The comparison and confusion between Olympic Weightlifting and powerlifting has been around for as long as both disciplines have existed. To understand the sibling rivalry and comparison between the brothers of iron, one would need to know the background on of them to adequately understand the notion of Olympic Weightlifting vs. powerlifting.
Olympic Weightlifting – The Older Brother
This older, wiser brother’s origins date back as far as 5 000 years ago. Back then Chinese soldiers would be tested on feats of strength in order to be deemed fit for battle. This is pretty far back but not quite Olympic Weightlifting, so let’s fast forward to the first Olympic Games in 1896. It was there that Olympic Weightlifting was included as a sport and the Press, Snatch and Clean and Jerk were performed by athletes.
Later it just became the Snatch and Clean and Jerk as the standard Olympic Weightlifting movements. Olympic Weightlifting is governed by the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) and is monitored well and regulated on drug free competitions worldwide.
Powerlifting –The Younger Brother
This is the cheeky younger brother who found his way to the surface in the U.K and America in the early 1950s where lifters would get together at local meetings or gyms and compete at squatting, deadlifting and overhead pressing (which later became bench press) the most weight. This sport soon grew worldwide and many federations grew under it.
Governing it therefore became tricky as there are many world champions in many different federations. Some are dope free, some are not so dope free, some compete without equipment (Raw) and some with equipment (squat suits, bench shirts, etc.). The IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) is by far the most credible and controlled federation.
Brothers – Not Identical Twins
The younger brother (powerlifting) doesn’t take much of your time with learning how to squat, bench or deadlift; granted you have decent movement and a decent trainer. However, the older brother (Olympic Weightlifting) likes to bully one quite a lot when learning the Snatch and Clean and Jerk as it is insanely technical, even if you have a good trainer and good movement.
Olympic Weightlifting (older brother)
This is a sport based on speed, power and explosive ballistic movements. Room for error is small and aspects like timing, position, coordination and neural firing patterns are on constant demand all the time when doing Olympic Weightlifting. This is why weightlifting is such a mental game. It’s a skill that few ever get to boast they possess.
Powerlifting (younger brother)
This is a sport of determination and controlled aggression. A sport where you need to never back down from a heavy weight once you have become stronger… you see that’s where it is mentally challenging once you get near a really high percentage of your max, does the weight truly challenge you to rise to it.
Now I would highly recommend that you go out and source a gym to train both of these, as one cannot simply just put them into the program without proper coaching and help. I say this as once you train these disciplines, the bug just hits you out of nowhere – I am talking about the Iron Bug.
It has millions of people from across the world pushing themselves through hours of blood, sweat and tears to get that one lift, that perfect Snatch, that Earth shattering deadlift, that moment where it is possible to lift something that was previously deemed as impossible. This is the bug I have, and I want to keep it. It got bullied into me by my brothers and they are the brothers I have always wanted.
Do you practice Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting or even both? Which do you prefer?