights is part of strength training
You need to lift heavy weights if you want to get strong. A lower rep range with heavier loads produces greater muscle strength, according to research.
Conversely, hypertrophy training does not depend on how heavy the weights are or how many reps you do. Low, moderate, and high loads are all effective for achieving comparable muscle hypertrophy.
In any case, when it comes to bodybuilding training, it’s probably best to use moderate loads and between 6–15 reps. Training with light weights to failure is difficult and painful, while training with heavy weights increases your risk of injury.
3. The volume of training is more important for bodybuilding
A dose-dependent relationship exists between muscle growth and exercise. You can expect better results if you perform more sets and train more frequently. The only limit is how much more training you can handle.The situation gets more complicated when it comes to strength training.
A dose-response relationship may still exist between high volume and strength, but it is not linear and relevant only to intermediate and advanced lifters. The weight you lift is more important than the number of sets you do in your training routine for building stronger muscles.
4. Training for bodybuilding is less specific than training for strength
According to the specificity principle, you become good at what you do. In general, your body’s adaptation depends on the type of training you do. This refers to your muscles’ movement pattern and the nature of the action in strength training.
Powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters should focus their training on competitive lifts according to the specificity principle. When your training program is centered around those lifts, you will achieve your best results. Squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting are the three main exercises in powerlifting. The snatch and clean and jerk are the two most popular lifts among weightlifters. The best exercises to increase your strength are those that give you the most bang for your buck.
Compared to bodybuilding, however, it is less specific. While every bodybuilder’s primary goal is to build lean muscle mass, each bodybuilder has specific goals that require very different training methods. During a bodybuilding competition, there are no lifts performed. As a bodybuilder, you can tailor your training regimen according to your fitness goals and preferences.
5. The importance of nutrition in bodybuilding cannot be overstated
In bodybuilding and strength training, eating enough of the right foods is crucial. In contrast to strength athletes like powerlifters and strongmen, bodybuilders place much greater emphasis on nutrition details.
It is important to eat enough calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates to recover from heavy training and to allow your muscles to adapt by becoming stronger over time. You’re likely to get enough nutrients from a reasonably balanced diet if you get enough calories.
A bodybuilder shows off the results of his/her efforts in the gym by displaying their physical appearance. When it comes to bodybuilding competitions, bodybuilders must plan their diet to the gram to lose body fat and get shredded. Muscle definition isn’t important for strength athletes.
You won’t be able to reach your potential for strength if you don’t pay attention to what you eat. However, diet and nutrition play a significant role in bodybuilding success as well. It is important to have an on-point nutrition plan when dieting to reach peak fitness for a competition, even more, important than training.
6. Strength training benefits from an external focus, and bodybuilding benefits from an internal focus
You might wonder, what is the difference between an external and internal focus?
- The external focus refers to paying attention to the outcome of your work.
- The internal focus involves paying attention to the movements of the body.
Take the case of attempting a heavy bench press with a barbell. An external focus is when you concentrate on moving the bar. Internal focus refers to concentrating on how your chest muscles work during the lift.
Strength is improved and heavier loads can be lifted when you focus on the external world. Additionally, it improves motor learning, which is helpful when lifting weights or performing Olympic lifts.
The internal focus is likely to be beneficial for building muscle, however. Concentrating on the muscles doing the work might limit the amount of weight you can use, but it might enhance muscle hypertrophy by establishing a “mind-muscle connection.”
To put it another way, if you’re mainly interested in strength training, focus on lifting weights and moving them. When it comes to bodybuilding, focus on individual muscles and feel them working, even if it means lifting less weight.
7. Cardio is a key component of bodybuilding
Athletes who train for maximal strength often avoid aerobic exercise, as excessive cardio is believed to hinder maximum strength gains. With more research, current scientific evidence indicates that cardio does not interfere with maximal strength development, only with explosive strength. Athletes who lift weights, particularly strength athletes, can find that critical enough.
