Jake Boly: The Ultimate Guide to Powerbuilding

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As BarBend’s Fitness Editor, Jake Boly has written literally thousands of articles helping people train smarter. But there’s a buzzy term in strength he thinks deserves a closer look: powerbuilding. (Yep, that’s “powerlifting” and “bodybuilding” mashed up into one term.) We discuss the methodology and logic behind powerbuilding, specific training elements to keep in mind for maximum impact, and why some folks can have the best of both worlds. 

This episode is brought to you by Gravitus, an interactive mobile app that lets you track and record workouts written by the top minds in the strength industry. 

In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest Jake Boly and host David Thomas Tao discuss:

  • What does it take to be an “accomplished” powerlifter (2:30)
  • Ranking powerlifting competitions (5:00)
  • Misconceptions and buzz around powerbuilding (6:54)
  • Powerbuilding as an “offseason” for strength athletes (8:27)
  • Famous powerbuilders on social media (10:47)
  • Why are strength athletes focusing more and more on hypertrophy? (14:00)
  • Could powerbuilding principles apply for weightlifters? (17:30)
  • What powerlifters and weightlifters share in common (20:20)
  • Specific principles in powerbuilding programs (21:49)
  • Selecting accessory movements (24:40)
  • Where powerbuilding goes from here (27:45)
  • Making “bro programs” smarter (29:29)
  • More powerbuilding principles and targeting specific muscle groups(31:00)
BarBend 10-Week Powerbuilding Program
BarBend 10-Week Powerbuilding Program
BarBend 10-Week Powerbuilding Program

The BarBend 10-week powerbuilding program is the perfect option for lifters who want to improve their strength, body composition, and overall fitness. 

Relevant links and further reading:

Transcription

Jake BolyJake Boly

…it basically encompasses programs that work with higher intensities, lower rep compound movements — focusing a lot on strength and power — but also giving you more that bodybuilding isolated accessories with higher rep ranges.

I like to think about it as the program for the athlete or recreational lifter that loves to push their strength limits, but also still focused on the aesthetics that come along with it.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the BarBend podcast where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.

Today I’m talking to BarBend’s long-time fitness editor Jake Boly. Over the last three years, Jake has written literally thousands of articles on topics in fitness, training, nutrition, you name it. Many of those articles focus on a topic Jake is especially passionate about, and that’s powerbuilding.

What is powerbuilding? Who is it right for? Can it help you achieve your goals in the gym? Is it just a weird mash of bodybuilding and powerlifting techniques? We talk about that and a lot more in today’s episode.

First, I want to give a quick shout out to today’s podcast sponsor, and that is the Gravitas app. Track your workouts, monitor your progress, and compete to be the strongest with Gravitas, the lifting app that lets you work out with your friends.

Make sure to check out BarBend’s special powerbuilding program directly on the Gravitas app. Folks, if you’re listening today, we’re incredibly thankful that you listen to this podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to leave a rating and review of the BarBend podcast in your podcast app of choice. Every month we give away a full box of BarBend swag to one of our listeners who leaves a rating and a review. This month it could be you.

Welcome back to the BarBend podcast where we have Jake Boly, fitness editor at barbend.com. Also, a CSCS trainer and a man of many talents, accomplished powerlifter, and an influencer about talent and fitness space. This is the second BarBend podcast where we’ve had Jake as our primary guest.

Jake, thanks for hopping back in the booth. I hope I didn’t scare you off the first time.

Jake BolyJake Boly

No, it’s been great. I’m happy to be back. I do want to make a note on throwing around the word “accomplished power lifter”. I would say that I am a powerlifter. I think accomplishes a little bit grandiose for what I’ve done and what I do.

David TaoDavid Tao

Accomplishment, it’s a subjective term. It can mean a lot of different things.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, my B minus’ were accomplishments in math, but it doesn’t mean I brag about them.

