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Difference Between Bodybuilding and Powerlifting by Mukesh Singh – IBB – Indian Bodybuilding

Difference Between Bodybuilding And Powerlifting By Mukesh Singh – Ibb – Indian Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is one of the emerging sports in India. Over the past few years, our perception towards this profession has changed tremendously and we are seeing more and more enthusiasts entering this filed willingly. However, there are still a lot of things about this profession that are far being understood properly. Due to this lack of information and awareness, youngsters always find it difficult to make the right choice at the right time. Today we are here trying to explain the basic difference between the two main aspects of this profession – Bodybuilding and Powerlifting and who could explain this better than our Champion of Champions Mukesh Singh Gahlot who toggles between these two sports beautifully. We bring to you Mukesh’s take on Powerlifting and Bodybuilding hoping that it will help you to make your career choice appropriately.

1)   What are the criteria to choose between Powerlifting and Bodybuilding?

The biggest criterion for deciding between the two is your personal interest. You should find out what interests you more, Bodybuilding or Powerlifting? What would you like to do? Once you have the answer, you should take that up as your field of choice.

We do come across youngsters who are not sure about what they would want to do. At times like this, we put the candidate through general training and check his response rate. We check how his body is responding to the given routines – whether he is gaining strength or developing muscles. Based on this we help him to decide his future course. If he develops more muscles with the given training then his body more suitable for Bodybuilding. If he builds on his strength then we direct him towards Powerlifting.

2)   How different is the requirement for Bodybuilding from Powerlifting?

The two sports are quite different from one another and hence their requirements too vary. Bodybuilding since it is a game of muscles; it requires a lot of equipments for working out. You need a fully fledged gym for becoming a competent bodybuilder.  On the contrary, Powerlifting is the game of strength and hence, it does not depend on too many types of equipment. With as little as barbells and plates, you can become a competent powerlifter.

3)   How different is a Bodybuilding workout from Powerlifting?

Since, the two sports have different judging criteria; their workout patterns too are different. Both the events require you to do Cardio. The basic difference is in the volume and repetitions in the workout. As powerlifters, we have routines with a maximum of 3 to 5 repetitions. In these 3 to 5 reps, we take as much load as possible. This strengthens our muscles instead of just growing it. Thus, the emphasis is on the volume and load and not on getting more repetitions.

When it comes to bodybuilding, it is exactly the opposite. In every bodybuilding workout routine, the emphasis is on getting more repetitions. The routines will involve at least 8 to 12 reps. The more the number the number of reps, the more is the stress on the muscles. This leads to muscle tear which on recovery leads to muscle growth. Thus, bodybuilders tend to have big muscles. To summarize it, it can be said that in Powerlifting the motto is less exercise more volume and bodybuilding motto is more exercise and less volume.

The workout routine also differs in the number of exercises. The bodybuilding routine has a number of exercises like for chest alone there is upper chest press, lower chest press, fly, pull over, peck deck etc. while powerlifting has a few selected routines like benchpresses, squats and deadlifts. Thus, bodybuilding has more exercises to be taken up daily unlike powerlifting.

Powerlifting also has a longer recovery period. Since, you lift very heavy loads and stress your muscle extensively; you need significantly longer recovery period so that your muscles strengthen properly.

4)   What is the difference in diet?

Diet differs in the proportion of nutrients. Bodybuilders gain a major chunk of their calories, about 60% from Carbohydrates, 30% from proteins and remaining 10% from healthy fats. During the competition phase, this proportion changes a little. We tend to reduce our carbs and increase protein intake. Differing from this, powerlifting relies more on proteins and healthy fats for their daily calorie intake and lesser on carbohydrates.

5)   How do the two competitions differ from each other?

There are marked difference between a Powerlifting and a Bodybuilding Competition.

Categories: Bodybuilding as a sport has 10 categories in which the athletes compete. These categories are placed at a difference of 5 kilograms – starting from 50 kg and going up till 90 kg. After this, there is a leap of 10 kg and you have 100 kg category. The last category is 100+.

