Powerlifters focus on building strength. Powerlifters tend to lift heavier weight for fewer set and reps (relative to bodybuilders).

Bodybuilders focus on building muscle size and aesthetics. Bodybuilders tend to lift lighter weights for more sets and reps (relative to powerlifters).

Obviously, powerlifters also increase in size and aesthetics, and bodybuilders also increase strength, but there are different routines based on your goals.


Would you describe StrongLifts 5x5 as designed for powerlifters or bodybuilders or ___ ?

How would the StrongLifts 5x5 routine need to change to make it powerlifter or bodybuilder appropriate/specific? Bonus points for set/rep/routine examples.

Are there any well recognized routines that are more powerlifter/bodybuilder specific?

  • IMO it's not really for either; there are tons of sport-specifc routines/schedules out there--what specifically are you interested in that's lacking in existing resources? Sep 29, 2021 at 14:28
  • Probably remove the request for program recommendations to keep the question properly focused and not opinion based.
    – Thomas Markov
    Sep 29, 2021 at 23:10
  • @DaveNewton TBH, I never knew or thought about the difference between powerlifting and bodybuilding before, until recently. I found a video on YouTube of a guy squatting 400+ and he wasn't big like I would have expected. This led to learning the difference between powerlifting and bodybuilding. Now I get it in theory, but I'm still not sure what makes the difference in terms of the routines. I've been doing SL 5x5. I'm just trying to understand where SL 5x5 fits in.
    – Kirkland
    Sep 29, 2021 at 23:55
  • @ThomasMarkov That might be fair. The question is really, what's the practical (not theoretical) difference between a beginner powerlifting routine vs a beginner bodybuilder routine. I included SL 5x5 as a frame of reference that seems to my novice eyes to fit somewhat in-between.
    – Kirkland
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:00
  • 1
    At the beginner level--not much. The body needs time to prepare for specialized routines; a base level. Sep 30, 2021 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


Stronglifts is a novice program that should not be run as long as is typically recommended.

Stronglifts is neither a powerlifting, nor a bodybuilding program. It is a novice linear progression. It is well suited for novice lifters who have the capacity to make consistent strength gains in a linear fashion. Naturally, you will build some muscle doing SL, but it lacks the volume necessary to deliver a robust hypertrophy stimulus long term. Further, you reach a point in a linear progression where consistent workout-to-workout strength gains simply are not feasible, and it begins to fail horribly at fatigue management. When you cannot make consistent week-to-week gains, and all or most of your sets are near maximal efforts, then Stronglifts has outlived its viability for you. At this point, you need to switch to a different program with a different periodization scheme, and this is also when you choose between a powerlifting program or a body building program, depending on your goals.

  • This is a good / helpful answer. Thank you.
    – Kirkland
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:04

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