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Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting vs CrossFit: What is best?

The worlds of Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, and CrossFit are all physically demanding and interconnected by their focus on improving the human body, but they have unique methodologies, goals, and cultures. Here's an in-depth look at these three fitness disciplines:

Bodybuilding: Sculpting the Body

Goal: Bodybuilding is all about aesthetics and symmetry. The primary objective is to build and sculpt the body to create a balanced and visually appealing muscular physique.

Training: Bodybuilders focus on hypertrophy training, emphasizing high reps and moderate weights. Workouts often target individual muscle groups to enhance muscle size and definition. Bodybuilders tend to use many different machines to target key muscles in specific way.

fitness equipment gym
Crandall Fitness Commercial Gym

Diet: Diet is crucial, often involving precise macro-nutrient tracking to optimize muscle growth and fat loss, especially before a competition.

Competitions: Competitors are judged on their physique's symmetry, size, and definition, rather than their strength or performance in specific exercises.

Powerlifting: Pursuit of Pure Strength

Goal: Powerlifting is about lifting the maximum weight possible for three specific lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Training: Powerlifters train with lower repetitions and higher weights, focusing on these three main lifts. Emphasis is on increasing maximum strength rather than muscle size or endurance. Power bars, deadlift bars and weights are a Powerlifters best friends.

Diet: While diet is still important, powerlifters may prioritize overall caloric intake and protein to support strength gains, rather than achieving a lean and defined look.

Competitions: Success in powerlifting is measured by the total weight lifted across the three main lifts, often relative to the lifter's body weight.

CrossFit: Functional Fitness and Community

Goal: CrossFit aims to build a high level of general physical preparedness. It focuses on a mixture of strength, endurance, agility, and flexibility.

Training: CrossFit involves varied, high-intensity, functional movements. Workouts may include weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, and more. Olympic bars, power racks and bumpers are key CrossFit tools for success.

Crumb Bumper Plates
Crandall Fitness Crumb Bumper Plates

Diet: While individual approaches may vary, many CrossFit athletes follow balanced, whole-foods-based diets, such as Paleo or Zone.

Competitions: Competitions, known as “The CrossFit Games,” test a wide range of fitness domains. Community and camaraderie are vital parts of CrossFit culture.


While there are overlaps among Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, and CrossFit, they differ widely in their specific objectives and methods:

  • Bodybuilding is focused on the aesthetic appearance of the body.

  • Powerlifting prioritizes absolute strength in three core lifts.

  • CrossFit emphasizes overall fitness, functional movements, and community engagement.

Choosing the right path depends on individual preferences and goals. Some may even choose to blend elements from all three, creating a unique approach that meets their specific needs. No matter the path, dedication, consistency, and a love for the process are key ingredients to success. So, Bodybuilding vs Powerlifting vs CrossFit: What is best?, it all depends on what your goals are and what you want out of your training.


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