In powerlifting, the categories start from 56 kg to 60 kg and then the categories increase with a cap of 7.5 kg as 67.5 kg, 75 kg, 82.5 kg, and 90 kg. Then you have heavy weight categories as 100 kg, 110 kg, 125 kg and 125kg+.

Event: Bodybuilding competitions involve poses. The athlete needs to highlights his muscles through 7 compulsory poses.

In powerlifting there is no muscle play, it is pure power play. The competition involves there events – Squats, Benchpresses and Deadlifts.


In powerlifting, the athlete is given three attempts at every event and the highest of the three is recorded. For example, in Squats, the athlete would lift weights 3 times and the highest of the three attempts would be recorded. The athlete lifting the maximum is declared the winner. In Powerlifting you have Strongman – just like Overall Champion in Bodybuilding. To choose the strongman, an athlete’s highest weight in all the three events is added and the sum is divided by the athlete’s bodyweight. The one with the highest quotient is declared the winner i.e. Strongman or champion of champion.

6)   What is the similarity between the two events?

The two events are similar in the sense that both require you to train dedicatedly, follow a strict diet and rest well for recovery. People tend to do the first two but ignore the Recovery part. Your muscles will not develop if you do not give it sufficient time to recover.

Another important similarity is that in both the sports height is irrespective. You are placed in categories based on your body weight only.

7)   Athletes change from Bodybuilding to Powerlifting and vice versa. You are the finest example that we have. Is it easy to change the sport? Do you know anyone else who has done this?

Surprisingly, it is very easy to change from Bodybuilding to Powerlifting and vice versa. I took up professional powerlifting in 2013 after being a part of bodybuilding for 15 years. In 2015 I changed to bodybuilding again. I am being a part of both the sports quite efficiently. Powerlifting is the basis for bodybuilding and bodybuilding repetitions are the basis for powerlifting. You can toggle with a little guidance.

The President of World Powerlifting Federation Mark Griffiths is a 3 time Pro Olympia Powerlifting Champion. He has now converted to Bodybuilding and is going to compete at the Mr. Universe in November.

An example from India is Subrata Dutta who was a champion in both these sports ( Bodybuilding and Powerlifting)

Athletes have been doing this and will keep doing this. The basis for both the sport is more or less the same and hence, anyone who is interested can take it up irrespective of what he was doing earlier.

8)   What do you have to say about the myth – More the weight more the muscles?

This is definitely a myth. Let me explain. Bodybuilders tend to have more muscles even though they lift lesser weight than powerlifters. What makes difference are the repetitions. Bodybuilders, as I said earlier as well, focus more on reps which cause more muscle tear and thus more muscle growth post recovery. Powerlifters focus on strength and do lesser reps, thus, even though they lift more weights their muscles development is less.

9)   Is it true that powerlifters do not need Cardio?

I said this earlier also that no matter which sport you chose from the two; cardio is a must. Even in powerlifting cardio is required. We have diet that focus more on fats and hence, we need cardio to keep cholesterol and sugar under control. You do not do cardio for sport; you do it for your body.

10) People say that Powerlifters do not maintain shape and get out of proportion on leaving the profession?

This is not true. Whether you remain in shape or not is entirely your call. It has got nothing to do with the sport. If you control your diet and do basic exercises even after quitting the sport you will maintain your shape and health.  If an athlete wants, he can stay in shape throughout his life.

11) Do you think Bodybuilding and Powerlifting are emerging as a sport in India?

Yes definitely. In my days we did not have so many gyms, supplements, guidance, so many big events and competitions. Now, the entire scenario is changing. We are even hosting international events. The World Championship is going to be held in November will be hosted in India. This is a proud moment.

We hope that Mukesh’s detailed insight will help you understanding the basis of the two sports and choose the one that suits you better. No matter what you choose, as long as you give it your 100 percent and keep a do-not-give-up attitude, you will taste success sooner or later.

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