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A Blog Post

Powerlifting Vs Bodybuilding Vs Strongman Vs Crossfit.

I am a proud and unrepentant metalhead. Which, for the uninitiated, means that I listen to, and love, Heavy Metal – The one true form of music, everything else is watery arse-gravy. To the enlightened insider metal is the most diverse and inventive music form in existence. To those on the outside it all sounds as if it’s made by winos, drunk on window cleaner, burping into a biscuit tin while slamming wet cauliflowers into car door panels.
There are approximately 74,000 genres and sub-categories of metal and all are, at least to a metalhead, remarkable in their subtle differences and varied nuances. Power. Thrash. Stoner. Black. Death. Symphonic. Industrial. Nu. Sludge. Grindcore. Doom. Hair. Glam. Prog. Funk. Goth. . . The list goes on.
I’m sure you find all this deeply interesting but are probably wondering what the point is. Well, I think that weight training is similar in many ways. To your average non-gym user lifting any type of weight in any type of way must all be, broadly speaking, the same thing. The thing is that by just changing the way you lift a lump of (heavy) metal in a number of simple ways you will get very different results.

The body becomes it’s function.
If you look at any sport or hard physical activity you should notice that the people that do it long and hard enough start to resemble each other, physique wise at least. Go down the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon and joggers of all shapes and sizes will stagger, lurch or zip past you. However, if you go to the starting line of an Olympic 100m/200m/400m/1500m/5000m/10000m/Marathon and scan your eyes across the runners they will all, broadly, be of the same general shape. 100m runners are all ripped and muscular, marathon runners all look on the verge of death and in need of a good pie. It’s possible to spot a swimmer by the width of their shoulders and a sprint cyclist by their gigantamonstromassive thighs. There are a couple of things you could infer from this observation; 1. people with large legs become sprint cyclists. 2. sprint cycling gives you huge quads. On balance I think that #2 would be the safer bet.

Unless you are doing weight training in order to perform better at your chosen sport there is an excellent chance that you train in order to look better. There is nothing wrong with this, I started lifting weights in order to look like Batman. But are you doing the right type of training to give you the physique you want?

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding has more than it’s fair share of detractors. Scoffed at by the Powerlifters for not being strong enough. Mocked by the Cult of Crossfit for not being fit enough. Scorned by Strongman for not being functional enough (because lifting 4 large stone balls one after another is an every day occurrence round these parts). Shunned by the general public for being narcissistic weirdos. All of this is true but the bodybuilders could not care less. Bodybuilding in it’s pure form is about creating the perfect body – a carry over from the Greek ideal captured in marble statues. A good bodybuilder sees his body as a block of stone and seeks to carve out a balanced, symmetrical and proportional physique. There is no other group of weight trainers that know more about building muscle, burning fat or training weak points.
So how do you train if you want to look like a bodybuilder?

  • The amount of weight you lift is not the important factor. Bodybuilders train for the feel of the muscle working against the weight.
  • Get the mind to muscle connection. If you’re doing bicep curls you need to feel every part of the movement precisely in the muscle.
  • Use visualisation. Your biceps aren’t merely contracting they’re being squeezed into massive mountain peaks.
  • Keep the reps on the high side. Hypertrophy mainly occurs in the 6-15 rep range. You can go even higher for the lower body.
  • Use isolation exercises. While big compound movements are the king of mass and strength movements, in bodybuilding you need to focus in on individual body parts.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Use loads of different exercises and techniques to hit the muscles from different angles.
  • Training frequency. Providing your recovery is up to it try to train each muscle group twice per week.
  • Training to failure. To build new muscle mass it’s important to take the muscles to, and beyond, the point of failure. Use training methods such as forced reps, drop sets, rest-pause, super sets and others to push your muscles into new growth.
  • Diet is vital. Try to eat clean throughout the entire year. Once you have put body fat on it’s hard to take it off while not losing a bit of muscle at the same time.
  • Body building is about creating an illusion. To make your shoulders appear wider try making your waist  narrower. The reverse is also true.
  • Train your weak points. Spend lots of time bringing up the areas of the body that lag behind the other more dominant parts.

Here’s a quick little bodybuilding routine that would suit an intermediate, natural (non-steroid using) wanna-be bodybuilder. It’s based on training each body part a little under twice per week. Remember diet and rest is the key to recovery. Take your fish oils and get 8 hours sleep every night. Smash through these workouts nice and fast. Try to get them done in under 1 hour.

Day 1. Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
Day 2. Back/Biceps
Day 3. Rest
Day 4. Legs
Day 5. Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
Day 6. Rest
Day 7. Back/Biceps
Day 8. Legs
Day 9. Rest
Repeat cycle.

Chest/Shoulders/Triceps

Bench press – 4 x 10-15 reps
Dumbbell bench press – 4 x 10-15 reps
Cable crossover supersetted with press ups – 4 x 10-15 reps
Lateral raise – 3 x drop sets (go to failure with 1 weight then immediately continue with a lighter weight)
Dumbbell shoulder press – 3 x 10-15 reps
Rear delt cable flyes – 3 x 10-15 reps
Close grip bench press – 3 x 10-15 reps
Lying extensions – 3 x 10-15 reps
Cable pushdowns – 3 x 15-20 reps

Back/Biceps

Lat pulldowns – 4 x 10-15 reps
Bent over row – 4 x 10-15 reps
Low cable row – 4 x 10-15 reps
Rack pull deadlifts – 4 x 10-15 reps
Hammer curls – 3 x 10-15 reps
Preacher curls – 3 x 10-15 reps
Cable curls – 1 massive drop set of lunacy

Legs

Leg extension – 3 sets of 15 reps + 1 set of 50 reps
Front squat – 4 sets of 10 reps
Sumo squat – 3 sets of 20 reps
Leg press supersetted with walking lunges – 3 sets of 20 reps
Leg curls supersetted with romanians – 3 sets of 20 reps.

And so ends the first installment in this little series. Next time – So you wanna be a Powerlifter?

Big love and pickled onions,
Dave Carter.

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