Bodybuilding VS Powerlifting VS CrossFit

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Bodybuilding VS Powerlifting VS CrossFit

 Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding vs. CrossFit

This could be the most contentious post you've ever read! So, let the fun begin! It's time to put these three exercise philosophies to the test and see who comes out on top: Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting vs Crossfit! But here's the twist... We'll measure them all to see which one is best for these four things... ncreasing lean muscle mass Getting stronger Conditioning Anabolic reaction (boosting testosterone)

Some answers may appear obvious right away. But don't worry, we're going to really dig in and do our research together (you might be surprised at what you and I find!). This post will teach you the following:

  • Bodybuilding, powerlifting, and CrossFit will all be defined.
  • Each training method's primary goal
  • The evaluations of each method (for lean muscle, strength, conditioning, and hormone response)
  • Comparison of two things
  • Which is the true best?
  • Ways to combine all three!

Some answers may appear obvious right away. But don't worry, we're going to really dig in and do our research together (you might be surprised at what you and I find!).

This post will teach you the following:

  • Bodybuilding, powerlifting, and CrossFit will all be defined.
  • Each training method's primary goal
  • The evaluations of each method (for lean muscle, strength, conditioning, and hormone response)
  • Comparison of two things
  • Which is the true best?
  • Ways to combine all three!

What exactly is bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is all about gaining muscle mass. However, it does not end there. The end goal is to make those muscles as visible as possible (aka having big muscles with low body fat). You've probably heard the terms 'ripped' and'shredded.' Add some size to that, and you have a pretty good idea of what bodybuilding is.

Training requires a significant amount of effort to build ripped muscle. It necessitates a combination of compound exercises with heavy weights and supporting exercises, as well as isolation exercises with higher reps.

But, no matter how hard you train, it's even more important to watch what you eat. Remember that bodybuilding is more than just bulking up. It's the ripped and shredded size that takes first place in competitions.

The bodybuilding diet is tricky because you need to eat enough calories to grow, but you also need to avoid gaining body fat that hides your muscles. There is a delicate balance, which is why many people prefer to pursue recreational bodybuilding as a hobby rather than becoming a professional bodybuilder.

Bodybuilders must also do cardio (yes, I said the evil word cardio!) to keep fat at bay. In addition to weight training, this should be done.

What it takes to be a bodybuilder:

  • Work out with heavy weights to develop dense muscle mass.
  • Do a lot of isolation exercises as well to build and define those secondary muscles.
  • To work the different muscle fibers, alternate between high and low reps (you cannot have a weak area)
  • Eat a strict diet that balances protein, carbs, and fats.
  • Consume 6-7 meals per day (this has been the most effective diet for bodybuilders for decades, despite what the new trendy diets recommend)
  • Do cardio several times per week (some bodybuilders will increase cardio to two sessions per day if their competition date is approaching).

What exactly is powerlifting?

Powerlifting's goal is to be as strong as possible. Your goal is to move weight from point A to point B using brute force and effort.

Traditional powerlifting focuses on three main lifts, which are as follows:

  • Bench Press 
  • Squat
  • Deadlift

Although these three lifts are the primary focus of strength training, powerlifters will frequently supplement their training with other exercises that will support these lifts.

Many powerlifters, for example, will include barbell rows in their workouts. Heavy barbell rows work your back muscles and can help you improve your deadlift strength.

The overhead barbell press is another common lift that powerlifters will incorporate into their workouts (standing). Overhead presses will help strengthen your shoulders and triceps, which will help you increase your bench press.

Cardio is frequently overlooked, despite the fact that many powerlifters walk 3-4 times per week to stay healthy. You can keep your body fat percentage in check, but you can't go too low.

You may be surprised to learn that in order to be successful at powerlifting, you must be adaptable. Powerlifters must stretch frequently, and many will also practice Yoga.

Some people will also take ice baths and get massages on a regular basis. In this strength sport, there is a lot that goes into recovery and protecting your joints.

Powerlifting is a sport with a high level of competition. Yes, you are attempting to outperform your peers in the competition. But it's more of a competition with yourself, a push to be stronger today than you were yesterday.

What you need to do to become a powerlifter is as follows:

  • Prepare to work out with heavyweights.
  • You must study basic form and ensure that you are lifting correctly (this is especially important when lifting heavy weights; if you don't know what you're doing, you can injure yourself severely).
  • Eat a lot of calories and eat frequently (you'll need to eat 6-7 times a day, but more food than bodybuilders).
  • Mental fortitude must be developed.
  • You must constantly push yourself past your limits (which is exhausting for most people!)
  • Daily stretching and other methods are required for recovery and injury prevention.

What exactly is CrossFit?

Greg Glassman founded it in 2000, and it's one of the few exercise trends that quickly blew up and became a household name.

CrossFit's actual definition is quite baffling.

Although CrossFit is not traditional bodybuilding or powerlifting, this exercise philosophy does include weight training.

