Before you invest too much time on this article, I want to warn some of you that you may have absolutely no interest in what I am writing. Yes, this article is about weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding!
The reason that I chose to write this article as a part of my chiropractic office blog is that I do receive quite a few questions and comments about my new hobby since being in the newspaper recently. There also seems to be a fair bit of confusion about what it is that I am actually doing – especially because I am too fat to be a bodybuilder and too small to be a powerlifter.
The sport that I compete in is called Weightlifting or Olympic Weightlifting. It is called so because it is an Olympic sport. Weightlifting include two lifts called the snatch and the clean and jerk. Both lifts start with a barbell on the floor and end with it secured overhead with locked elbows and knees. At competitions there are a variety of men’s and women’s weight classes and I compete in the -94kg (207lbs) class. Lucky for me there are also master’s divisions so I compete both as a senior (all ages) and with people my own age.
Powerlifting is comprised of 3 lifts – Bench Press, Dead lift and the Squat. Like weightlifting, powerlifting success is based solely on the amount of weight lifted. Other than basic technical rules for a good lift, no points are given for form or performance.
Bodybuilding is a performance sport and is judged on the appearance of the competitor’s physique. The actual lifting of weight has nothing to do with bodybuilding other than producing the esthetics displayed on the stage (or nightclub!). Bodybuilders tend to train with much higher repetition counts than weightlifters or powerlifters in order to produce the desired results.
Obviously there are different attributes required by these different disciplines my choice of sport definitely reflects what I value as a chiropractor. Unlike the others, Olympic lifting REQUIRES incredible flexibility and range of motion and strength through that full range. Because the bar is taken from the floor to overhead, success demands catching heavy loads in a full squat (bum to heels), sometimes with the arms fully extended straight overhead. Powerlifting is done over a very limited range of motion, so while some athletes may have good flexibility, it is certainly not necessary to be successful.
Powerlifters are definitely the strongest when it comes to the pure amount of weight moved – which can be incredible. Ironically, weightlifters are the most powerful because there are higher speeds of moving the weight involved. Bodybuilders may be strong and powerful due to their training but do not NEED to be for success.
Lastly, the body types of the 3 athletes tend to be quite different. Bodybuilders are judged on muscle hypertrophy (big round muscles) and definition (low body fat) so are big and lean. Powerlifters tend to be big and thick through the torso. Olympic lifters – while muscular with big upper legs – tend to look more like normal people. If you saw many of the top weightlifters in this country in street clothes you would not guess they were elite lifters. In many ways, big bulging biceps and chests actually hinder weightlifting performance and those of you who have known me have likely noticed the change in my proportions which allows me to wear ‘normal’ shirts again!
I believe that everyone – regardless of age – should partake in some activity that addresses strength and movement. Olympic lifting does this for me and a growing number of others. Powerlifting and bodybuilding can also help you achieve these goals if applied appropriately.
If you would like to get involved in any of these activities, feel free to speak to me and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.