Powerbuilding explained - Get bigger and stronger!

Powerbuilding explained - Get bigger and stronger!


Many believe that it's impossible to train in a way that allows for both muscle growth and strength gain simultaneously.

In this blog, I will delve into why this belief is incorrect and explore how one can train to achieve both increased size and strength concurrently, drawing on studies, experiments, and other relevant material.

The traditional split

When considering the "traditional split," it's likely the one most people train based on. Essentially, it boils down to lifting heavier weights for lower repetitions when training for strength, and lifting moderate weights with higher repetitions for muscle growth.

Training for strength is commonly known as powerlifting, and for muscle growth, it's referred to as bodybuilding. Powerbuilding gets its name from being a combination of these two different training methods.

The simplified rationale for lifting heavier in powerlifting is that to become stronger, you need to lift heavier weights and perform compound exercises more frequently, such as squat, bench press, and deadlift. The straightforward explanation for lifting with more moderate weights and higher repetitions in bodybuilding is that the goal is physique development rather than strength. Therefore, there's a greater emphasis on isolation exercises and training with higher volume.


“Traditional split between powerlifting and bodybuilding”







Compound exercises To a larger degree To a lesser degree
Isolation exercises To a lesser degree To a larger degree


Can it really be either or?

The short answer would be no, as it is entirely possible to incorporate both into your training program.

Several studies, including this one, have shown that training volume is associated with muscle growth. Therefore, optimizing some of your training, primarily isolation exercises, is crucial. For example, if you can curl 10kg for 3 sets of 3 repetitions, your total training volume would be 90. Comparing this with the scenario where you can curl 8kg for 8 repetitions for 3 sets, your volume is 192, with a difference of 102.

Volume = Repetitions · Set · Weight

This study also demonstrates that it is possible to build muscle mass with low intensity, although not below 20% of your 1RM (the weight you can lift for a single repetition max). Lifting with 20% of 1RM is considered very light, allowing for approximately 50 repetitions before fatigue.

However, the study also highlights a connection between weight and strength, as the most significant increase in strength was observed with training using heavier weights. Therefore, it's essential to incorporate lifts with slightly heavier weights, as is often done in compound exercises.

person using a incline bench machine

But can't I just be content with only lifting heavy?

Technically, it would be possible if you could achieve the same volume as with higher repetitions. However, heavier weights impact the body more, leading to a need for more extensive recovery compared to moderate weights. Therefore, it's best to incorporate heavy lifting occasionally and avoid it in isolation exercises like lateral raises.

Powerlifting technique notes that even powerlifters don't always lift heavy because larger muscles can become stronger than smaller ones. Hence, they also need to train for volume. So, there will always be a mix, but it's more pronounced in powerbuilding.

person deadlifting

Also Read: Slow or Fast Reps - Are You Training for Muscle Growth or Endurance?"

How to powerbuilder most effectively?

There are many effective ways to powerbuild, and it depends on your priorities. If strength is your top priority, consider incorporating more days of heavy compound lifts into your program. For example, you could bench, squat, and deadlift twice a week, lifting between 1-5 reps the first time and 6-12 reps the second time. Your body may struggle to recover if you lift very heavy every time.

If your goal is more focused on building size, you can choose to do compound exercises only once a week, lifting heavy, and stick to more moderate weights in most of the other exercises. Here, you can try to hit the lower end of the rep range some days, aiming for 6 reps instead of 12.

Depending on your preference, incorporate some exercises where you perform 15+ repetitions to strengthen endurance. As mentioned earlier, low weight does not negatively affect muscle growth as long as you lift to failure and lift more than 20% of your 1RM.

In addition, you should include accessory exercises. For example, if you want to get stronger in the squat, you could do paused squats to strengthen the lower part of the movement. There are countless accessory lifts for all compound exercises to help you become stronger in heavy lifts. Lift vault offers many free powerbuilding programs for inspiration.


In conclusion, it is crucial to coordinate your program so that your body has time to recover. Powerbuilding is not as complicated, and after reading this blog, you have a good understanding of the basics. The key is to remember to lift heavy on some days and lighter on others, especially in isolation exercises. Additionally, consider looking into some accessory exercises that target specific parts of a lift.

However, for those who are more advanced, there are still more aspects to powerbuilding. In such cases, we recommend watching Jeff Nippard's video. His video is very informative, covering topics like periodization, macrocycles, and much more.

However, for those who are more advanced, there are still more aspects to powerbuilding. In such cases, we recommend watching Jeff Nippard's video . His video is very informative, covering topics like periodization, macrocycles, and much more.


How did you train before reading this blog and is it changing now?












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