David TaoDavid Tao

Today on the BarBend Podcast we are talking about powerbuilding. Before we go into that, powerlifting’s a pretty good segue to talking about powerbuilding.

Before we go too far into that, I do want to ask, what do you need to do, what do you need to accomplish in your opinion — this is just your opinion, Jake — to be known as an accomplished power lifter? Where is that mark?

Jake BolyJake Boly

That’s a great question. I think it’s going to be subjective based on athlete to athlete. In my mind when I think of accomplished, I have a biased view because we write about so many big named athletes who are constantly knocking down world records.

In my mind, accomplished encompasses the top-tier athlete. I think accomplished could mean, someone who goes to local meets regularly and places well and does well. I also think accomplished can stand for you train in a way that’s prolonging your longevity in the gym.

That right there is a huge accomplishment. In fact, that’s probably the biggest accomplishment you can achieve when it comes to strength training, especially powerlifting.

Accomplished I think is going to have its own definition based on the user, but from my biased opinion, I don’t root myself into the people that I think of as being accomplished because we do cover so many big athletes.

David TaoDavid Tao

Accomplished, it almost implies award-winning. When you say proficient, or you say competitive that could mean that I actively compete. For a lot of people that’s a fantastic goal. You could get into a strength sport, and your goal is to be competitive.

To be someone who’s actively competing, who is progressing, who is maybe going for a particular ranking, a particular Wilk’s score in powerlifting or something.

Accomplished makes it sound like award-winning which is a tier above just being competitive I would say.

Jake BolyJake Boly

100 percent, yeah. I’ve won a local meet, but I’m not going to compare myself as an accomplished power lifter to someone like Cailer Woolam who continuously knocks down dead lift records left and right.

David TaoDavid Tao

 It goes maybe proficient, competitive, accomplished, record-holding, which can mean a variety of things. It can mean state record, the regional records. I was talking to Bryce Krawczyk recently, provincial record, which sounds so much cooler. Canadians have provincial records, not state records. That sounds better to me.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, it really does. I agree with that.

David TaoDavid Tao

Then national records, then world records, and then all-time world records. That’s the tippy-top. It’s not just a world record. You can say, all-time world record because powerlifting has so many federations, so many weight classes, and a long history. That’s the best.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I would agree with that. All-time is definitely the peak of the iceberg.

David TaoDavid Tao

Where would nationally competitive rank in that hierarchy you think?

Jake BolyJake Boly

 It really depends on the nation you compete in, to be honest. There’s a huge level of difference between different nations. In the US, national would maybe be a little bit higher up on that hierarchy, compared to some other countries that powerlifting may not be as popular, or as big as it is here.

David TaoDavid Tao

 It really depends on the number of active competitors in a lot of ways,

Jake BolyJake Boly

100 percent. The bigger the competition, the higher national we’ll rank on that hierarchy.

David TaoDavid Tao

Today we are talking about powerbuilding, an most people listening to this have heard of powerlifting. That’s where you compete in the squat. The bench press, the dead lift. Nine attempts per competition in a raw or equipped, and now there are some variations there.

There are like push, pull, lift, dead lift only, etc. That’s powerlifting. There’s bodybuilding where you’re training for aesthetics. Now there are different categories and categorizations. Within bodybuilding there’s bodybuilding, there’s physic, there’s bikini, there’s figure, there’s fitness, you name it.

Generally, bodybuilding’s training for aesthetics. Powerlifting for strength, bodybuilding for aesthetics. Powerbuilding. This is a term that I don’t think I would’ve recognized 10 years ago when I was getting into the weight training and the strength sports world.

What is powerbuilding, Jake, and how did you first come across it?

Jake BolyJake Boly

Before we dive into exactly what it is, I do want to make a note that it is relatively new in strength training. It is a little bit of a buzzy term for marketing purposes, but it basically encompasses programs that work with higher intensities, lower rep, compound movements — so focusing a lot on strength and power — but also giving you more of that bodybuilding, like isolated accessories with high rep ranges.

