Bodybuilding vs. Strength Training: What's the Difference?

If you are looking to become fitter, leaner, and stronger, you may have been advised that weight training is something that you should focus on.

Your first thought might go straight to images of extremely ripped bodybuilders, and that might not be your aim.

The Difference Between Bodybuilding And Strength

You may be wondering, what is strength training? Strength training is designed to work your body on becoming stronger, not looking stronger.

Bodybuilding, on the other hand, aims to make your body look as strong as possible from the outside. Depending on what you are aiming for in your fitness training, it is important to be aware of the difference.

As both bodybuilding and strength training require weights, you may be struggling to tell the difference between the two.

Below we have all the information you need to help differentiate strength training from bodybuilding and give you more of an insight into your goals.

Bodybuilding: The Basics

Bodybuilding is all about how strong you physically look, not how strong you actually are.

Some bodybuilders aren’t as strong as they look due to insufficient energy stored in their muscles, but that isn’t what bodybuilding is about.

When you begin bodybuilding, you will need to make a lot of changes to your lifestyle in order to greatly increase the size of your muscles.

Although you won’t be focusing too much on strength, your strength will definitely increase during training.

When bodybuilding, you are looking for your blood to bring oxygen and nutrients to your muscles to increase their energy. Then, you will undertake a process called hypertrophy.

There will then be small tears made in your muscles, which your body will constantly work to repair. Whilst continually being repaired, your muscles will become larger so there is more room to store energy.

Strength Training: The Basics

Unlike bodybuilding, your muscles will grow over time when practicing strength training as you are working on higher weights and low reps.

You will be focusing on how much force your muscles can produce to lift heavier weights which will improve your overall strength.

As you will be working on lifting heavier weights, your bones, central nervous system, and joints will gradually become stronger over time.

Is Bodybuilding Good For You

Your muscles will become more prominent over time, but unlike bodybuilding, this won’t be the main focus of your workouts as you are working to improve your overall strength.

Someone who bodybuilds will be leaner than someone who practices strength training as bodybuilders are looking to be perfectly sculpted for competitions, whereas strength training works to gradually improve your overall strength.

Is Bodybuilding Good For You?

Bodybuilding has many positive and negative connotations. If you are looking to begin bodybuilding, then you will need to be aware of all aspects of the competitive sport.


Lipid Metabolism Is Improved

Bodybuilding has been shown to improve your lipid metabolism as bodybuilding aims to reduce the fat on your body which then lowers your cholesterol.

Bodybuilding has been shown to be more effective than resistance training in improving your lipid metabolism.


If you want to build a physically bulky physique, your motivation will definitely be key in succeeding.

As you will constantly be seeing your body change into the body of a bodybuilder, this will help motivate you more to achieve your goals.


Less Energy

Bodybuilding doesn’t provide you with the same energy that strength training does due to strict diets and not being as strong compared to strength trainers.

Bodybuilders are placed on low-calorie diets which don’t provide sufficient energy during the day.

Body Dysmorphia

As you will be entirely focused on your appearance during bodybuilding, this can lead to feelings of dysmorphia.

As you want your body to look a certain way, this can lead to bodybuilders feeling unhappy with their appearance.

What Are The Benefits Of Strength Training?

Similar to bodybuilding, strength training has both its advantages and disadvantages.

It is also important to make sure you are aware of these before beginning strength training.


Improving Strength

This is the main advantage of strength training as you will improve your overall strength and help your body to become stronger.

You will notice differences in your everyday tasks by improving your strength so it will positively impact your life.

Improve Heart Health

Strength training helps to keep your heart healthy as it will lower blood pressure and help to pump oxygen around the body to the heart.

It is important to keep your heart healthy and practicing strength training will allow you to get sufficient exercise to do this.



Finding the right equipment to practice strength training can be hard as if you want to use weights at home, you need to find somewhere to store them.

There is the option of having a gym membership but you would need to find time to spare to have a session at the gym.

Rest Days

It is important to give your muscles a rest for at least a day when strength training as they need time to recover from the previous exercise.

Strength training every day won’t speed up your strength as you will only damage your muscles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Main Difference Between Bodybuilding And Strength Training?

Bodybuilding focuses on increasing muscle size and aesthetics, while strength training prioritizes developing functional strength and power.

How Do The Exercise Routines Differ Between Bodybuilding And Strength Training?

Bodybuilding routines involve isolation exercises and high reps/low weight, while strength training uses compound exercises and low reps/high weight.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages to both bodybuilding and strength training, but it is up to you what you choose to practice based on how you want your body to feel.

If you are looking for a purely physical transformation, then bodybuilding will be more suited to you. However, if you want to feel stronger in yourself, then strength training will be your best option.

There is no right or wrong training, but it is important that you make sure that you are aware of all of the advantages and disadvantages.

It is important to push yourself in exercise so that you can improve, but not so much that you suffer injuries or do yourself any damage to yourself.

Whether you choose to begin bodybuilding or strength training, make sure that your first priority is paying attention to the needs of your body.

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