Strength Training vs Bodybuilding: A Detailed Comparison

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Even though most people believe bodybuilding and strength training is the same thing, they are not. Bodybuilding, also called muscle building, develops your muscles and body, while strength training mostly focuses on building your stamina and strength. If you’re new to both and want to learn more, keep reading our in-depth strength training vs bodybuilding comparison.

In most cases, athletes opt for muscle training to enhance their stamina and to strengthen their neuromuscular system. However, this doesn’t mean that other people can’t go for strength training. The only thing you need to keep in mind when opting for one is if it is appropriate for your long-term goals and results you want to achieve from your training.

Strength Training vs Bodybuilding

So what is the basic difference between both? Well, it is about what you need. Are you going after the size or strength?

For example, if you are skinny looking to gain weight, the better option is bodybuilding. In fact, if you are a skinny person looking to gain weight and muscle, a highly effective 90 days skinny to jacked transformation plan can help you build muscles within three months.

The point is in order to achieve your long term goals, you first need to learn the basics of bodybuilding and strength training. Only then you can decide about the best approach for you.


Bodybuilding focuses on only one thing, and that is to build your muscles. In most cases, bodybuilding workouts are not designed to develop your strength, but only to develop and increase the size of your muscles.

With regular bodybuilding, you will develop some strength but after a long time, and at a much slower pace compared to strength training exercises.

How It Works

Bodybuilding is mostly about lifting weights. This pushes your body to pump more blood to your muscles. When the blood carries more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, your body muscles gain mass.

For this, there are different workouts for different muscles. When you use heavyweights, it also tears your muscles at the microscopic level. In return, your body tries to repair the muscles by pushing more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscle, resulting in a mass gain. In medical terms, the process is called hypertrophy

Hypertrophy is a Greek word that means enlarging or excess nourishment. The name is probably because hypertrophy exercises increase the number of muscle fibers and density.

Here is an interesting fact. When most serious bodybuilders have huge muscles with a lot of energy stored in the muscles, their bodies are weaker than they look. For example, if there are a bulky bodybuilder and a thin athlete competing in a race, the bodybuilder, even with all the bulky muscles, will probably lose.

This is a common misconception among people. They believe large muscles and massive body is an indication of strength, which is not true. In most cases, bodybuilding is all about gaining size and bringing your body to a nice shape.

Strength Training

Strength training workouts have only one purpose, and that is to increase your muscle and body strength and build stamina. In this case, your focus is not the size or the shape of your muscles, unlike bodybuilding. Strength training prepares your muscles to exert a maximum force that they can when lifting or pushing.

How It Works

There is a significant difference between the workouts for bodybuilding and strength training. For strength training, you mostly focus on high weight and low reps. The biology behind the workouts is also different.

In strength training, you are not only pushing more blood and nutrients to your muscle but actually training your nervous system to develop more efficient motor units when exerting force or lifting.

What does this mean? The training focuses on your nervous system, your joints, your muscles, connecting tissues, and even your bones.

The workouts are designed to strengthen multiple parts of your body, not only your muscles. This is why you may not notice a lot of physical change, like in bodybuilding.

This is one of the primary differences between bodybuilding and strength training. When you need a perfectly shaped body, you need bodybuilding. However, when you focus only on bodybuilding workouts, you gain mass but also a higher percentage of body fat, which is not healthy.

How Does Your Body Shape Look with Strength Training and Bodybuilding?

As mentioned, bodybuilding helps you develop a sculptured body shape, which is also bulky and solid. With body strength training, though, you can mostly keep a sleek body shape. This is where people may think that you’re not as strong as someone with bigger muscles, but in reality, even with a slim body, your muscles have a lot more endurance than a bodybuilder.

strength training vs bodybuilding

Is There any Difference in Training and Workouts?

Yes, there is. In fact, training volume is one of the basic differences in strength training vs bodybuilding. If you’re opting for bodybuilding, the training volume is greater compared to strength training.

Confused about the term training volume? Here is a quick explanation. Training volume means more reps and sets compared to strength training. When bodybuilding, you need to increase your training volume, which essentially means more sets for each exercise you are doing.

That said, the number of sets depends on your long term goals and muscles you are targeting. On the contrary, with strength training, you don’t focus on one particular muscle, so you keep the training volume low, but diverse.

Similarly, for strength training, you do fewer reps per set but with heavier weights. On the other hand, you do more reps per set with comparatively lighter weights when bodybuilding. 

Here is a quick example: 

  • A strength training workout may include one to five reps (back squats) with compound movements. The workout will result in dense muscle growth.
  • A bodybuilding workout may include eight to twelve reps (bench press) with isolation movements. The workout will result in bigger muscle growth.

