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Weight Training and Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting, Oh My!

If you are a new exerciser, congrats by the way, or a gym regular, then you have probably heard the terms “weight training”, “powerlifting”, and “olympic lifting”. Who would’ve thought that there was so much more to exercising than just going to a gym and doing some cardio with a little bit of weight lifting? There are, in fact, many styles of lifting, at least from a competitive standpoint. The styles that I will focus on will be the three aforementioned styles.

Weight Training

This is the staple of many gym goers’ fitness programs. This is an umbrella term for training as it encompasses strength, hypertrophic, and metabolic training. It is the use of weighted bars and various other methods to increase the size and the strength of the muscle for the sake of improving performance in sport or to be able to move heavier weight. Almost everyone starts out in weight training, few seek to refine it to much more specific forms of training.


Powerlifting is a type of weight training that focuses on three primary lifts; the bench, squat, and deadlift. This is a competition based type of lifting where the lifter seeks to lift as much as possible in three attempts for each lift. Contrary to the name, the emphasis in powerlifting is strength and not muscular power. Power is defined as work/time and, trust me, some of the lifts at powerlifting meets can take up to 10 seconds to complete. Powerlifters can throw a whole lot of weight on the bar, but they are not moving it quickly by any means. If they move too quickly, that could constitute as cardio which is, what many powerlifters will say, the antithesis of power lifting.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic lifting is another specialized form or weight training that has two competition lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. The point of Olympic lifting is to powerfully move the weight through a controlled range of motion to the end form. There are many auxiliary lifts that go into the snatch and the clean and jerk suck as the power clean, the overhead press and deadlift. The competition lifts combine aspects of many lifts to display overall body power.

Putting it all Together

All three offer variety that is necessary in a lifting program. To have a balanced increase in performance, it is important to have muscular strength and power as well as knowledge to isolate and work muscles to improve weakness. The only time these styles should be separated is when you are specifically training for one of these in a competition. Having a blend will keep your workouts fun and help you develop a lifting style that is personalized and will help you reach your goals.

By: James Mingle

Comments (1)
  1. Bend the Bar events Reply

    well explained and very informative post, thank you for sharing with us

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