In the weight training world, there’s a great variety of different routines, techniques and standards that can be confusing for people just starting out.
For example, bodybuilders and strongmen can appear to be doing very similar things at the gym, even though they’ll both be working for different goals.
The main difference between bodybuilders and strongmen is that the former is trying to improve their physical appearance as much as possible, while the latter is only concerned with becoming as strong as possible.
This might seem like a very subtle difference between the two practices but in this article, we’ll be going over all the different ways they achieve their goals and look at how you can strive to become one yourself.
Characteristics Of A Bodybuilder
As we’ve established, bodybuilders are mainly concerned with improving their physical appearance. Of course, everybody’s ideal body shape is slightly different but there are a few common characteristics that most bodybuilders will strive for.
They will often try to keep fat gain as low as possible and work to tone their muscles. They will also focus on a process known as hypertrophy, which basically refers to increasing the size of your muscles.
Of course, not all of these features can be achieved by working out alone and many bodybuilders will put themselves on strict diet routines to reduce fat and increase muscle as much as possible.
Competitive bodybuilders will take their practice very seriously as they aim to compete with other bodybuilders for the ideal physical appearance.
Again, this ideal appearance can be fairly subjective to most people but in proper bodybuilding contests like Mr. Olympia, judges will have a strict criteria outlined for what competitors should be aiming for.
Characteristics Of A Strongman
Strongmen carry out their exercise regimes for a completely different purpose to bodybuilders. Instead of focusing on their own physical appearance, their value is determined by external factors like the amount of weight they are able to lift.
For this reason, strongmen will conduct themselves in a vastly different way to bodybuilders. For example, instead of seeking to reduce fat and gain muscle definition, a strongman will often consume a great number of calories every day in order to build up mass in their body, whether it’s muscle or fat.
This is because body weight is a very large determining factor in whether or not a person can lift a certain weight- much more so than fat content and muscle definition.
Again, there is a very present competitive environment that dictates how a lot of strongmen workout and conduct themselves. There is little subjectivity over what makes a good strongman because competitions are determined by which competitor can lift the heaviest weight or complete an action the highest number of times within a certain timeframe.
Do Bodybuilders And Strongmen Workout Differently?
Absolutely, bodybuilders and strongmen will have very different workout routines to each other, though it may not be immediately apparent to those watching from a distance.
Both will revolve their workouts heavily around weight training, as this covers both of their individual goals. For example, weight training can improve muscular definition and burn fat for bodybuilders while strongmen will use it to improve their explosive strength.
However, it’s the way that both groups use weight training in their routine that differs.
A bodybuilder might perform bicep curls at a low weight, with greater frequency as this is a good exercise for building up overall definition in the arms.
Alternatively, a strongman might perform the same exercise with a much heavier weight, with a lower frequency. Working out in this way increases a person’s maximum strength capacity and will ultimately make them able to lift heavier weights.
Another key difference between the two workout regimes is the amount of rest each one requires. Bodybuilders, for example, aim to actually tear their muscle fibers apart as much as possible in a short period of time.
Therefore, they will allow shorter rests between exercises to give their body less time to heal and repair these muscle fibers.
This can, of course, be somewhat dangerous when done frequently and bodybuilders tend to be much more prone to injury while training.
On the other hand, strongmen don’t need to focu so much on tearing their muscle fibers and can allow for longer recovery times between sets of an exercise.
Also, because strongmen tend to lift much heavier weights during training, they need to be able to avoid injury much more carefully so that they can continue training at the same intensity.
Are Strongmen Stronger Than Bodybuilders?
As the name suggests, strongmen tend to be the strongest people in any room and are definitely stronger than bodybuilders.
The whole purpose of being a strongman is to be able to exert as much physical strength as possible. This most commonly translates into lifting heavy weights, which is the most common indicator of a person’s physical strength.
However, this doesn’t mean that bodybuilders aren’t strong. Their main goal is to build up muscle size and definition for aesthetic reasons. Physical strength is pretty much a by-product of this and it means that bodybuilders tend to be much stronger than the average person.
Can You Build Muscle With Strongman Training?
Strongman training can actually be beneficial for those looking to build muscle. In terms of the type of weight training strongmen do at the gym, they end up building a lot of muscle simply through weight lifting alone.
However, the key difference between strongman training and building muscle is in the diet. Strongmen will eat way larger quantities of food then the average person in order to build up as much mass as possible.
This mass certainly doesn’t take the form of muscle, so if you’re only interested in building muscle, you should avoid the strongman diet and use their workout techniques instead.
There are a lot of stereotypes people hold about both bodybuilders and strongmen. Not all of these stereotypes are negative but a lot of them are untrue.
For example, bodybuilders aren’t just big lumps of meat, rather they have crafted their bodies intentionally for the specific purpose of being able to lift heavier weights.
Whichever of the two categories people fall into, it takes a great deal of hard work and commitment to be good at what they do.