I like to think about it as the program for the athlete, or recreational lifter, that loves to push their strength limits but also still focus on the aesthetics that come along with it. As opposed to just powerlifting programs where you’re training for the big three, you’re working with variations around those compounds and then training accessories based off of the weaknesses and those compounds themselves.

Or versus bodybuilding where you are training a little bit heavier, but a lot of it’s more hypertrophy focused. This kind of bridges the both of them, and so it kind of ties them all in into that nice little term — powerbuilding.

David TaoDavid Tao

You’re not competing in powerbuilding. If you’re doing powerbuilding, you may still be competing in powerlifting or you may be competing in bodybuilding. Just so folks at home know who are coming across this term for the first time, as of now, there’s no such thing as a powerbuilding competition?

Jake BolyJake Boly

No. Unfortunately, if you’re squatting in a powerlifting competition, no one gives a damn how you look. As long as you hit the weight class, you’re in.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s pretty much the point in a lot of ways. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

On that note though powerbuilding, the way I like to think about it, is it’s basically how I train in the off season because I do recreationally compete in powerlifting. I tried to do one or two meets a year.

What I’ll do, is I’ll train with more of a powerbuilding focus because I like to keep my strength stimulus high throughout the off season and focus on the variations of the big three, but also keep a lot of my focus on aesthetics and maintaining a lower body fat.

When I get ready for a powerlifting meet, I’ll drop that kind of programming style for like six to eight weeks out. Then I’ll really hit like the powerlifting focus program. That’s a good way to kind of think about it if you’re confused on how to do that, if you want to compete in powerlifting but also like the idea of powerbuilding.

David TaoDavid Tao

Powerbuilding is really about striking a balance, which is different for everyone, but striking a balance between a strength bias and an athlete bias. It’s not necessarily throwing one out the window for the sake of the other. Would you say that’s a fair assessed?

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, I would. I also don’t want to step on any toes here because I think you can look great and doing one program over the other obviously. This does help people bridge the two together and do it in a calculated and methodical way.

David TaoDavid Tao

Who are some noted power builders, or perhaps the better question since there aren’t like competitive power builders, there’s no one with a top powerbuilding score, maybe. Who are some people who you think are very visible, maybe online or in the strength community, who you would point to as examples of people who follow powerbuilding protocols?

Jake BolyJake Boly

That’s a great question. The way I think about it, just because I coach athletes and a lot of these respects, is I think of other coaches who are doing the same. One of our writer’s, Ben Pollack, he has a great powerbuilding program out there, and I know to some extent he definitely trains a little bit that way.

I don’t want obviously say he trains that way all the time because Ben has competed in powerlifting with great success. He recently did a bodybuilding show, so he’s a great example of an athlete. I think.

David TaoDavid Tao

He did a couple of body building shows, actually.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, it’s true, actually. He did two back to back.

David TaoDavid Tao

Which is very difficult, because you have to maintain that peak conditioning for a much longer period of time.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah. He told me it was literally one of the hardest things he’s done in his career. He is a good example. Other coaches that I like, not necessarily knowing them as powerbuilding-focused athletes, but people who make really great programs for that, or the guys like [inaudible 10:40] that I’m like, I think they make a really good program.

What’s another good example?

David TaoDavid Tao

I think as far people who are very visible, I don’t personally know anything about his programming. I’ve never worked them at programming. Bradley Martyn is someone who calls himself a powerbuilder, or he will say that he is training…

I think he might veer a little bit more toward the body building side these days, but I know he has talked about powerbuilding in that his personal balance between a strength bias but also training for aesthetics. The guy makes his bread and butter on Instagram, you know.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, 100 percent. I guess it’s kind of hard to say. I think a lot of people train in this style but don’t necessarily call themselves powerbuilders. I think that’s why it’s hard to necessarily limit just a few or just name a few athletes that really stand out.

