I always seem to think about powerlifting and weightlifting. Which one is my favorite, which can give me the best results, should I do a little bit of both or one or the other? I’m sure there are many who would say that I could do both. If you said that too me, you’d be right. I neither want to be a competitive Olympic lifter nor a powerlifter. My goals are to stay physically fit and healthy, long enough to play with my future grand-kids into my late age. For many men though, they want to have the combination strength of Stan Efferding and the fitness of Rich Froning. Unfortunately, 99.999% of the population will never be anywhere near any of these men.
It all comes down to specificity. Do you want to be on an elite level at either of these? If that’s the case, then you most certainly will be dedicating your life to one or the other. The specificity of training that is necessary is what really separates the two from being nearly impossible to be accomplished both at the same time. Before the 1960’s you did have a few men who took part in both. These are the rare exceptions though, like Doug Hepburn, Paul Anderson, and Dave Ashman. In the current days you can look at Shane Hamman or Mark Henry who both transitioned from either side of the spectrum. Like I said though, these men are rare exceptions to be able to be at an elite level on either side after transitioning.
The stresses of training and hours spent perfecting technique are extremely important factors in this topic. Almost all seasoned powerlifters will not have the shoulder flexibility to catch a snatch at the top. Olympic lifts require rapid high force output along with high contraction velocities and very limited time in an eccentric contractile state, whereas the powerlifts need a controlled and slow eccentric contraction to keep the body tight and then a rapid and powerful concentric contraction to lift the weight. The amount of volume and sets powerlifters place on there body really takes a toll on there flexibility and mobility as they develop. Imagine a competitive powerlifter trying to snatch 120kg. It’s very rarely going to happen and very rarely will it happen with good technique.
Like I stated above, I don’t have the ambition to be in the Olympics or a top powerlifter in my weight class. What I do have the ambition to do though is to combine both into my programs. I take into consideration the periodization and programming of these training styles to fit my needs. I firmly believe that athletes must develop and have a base of absolute strength (powerlifting) before they move on to more strength-speed training (Olympic lifts). The same belief is what I create my own personal training around in order to be well rounded, strong, powerful, and have explosiveness. I will always rely on that belief of having absolute strength in the core lifts and the tools to complete the Olympic lifts (coordination, explosiveness, speed, timing, speed-strength) in my life and the lives of others I have the opportunity to work with.
By no means are these the only two types of training programs that I use for myself. I enjoy mixing in and cycling bodybuilding, metabolic circuits, tabata, and other types of training into my program. It keeps my workouts challenging and FUN. It’s always a personal goal of mine to work on my weaknesses and if a certain workout can not accomplish this, I’m ok with moving on and trying something else. It goes back to my goal of being well-rounded.
This is such a large topic and one that can be expressed in many ways. This is nowhere near my full opinion on the topic, that would take way to long, but it gives you some basic insight into my thoughts and possibly make you think about what your actually training for and how you can approach it.