I’m pretty sure that in the first ever five minutes in the gym, you’ve had some confusion regarding lifting, making you understand that lifting is easier said than done. You need to do it right, with the right form, proper combination, proper exercises, proper weights, and so on. There are so many things that you should know to keep up, from the gym rat to the seasoned bodybuilder.
Moreover, you may have heard that there are various lifting types too. What the hell does Calisthenics mean? Is there a difference between powerlifting and strongman? Isn’t it all bodybuilding?
Overall, it can be hard to understand, especially because we haven’t even mentioned crossfit or Olympic lifting. In order to maximize your workouts and better understand your goals (which is very important) you need to first understand the different types of lifting.
WARNING! We’ll only have summarized information about each type of lifting. There is so much more you could learn about each one of them.
Powerlifting is a very popular sports practice, but not everyone knows exactly what powerlifting means. Yeah, it involves lifting incredibly heavy weights, but how exactly? Powerlifting is a sport consisting of three individual lifts as heavy as humanly possible.
- Bench press
That’s right, only these three. But athletes aim for the heaviest weight they can do. Usually, powerlifters are considered only those who actually compete. You can train for powerlifting, but to get the “powerlifter” title, you need to compete. In the end, powerlifting is about “moving” weight with strength in the first place. Regardless of the time. It could be in a second, five seconds, or 20 seconds – just move it. That among the bench press, squat, and deadlift. That’s all that matters.
When talking about weightlifting and getting technical, we’re actually referring to it as “Olympic weightlifting”. It is important to understand that there are two different means involving “weight”:
- Weight training – working out with weights
- Weightlifting – the sport of lifting weights
They are different as weight training is something everyone does in the gym. Weightlifting is a competitive sport usually referring to two lifts:
- The barbell clean and jerk
- The barbell snatch
Before further confusion, we should clear up these Olympic weightlifting terms:
- Snatch – the barbell begins on the ground and ends overhead, in just one motion
- The clean – the barbell begins on the ground and ends in the front rack – in the hands and on the shoulders
- The jerk – the barbell begins on the shoulder and ends overhead
Besides types of exercises that are very different between powerlifting and weightlifting, there’s also a difference in how exactly you do the exercises. The aim of weightlifting is to be as quick and explosive as possible. You should move the weight just enough to be able to drop down beneath it. Olympic lifters must have incredible mobility and incredible technique.
Lots of people in the gym completely dismiss the idea of Crossfit. High intensity workouts are often considered to do Crossfit. Crossfit means that you are working out in a Crossfit affiliate gym. It is not necessarily a style of workout. Nonetheless, it is actually a company. Crossfit has revolutionized a concept and branded it.
Generally, there’s no single definition of a Crossfit workout. That’s because it covers pretty much anything. A bootcamp or high intensity workout is not Crossfit!
Many people mistakenly think that going into bodybuilding you need to get a spray tan immediately. Or that you should be inhumanly big to enter bodybuilding territory. Bodybuilding is not actually a style of workout either. In reality, bodybuilding is a goal. To define your physique with muscles and have a low body fat percentage.
Bodybuilding category often involves specific muscle group workouts. So, if you’re working out tricep muscle, for example, you’re doing bodybuilding. The difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting or weightlifting is that bodybuilding does not focus on strength alone. It’s obvious that in order to grow big muscles, you need big strength. And if you have big strength, you have big muscles. Nonetheless, bodybuilding is about body composition. The physique is what matters here, not strength. Bodybuilding workouts are about hypertrophy (AKA muscle growth).
When competing in bodybuilding, nobody rates how much you squat or bench press, only the definition of the muscles and body is what gets rated.
Calisthenics is not such a popular term lately, but you can still hear about it every now and then. As with other types of lifting, people often use calisthenics for one thing, but it means another.
To explain it simply – calisthenics are bodyweight exercises. This means that you do not need any equipment when training for calisthenics. All you use is your bodyweight. Nonetheless, unlike your typical “bodyweight workout” you can do at home, calisthenics has become synonymous with a particular type of bodyweight training in which you show incredible feats of strength and stamina. They are similar to bodyweight workouts but to the extreme. Instead of jumping jacks, you should think of front levers, handstands, and other similar.
Lots of people confuse strongman and powerlifting because both come with the same goal – be as strong as humanly possible. The difference, however, is in the types of events you’ll find strongman. Powerlifting mostly focuses on three events (and exercises). Strongman competition events, however, are endless. Strongman is about lifting heavy and… weird stuff.
The bigger and crazier – the better when it comes to strongman events. People competing in strongman need to carry heavy things such as rocks or whatever else. They should carry them either on their backs, or arms. Should lift heavy, press heavy, or pull heavy items. Whatever you may think of – they lift it.
You’ll see them deadlift cars, lift giant stones, carry yokes, flip enormous tires or rocks, and so on. Training for strongmen involves intense and incredibly varied training. You need to pull, push, press, squat, throw, lift… pretty much everything.
So, here’s a short summary of different types of lifting here:
- Powerlifting: being as strong as possible for bench press, deadlift and back squat
- Olympic lifting (weightlifting): the barbell snatch and clean and jerk
- Crossfit: workout done in a crossfit affiliated facility
- Bodybuilding: getting as big as possible muscles with as low as possible body fat
- Calisthenics: mind blowing and extreme bodyweight exercises
- Strongman: moving/lifting/flipping/throwing etc. as heavy and as weird stuff as possible
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