Can You Combine Weightlifting and Powerlifting? (to build muscle & strength)

a man doing deadlift in the gym

Have you ever looked at the physiques of weightlifters and powerlifters and wondered, "Can I achieve both that explosive power and impressive musculature?" The answer is a resounding yes! Weightlifting and powerlifting have distinct goals. However, they offer similar benefits.

This blog is about weightlifting and powerlifting. It explores their training methods. It explains how you can combine them to build muscle and strength. Let's learn about programming, accessory work, and periodization to unlock your full potential! 

A strong female doing a back squat

Weightlifting vs. Powerlifting

Weightlifting and powerlifting are often mistaken for each other. But, they have unique roles in strength training. Weightlifting is an Olympic sport where athletes compete in two lifts: the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. The goal? To lift the barbell with the heaviest possible weight in a single, explosive motion. Powerlifting is different. It's about lifting the most weight possible for one repetition. It focuses on three core lifts: the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift.

Let's break down the training specifics of each discipline:


In this training approach, it's all about low reps (1-3) and high intensity. Athletes focus on complex moves such as the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. These exercises require top-notch coordination, flexibility, and explosive strength. The main goal is to master the technique for swift and precise barbell movements.


Powerlifters prioritize sheer strength, lifting heavy weights in key exercises like Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. They train with low reps (1-5) and high intensity, focusing on compound lifts to work many muscles at once.Building a Better You: The Advantages of Combining Training

Combining Weightlifting and Powerlifting

So, can you train for both weightlifting and powerlifting? Absolutely! Here's why combining elements from both disciplines can be a winning strategy:

  • Become a Stronger, More Athletic You: Powerlifting focuses on heavy squats and deadlifts. They lead to a strong core and lower body, which are crucial for athleticism. Weightlifting focuses on explosiveness. It improves your ability to generate power. Power is a key factor in many sports.
  • Technique Makes Perfect: Both disciplines require meticulous attention to form. By adding weightlifting movements, you can improve your technique in compound lifts like the squat and clean. This leads to safer and more efficient lifting in both areas.
  • Conquer Plateaus: Sometimes, training plateaus can be frustrating. By adding elements from the other discipline, you can shock your muscles. This will spur new growth and break through stubborn plateaus that hinder progress.

Considerations When Combining Training

While combining weightlifting and powerlifting offers numerous benefits, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Balancing Volume and Intensity: Both disciplines are demanding. Balancing training volume (sets and reps) and intensity (weight) is crucial. It helps you avoid overtraining and injuries.
  • Programming for Success:  Don't just throw random lifts together. Design your workouts to avoid conflicting adaptations. For example, heavy deadlifts might fatigue your lower back before a Clean and Jerk session, hindering performance.
  • Gearing Up for Your Goals:  Competitive weightlifters and powerlifters might not benefit from combining training as their focus needs to be laser-sharp on their specific sport. However, if your goals are general muscle and strength development. Mixing parts of both can be very effective.

Guide to Combining Weightlifting and Powerlifting

Now you understand the reason for combining training. Let's explore how to structure your workouts:

Sample Training Split

This is just a sample, and you should always adjust it based on your experience and goals. Here's an example split that incorporates elements of both powerlifting and weightlifting:

  • Day 1: Squat (Heavy, Powerlifting Focus) + Overhead Press (Accessory)
  • Day 2: Rest or Active Recovery (Cardio, Mobility)
  • Day 3: Bench Press (Heavy, Powerlifting Focus) + Rows (Accessory)
  • Day 4: Clean and Jerk (Technique Work, Weightlifting Focus) + Accessory Work
  • Day 5: Rest or Active Recovery
  • Day 6: Deadlift (Heavy, Powerlifting Focus) + Accessory Work
  • Day 7: Rest

Accessory Exercises Selection

Don't neglect accessory exercises! These target specific muscle groups neglected in compound lifts and address any weaknesses you might have. Examples include core work, glute bridges, lunges, and anti-rotational exercises.

Here's how to choose effective accessory exercises:

  • Identify Weaknesses: Analyze your performance in both weightlifting and powerlifting movements. Are there specific muscle groups lagging behind? For example, weak glutes can hinder your squat form and explosiveness.
  • Target the Gaps: Choose accessory exercises that target these weaknesses. For instance, glute bridges, hip thrusts, and single-leg lunges can strengthen your glutes and improve your squat.

Examples of Effective Accessory Exercises

  • Core Work: A strong core is essential for both weightlifting and powerlifting. Include exercises like planks, anti-rotational presses, and Pallof presses to develop core stability and power transfer.
  • Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts: These exercises specifically target your glutes, crucial for driving power in squats and deadlifts.
  • Lunges and Bulgarian Split Squats: These unilateral exercises challenge your balance and stability while strengthening your legs and core.
  • Anti-Rotational Exercises: Exercises like bird dogs and anti-rotational presses improve core stability and prevent rotational imbalances that can hinder performance and increase injury risk.

D. Progression and Periodization

  1. Progression and Periodization are two key concepts that work together in designing effective training programs, especially for weightlifting and powerlifting. Periodization keeps your training program varied and prevents plateaus by ensuring you're constantly challenging your body in new ways.

Here's a breakdown of a common periodization model focused on building muscle and strength:

Hypertrophy Phase (Focus on Building Muscle)

This phase aims to stimulate muscle growth by utilizing higher reps (8-12) with moderate weight. Typically, you'll perform more sets (3-4) per exercise compared to the strength phase. This increased training volume stresses your muscles, prompting them to adapt and grow larger and stronger.

Strength Phase (Focus on Increasing Strength)

Here, the focus shifts to maximizing your ability to lift heavier weights. Reps decrease to the 5-8 range, while weight increases progressively. The number of sets per exercise typically drops to 2-3 compared to the hypertrophy phase. This phase allows your nervous system to adapt to heavier weights and improve your one-rep max (1RM).

Deload Week (Reduced Training Volume)

This recovery period is crucial. It lets your body adapt to harder training. It follows the earlier phases and prevents injuries. Reduce your training volume significantly (50-70%) or take a complete break from lifting for a week. Listen to your body and prioritize rest and recovery during this phase.

Adapting Your Program

Remember, this is just a basic template. The specific duration of each phase and the exercises used should be tailored to your individual needs and progress. Here are some additional tips for adapting your training:

  • Track Your Progress: Keep a training log to monitor your performance in key lifts. This allows you to adjust weights and reps based on your progress.
  • Listen to Your Body: Don't push yourself to the point of injury. Take rest days when needed and adjust the intensity or volume if you experience fatigue or pain.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: If you're new to weightlifting, get a qualified coach. They'll design a program tailored to your goals. It helps prevent injuries and boosts your results.


Building muscle and strength takes time. Mix weightlifting and powerlifting tips, customize your program. Consistency and dedication matter most. Work hard, rest well, see amazing results!