Weightlifting Vs Powerlifting

Jan 12, 2022 | Powerlifting Basics 101

To the ordinary eye, weightlifting and powerlifting may seem similar. The participants of both competitive games lift heavy weights and use similar type of equipment but in reality there is  a world of difference.

There’s no denying that over the last decade, the fitness business has shifted toward the weightlifting specialty. Weightlifting is popular again, and Powerlifting is making a comeback, according to Nat, a successful Powerlifting and Strength Training head coach and owner of Nemesis Powerlifting and Performance, who also give One on One coaching for Powerlifting and Strength Training in Brisbane.

However the two types of lifting are very well known, their training is very different. Both sports involve weights but differ in goals, techniques, and training. This article will give you a lowdown on the key differences and would help you decide which one suits you better.


Weightlifting is a two-movement sport that involves clean-and-jerk and snatch.  A barbell is supposed to be lifted above overhead with precision.  It is the real test of power and strength. In the snatch, the participant should lift the weight overhead in one go whereas in ‘clean-and-jerk’ one has to execute in two stages: clean – you lift the weight in line with your shoulder and jerk – where you raise it overhead in one motion. The technicalities and control of the lift are taken into account while judging your performance. In the male category, the weight range is from 61 kg to 109 kg, and in the female category, the weight ranges from 49 kg to 87 kg.

Powerlifting involves the big three movements – squat, bench press, and deadlift. Each movement is done individually. The lifters would compete based on age, gender, and body weight. The more body weight you have, the heavier the lifting weight.  The weight ranges from 59kg to 120 kg for males and the female weight ranges from 47kg to 84kg. There is no restriction on age, anyone can compete according to their level and capability.

Pace and tolerance:

Talking about speed, weightlifting is done at a faster pace i.e in one exertion. Don’t get deceived by the two steps that appear to be simple and easily achievable as the sport is taxing. Powerlifting gives the impression of exertion at a moderate speed. Even though they try to do it faster, the weight is just too heavy! It demands a lot of strength and stamina to lift such a huge mass. Surprisingly, there is some room for error in weightlifting but powerlifting doesn’t allow any such.


In powerlifting, the end goal is to attain the highest ability of o0ne-rep max.  The training here is a slow and steady process so don’t expect anything at a breakneck pace. Apart from perfecting the big three movements – bench press, squat, and deadlift, one needs to do other workouts like lunges, military press, farmer’s walk, curls, etc that ultimately help in building your strength. Acquiring the beast power takes time with lots of workout sessions, hard work, and patience. Generally, the gap between the workouts would be high compared to weightlifting. Because you are dealing with hefty weights and the body needs more time to heal from the strain.

Weightlifting is an explosive sport that requires the person to lift a heavyweight in a single act. It’s all about that one mighty lift and your training sessions are all about achieving the same. One would concentrate on acing the techniques and be constantly trying to improve the overhead lifting methods. One also needs to concentrate on attaining flexibility which is vital for executing the smooth transition from snatch and clean-and-jerk. Weightlifting training routine involves 5 to 6 days in a week with lesser rest periods when compared to powerlifting.


In weightlifting, the lifter should withhold the weight and stand undeterred for a long time. If the performance is valid, one would get white light from the judge. The white light indicates a successful lift and the red one refers to an unsuccessful lift. Out of three attempts, at least two white lights are needed. Olympic weightlifting involves the condition of taking only two weightlifters per country. The judging panel determines a participant’s score by Sinclair’s equation which includes multiplying the coefficient with the weight lifted by the participant. The value of the coefficient varies for men and women.

In Powerlifting, an athlete gets 3 attempts for each lift, and the highest scores in each category are added to form a total. Powerlifting follows two scores “Wilks Score” and “IPF GL Points” to determine an athlete’s final score. If there is a tie between the same lifted weights, the lower body weight participant will be declared the winner.

Both sports require consistency, dedication, and lots of diligently invested time. Distinct techniques and different aims make them unique sports. Hope this article gives some clarity and would help you decide the sport that suits you.