Strength Training vs Bodybuilding: The Pros, Cons, and Differences

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What are the differences between strength training vs bodybuilding? When it comes to developing a new workout regime, you’ll want to put your efforts into the most effective plan possible. Some people have the dream of bodybuilding, while others are more than happy to train their overall strength.

Even though to the naked eye, it might seem like both are relatively the same, they are incredibly different. Also, although both require a lot of discipline, motivation, and time, bodybuilding is a whole other arena that you will have to dedicate your life to.

Hence, in this guide, we’ll go over the pros and cons of strength training and bodybuilding, as well as their striking differences.

Strength Training vs Bodybuilding

The main difference between bodybuilding and strength training is that one is for solely increasing the size of your muscles. The other is meant to improve your overall strength and won’t show as much bulk. With bodybuilding, it’s all about the size of your body, while strength training focuses primarily on making you stronger.

You might think that they are the same, when, in fact, the exercises you do for each differ significantly. You’ll undoubtedly be using the same equipment and machinery for both, but how you master the activities will be quite different. For people looking for hypertrophy (increased muscle size), you need to have a higher training volume than with strength training.

The simplest definition of training volume is the number of reps and sets you’ll have to do in each workout. The more of each, the larger your training volume, though there are other factors to take into account as well.

What Is Bodybuilding?

When you delve into the world of bodybuilding, you’ll need to dedicate an exceptional amount of time and effort not only in the gym but with your entire lifestyle.

The central premise of this workout method is to develop increased muscle size, rather than overall functional strength. Of course, your power is set to grow along the way, but you’re focusing mainly on your appearance.

This factor is something to take into deep consideration, as bodybuilding isn’t for everyone. You may also find that some bodybuilders are substantially weaker than they look, as the energy stored in their muscles is quite different from strength training. Your main goal will be to bulk your body so that you can excel in competitive exhibitions where your body will look phenomenal.

How Does It Work?

As soon as you start your exercises, you’re going to be working towards getting your body to the “pump.” This point is a stasis where your blood will bring oxygen to your muscles, along with nutrients that give your body an increased amount of energy. Your goal is to get to this point to help you power through the rest of your workout.

With each movement, there will be microscopic tears made in your muscles, which forces your body to repair the damages continually. Over time, your muscles will become more abundant, as they’ll need to increase their storage capacity for more energy. This process is also known as hypertrophy.

Either by working with a professional or on your own, you’ll need to develop a particular training plan that focuses on bulking. You’ll need the perfect volume combined with the right level of load to promote stress on your muscles and better growth. It’s a good idea to have a layout of your volume so that you can establish a successful strategy.

There is an array of ways to breakdown your volume, such as four sets of five and six sets of six. The lower your sets, the heavier your loads will be, and the more sets you do, the less weight you’ll have to deal with.

The Advantages of Bodybuilding

  • Heightened Motivation

There’s no doubt about it: when you step into the world of bodybuilding, it will be an essential thing in your life. You have to be dedicated to high- and low-calorie meal plans with fluctuating energy levels throughout the year. You also have to push your body farther than it has ever been pushed before.

People who participate in this type of exercise are prone to have incredibly high motivation to reach their goals. That is especially since you have to pick apart all of your muscles to ensure your targeted activities are working; you’ll be motivated to keep pushing.

  • Promoting Longevity

By building bigger muscles, you’re inevitably adding mass to your overall physique. It has been noted that elderly individuals with higher muscle masses have better longevity than those with less muscle mass. You’ll be able to work against cardiovascular mortality, especially when compared to adults with lower-than-average muscle.

  • Improved Lipid Metabolism

There are a few benefits to bodybuilding in terms of your internal health, especially when it comes to your lipid metabolism. A study found that bodybuilding-type resistance training turned out to be more effective than endurance and resistance training. This exercising allowed you to retain your muscles and reduce your fat, which turns into lower cholesterol and fasting insulin levels.

The Disadvantages of Bodybuilding

  • Competitive Discrimination

Though this can be said about relatively any sport, there is a lot of discrimination in bodybuilding communities. Not only will you be critiqued for your performance, but your aesthetics as well. You must be mentally prepared to face several potential biases regardless of how much effort you put into your training.

  • Less Energy

Compared to strength training, you’ll find your body will have less available energy to pull you through the day. This event happens because bodybuilders have strictly planned cycles when they intake energy. During competition season, you’ll be on a low-calorie diet, which deprives your body of energy.

  • Dysmorphia

The mental elements of bodybuilding are where you have to be the most careful. Professional and amateur bodybuilders are prone to suffer from psychosocial disorders.

