HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE AS A POWERLIFTER WITHOUT SACRIFICING STRENGTH


Building muscle and enhancing aesthetics in addition to performance is a perpetual battle for many powerlifters. One consideration is how your bodyweight will impact your rankings. This article will not discuss what your optimal weight class should be, that is an individual decision. Rather, we’ll be discussing how to improve your aesthetics, build muscle and still manage to stay as close as possible to optimal performance in powerlifting during this process.

One of the easiest ways to make additional strength gains is to increase your muscle mass. When looking at large groups CSA (cross sectional area of muscle) is not a good proxy for strength. However when measuring strength within the same individual, increasing muscle mass will translate to increased force production (1).

The obvious question is how do you keep making progress while training for two separate goals? Granted there is a stronger correlation between strength and hypertrophy training than strength and endurance training, but at the end of the day you’re still facing a decrease in specificity (2). So while you can certainly optimize your muscle growth given the circumstances you can never maximize it unless you make strength a secondary goal.

However you can bypass most of these obstacles and make very good progress during each competitive training cycle utilizing a phasic structure to your program. This approach would have you developing various qualities over several training blocks rather than attempting to train multiple qualities all at once. The block approach to periodization was initially popularized by Vladimir Issurin (3) and has been widely used ever since.

There are many differences between hypertrophy and strength training, but for the sake of this article I