Q: Powerlifters tend to be bulky. Is using powerlifting movements in my routine detrimental to me wanting to look like a bodybuilder?


I am now a bodybuilder, not a powerlifter. I changed pursuits because I feel bodybuilding is the ultimate stage of maturation for anyone who trains with weights. First, we build strength and muscle thickness by powerlifting; then, on the basis of that foundation, we can more quickly reach our ultimate goal, which is to add more muscle mass and sculpt our physiques by bodybuilding.

However, I still use powerlifting movements in my bodybuilding training. The difference is that I use them to improve my strength and aesthetics together, not merely my strength.

As a bodybuilder, I perform my powerlifting movements using sets and reps, which is the necessary technique for sculpting a physique. That means sets as high as 12 reps, while powerlifters work around a maximum of 5 to 6, and often 2 and 3s.

But powerlifters do not confine themselves to just working out on the sport's three lifts: deadlifts, bench and squats. Today, no worldclass lifter trains by doing only bench presses, squats and deadlifts. They've all come to realize that not only are muscle groups involved in each of those lifts, but that those lifts can be improved considerably by strengthening individual muscles that assist in the lift. Furthermore, bodybuilding movements will strengthen those individual assistance muscles quicker than powerlifting training will.

Ed Coan, the greatest powerlifter in the world, trains on a schedule that is basically indistinguishable from that of a bodybuilder: legs and abs on Monday; rest on Tuesday; chest and abs on Wednesday; shoulders on Thursday; back, calves and abs on Friday; and light chest and arms on Saturday.

In other words, he not only trains for the lift, but he trains the bodypart that performs the lift by adding several different exercises for that bodypart, as we bodybuilders are trained to do.

So continue to do the powerlifts to build the core of your physique, but mix in other more traditional bodybuilding movements.