People get confused about strength training vs bodybuilding. Understanding the difference is important to your health and fitness.
Do images of pumped bodybuilders flexing on stage come to mind when you think about strength training? This is a common misperception that keeps many younger and older adults from trying to build healthy muscle because they don’t want to look bulky and muscular, or they feel like they’re too old to build that sculpted physique.
If you relate to those concerns and have put off adding weights, bodyweight exercises, or resistance bands to your fitness routine, it’s time to learn the difference between strength training and bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding is the art of building your dream body one muscle at a time. For most bodybuilders, the primary concern is the size of the muscles rather than the strength. They want to look pumped and sculpted with great precision so that their muscles look impressive when flexed.
Some bodybuilders do this for competitions in which their muscle mass, proportion, symmetry, and definition are rated. The focus is not so much on how much weight they can lift or their actual strength -- although, you must realize, that to develop muscles to such a degree does require moving a LOT of weight within a strict training program and eating a highly specialized diet.
Someone who places more focus on the amount of weight they can lift is referred to as a weightlifter rather than a bodybuilder. Weightlifting competitions are not based on muscularity.
Unlike bodybuilding competitions, weight lifting competitions involve both weightlifting and powerlifting. Weightlifting is focused on overhead movements, whereas powerlifting does not engage in overhead movement. Both powerlifting and weightlifting are popular sports in the Olympic Games.
With that understood, strength training is any exercise designed to make your muscles stronger. It has nothing to do with how chiseled your abdominals are or the circumference of your biceps. It’s not even about how much weight you can lift. The goal is simply to develop strong muscles that support your body in everyday life, and allow you to engage in demanding physical activities.
Think of strength training as functional fitness. You want to improve your strength so that you can participate in life fully without concern for broken bones, injured back muscles, and other injuries that can lead to serious health risks later in life.
The stronger you become, the more active you will remain as you get older. The more active you remain, the higher your quality of life.
Now that you know the difference between strength training vs bodybuilding, you can erase those intimidating images of bodybuilders flexing on the stage. You can rest assured that you will not look like the behemoth Olympian athletes lifting over 500 pounds.
Your goal is to improve your strength so that you can live a long, healthy life, pursue your passions and interests, and spend as much time with your loved ones as possible. You aren’t concerned with how your muscles look when flexed. You just want to know that they are strong enough to support your body as you enjoy your life.
If you have yet to start strength training, make sure to start out slow. You can gradually increase the amount of weight that you lift, the difficulty of your movements, and the number of repetitions performed.
You may feel weak and unprepared for this type of activity right now, but you just might impress yourself with how quickly you will improve.
Remember, it’s not about flexing and getting pumped. You need to be strong!