Bradley Martyn is one of the good examples. He is someone who pushes the upper bounds of his strength, but also really focused on aesthetics. To be quite honest, I think a lot of athletes fall into this, who are not specifically limiting themselves to the buzzy word of powerbuilding.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

I do find it interesting. During the last podcast that you and I did together, we talked a little bit about this and the evolution of strength sports, and how people get more specialized over time. Powerbuilding is now a term, a relatively new term, to encompass training for both aesthetics and strength in the three big lifts that you’ll see in powerlifting.

50 years ago, there wasn’t this distinction. A lot of the top people competing in body building were also the strongest people in weightlifting — early Strongman competitions — as powerlifting was developing as a sport.

It’s interesting to me that we had to get specialized enough to where people then had to come up with another term for athletes merging these disciplines. It’s like we’ve come full circle but just rebranded in some ways.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I 100 percent agree with that. That’s why I think some people get a little bit peeved by the term powerbuilding. Some people are like this is just bodybuilding with heavy movements. Why not create a name that encompasses that style of program, because powerlifting and bodybuilding programs are not the same thing to a large extent.

David TaoDavid Tao

Do you think there are more — I have my own thoughts on this, but I’m curious as to yours and I don’t want to bias anything. Again, your subjective opinion here.

Do you think there are more powerlifters who say, “I want to do more bodybuilding so I should do powerbuilding?” or do you think there are more people training for aesthetics, for bodybuilding, saying, “I’d like to incorporate heavier compound training. I should go more toward powerbuilding.”

Which side do you think is leading the charge for melding the two methodologies a little bit?

 

Jake BolyJake Boly

I’m going to have to go with powerlifting. I think with the boom of it on social media and with how more athletes are getting into it more than ever who don’t necessarily compete, I think that’s been a huge driving force for that. What are your thoughts?

David TaoDavid Tao

You’re saying powerlifters incorporating more bodybuilding style, hypertrophy-focused work?

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah. A lot of athletes who love training the big three in the overhead press that still want to look great but don’t have any wants to compete but they respect the hell out of it.

David TaoDavid Tao

I anecdotally…Again, we’re not crunching hard numbers here. We don’t have a spreadsheet saying out of 4,000 athletes, blah, blah, blah. I would agree with that. I think you see a lot of powerlifters who are incorporating more — especially during the off-season — more hypertrophy-focused work, but what you’d call bodybuilding style workouts.

I think a lot of them do want to look better. I do think some of them are realizing that there is long-term benefit. They can extend their strength sport careers by spending more time during the year focusing on hypertrophy. I think that they are seeing some benefits there for injury prevention, maybe to fix a lagging lift.

They’re really taking their accessory work, looking at it in a different way, which I think is always good to refresh, give your body a little bit of break. Honestly, it sounds weird for me to say this, but some of this hypertrophy work can really act like a long-term de-load from putting your body under the stresses of max, squat, bench press, and deadlift all the time.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 I was going to actually talk on that. I think that’s why it is becoming so prevalent, because your body takes such a big beating when you’re in season that doing these lighter, more isolated movements is a great way to get training benefit that you might not be getting from the stimulus and prep to your meet.

Also, yeah, just help your joints and give you more of a foundation to build on when you actually are prepping for your next meet.

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s something that I think is also gradually catching on a bit in the weightlifting space. I do think that you see more and more weightlifters incorporating a wider variety of accessory movements and working on hypertrophy. Again, it’s very cyclical. There are different schools of thought on weightlifting training methodology.

There’s a Bulgarian school where we’re just going to do the squats, and the lifts, and our accessory lifts. Our primary lifts and our accessory lifts are minimal to nonexistent.

Then there’s the Russian school — some would say the Chinese school — where there’s a lot of accessory movement. A lot of people point to the Chinese national weightlifting team as an example. They are yoked. It’s regardless of weight class. They look like physique competitors, almost. Incredible definition. Incredible muscle tone.

