The transition from bodybuilding to powerlifting!

An honest and raw blog by Lydia Briars, Fitness enthusiast & Personal Trainer, Oxford, UK.

“There is no better feeling, than being strong!”

Mastering the basics:

Week 1 (week 0 on my plan), is complete and I have a mixture of feelings about how it’s gone! The programme officially starts Monday and will focus on conditioning and again, mastering the basics.

I’ve enjoyed the variety of training sessions and benching and squatting more frequently for example (3x rather than 2x) and focusing on perfecting my form! I’m also doing different exercises that I wouldn’t usually programme myself, which is going to stimulate further muscle growth and strength, as the body adapts. It requires a new stimulus to promote further changes. (Whether that be a change in volume – rep range, sets, weight or exercise).

It is hard putting your programming in someone else’s hands, but I trust my PL coach and his knowledge and experience in powerlifting. The key is not to burn out too early! To reserve my 100% plus for comp day! I’ve always usually pushed myself to work harder and I get frustrated when I don’t perform but I’m learning to take a step back – it’s not how hard the session is and to beast myself every session, but to train smart! I guess this is what has annoyed me this week, feeling like I haven’t trained hard enough but in reality I’ve done exactly as the programme has said and couldn’t do more! 

Training intensity and length:

My training sessions have increased from around 2 hours when bodybuilding, to around 3 hours powerlifting but that’s expected with powerlifting – although fewer exercises to complete per session, and fewer reps, there are generally more sets and longer rest periods! Oh and more time to chat 😂. But NO cardio – that will please a lot of cardio haters! 😂

I’m still adding in a few bodybuilding exercises for fun, on my accessory day – not going heavy but just to make sure no other muscles are getting neglected – biceps 😝.

I’m learning that I don’t need to push 110% every session but to follow the plan, set weight, sets and rep ranges, knowing that it’s all been calculated, so I hit a certain number of reps and weight over the week. 

So how else does powerlifting differ from bodybuilding? 

Powerlifting is very sociable. Bodybuilding can be quite a lonely sport – you may train with your mates now and then, but to get that intensity required in BB, you need shorter rest periods for hypertrophy. Powerlifitng is very much a team sport!

While I’m still training at my usual gym now and then, I’ve also joined a local powerlifting club. A team of people who all share the same goal – to lift more and to get stronger! It takes time for a new training place to feel like you belong, but I’m lucky to have met some great people there!

I’ve personally found that training on my own during BB, I get a better session in. Plus, you can get your headphones on and select your favourite tunes, to get you in the zone! This has helped me massively when training and I thoroughly recommend it! Even if your gym plays loud music – it’s not the same as selecting your own tunes to get you fired up for your lifts! However, with powerlifitng there is a different focus, and if your prime goal for that training session is technique, headphones on is not always the best option – be open to critique and listen to advice around you.

I’m lucky to have some strength and conditioning coaches around me, who can shout at me when my form is going off! Even as a personal trainer myself, my form is not always perfect, and we all need a coach / coaches who specialise in their field (strength and conditioning or powerlifitng in my case), to point out areas for improvement, so we can ultimately perform better!

On another note, someone said to me yesterday that I didn’t look like a powerlifter – again who defines what a powerlifter is supposed to look like? Remember size doesn’t always determine your strength – same in bodybuilding – you may be ripped and muscular looking but not always that strong! 

My final point: 

Try something new – set yourself a goal – follow your heart – strive to be better, to do better and never settle for average! Be inspired by those around you, listen to your body – take rest days when you need them, keep your body fuelled with nutritious food, hydrate, stretch pre and post workout, keep learning, take advice (from the right people) and most importantly do what you love and love what you do! 

Passion is everything! ❤️

Any questions or if you’re also training for a comp / a specific goal / challenge, or new to fitness, feel free to comment or send me a message! I’d love to hear about your experience. We’re all on this journey together! 🙂

Remember, the changes you make now, will be changes you make for life – it’s a lifestyle you choose to lead – to a happier, healthier, stronger YOU!

Thanks for reading,


Lydia Briars
Just Strive Fitness

Educate – Inspire – Motivate


Follow my journey on Instagram:

@juststrivefitness (business account)

Practising squat form and depth, with my coach, Brad.

2 thoughts on “The transition from bodybuilding to powerlifting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s