Despite some old school bodybuilders calling powerlifters fatties and powerlifters calling bodybuilders weak, the two sports can actually complement each other more than you’d think.
Not only this, we are starting to see a new kind of hybrid athlete emerge that are able to compete at the highest level of both sports and the trend is rising — think Stan Efferding, Johnny Jackson, Susan Salazar, Eva Dunbar, and myself.
These days, it’s not unusual to go to a powerlifting meet and see jacked, lean, hard lifters, and you can find bodybuilders throwing around real weight. The late Dallas McCarver had a nearly 900lb deadlift, and everyone knows that the legendary Ronnie Coleman could rep 800lbs in both squats and deadlifts. Here are a few tips for those interested in competing or training in both sports as a compliment.
1. Do heavy weights in hypertrophy rep ranges
Powerlifters know they need to lift heavy but think everything over 5 reps is cardio. Hypertrophy work (6-15 reps) builds muscle tissue, and not only does that give you a better foundation of actual muscle for your powerlifting work (including having more tissue to recruit with your neuro training), it also helps in terms of stability.
The bottom line is that muscle moves weight and no matter how neuro-efficient you are, you will always benefit from having more muscle mass. Bodybuilders understand high reps but often forget that hard, dense muscle and real 3D thickness is built with heavy weight. Compare Ronnie Coleman and Phil Heath: both genetically gifted athletes, one lifting very heavy and the other not. To me, the difference is clear.