It is really interesting when people…For me to point this out, to talk about this but the same time, it seems like every few years, the argument comes up again as to exactly which school of weightlifting is correct, and how much weightlifters should focus on hypertrophy, or if they should do any accessory movements at all.

There are more opinions under the sun than I can count over a single podcast.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, 100 percent. I agree with that fully. I would give my left arm to have Lu Xiaojun’s back, but that’s just me. I want to just go ahead and highlight how great those weightlifters look.

David TaoDavid Tao

He has muscles that…You’ll see body builders look at him. I’ve actually looked at pictures of him in action with people who compete in physique and bodybuilding, and they’re just like…They’re just in awe.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 Yeah. I can’t remember when this was, but I think their picture was shared on the bodybuilding Reddit and you had all these comments of what the heck is going on?

David TaoDavid Tao

By the way, just a spoiler alert for folks who might not know this. You don’t look that way from just doing the snatch and the clean and jerk. Lu Xiaojun has done a lot of rows in his time, and a lot of dips, and a lot of higher rep range stuff. Not that a particular rep range is exactly necessary for everyone to achieve that level of muscular definition.

He is certainly doing more than just snatching and cleaning and jerking to get that physique.

Jake BolyJake Boly

100 percent. Let’s get back to power loading. I want to ask you a couple of questions. Having your weightlifting background and having your experience competing on the weightlifting platform, how do you view something like powerbuilding?

David TaoDavid Tao

Just to say, I also want to say, if you’re not an accomplished powerlifter — I’m certainly not an accomplished weightlifter — you’re really throwing this back at me. I was supposed to ask all the questions.

This is a great question. I think powerbuilding is a really cool term, and it’s a rebrand. I think it’s a rebrand of what I think a lot of powerlifters were probably doing 20 years ago. It’s a cool way to say it, “I’m powerbuilding.” It’s powerlifting with more of a hypertrophy focus, particularly in the off-season, but maybe also in season as well.

When I was first learning about this sport of weightlifting, I had a series of coaches, especially one in particular. His name is Denis Reno. He’s a very storied coach in American weightlifting. He was really big on bodybuilding-style movements and hypertrophy work. He would tell me, “If you’ve ever seen me, I’m a living example of this.”

He would say, “Dave, you should do some more bodybuilding work. It will help everything. It will help you.” [laughs] Denis was very straightforward. He was like, “It’ll help you in life. You’ll look better, you’ll feel better. You might lift weights better. You probably need to do some curls and some rows and some things that weightlifters might consider bodybuilding work.”

I do think that these schools of thoughts have existed across strength sports for a while. I feel like powerbuilding is a rebrand for particular subgroups of people who want to be strong and lift really heavy weight, but who also either want to look good or simply enjoy bodybuilding style training. Some people just enjoy that style of training.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I love the point that you point out that it’s been around for a while because that’s something that should be stressed. It’s nothing new. When people think about it being brand new, it’s really not new. Very few things in strength sports, and lifting for that matter, are very new to like it’s ground breaking. This has been around for a while.

Labeling it this way does help all athletes, especially more beginners and intermediates who want to get maybe more niche in their training, identify where their focuses and goals want to be and lie. Then maybe they can figure out from there which one they want to dive more heavily into.

That’s why I love powerbuilding and how it’s incorporating a little bit of everything for the vast majority because it helps people find what they really like.

David TaoDavid Tao

One of the coolest things about strength sports is while we do tend to get more specialized over time. They are sports that share a lot in common. Powerlifters and weightlifters share a lot in common. The entire ethos of BarBend, where we work, is that strengths sports can learn from, borrow from, and grow in conversation with each other. There is more in common than there is different within the strength community.