Psychology Research and Behavior Management published a review in 2016 that stated that approximately 10% of male gym members suffer from muscle dysmorphia. Suffering from dysmorphia can lead to the use of laxatives and steroids to achieve unrealistic body goals.

strength training vs bodybuilding

What Is Strength Training?

You can guarantee that, over time, your muscles are going to grow with strength training. However, they aren’t going to grow as quickly as they would if you focused mainly on bodybuilding techniques. The central premise behind strength training is to improve your overall strength and resilience rather than your aesthetic appearance.

How Does it Work?

The only thing you have to focus on is the amount of force that your muscles can create to move and lift more massive objects. You won’t be paying much attention to the shape of your muscles or their size, just so long as they are working at their highest potential. The vast majority of people training for strength will focus on high weight and low reps.

Similar to bodybuilding, plenty of people rely on the help of a professional personal trainer to improve their overall strength. After every workout, you’ll notice your bones will be harder, your connective tissues will be stronger, and your joints will be reinforced. Each lift has the primary goal of strengthening your muscles and your central nervous system.

When you compare the aesthetics of a strength trainer beside a bodybuilder, you’re sure to see several differences. Most people going for strength will have a higher percentage of body fat and will be built more solidly. Bodybuilders, on the other hand, will be perfectly sculpted and sleeker.

The Advantages of Strength Training

  • Strength Improvements

The most apparent benefit of strength training is you’ll be working towards making your body stronger. Instead of focusing on how your muscles look, you’ll need to look at how they perform. You’ll find that everyday tasks will become more straightforward and less painful, such as moving houses or doing housework.

  • Improved Mechanics

When you begin focusing on improving your overall strength, you’ll also be making your balance, posture, and coordination much better. For example, core strength is a massive part of how balanced you are. You can guarantee people are far more likely to fall and experience injuries as a result of poor coordination.

This is why strength training is also a huge part of rehabilitation from injuries. When your body experiences trauma, you’ll need to work on building the muscle in that area to repair the damage. Also, it helps to make sure you’re far less likely to injure the same area again in the future.

  • Cardiovascular Benefits

Your heart is the most critical organ in your body, and you only have one at birth. You’ll need to do as much as you can to make sure it’s healthy and working to the best of its ability. Strength training helps to give you the perfect amount of exercise you need to maintain better blood pressure.

Most professionals recommend that people complete up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity during the week to reduce their chances of heart disease. By doing 30 minutes of strength training five days a week, you’ll be meeting your set goal to keep your heart healthy.

The Disadvantages of Strength Training

  • Longer Rest Periods

If you’re someone who needs to go to the gym every day without a break to stay motivated, strength training might not be for you. The rest required in between gym sessions is substantially longer than with bodybuilding. Most people will need at least one to two rest days to give their muscles more time to rejuvenate themselves.

With that said, there are numerous ways you can reduce the amount of time it takes your body to heal from working out such as post-workout supplements or adding more protein into your daily diet. Without taking rest, you are far more likely to suffer from injuries that can lead to acute or chronic pain.

  • Less Immediate Calorie Loss

Most likely, you’re not getting into strength training to get skinny, but it’s important to note that you’re going to burn fewer calories than with anaerobic exercises at first.

To make the most of your strength training, you’ll first want to use cardio to lose fat and then use weights to build muscle. Over time, your muscles will start to burn calories on their own, even while you’re at rest. Compared to other exercises, strength training can take longer to show success with trimming fat and losing calories.

  • Fitness Equipment

This feature is also a downfall to be noted with bodybuilding, as you can't make the most of your time without equipment. There are ways to make DIY weights, but they won’t be as useful as a bench press or a set of dumbbells. You’ll likely find most of your time will be spent at a gym, either at home or a public gym, which costs money.

Apart from having to dedicate a lot of time and effort to reach your fitness goals, you’ll need to invest some money as well. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a low-cost gym in your area, or perhaps your residence has a gym as a common element. Students can even use the weights on campus to achieve their ideal physique.

  • Injuries

With strength training, you'll spend most of your time repeating movements, lifting various weighted items, and pushing your whole body to its limits. This point means that without the correct movements and posturing, you’re at risk for injury. It’s always essential you do a sufficient amount of research into how you can safely start to improve your physical strength.

Many people opt to use professional help when it comes to strength training, especially if they are using equipment they’ve never used before. With a physical trainer, you’ll know how to position yourself with certain types of equipment in a safe manner. Also, they will help you to customize a workout plan tailored to your goals, age, and body type.

Final Thoughts

The main difference between strength training vs bodybuilding is overall strength versus aesthetic appearance. Although both techniques require dedication and a lot of effort, they’re quite different. Strength training allows you to build your physical strength, whereas bodybuilding focuses on refining specific muscles, so they look their best.