Many people are confused about strength training vs bodybuilding. Understanding the difference is important to achieving your goals.
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 developing a proportionate, hard body, one muscle at a time. These are bodies sculpted with great precision and effort so that the muscles are impressive. For most bodybuilders, the primary concern is the size of the muscles rather than the strength.
Not all bodybuilders compete. If they choose to enter the sport, they are rated according to things such as muscle mass, proportion, symmetry, and definition. The focus is not so much on the amount of weight they can lift or their actual strength.
To develop large muscles to such a degree requires moving a LOT of weight within a strict training program, and by eating a highly-specialized diet.
Not to confuse things, but this discussion requires defining the sport of weightlifting.
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.
Someone who competes where the focus on the amount of weight they can lift is referred to as a weightlifter rather than a bodybuilder. Weightlifting competitions, unlike bodybuilding competitions, are not based upon muscularity.
With that understood, a discussion of strength training vs bodybuilding focuses on the goals.
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 weightlifters who can lift 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. Whether you choose to increase strength with weight training or body weight exercises, your goal is to 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 unless you want it to be; but, whatever you choose, you need to be strong in order to be fit!