I do think, things like cross fit and things like powerbuilding expose people to multiple disciplines or multiple methodologies of strength training can be really beneficial. It definitely keeps it from getting boring or at least helps stave off the boredom that can come with years and years of dedicated training.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, 100 percent. Especially for folks who don’t ever have plans to compete, that’s why personally where I love powerbuilding the most. It’s such a great way to kind of bring in multiple methodologies into one thing without actually having to compete, or, if you never want to do so for that matter. I love that point.

We talked about this is in our last pod cast a little bit about how everybody kind of borrows from one another.

David TaoDavid Tao

On to the finer points of powerbuilding, I know program design is something you are particularly passionate about. It is something that you do, you are a strength sports journalist, but you are also someone who designs programs for clients.

I know you have recently been doing some program design in a partnership Bar Bent has with an app, which I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about. When you are approaching powerbuilding from a program design perspective, what are some things you are keeping in mind at the very beginning?

Jake BolyJake Boly

Right off the bat, I like to think about the athlete that I’m going to be working with for that matter. What their training is age is, I like to get a background on what their long term goals are and also where their overall level sits. That helps dictate the intensity and variation and the accessories we are going to use from there.

Let’s say a true beginner comes to me and they want to start powerbuilding, that program is going to look very different from an intermediate, someone who has a little more experience. Once you gather experience, the accessories and how the program will flow in terms of intensity of the big three and the overhead press ramp up, that is going to be a lot different because you have a higher stimulus demand, compared to someone like a complete beginner.

That is how I orchestrate and look at those programs right off the bat, where is the athlete at, where do they want to go, and how can I get them there in a calculated way that ties both parties together.

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s interesting, I was on a pod cast with Brandon Heavey recently. Brandon is someone who is really interesting. He was a NASA engineer, who now his career is now in program design, an evidence based, strengths training and fitness methodology. A really interesting transition.

He was trying to dumb something down for me because Brandon is much smarter than I am and he was trying to explain something to me.

He’s like “Look, Mark Rippetoe said it best. For a beginner, everything is a powerlifting program. Everything is a body building program.” You take a true beginner to athletics and have them ride a bike for two weeks, their bench press is going to go up.

If you’re starting off with a true beginner, anything is a powerbuilding program for them because anythings going to create a great response for hypertrophy. Pretty much anything is going to create a great response for strength. Even in the big three lifts.

As someone is older and training aged, does powerbuilding get more complex because they’ve reached more of their potential in both the strength and hypertrophy realms?

Jake BolyJake Boly

One hundred percent. That’s a great point. Let’s circle back to the beginner and the intermediate athlete and how that program is going to differentiate. The beginner is all about getting reps in. It’s all about building a foundation. It’s all about working your mechanics, and for that program structure you’re going to see much less accessories.

The accessories are going to be chosen more so to help build stability. It’s going to help build a core. It’s going to help build the supporting muscles for the squat, deadlift, bench.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

Even appropriate exceptions, just to encourage that.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, a hundred percent. From a programming point of view, a true beginner for that matter is going to be about getting the reps. Honestly, even for the big three, I like to incorporate a little bit more variation in there with let’s say the dumbbell bench press and other variations to that extent that don’t necessarily go to such a specific realm before they really build that base of just what it’s like to press different kinds of implements and so forth.

Then if we look at the intermediate athlete like we just spoke about. Their accessories are going to be very catered to what they need to strengthen in terms of their compound weaknesses. Also, they have a little bit more wiggle room really add in those accessories to really blast their aesthetics because they have a base.

They have an idea where they’re going. They have an idea where they’ve been. They have an idea of what needs to ramp up, what needs to come down and also where they can spend a little bit more of their hypertrophy or/bodybuilding focus on.

David TaoDavid Tao

I know you’ve been working a partnership that BarBend has with Gravitas. A really cool app where programming is very accessible and you can get programming from a lot of top minds in fitness and strength training.

