Power Building Workouts for More Muscle and Strength
Most people in the gym focus on building either strength or size, never both at the same time. Usually when you first start strength training and lifting weights you see fast results and increases in the size of your muscles and your strength, but after a few months you hit a plateau and the most common way to overcome it is to get specific and focus on strength or size instead of making them the same goal. A lot of online advice also caters to one side or the other instead of telling you how to achieve strength and size at the same time. This is where power building comes into play. It’s a simple but effective blend of lifting styles, combining powerlifting with bodybuilding to achieve optimal results.
Before you learn how to combine powerlifting and bodybuilding it’s important to understand what each one is. Powerlifting uses high muscle tension to lift heavy weights, usually for just one rep in three different complex lifts. Squats, bench press, and deadlifts are all compound lifts that require full body output to complete them, and powerlifters go for one-rep sets at their maximum weight for each of these moves. Bodybuilding, on the other hand, focuses on aesthetics and working out to get as big and lean as possible. Instead of low-rep sets, bodybuilders go for moderate to high reps of at least 8 and up to 15 or more. Bodybuilders also focus on their gym strategy with a diet that reduces fat intake and gain to achieve that ripped physique.
So why combine powerlifting with bodybuilding? Traditional training models don’t combine low-rep with high-rep training. Many lifters try to build strength and size at the same time by focusing on strength at the beginning of the year then switching to hypertrophy training mid-way through the year. This is an effective method, but for intermediate and advanced lifters, training for size and strength at the same time year round is most effective for muscle growth and strength gains.
Power building is a proven method for lifting more weight while also building bigger muscles. It’s a hybrid workout that starts with big lifts at lower reps and heavier weight, then switches to lifts at lower weights for more reps. All power-building workouts focus on strength training, muscle building, and improved fitness overall. Power building workouts should also combine upper body and lower body training. A lot of power builders make the mistake of skipping lower body workouts but the whole body needs equal attention.
Power Building Moves for the Upper Body
Barbell Bench Press
To do this move, lay with your back flat on a bench. Prepare to lift the barbell out of the rack with a medium grip, then lift and hold it straight over your head with locked arms. Now that you’re in the starting position, inhale then slowly the bring the bar down until it touches the middle of your chest, pause for a second, then exhale as you push the bar back to starting position. If you’re new to this move it’s a good idea to use a spotter or be conservative with how much weight you put on the bar.
Standing Military Press
Before you begin this power building move, place a barbell at chest height on a squat rack. Once you’ve added the appropriate amount of weight, grip the barbell with palms forward and hands wider than shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly, place the barbell on the collar bone and lift it while it stays lying on the chest. Take a step backward and position the feet shoulder width apart, then lift the bar overhead into starting position. To do one rep lower the bar to collarbone height while inhaling, then exhale as you return the bar to starting position.
Chest Supported Row
You can do this move with dumbbells in each hand or with a barbell. Set an incline bench at 30 degrees and lie face down on the bench. Start with a palms-down grip with arms hanging at the sides fully extended and pointing at the floor. As you exhale start to pull the weights up in a reverse bench press move by bending your elbows and bringing up your upper arms while the forearms continue to hang. Keep pulling the upper arms back until they are level with your back in a “T” shape. Hold the position at the top for a second before lowering the upper arms to starting position as you inhale.
Dumbbell Biceps Curl
This is an easy and well-known move for powerlifters and bodybuilders. Start by standing up straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms fully extended at your sides. Keep the elbows close to your body as you rotate your palms to face forward in starting position. To do the move, keep upper arms stationary while exhaling and contracting the biceps while curling the weights to raise them to shoulder level. Hold the position for a second while squeezing the biceps, then inhale as you lower the dumbbells to starting position again.
Power Building Moves for Lower Body
Place a barbell on the ground, centered over your feet which should be hip-width apart. Start by bending at the hip and gripping the bar with hands shoulder width apart then take a deep breath while lowering the hips and flexing the knees until your shins are touching the bar. To start the move, look forward and keep your head straight, keep the chest up and back arched, then drive your weight into the heels and lift the bar up. As the bar begins to pass your knees, pull it back and pull the shoulder blades together, moving the hips forward toward the bar, then bend at the hips while you lower the bar to the ground again.
This move is usually done in a squat rack for safety. Set the barbell on the rack above shoulder level then step under the bar with your shoulders across it. Hold the bar with both arms and lift it off the rack by pushing with your legs and straightening the torso to stand up straight. Step away from the rack and place feet shoulder width apart, keeping a straight back at all times and head up. Now that you’re in starting position, lower the bar slowly as you bend your knees and sit back into a squat position until the hamstrings are almost at calf level. Exhale as you raise the bar back up by straightening your legs and extending the hips to starting position.
Dumbbell Walking Lunge
For this power building move start by standing with feet at shoulder width apart and hands on the hips. Take a step forward with one of your legs and flex both knees while dropping the hips down until the back knee is almost touching the ground. Keep your posture upright throughout the move and keep the front knee above your front foot. Push down into the heel of the front foot while extending both knees to rise back up, then step forward with the rear foot to repeat the move on your opposite leg.
This move should be done on a 45-degree leg press machine. Load the appropriate weight plates onto each side then sit on the leg press machine and put feet up at shoulder width apart in the middle of the plate. Extend the legs to lift the weight off the rack then release the safety handles. At the start, your knees should be slightly bent to put the weight in the quads. Lower the weight slowly until your legs are passed a 45-degree angle then push through the heels to extend the legs straight up, then slowly lower back to starting position.
Diet and Conditioning
Even when you are weight lifting and strength training, you shouldn’t leave conditioning out of your workout routine. Conditioning helps the body run efficiently so work in moderate conditioning exercises 2-3 times a week and try to go for a half hour walk every day. A short run or stair climbing is all you need when doing conditioning. Diet should never be ignored either if you want to achieve optimal results. Your diet should be high in quality protein and contain enough carbs, vegetables, and fats to sustain your power building routine. Keep a balanced diet and make adjustments when necessary, mostly to your carb intake to adjust for gaining muscle or getting lean.
If you’ve considered taking supplements to help you reach your power building goals, you should take a look at creatine. It’s a compound containing nitrogen that’s found naturally in fish and meat. Creatine supplements have been found to increase maximum power and performance during weightlifting sets to fuel more strength and activity. It works by accelerating ATP resynthesizing while you’re doing intense exercise (i.e. power-building workouts). This is because the body fuels its activity using ATP stores and when it needs to replenish that ATP quickly, the muscle cells rely on the creatine stored in the body.