Q&A: Meshing bodybuilding with powerlifting

Arnold squatting

Q: Hey how are you? I just read your article, 21st Century Core Training, and I have a question.  Almost all of the guys at the gym are power lifters, and no one seems to be able to answer my question on how to combine power lifting with bodybuilding. I am drug free, and do not want to over train, but I am certain this is a possible combination. Are there any articles that you suggest?

A:  Great question – here goes!

First of all, I’ve already covered this topic in some depth – here are two articles that I previously wrote for T-Nation that I think you’ll enjoy.

Bodybuilding for Powerlifters

Powerlifting for Bodybuilders

If I wanted to really condense things down, I would say that many bodybuilders (especially drug-free bodybuilders) would get some benefits from training in lower rep ranges from time-to-time.  This would allow them to focus on speed, max strength, and really tapping into those fast-twitch muscle fibers and high-threshold motor units.  When they returned to the higher rep stuff, they’d be more neurally “efficient.”

On the flip side of the coin, powerlifters would often benefit from hitting high rep stuff from time-to-time.  High rep work not only gives the joints a break from the continuous grind of heavy lifting, but it also allows you to develop strength in the connective tissues. Muscle tissue tends to get stronger more rapidly than the associated connective tissues, so your connective tissues need times throughout the year where they are the “focus” of the training, versus an after-thought.

I think too often we think of sets of 8, 10 or even 12 reps as “hypertrophy” – while that’s true, it’s also a little limited in its scope.  The hypertrophy is obviously nice (all things being equal, a bigger muscle IS a stronger muscle), but the development of strong connective tissues will also go a long way to keeping you healthy, on track, and ready to hit some PR’s.

Hope that helps!

Stay strong



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  1. Dave usually practices and recommends a rep-range of 12, 10, 8, 6, and performs singles or doubles every two or three weeks. This is in addition to his long-standing practice of superset training; the combination of faster training via supersetting plus high-to-low reps is perfect for the power-building bodybuilder.

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