When you’re approaching that programming, tell us a little bit about it and tell us how keeping an eye toward powerbuilding factored in to that programs design.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, totally. This program is designed for the intermediate athlete who has squatted, deadlift, pressed heavy weights but also really wants that hypertrophy focus. The way I made this is it’s a 10-week program and as opposed to doing old weekly deloads for this athlete because they are a little bit younger in age and the intensity isn’t crazy heavy for the compound.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

Younger and training age we have to specify.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, younger and training age. Basically, the big list all ramped up on different weeks. They will pretty much be catered to keeping you going in a way that doesn’t make you fully deload for one week at a time. You’ll be deloading certain lifts.

For this I played with played with having to pressing movements ramped up at the same time while the squat and deadlift ramped up on different weeks. That way you can get that all-in-one benefits still focused on the hypertrophy but never really feel truly run down.

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s like an undulating compound lifts specific deload that weaves throughout the program.

Jake BolyJake Boly

A little bit, yeah. Also the accessories on those deloads will go to 60 percent, 70 percent their total volume.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

That sounds like it’s a little complex to sketch out. Maybe a little more complex than if you’re deloading all the lifts at once. Where it’s just like this week, boom. We know it’s happening. Deload, reduce all the percentages by X amount.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, it’s funny when I wrote this one out. I had to get a couple sheets of paper and really write out the percentages. Make graphs to see when they’re ramping up and to make sure that the hypertrophy phases, strength phases and then hypertrophy phases again actually made sense and flowed well together. I’m excited about this one.

David TaoDavid Tao

Moving on from powerbuilding programming to general place in the strength community. Do you think it’s something that is going to increase in popularity or do you think the term, the branding of powerbuilding? I don’t know who is responsible for that term. Maybe you do.

Do you think it’s reached its peak popularity or do you think it’s going to transition into something else? Do you think it might go through another re-brand? What do you think the future of powerbuilding is?

Jake BolyJake Boly

That’s a great question. It’s tough to say because I think powerbuilding is still relatively new and with the boom of social media and with strength sports continuing to grow. Basically, on an acute time frame I think it will increase.

I think it’s going to keep accelerating in popularity as the coaches who push those programs, who believe in the idea of this style of training continue to grow. I don’t see it slowing down. Will it be branded as something differently? Maybe.

In terms of powerbuilding ideology and how the masses follow that in terms of the recreational lifters, I don’t think it’s going to slow down anytime soon.

David TaoDavid Tao

It might actually become a more popular entry point for people who are new to strength training. You ask people who are maybe interested in lifting weights for the first time. This is something we encounter a lot with our readership.

We get comments from people who…Normally, when you say, “I get a lot of questions,” that means no one is asking you this. We legitimately get a lot of questions, emails, comments on social media, messages, DMs, you name it, from people who don’t necessarily know where to start or don’t know what they should focus.

Powerlifting looks cool. Weightlifting looks cool. Strongman looks really cool. There’s a CrossFit gym down the road. Where do they get started? Powerbuilding dangles this carrot of, “You can be strong and look good.” That’s really tough to say no to when you’re just starting off.

Jake BolyJake Boly

That and also the idea that sometimes more than niche, sports can be very intimidating, especially for somebody just beginning Getting into a powerlifting focus program for a beginner is very intimidating.

If you give them movements that they’ve done before and they might be a little bit more comfortable with while sprinkling in squats, deadlifts, things that they’re not as proficient in, it’s a lot more easier to digest and get under.

David TaoDavid Tao

Jake, what are some of your favorite accessory movements that you might encounter or even program yourself into a powerbuilding program that you might not see or program yourself into a traditional powerlifting program?

Jake BolyJake Boly

Great question. The way I like to think about this and the way I talk to clients about it is powerbuilding, in my mind, are sometimes almost making pro programs, methodical, and smart, and help build the foundation. You need to be both strong and aesthetic.

