Powerbuilding 101 (Who, What, How, Why)
The Powerbuilding training methodology has been around since the 1990’s but has really taken off in popularity recently, specifically in the male demographic, due to its attractive approach towards combining aesthetic goals with performance-based goals. Up until recently, there has long been debates regarding not being able to seek performance-based goals and aesthetic-based goals simultaneously due to one approach requiring a caloric surplus (needed to gain strength) while the latter requiring a caloric deficit (to shed body fat and enhance definition).
Even though this is a debatable topic on the overall effectiveness of this training approach, I’ve always preferred to rely on real life case studies as well as scientific studies to form a more fact-based conclusion and for the average Joe/Jane out there that is just trying to get overall healthier and reduce body fat, there is no reason as to why this wouldn’t add value to you. Remember, at the end of the day, you have to find an exercise regimen that you will enjoy, that way, you maintain consistency and improve your chances of achieving your goals while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With that being said, let's get into the details of Powerbuilding...
What Is Powerbuilding?
Powerbuilding is the combination of two different training styles - powerlifting and bodybuilding, where the overall goal is to become physically stronger while seeking aesthetic improvements such as increased muscle definition and size.
Who Should Powerbuild and Why?
Powerbuilding might be a good training method for you if your goals primarily consist of wanting to improve overall strength (performance-based goals) while maintaining a “toned” or aesthetically appealing physique. Powerbuilding can be recommended to advanced, intermediate and even your beginner weightlifters since it has an overall balanced training approach that compliments our foundational (or functional) movement patterns such as the squat, deadlift and press while advancing your overall aesthetics since the vast majority of the population simply desires to keep body fat down and lean muscle tissue high to increase metabolic rates.
Programming for Powerbuilding
Powerbuilding can be performed in almost any training split such as: 3 full body training days, 4 training days that include upper/lower/upper/lower, 5 training days with a push/pull legs included on the extra day or even a combination of these for 6 training days.
Your typical Powerbuilding routine will include the following:
1 Compound Exercise - also known as multi-joint lifts and the most neurologically taxing, you’ll pick your primary lift to do at the beginning of each training day when energy is at its highest. This is your Squat, Deadlift or Bench Press. If you are training 4 days per week, the next biggest lift you’ll include is the Overhead Press. Depending upon your training experience, goals and injury history, you’ll “cycle” through or change your compound exercise on average every 4-12 weeks. The more advanced lifter you are, the more frequently you may want to cycle out exercise variations. Reps will be in the 3-8 range to keep focus on overall power and strength.
Squat exercise variations include the Zercher Squat, Goblet Squat, Box Squat, and Front Squat.
Deadlift exercise variations include the Stiff-Legged Deadlift, Romanian DL, Sumo DL or Trap Bar DL.
Bench Press exercise variations include Floor Presses, Incline or Decline Press, or Close Grip Bench Press.
2-3 Accessory Exercises - these are the exercises that will compliment your compound lift while helping you to increase strength. This might also be the area where you’ll incorporate unilateral based lifts to maintain strength and balance on each individual side of your body. Reps will remain in the 6-10 range to maintain focus on overall strength.
Squat accessories include Single Leg RDLs, Split Squats and Good Mornings.
Deadlift accessories include Hip Thrusts, Pendlay Rows, and Pullovers.
Pressing accessories include Military Presses, Lat Pulldowns, and Floor Presses
2-3 Isolation Exercises - this is where the Bodybuilding aspect of Powerbuilding comes into play. This is where you’ll specifically target individual muscles, typically the smaller ones that aid with overall aesthetic appeal. Reps will shift towards the larger 10-20 range here.
Squat isolation exercises include Leg Extensions, Leg Curls and Calf Raises.
Deadlift isolation exercises include Glute Bridges, Nordic Curls and Banded Lateral Walks.
Pressing isolation exercises include Chest Flys, Tricep Pushdowns, and Lateral Raises.
In my 10 years worth of experience coaching people within our community, regardless if their goals were more performance based or aesthetic based, it's always been crucially important for those individuals to maintain focus on their functional movements (squat, deadlift, press) to improve overall quality of life. There is a reason as to why everyone within the fitness community calls these exercises “The Big 3.” The primary objective should always be maintaining consistency! If you’ve been struggling to achieve your fitness goals for a while, I encourage you to join our Facebook support group for continued support.
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is the owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.