What About the Diet?

For both bodybuilding and strength training, you need a healthy and nutrition-filled diet since you are burning a lot of calories. When you are training for size, which is bodybuilding or hypertrophy, you need a healthier and detailed diet plan, and in some cases, even supplements to boost results, 

Here is what your diet must look like if you want size:

  • At least 500 additional calories over your normal calorie intake.
  • Consume a lot of protein or at least a gram a day for each pound of your body weight.
  • You also need carbs, almost in the same ratio as protein.
  • If you are skinny with a high metabolism, adding supplements to your diet can be a good idea as well.

What Is a Good Fit for Me? Strength Training or Bodybuilding?

This is one of the most asked questions from people new to the gym or workouts. A good fit for you and for the best results, it is ideal to mix both bodybuilding and strength training workouts. This will not only bring your body into good shape but will also build muscle endurance and strength.

The best approach is to prepare and plan workouts for the next few weeks or even months. One such example is skinny to jacked transformation plan that mixes both types of workouts in their 90 days plan.

The option you choose is based on your body type. For example, if you already have a lot of body mass, you can opt for any, to begin with. If you are an athlete, you may want to focus more on strength training. If you are skinny, the best way to move forward is to gain some weight first.

Simply put, if you don’t have much mass or fat, strength training can have an adverse effect on your body. Since your body doesn’t have much fat to burn, your workouts and training will have a negative effect on your muscle mass, resulting in weaker body and muscles. This is why people first need to build muscle mass and some fat before switching to strength training.

Muscle Building Programs

So what do you need to do if you want size? First, you need a routine. The routine must include up to six sets with eight to twelve repetitions for each set. For muscle growth, you also need to increase training volume as mentioned earlier, so you need to start with low or moderate weights. 

In terms of biology, the muscle-building programs focus on deliberate damage to your muscle fibers, which results in improved fiber diameter when your body pushes more oxygen and nutrition towards the muscle in a bid to repair it.

An example of a typical three months strength training program may look like:

  • First Month: Three sets of 12 presses at around 60 kg
  • Second Month: Four sets of eight presses at around 80 kg
  • Third Month: Five sets of five presses at around 90 kg

Strength Training Programs 

As mentioned, the strength training program is different than bodybuilding, as it focuses on heavy loads but fewer sets. A good strength training program may include three to five sets, with up to eight repetitions. The program is recommended by ACE (American Council on Exercise), so you don’t have to worry about the effectiveness.

Nevertheless, you must use heavier weights compared to the bodybuilding program. So what is a heavy load? According to ACE’s definition, a heavy load equals to 80% to 100% of your one-rep maximum.

In terms of results, these workouts help you activate your muscle mass, but doesn’t promote much size increase. If you are maintaining a high-calorie diet, though, you can experience growth in size as well.

An example of a typical 12-week strength training program may look like:

  • First Week: Five sets of three presses at 80 to 90 kg
  • Second Week: Five sets of four presses at 80 to 90 kg
  • Third Week: Five sets of five presses at 80 to 90kg
  • Fourth Week: Two sets of five repetitions at 80 to 90kg

For the next four week cycle, you can repeat the same cycle with an additional 2.5 to 5 kg of weight. 

Following a Plan: Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0

For those who are skinny, the best way forward is bodybuilding, as it is better to gain some weight and muscle mass before opting for strength training. This is where adherence to the best routine, workouts, and diet plan makes a huge difference. 

For those who can’t make time to visit the gym daily or afford a personal trainer, a good option is a workout plan that allows people to follow a strict routine designed by some of the best trainers out there. The same is the case with the Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0, a detailed workout plan for 90 days that can help you build muscle mass and strength. 

The 90-day program is designed by Jason Ferrugia, a well-known bodybuilder who has been featured on several magazines and radio shows for his muscle gaining secrets. In addition to his personal experiences, secrets, tips, workout and exercise plans, the guide provides you with detailed worksheets to keep track of all your workout cycles and achievements. 

Simply put, if you want to skip the gym but looking to gain weight and muscle mass quickly, Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 is one of the best resources online. It comes with all the tips and secrets that can help you not to repeat the mistakes done by others, and to get the best results out of your workouts and training program.


Now that you learned the basics in this strength training vs bodybuilding, we are sure you can plan your training and workouts better. In the end, it all depends on your long term goals.

If you want to train for size, you can opt for bodybuilding. If you want to train for strength, you can opt for strength training. It is as simple as that!

Whatever you do, though, you need a good workout or training plan to follow, especially if you’re not fond of the gym and personal trainers. In that case, a detailed plan like Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 can be very effective for quick results. 

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