Maybe more isolation stuff on the bis. Obviously, you’re going to be training the tris when doing bench press accessory work but being a little bit more focused on the true isolation of the triceps.

I don’t want to call out any certain movements, but I do want to call out anything that’s truly isolated, that isn’t more of a supporting muscle to help with stability and the big three. It is movement that you’re going to see in a powerbuilding program that you might not see in a more powerlifting focus.

Let’s call it curls, for example. You’re going to see more barbell curls there. Powerlifters can do them. When you’re doing a powerbuilding program and your goal is to simply look better and focus on, let’s say, some of the more glamour muscles, you’re going to see a lot more of those exercises thrown in.

Does that help answer the question, or do you want some true examples? I can give you three or four if you want.

David TaoDavid Tao

Give me three or four true examples, Jake.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Let’s see. One of my favorites to program for quads, for example, are heel-elevated goblet squats with tempos. Those are some of my favorite ones to program. Can they be used in powerlifting programs? Yes, definitely. In terms of being more like a hypertrophy focused with the exact muscle goal on hand, that’s what I like the program for the vastus medialis.

Curls are one of the ones, a lot of shrug work. Shrugs are going to be trained a little bit when you’re doing more of your pulling work. True shrug work with dumbbells, whether it be seated, standing, maybe with some tempos, those are often one of my favorites to put in.

Then honestly, a lot of core exercises. I know powerlifters train core and do not take this as like…They don’t train core enough a lot. No, it’s giving more of the intermediate lifters who want to have a very strong core, a very defined core.

Some of those movements, like hanging leg raises, ab wheel rollouts, anything that’s trying to isolate the core, you’ll see a little bit more in the powerbuilding program, especially for the intermediate who wants to be strong but still wants to work those glamour muscles.

David TaoDavid Tao

This is completely not true but a joke that I learned very early on in my career or at least my interest in strength sports, I should say, especially writing on it. In powerlifting, you have two options. You can focus on building your core strength, or you can just become a super heavy.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I don’t know if I want to get behind this joke.

David TaoDavid Tao

Like I said, this is a joke. It might be some people’s opinion. I don’t know. I’m not gonna say. It’s definitely not mine. Wink, wink.

Jake, I do want to end by asking, because you are a strength sports journalist. This is something you write on. I’ve enjoyed our conversation about powerlifting today and the bridge between powerlifting and bodybuilding methodology.

In the powerlifting space, you write a lot about the who’s who, who’s setting records, who’s doing well, who’s exciting to watch. Who are you really excited to watch in the powerlifting space as far as competitive athletes coming up on the end of 2019 and the early 2020?

Jake BolyJake Boly

Great question. A lot of the athletes who just competed Boss of Bosses 6 are some of my favorite to watch. Chakera Ingram is one of my favorite to watch, obviously Yury Belkin. He’s always phenomenal to watch. Let’s think USAPL Nationals. I want to see what Taylor Atwood does.

I want to see what Russel Orhii does. Those are both going to be fun lifters to watch at nationals. Who else is off the top of my head? Maria Htee is going to be fun to watch when she competes in two weeks. Oh man, this list could go on.

David TaoDavid Tao

All right, I just want some names. I just want some general fun names to keep an eye on over the next few months. That accomplished that. Jake Boly, thank you so much for joining the BarBend podcast once again to talk about powerbuilding, the methodology and thought behind it, and where it might be heading next. Look forward to doing another recording with you soon, my man.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Thank you so much for having me. To wrap up this conversation, I want to acknowledge that powerbuilding is not new. It’s not going to be a brand new thing, but it is a way to help athletes who might be a little bit intimidated to jump into bodybuilding or powerlifting get into the sport.

If you don’t view it from that angle, try to get behind it. Even if you hate the term bodybuilding, try to encourage others to strength train no matter how they want to do it.

David TaoDavid Tao

Fantastic parting words. Thanks so much, Jake.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Thank you.

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