What’s Powerbuilding? – Combining Strength and Aesthetics

What if I told you that you could work on your strength and aesthetics at the same time? Powerbuilding aim to combine both disciplines; powerlifting and bodybuilding. But it has to be done right.

In this post, we'll go through the basics of powerbuilding, and how to make a training program focused both on hypertrophy training and strength.

What’s Powerbuilding?

Powerbuilding is combination of bodybuilding and powerlifting. It uses the three main powerlifting movements (squat, deadlift, benchpress), and supplementary bodybuilding exercises to work on the aesthetics and symmetry of your body.

It tries to combine two disciplines that are incompatible at first. So, the planning of the program and how we do it will be a key piece to get the expected results. If not, it will be a mess and a waste of time. You won't get stronger nor leaner.

But before getting into how to plan a powerbuilding program, let's explain a bit deeper what's powerlifting and bodybuilding.


Powerlifting is a strength discipline consisting in three main movements. These are squat, deadlift and bench press. As it happens with weightlifting, the lifter will have to try lift his/her maximal weight on each movement. Both the relative strength (per body weight) and total strength will give a winner of the competition.

This discipline is a great way of gaining strength overtime (study). Stronger muscles will help you on your training performance, physical appearance, and lowering risk of injuries (study)


Squat is one of the greatest movements to train the lower body. As a compound movement, it involves both knees and hip extension. If you are looking for general hypertrophy, this is definitely one of your movements. It trains mainly the quadriceps, but also your back chain, glutes, harmstrings, calfs, and core (study)

squat powerbuilding


Deadlit is one of the best exercises to train your strength. Involving almost all muscles in your body (study), it's a great exercise when looking for general hypertrophy and a time-efficient exercise.

There are a lot of variants of deadlit. But the only accepted variants in powerlifting competition are conventional deadlift (CD) and sumo deadlift (SD). CD is widely used among heavy subjects. It feels more comfortable, but SD tends to let you lift heavier weights. SD shows higher activation of the quadriceps and tibialis, and the stimulus will be more focused on the posterior chain when doing CD (study)

deadlift powerbuilding

Bench Press

This compound exercises involves to a great extent the chest, triceps and shoulders. All these muscles are responsible for a elbow extension, and shoulder flexion and abduction. Depending on the width of your grip, the involvement on muscles will be different (study)

The wide grip will involve more the chest and shoulders. On the other hand, narrow grip will involve more the chest and triceps.

bench press powerbuilding


Bodybuilding focuses on building muscle and on the symmetry of the body. By using progressive overload and muscle hypertrophy, bodybuilders can plan their programs in such manner that gains in muscle mass will be greater than if doing any other sports discipline.

The mechanisms underlying muscle hypertrophy are three: mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage (study). By inducing these and playing with the intensity and volume of the trainings, we can progress over time and build muscle adaptations.

Bodybuilding training program is formed by high-intensity compound and isolation exercises in between 6-12 reps. Different msucle groups are trained on different days to help recovering at its fullest.

Benefits of Powerbuilding

Powerbuilding is an emerging fitness trend, and it has more and more practicants each year. But why? What are the benefits of training powerbuilding?

It Gives Variability to your Training

Body composition and strength are a long-term process. If you want to be good at it, you need time. And the worst enemy is boredom.

Powerbuilding makes the training workout more variable from session to session. By mixing both strength and hypertrophy training, it's less likely you'll get bored of one of them. Powerbuilding can then help you sticking to the plan and thinking about the long term mentality.

Powerbuilding Motivates You To Lift Heavy

Let's be real here. Lifting heavy is more motivating than a simple hypertrophy training. Strength is an objective measure, while your physique is subjective and hard to notice the change when you are looking at yourself every day.

Lifting heavy motivates you to train hard. It demands of focus, alertness and a lot of effort. Powerbuilding combines strength and hypertrphy training. The strength side of the coin will help you go motivated to the gym, to then give your best each workout.