There is a greater emphasis on aerobic exercise in bodybuilding. The majority of competitive bodybuilders, 44%, exercise 1–2 times a week during the off-season, according to a 2013 survey. Bodybuilders generally engaged in aerobic training during the weeks leading up to competition, with close to 60% performing five or more sessions per week.
Whether a powerlifter or a strongman, you benefit from aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Bodybuilders are the only ones who regularly incorporate cardio into their training routines.
8. The purpose of bodybuilding is to look good, whereas the purpose of strength training is to perform well
The purpose of bodybuilding isn’t how much you can lift; it’s about how you look, how you build bigger muscles, and how you sculpt a symmetrical physique. Competition bodybuilders are judged on the size of their muscles, their conditioning, and the absence of body fat (muscle definition). Bodybuilding competitions are determined by both overall symmetry and the development of individual muscles, regardless of whether you’re a professional or an amateur.
Unlike strength training, strength training focuses on performance. The heaviest weight possible is lifted during competitive exhibitions in strength sports such as powerlifting, strongman, or weightlifting. The way you look doesn’t matter when you’re doing it. No matter what we’re talking about, whether it’s the three main lifts in powerlifting, the Olympic lifts, or a strongman pushing a car, overall strength determines the winner.
9. Exercises for Bodybuilding and Strength Training
Generally, strength training centers on compound exercises that involve several muscle groups, so-called multijoint exercises. It allows you to use heavier weights, develop functional strength, and train your central nervous system to coordinate your body to perform more complicated lifts with maximum force, all of which are crucial in powerlifting and weightlifting.
Strength performance can be improved through functional training exercises such as:
- Squats with your back
- The snatch
- Performing a deadlift
- The bench press
- Presses for overhead
In contrast, bodybuilding emphasizes the muscles individually. Muscle building is a bodybuilder’s primary objective, along with achieving a balanced physique and eliminating weak points. In addition to compound lifts like those above, bodybuilders also perform isolation exercises as part of their resistance training program, such as:
- Extending your legs
- Curl your biceps
- Curls for hamstrings
- Raise the laterals
Most strength athletes focus on compound exercises using heavy weights and low reps, then add some isolation work to the workout routine if time and recovery allow.Using lighter loads and high repetitions, bodybuilders combine compound and isolation exercises to achieve muscle hypertrophy throughout the body.
10. The lowest injury rate is found in bodybuilding
You always risk injury when you push your body. Injuries are relatively common in most physically demanding sports at the highest level.
Compared to most team sports, strength sports, such as weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, and strongman, have low injury rates. It is estimated that fewer than one injury occurs per lifter per year in bodybuilding.Strength training requires you to use heavier weights and greater force, sometimes too much pressure for your muscles and connective tissues to handle, which increases your risk of injury. In contrast, bodybuilding usually involves using lighter weights and controlling the movement, which results in a very slight risk of injury.
There are many differences between bodybuilding and strength training, despite their similarity on paper.
- Strength training is aimed at strengthening your muscles, while bodybuilding is aimed at increasing their size.
- Strength training improves physical performance, whereas bodybuilding improves physical appearance.
- In the process of training for bodybuilding, you will undoubtedly become stronger. Although strength is an important aspect of bodybuilding, it is not the primary goal. Bodybuilders can use their muscles in practical ways, so don’t think they can’t use them. In comparison to powerlifters, many bodybuilders are extraordinarily strong.
- Strength training will also help you build bigger muscles. While strength training is not optimal for building muscle, you probably won’t end up with the muscle mass of a bodybuilder. The muscles of powerlifters and strongmen, especially heavyweights, are enormous. It is often covered by more body fat and is less symmetrical than the physique of a bodybuilder.
- The majority of strength sports have low injury rates, but bodybuilding is the safest form of weight training compared to strength sports.
There are both similarities and differences between bodybuilding and strength training, as you can see. There is no inherent “better” one over the other. Your goals will determine what you do. When it comes to building muscle and competing in bodybuilding, training like a bodybuilder makes sense. If you want to gain as much strength as possible, perhaps for powerlifting or another strength-based sport, then strength training is the best approach.