Powerlifting Gear And Equipment Reviews

Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding

I was surprised by the reaction I got nearly every time I talked about competing in my first powerlifting meet. The initial commentary tended to run along the lines of, “So you’re going to get a spray tan and go on stage wearing one of those fancy bikinis?” Uh, no. It has since become clear that the distinction between powerlifting and bodybuilding is commonly not understood. With this article we’ll run down powerlifting vs bodybuilding to straighten that out.

Here are the differences in a nutshell:


  • Weightlifting to increase 1 repetition maximum for squat, bench press, and deadlift
  • Competitors have 3 attempts to perform each lift
  • Winners are determined by the greatest total weight lifted


  • Weightlifting for the development of musculature to meet specific aesthetic standards
  • Competitors pose on stage wearing speedos/bikinis
  • Winners are chosen by judges based on symmetry, muscularity, and conditioning

More On Powerlifting And Powerlifting Meets

To further distinguish powerlifting vs bodybuilding we’ll go into more detail on powerlifting.

In powerlifting, the goal is to maximize a lifter’s one repetition maximum for the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift.

Powerlifting vs BodybuildingPowerlifting meets revolve around lifters performing each one of these lifts in the aforementioned order.

During meets a lifter has three attempts at each lift, allowing lifters to adjust the weight for the second and third attempts upwards if desired.

Three referees observe each attempt to ensure that the lifter meets all the requirements for that particular lift. The referees will each signal either a white light to signify a successful attempt, or a red light to signify a missed attempt. At least two referees need to signal white lights to have the lift count.

At the end of the competition, the best attempt for the squat, bench press, and deadlift are totaled. This total determines the lifters who place in each weight class.

For anyone curious about the details on regulations for meets, check out our article on powerlifting rules.