Creates a Synergy Strength-Muscle Mass

Muscle mass and strength are directly related. The more muscle mass and muscle hypertrophy, the stronger you are (study).

Powerbuilding, combining both muscle hypertrophy and strength, can then create a perfect synergy between both disciplines to boost the results. However, powerbuilding doesn't specialize on any of these disciplines, and it won't explote your maximum potential on any of the disciplines. Instead, it aims for a complete, strong, and lean athlete.

Complete Training Approach

Powerbuilding is all about trying to plan a complete program to touch upon all aspects of your strength and muscle mass. Different from powerlifting or hypertrophy training, powerbuilding periodizes both disciplines to get the most out of them.

It combines both disciplines in such manner that the interference between them is minimized. You'll still enjoy both disciplines when doing powerbuilding. They are separate in time and space, and one won't make the other one worse. Not at all.


How to Make a Powerbuilding Program?

All Powerbuilding Programs should be carefully planned to combine strength and muscle hypertrophy to perfection. Since each discipline requires of different apptitudes and physical actions, it's important to separate them on time.

Either by doing separate training sessions, or separate them within the same session, there has be to be some borders between strength training and hypertrophy training. Only then you'll be able to give your best for each of the disciplines. And only then you'll get the best results.

Separate Days Approach

In this case you must separate strength and muscle hypertrophy in different days. This is, if you go 4 days a week, do 2 for strength and the other 2 remaining will be for muscle hypertrophy.

By doing this, you'll make sure one is not stepping over the other one. You'll be fresh and ready to go for each workout, and the fatigue created from one discipline won't translate to worse results on the other one.

Day 1: Upper Body Strength

Day 2: Lower Body Hypertrophy

Day 3: Upper Body Hypertrophy

Day 4: Lower Body Hypertrophy

Same Session Approach

In this case, both strength and hypertrophy training are combined in the same session. Although you are free to do the order of exercise you are more comfortable with, I encourage to always start with the most demanding of all. In other words, start with the strength training.

It requires of higher levels of focus and alertness. And the more fresh, the more efficient you'll be at lifting heavy weights. Once you are done with strength, move on to hypertrophy training with the same muscle groups you trained during the strength session.

Day 1: Squat + Lower Body Hypertrophy

Day 2: Bench Press + Upper Body Hypertrophy

Day 3: Deadlift + Lower Body Hypertrophy

Day 4: Upper Body Hypertrophy

Powerbuilding Competitions

Known to date, there are no official Powerbuilding Competitions. It's a novice sport, and there's still much to do to standarize and regulate the discipline to make competitions fair for all competitors. But you can do your own powerbuilding competition.

Bodybuilding competitions always have two seasons a year. The first season, going during the fall, and the seconds season in the spring/summer. Powerlifting competitions usually go from spring to fall (May-October).

With the dates of each discipline, you could manage to compete at both. It could be done during the same year, or in different years.

Same Year Approach

If you choose to do it the same year, go first for the powerlifting competition. It will serve as an 'off-season' to put muscle mass on. Then, start cutting-off and shredding to prepare for the bodybuilding competition on the next season of the year.

This option is great if you are already an advanced subject and you are already on shape. But if you are just starting, you'll need more time between competitions to fully recover, get on track, and be competitive on the next competition.

Different Year Approach

Doing both competitions on the same year can be stressful, and could potentially compromise your health. A more sustainable approach would be to take your time between competitions and do them in different years.

Following the same order as before (powerlifting - bodybuilding), we could compete in powerlifting to put some muscle mass on there, and then switch to bodybuilding. In this case, however, you have enough time between competitions to take a break and start a full 'off-season' for your bodybuilding competition.


Powerbuilding is an emerging trend that combines powerlifting and hypertrophy training in once. It aims for a complete, strong, and lean athlete.

In this post we have seen the benefits of doing powerbuilding and the different approaches to plan the training program and compete.

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