Powerlifting vs. Olympic Lifting: Do You Know The Difference?

Functional Fitness Instruction Certification

Powerlifting and Olympic lifting often get confused as the same sport due to their similarities of using barbells and heavy weights. They are both different sports and use different techniques. Personal trainer certification programs that have a focus on strength and resistance training can help you get started in these fields of competition.

Powerlifting uses three specific moves. These moves include the deadlift, the squat, and the bench press. Any other move that does not fall under those three specific types of lifts are not powerlifting competition moves. During a powerlifting competition, a competitor receives three attempts to use the highest weight possible on the deadlift, squat, and bench press. The scores are added together and the competitor with the highest score wins. Since powerlifters use very heavy weights, it is important to have a good personal trainer or coach that can understand the plane of movement for bench press. Strength training anatomy is a must to keep good form and prevent injury.  

Olympic lifting refers to lifting weights over your head. Olympic lifting includes two specific moves: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. Similar to the powerlifters, the Olympic lifter also gets three attempts during a competition to lift the heaviest weights. The scores are added up and the highest score wins. Heavy weights are also used, but lifting weights over your head can put extra strain on your back if good form is not kept. An American muscle fitness study has referenced a link between magnesium and muscle spasms. Weightlifters that had low levels of magnesium were more likely to have muscle spasms. If your personal trainer or coach does not have a background in Sports Nutrition, it is important to meet with a sports nutritionist to make sure you are getting the extra nutrients your body needs to meet the demands of heavy lifting.  

Powerlifting and Olympic lifting are different in the types of movements that are used for competition. The fitness industry often confuses them as a single sport, but they are different. The Olympic lifters are the only lifters that raise the weights above their head. Powerlifters focus on the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Working with a knowledgeable trainer or coach can help you be successful in either of these sports. A sports nutritionist can make sure your personal nutrition is altered to meet the strenuous demands of these sports.  

Interested in coaching others to reach their fitness goals? Click below to learn more about ASFA's Online Certifications!

ASFA Online Personal Training & Fitness Certifications

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