Bodybuilding, Iron Man, Strongwoman, Crossfit, Weightlifting, Superleague.. It’s all the same right?
Unless you are a casual lifter interacting with an enthusiast of one of these sports then all the sudden you’re drowning in jargon that sounds like parseltongue.
Perhaps you have been confused when your “bodybuilder” friend corrects you and tells you they are actually a powerlifter (huh?) or the lifter in the gym you’ve referred to as a bodybuilder this whole time, informs you that they actually compete in Strongman.
If you are genuinely curious about strength sports or are trying to figure out just what you may witness should you choose to attend one of these events here’s the skinny:
Bodybuilding: Probably the most well known “strength sport”, ironically, it’s not about strength at all. Bodybuilding is all about aesthetics. You don’t need to be strong, you just need to match the judging panel’s definition of aesthetic for that particular category, that day.
Preparing for a show is more about nutrition and dieting than it is about strength. In fact, the only thing bodybuilders have in common with other strength athletes is they probably lift weights.
At a bodybuilding show, you will see competitors on stage, rocking a fake tan and posing based for their particular category. The judging criteria is different for each but it’s based off the person’s overall physique, relative to the requirements for their group. There are both natural and untested bodybuilding federations.
Olympic Lifting: Otherwise known as “weightlifting” it is one of the more well known strength sports since it is performed in the Olympic Games.
Training is a combination of technique, strength and power.
The movements one would see performed are a Snatch and a Clean and Jerk. Both of them require the athlete to lift a weight off the ground and over her or his head.
The athletes compete in their respective weight classes and have three attempts to perform a single repetition of a maximum weight for each lift. Athletes who compete in the olympic games are theoretically drug tested.
Powerlifting: Powerlifting is another type of weight lifting sport, similar to Olympic lifting.
Athletes will typically train their big lifts and accessories accordingly.
The movements in this instance are Squat, Deadlift and Bench, and athletes can do one or all three lifts in a powerlifting meet. There are both natural and untested powerlifting federations.
Strongman: Strongman requires athletes to perform feats of strength for maximal weight, repetitions or speed in their respective weight classes.
Training, in theory, is a combination of strength, power, speed, mental fortitude and physical endurance.
Contests typically consist of a deadlift variation, a press, a loading event and moving event but this is entirely up to the promoter. Implements and variations are also completely at the promoters discretion and there is no standard equipment, event type, or even standard rules (except that NOBODY DEADLIFTS SUMO).
Crossfit: Perhaps the most controversial of all the “strength” sports is Crossfit. Crossfit is a branded fitness philosophy and sport which combines high intensity interval training, olympic lifting movements, strongman events and other training modalities.
Individuals participate in daily workouts, or WOD’s (workout(s) of the day). WOD’s are scored and athletes are able to submit said scores online for an opportunity to be ranked and compete in the crossfit games. Crossfit athletes who place in the games are drug tested.