CrossFit refers to the following movements as foundational (there are more, but I'm just listing the ones based on weightlifting):

  • Squat in the front
  • Squat overhead
  • Pressing the shoulders

Push press and push jerk are two variations on the push press (these are modified shoulder presses)


High-pull sumo deadlift (for you bodybuilders, this is basically a deadlift that turns into an upright row)

The fact that you move quickly between exercises distinguishes CrossFit from bodybuilding and powerlifting. You're not taking long breaks between sets. In fact, you'll frequently switch from one exercise to the next.

In addition to the aforementioned, CrossFit exercises are goal-oriented in terms of how long it takes you to complete a circuit or how many repetitions you can perform.

Nutrition is also an important aspect of CrossFit. They're recommended diet is a sensible diet with a balance of protein, carbs, and fats, which is refreshing. Nothing outlandish. Rather, provide your body with the nutrients it requires to function, recover, and provide you with the energy you require to power through the grueling workouts.

Here's something you should know about being a 'CrossFitter'...

CrossFit must become a way of life; if you only do it half-heartedly, you will most likely not be successful or reach your goals.

  • It's fiercely competitive.
  • It has a cult-like following, so it's a great way to meet other health-conscious people.
  • Workouts are intense (you will definitely sweat!)
  • You will improve your flexibility, balance, and coordination.
  • Expect to gain explosive power.
  • It's ideal if you get bored with traditional workouts.
  • You'll be performing a variety of exercises, many of which you've probably never heard of before joining CrossFit.

Ratings for Lean Muscle, Strength, Conditioning, and Anabolic Response Now it's time to rate each workout method in the four categories listed below:

Conditioning Anabolic Response Lean Muscle Strength I'll rate each one below on a scale of 1 to 5.

  • Ineffective (yuck!)
  • Moderately effective
  • Dependable
  • Extremely efficient
  • This is the main focus.

Ratings for Bodybuilding

4.5 for lean muscle

Bodybuilding is unrivaled when it comes to building lean muscle. And I'm referring to both workouts and diet. Remember, the only thing that matters is ripped, shredded muscle mass.

Bodybuilding is, without a doubt, the best workout method for gaining lean muscle. So you might be wondering why I gave it a 4.5 instead of a 5. Bodybuilding is a very complex sport. It's not as simple as going to the gym, working out hard, and eating well.

3.5 Strength

Despite the fact that many bodybuilders are physically strong, the sport of bodybuilding does not prioritize strength gains. You should continue to incorporate compound exercises for mass building, but bodybuilding will only take you so far.

3.5 for conditioning

Make no mistake: bodybuilding workouts can help you get in great shape, especially if you're in a cutting phase where you're doing more cardio and aerobic activity to lose body fat. However, your physique will take precedence over your conditioning in the long run.

4 Anabolic Response

When you lift weights, you temporarily increase your testosterone levels. Weight training is the foundation of bodybuilding workouts. And, in general, your workouts will begin with a heavy compound movement in the lower rep range, followed by more exercises with more reps. So you have both volume and intensity, which according to Parker Hyde, CSCS, CISSN, naturally boosts testosterone.

Ratings for Powerlifting

3 lean muscle

Despite the size of most powerlifters, the goal of a powerlifter is not to build muscle tissue and gain size. Lifting heavyweights causes muscles to naturally grow larger.

However, you may notice that many powerlifters lack muscle tone and definition. In a powerlifter, you won't typically see vascularity or striations (though a small percentage are pretty ripped, and more powerlifters are becoming more health conscience these days).

4.5 out of 5

At first, giving powerlifting a 5 for strength made sense. I mean, it's almost as if to say, 'duh!' But I needed to take a step back and consider the big picture. Yes, powerlifting workouts will undoubtedly help you gain strength. However, this does not always imply overall strength.

Powerlifting forces you to focus solely on certain lifts and the exercises that support those lifts (on purpose). A powerlifter, for example, may be able to deadlift 600 pounds but only do two pull-ups. I'm still giving it a high strength rating, but not quite a 5.

3.5 for conditioning

Although stretching and flexibility should be part of every powerlifter's routine, powerlifting is not a conditioning sport. This is not to say that you should strive to be completely out of shape.

Furthermore, some aspects of powerlifting will temporarily raise your heart rate. However, the typical powerlifting workouts do not provide enough volume to condition to the extreme.

A true powerlifting workout, on the other hand, entails more than just moving a lot of weight. If you're doing it correctly, you'll need to work on your supporting muscles and stretch a lot. All of those elements do play a role in conditioning and fat loss.

Anabolic Reaction: 5

Lifting heavyweights is one of the best and most natural ways to increase testosterone and trigger an anabolic response. That is the essence of powerlifting.

Powerlifting exercises require the most effort and output, and they are the best for increasing testosterone.

In addition, Dark Iron Fitness mentions a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that demonstrated how squats and deadlifts significantly increase testosterone and growth hormone.

Furthermore, you may not consider powerlifting to be high-intensity training. However, if you look at a true powerlifter workout program, you'll notice that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) plays a significant role.

