With the boom of social media, individuals are interacting with content that showcases various athletes and training styles, which can lead to the question of, “Which training style is right for me?”. While there is no right or wrong type of training - besides unsafe training - different goals may require different approaches to fitness.
The types and numbers of categories and subcategories of training is largely disputed among the fitness community, but in my opinion there are three main types: bodybuilding, powerlifting, and CrossFit.
It is important for you to understand what each of the types entails and how they can help you achieve your personal fitness goals.
The bodybuilding training style is primarily for athletes who are seeking aesthetic results through hypertrophy. This style uses a wide variety of equipment including barbells, dumbbells, and resistance cables/machines. It is not focused on strength per say, but on isolating and targeting muscles to perfect a desired look. The repetition ranges for this style are generally 8-12 with a focus on progressive overload.
Along with lifting, cardio (specifically Low Intensity Steady State cardio) is added to the programming during specific times. Bodybuilders commonly focus on diet as equally, if not more so, than training to fuel their body properly, and go through intense cut and bulk cycles. Often, the end goal of bodybuilding is to compete at a show where you do a routine to showcase your physique to judges.
Powerlifting is for individuals who want strength to be the main focus of their fitness journey. This form of training majorly uses barbells to bench, squat, and deadlift. Some accessory muscles are worked during training to support those three main lifts, but often nothing that could injure or fatigue the body too much.
This style’s main focus is on “maxing out”- or hitting a one rep max in the three previously mentioned lifts. Depending on the level of training and competition, cutting phases can be introduced to make weight classes for competitions, but are not required for the sport. Often, these athletes train to compete in powerlifting competitions where they would perform a one rep max of the bench, squat, and deadlift to see who is the strongest in their weight and age class. Although, competing is not necessary to train as a powerlifter, the ultimate goal is to get stronger and beat yourself with every lift.
CrossFit is a high-intensity training style that combines conditioning, Olympic lifting, and functional movements. Olympic lifting is a subset of powerlifting and mainly focuses on front/overhead squats, snatches, and cleans. The main equipment needed are barbells, kettlebells, cardio machines; and functional items such as plyo boxes, jump ropes, and medicine balls. Unlike the previously two mentioned training styles, CrossFit is often a team or group sport. It is a whole body workout that is excellent for heart health, and can be completed by athletes of all levels due to modifications. Workouts are split into four sections: the warmup, strength/skill work, the metcon (or conditioning), and a cooldown.
Individuals who want a sense of community and a more functional, whole body workout are perfect for this training type. There are many competitions that CrossFit athletes compete in, as well, most famously would be the CrossFit Games.
While there are no right or wrong training styles, there are better or worse training styles for YOU. It never hurts to branch out and try different styles to find what feels the most comfortable for you. Taking into account short and long term goals is important.
Additionally, it is important to remember that being an athlete does not mean you have to fit into one of these categories, you can be all of these or none of these. But, if any of the descriptions pique your interest, I recommend doing some research, grabbing a trainer to chat, and getting ready to put in some work to achieve your goals!