An 18 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter, Level 2 Weightlifting coach, Powerlifter, and non-competitive Irish dancer. I'm determined to live a healthier lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.
Back to Blog
Due to injuring my ankle recently (being precise, I have Tendinopathy) I have been unable to complete any exercise involving Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting. However, I have still been Weight Training at home as I didn't want to fall behind by not doing any upper body strength exercises. However, I did want to write a post which compared all three of these different ways to build muscle. Please continue reading this post to find out more!
What is Olympic Weightlifting?
Olympic Weightlifting involves two overhead lifts called the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. The sport uses full body movements which focuses on technique (the way the bar is lifted) and how much is being lifted (usually heavy poundages). The term 'Olympic Weightlifting' is the full name for the sport because it is the type of Weightlifting seen in the Olympic games. Usually, the poundage used for the Snatch isn't as high as the Clean and Jerk amount. If you'd like to know more detail on what these lifts are exactly, please check out this post of mine linked below.
What is Powerlifting?
Powerlifting involves three different exercises called the Back Squat, Bench Press and the Deadlift. If you didn't already know, I'll explain what exactly the three events in Powerlifting are:
Back squat: A normal, full squat which includes a loaded barbell on the back of the lifters neck. When the lifter squats down and rises, their heels are usually flat on the ground and their knees are apart (the knees do not touch together).
Bench press: The bench press involves the lifter lying on a bench, facing upwards so that the bar is above them. It helps if the lifter has their back arched on the bench as then they don't have to lift the bar as far. The loaders will pass the bar to the lifter and will be ready waiting to catch the bar once the lifter has finished the lift (completed one repetition) or incase the lifter cannot lift the weight. The lifter will lift the bar from above their head to their chest and pause for a few seconds before pushing the bar back up above their head.
Deadlift: The Deadlift movement is very much similar to the beginning of both Olympic lifts. The bar starts on the floor and the lifter picks up the bars to above the knees. Once the bar is past the knees, the lifter drives their hips forward and places the bar back down. Lifters can choose to have their grip on the bar as the same as the Olympic Weightlifting grip, however the hands are closer together (both hands facing the same way, palms inwards). But there is another way of lifting the bar by having one palm facing inwards and one palm facing outwards.
The sport uses a range of movements depending on which powerlifting event you're doing. For example, the Back squat would involve full lower body muscle use (glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings etc), whereas the Bench Press is mainly upper body strength. Then the Deadlift uses mainly lower body strength and some arm strength. Powerlifting is not a sport found at the Olympic games, however there are competitions involving the sport. Powerlifting may seen as an alternative for those who cannot Olympic lift. From looking at people I know who are Olympic Weightlifters and Powerlifters (including myself), I have noticed that poundages when Powerlifting are often higher than Weightlifting poundages. This may not be correct for everyone, but it is something that I have noticed.
What is Weight Training?
Weight Training can be seen commonly in gyms (compared to Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting). Many gyms nowadays have features involving Olympic Weightlifting platforms and equipment, however there are some gyms which mainly contain machines and free weights. This can also be the case for Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting clubs not containing any free weights. I would describe Weight Training to be any sort of exercise involving free weights (Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Barbells that aren't being used for Olympic lifts etc). Weight training isn't a sport which has a specific routined technique, although it can be a method of building muscle to help other sports, maybe even Olympic lifting or Powerlifting. Many may class the Bench press exercise from Powerlifting as Weight Training, as it is an exercise which many may do at the gym but not call themselves Powerlifters if they do not partake in the other two strength exercises which Powerlifting involves.
From my knowledge of Weight Training, here are three exercises which many would class as Weight Training and are different to the other sports mentioned in this post. For each of the exercises, I suggest that a slightly heavy weight be chosen (not too heavy) and that the person should complete 8-12 repetitions of the exercise. By completing 8 to 12 repetitions, the person will be building muscular strength rather than their endurance ability.
Dumbbell flyes: Dumbbell flyes involves a person either lying completely flat on their back (on a bench) or slightly upright but still close towards the ground. The person should bring the dumbbells out from beside them, so that they're sticking out their chest. Then, the dumbbells should be brought towards them, so that they're chest is more relaxed and that both dumbbells meet above their body. The movement should almost be as if the person is hugging a barrel as the weight may be too heavy to completely straighten the arms (as they would do if the weight was lighter which could perhaps enable them to complete more repetitions if they wanted to improve their endurance). This exercise will help to build muscles in the chest, shoulders and biceps.
Bicep curls: Bicep curls can be uses with either dumbbells or a barbell. This exercise can also either be completed
using either two arms or one arm when using dumbbells, however if you're using a barbell, two arms should be used. The bicep curl begins with both arms locked with the elbows facing backwards and should finish with the elbows bent so that the weight is near the upper body. This exercise is easy and ideal to build your biceps.
Bent-over rows: This exercise can involve the use of either dumbbells or a barbell. This exercise can be completed using either two arms or one arm when using dumbbells, however if you're using a barbell, two arms should be used. The person will bend their body over, so that they're closer to their knees. Whilst their back is flat, the person's arms begin as locked and slowly bend as the weight or weights are pulled towards the chest. This exercise will help to build muscles in the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps and trapezius. There is a great challenge online to do with bent-over rows, which is interesting to see the technique of others and how many repetitions different people can complete. If you want to check it out, please click on the image next to this paragraph. I recommend checking out the full website for sport-based fun challenges. See how you rank against others around the world! Heres a link to the website below as it wouldn't let me link my profile, if you'd like to check it out I'm registered under thisgirlcanlift. I haven't been registered for very long, however I plan on completing more challenges in the future and hope that perhaps I'll be able to create more blog content from what I learn from completing the challenges.
Thank you for reading this post. Its pretty short but sooner or later I'm going to thoroughly explain the Olympic Weightlifting technique which I proudly use and coach. Firstly, I need to hit the books so I can explain precisely without confusing anyone. Please note that I am no expert surrounding these three sporting areas, however I've had 7 years experience of Olympic Weightlifting and 3 years experience of Powerlifting and Weight Training. This entire post is purely based upon opinions and experiences of my own, so please don't take the information provided to heart if it isn't completely correct.