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HomeSportsPowerlifting vs. Weightlifting: Which is Right for You?

Powerlifting vs. Weightlifting: Which is Right for You?

Powerlifting vs. Weightlifting: Which is Right for You?

If you’re new to strength training, you might be confused by the different terms used to describe lifting weights. Two of the most common are powerlifting and weightlifting. Even though they may sound similar, they are actually quite different. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of lifting and help you decide which one is right for you.

What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a sport that involves three main lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The goal of powerlifting is to lift the highest total weight across these three lifts. Powerlifters typically perform these exercises with a low number of repetitions (usually 1-5) and heavy weight.

The Three Main Lifts

The Squat

The squat is a compound exercise that primarily works the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. During a squat, the lifter starts with the barbell on their shoulders and then bends at the knees and hips to lower down into a squatting position. They then lift the weight back up to a standing position.

The Bench Press

The bench press primarily works the chest, shoulders, and triceps. During a bench press, the lifter lies on a bench and lowers the barbell down to touch their chest before pressing it back up to arms’ length.

The Deadlift

The deadlift primarily works the posterior chain muscles, including the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. During a deadlift, the lifter lifts the barbell off the ground and stands up straight with the weight in their hands.

What is Weightlifting?

Weightlifting is a sport that involves two main lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. The goal of weightlifting is to lift the highest weight possible in each of these lifts.

The Two Main Lifts

The Snatch

The snatch is a complex lift that involves lifting the weight from the ground and then quickly moving it overhead in one motion. The lift primarily works the shoulders, back, and legs.

The Clean and Jerk

The clean and jerk is another complex lift that involves two movements. The first part of the lift, the clean, is similar to the deadlift in that the lifter lifts the weight off the ground. The second part, the jerk, involves lifting the weight overhead. The clean and jerk primarily work the legs, shoulders, and back.

Which One is Right for You?

So, which type of lifting is right for you? The answer will depend on your goals and preferences.


If your goal is to lift the heaviest weight possible, powerlifting may be the right choice for you. Powerlifting is also a good choice if you prefer to lift with low reps and heavy weight. Since powerlifting involves only three main lifts, it can be easier to focus on mastering the form and technique of each lift.


If you’re more interested in lifting for athletic performance or want a greater variety of lifts, weightlifting may be the right choice for you. Weightlifting requires more skill and technical proficiency than powerlifting, but it can be more rewarding as you learn to master each lift.


In summary, powerlifting and weightlifting are two different types of strength training that involve different lifts, rep ranges, and goals. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to try both and see which one you enjoy more. Whether you choose powerlifting or weightlifting, the most important thing is to find a type of exercise that you enjoy and can stick with over the long term.


What are the three main lifts in powerlifting?

The three main lifts in powerlifting are the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

What are the two main lifts in weightlifting?

The two main lifts in weightlifting are the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Which type of lifting is better for building muscle?

Both powerlifting and weightlifting can be effective for building muscle. However, powerlifting may be more effective for overall strength gains, while weightlifting may be more effective for overall athletic performance.

Can women participate in powerlifting and weightlifting?

Yes, both powerlifting and weightlifting are open to both men and women.

Do I need to be in good shape to start powerlifting or weightlifting?

It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program. However, both powerlifting and weightlifting can be adapted to different fitness levels and can be safely performed by beginners.

Are powerlifting and weightlifting dangerous?

Like any form of exercise, powerlifting and weightlifting can carry some risk of injury. However, when performed with proper form and technique, they can be safe and effective forms of exercise.

How often should I lift weights?

The frequency of your weightlifting workouts will depend on your goals and fitness level. Generally, it’s a good idea to lift weights at least 2-3 times per week.



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