Powerbuilding: The Best of Both Worlds

When you hit the gym, you’re usually deciding between getting big (i.e. hypertrophy training or muscle building) or getting strong (strength building).


But, what if you want both?


Do you have to choose between getting big or getting strong, or is it possible to do both?


Unless you’re an elite level powerlifter or competitive bodybuilder, the simple truth of the matter is that you don’t need to restrict your training to only pursuing strength or hypertrophy. And, in truth, getting stronger isn’t solely about testing your 1-rep max each week (which is a rather asinine practice that’s sure to lead to burn out and/or injury eventually).


The answer for the lifter looking to get the best of both worlds (building size and strength) is powerbuilding.

What is Powerbuilding?

Powerbuilding is a hybrid training style that incorporates elements of traditional strength training (lower rep sets with longer rest) with traditional hypertrophy training (higher reps with shorter rest) to deliver a one-two combination of strength and size.


Powerbuilding programs can come in many different shapes and styles, but they do adhere to some basic principles:

  • They are built on a foundation of compound movements (e.g. squats, deadlifts, pull ups, rows, etc.)
  • They include accessory work (usually in the form of isolation exercises or machine movements) to increase total work volume on the muscles without overloading the CNS
  • You must utilize progressive overload to get results (doing more work than you previously have to force the muscles to adapt)
  • Tracking is essential -- if you aren’t logging your workouts (sets, reps, weights, etc.) than you really have no idea if you’re creating the overload needed to force muscle growth
  • Eat for your goals -- Look, it’s the trendy thing right now to “gaintain” or “maingain” but really those are two terms for individuals who afraid to gain small amounts of fat during a proper massing phase. Powerbuilding is intense and requires serious nutrition (at least if you want to gain size and strength). Leave the gaintaining for the scrawny pencil necks that would rather debate how many reps in reserve their set was and focus on fueling your body with a modest calorie surplus (~250-500 calories above maintenance per day) to support muscle and strength gain.

Example Powerbuilding Program

Following is an example powerbuilding program that follows a 4-day split. Each workout will begin with a heavy compound exercise for lower reps (3-5 reps) and as the workout progresses you’ll switch to dumbbell, machine, or bodyweight movements for higher reps (8-20 reps) to burn out the muscles and get in enough volume to really drive muscle gain.

Chest & Biceps

  • Bench Press: 4 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Dips: 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Cable Crossover: 2-3 sets x 12-15 reps
  • Barbell Curl: 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curl: 3 sets 10-15 reps

Quads & Hamstrings

  • Barbell Back Squat: 4 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Leg Press: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps/leg
  • Leg Curl: 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets 10-15 reps

Shoulders & Triceps

  • Overhead Press: 4 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Upright Rows: 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Bent Over Cable Raise: 2-3 sets x 12-15 reps
  • Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Dumbbell Skullcrushers 3 sets 10-15 reps

Back & Abs

  • Deadlift: 4 sets x 3-5 reps
  • Chest Supported Row: 2-3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Chin Ups: 2-3 sets x AMRAP (sub lat pulldowns if you can’t do chin ups)
  • Hyperextensions 2-3 sets x 12-15 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
  • Ab Wheel Rollouts: 3 sets 10-15 reps

Fuel Your Workouts with HyperMax!

Powerbuilding will demand the most from your body and mind. To tackle these workouts with the intensity needed to make gains, it’s essential that you fuel your body properly and get enough quality sleep each night. To help take your workouts to the max, take a serving of HyperMax before hitting the gym so that you’re energized, focused, and motivated to dominate each and every training session!


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