Lifting heavy weights is a type of HIIT in general. Consider this: when you lift heavy weights, you are taxing your body and central nervous system, as well as increasing your heart rate. You take a break, then resume your maximum effort lifting.

I should also mention that Brian Alsruhe, a strongman and powerlifter, incorporates supersets or giant sets into his strength training routine. This elevates HIIT to a new level. You can see a YouTube video of a linear progression strength program using giant sets in the video below. This is a true natural testosterone booster!

I could go on and on about the anabolic response to powerlifting, specifically lower-body movements like squats and deadlifts, citing numerous sources and studies. As a result, powerlifting receives the highest rating in this category.

Ratings for CrossFit

3 lean muscle

Can a CrossFit workout help you gain muscle? You certainly can, but that is not the goal of CrossFit. You'll be doing exercises that are considered functional and can help support a variety of sports and activities.

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the phrase "building lean muscle" is an image of a bodybuilder. CrossFit, once again, is not intended for bodybuilding.

The exercises targeted at specific muscles, the volume (pushing out reps), and the concentration on the muscle during the movements all contribute to the development of lean muscle size in bodybuilding. CrossFit movements are explosive in nature, and you are not targeting specific muscles for growth.

3.5 Strength

For starters, don't dismiss a '3.5' as a poor grade. It's better than average. CrossFit isn't built on max lifts like powerlifting, so I didn't give it a higher score.

This is not to say that CrossFit will not help you get stronger. You will, of course. However, you will not gain as much strength or at the same rate as if you were solely focused on increasing your max on specific lifts.

Although you'll do several weight training exercises in CrossFit, the way you do them (for the most part) and what you pair them with aren't designed for maximum effort lifting.

5 for conditioning

CrossFit excels in this area, and it's nearly impossible not to give it the highest rating for conditioning. CrossFit is a great way to improve your cardiovascular strength and endurance.

CrossFit keeps you moving almost the entire time. This is in stark contrast to bodybuilding and powerlifting, where you rest between sets.

CrossFit is a type of hybrid workout. You're gaining muscle and strength, but you're also losing a lot of body fat. And you're conditioning your body to be able to handle more activity.

That being said, if you're not used to this type of workout, and even if you're coming from bodybuilding or powerlifting, CrossFit will tire you out. That's fine because you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll gain stamina and endurance if you stick with it.

4.5 Anabolic Response

The score for CrossFit's anabolic response and ability to naturally boost testosterone is comparable to bodybuilding workouts, if not slightly higher (which is why it got a half-point higher score).

Intensity is one of the keys to increasing testosterone in the gym. And CrossFit is exactly that: high-intensity workouts (also known as HIIT – high-intensity interval training).

It will get better. Kelly Scott supports the notion that high-intensity interval training stimulates the release of growth hormone. If you've been involved in any aspect of weight training for a long time, you'll know that increasing testosterone and growth hormone levels is a top priority for longevity.

One factor kept me from giving CrossFit a 5 for anabolic response and testosterone boosting. And it is for this reason that powerlifting received a higher (the highest) rating. Compound exercises are used by heavyweights.

Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting vs. CrossFit: Which Is Better?

Bodybuilding versus powerlifting versus crossfit

This section is just my opinion, so you may disagree. And it's perfectly fine to disagree! Because everything boils down to what YOU want!

Seriously, what are your objectives? Do you want to become more powerful? Or do you want to get more ripped muscle mass? Do you need to work on conditioning if you're out of shape?

  • Powerlifting workouts for weeks 1-8
  • Workouts for bodybuilding in weeks 9-16
  • CrossFit workouts for weeks 17-24

Can Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, and CrossFit Workouts Be Mixed?

You're going to think I've gone completely insane now. To be completely honest, I believe that if you put in the effort, all of these workout methods will work for you.

You see, each workout method has advantages and disadvantages. However, each one is slightly lacking in a few areas. As a result, you may discover that combining certain aspects of each program yields the best results.

Here are a few examples:

  • You're a bodybuilder who wants to get stronger, so you start your workouts with some powerlifting techniques.
  • You do CrossFit religiously, but you want to look better with bigger muscles and more definition, so you do a few bodybuilding exercises after your CrossFit workout.
  • You're a powerlifter, but you're out of shape, so you might join a CrossFit gym to work out at on days when you're not powerlifting.
  • Or maybe you want it all, so you do a mix of powerlifting and bodybuilding workouts three days a week and CrossFit the other two.
  • The cool thing is that you can tailor each workout to emphasize one or the other. If strength is your priority right now, begin your leg workouts with heavy squats, your back workouts with heavy deadlifts and rows, and your chest workouts with bench press.
  • As we've seen, there are countless ways to mix and match these techniques to create your own workout routine. Or, if you scroll up a little, you'll find a 25-week workout plan that incorporates all techniques. That is also an excellent option!
  • The ultimate goal for all of us, I believe, is to simply be better today than we were yesterday. It's a battle between you and yourself, whether you want to be stronger, have more muscle, or be better conditioned.

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