The 5 Types Of Weight Training

The 5 Types Of Weight Training

Overall, there’s 5 main categories of weight training:

  • Sport Performance
  • Powerlifting
  • Olympic Lifting
  • Bodybuilding
  • General Fitness

Let’s learn more about each of them below.


Sports Performance

Improving sports performance is one of the most beneficial aspects of weight training. When programmed properly, it will help correct postural issues, improve strength, speed and overall athleticism. This is done with a combination of low, mid and high rep ranges. But a lot depends on the sport.

For example, a football lineman is going to have a very different program from a wrestler who needs to keep his weight in a certain range.

This style of training usually leads to improvement in appearance, but that’s not the goal at all.

Sometimes, the sport itself is a type of lifting, like our next example:



Powerlifting is a type of lifting that is competition based where athletes go to meets a couple times a year with the goal to lift the most weight possible on movements like Deadlifts, Barbell Back Squats and Barbell Bench Press.

They compete in weight classes and try to set benchmarks like the 1000 lb club, which is a total 1 rep max of over 1000 lbs between the big three lifts mentioned above.

While definitely a fun sport, it’s usually not great for your joints and beats you up. There is no goal of aesthetics here with many powerlifters being more than fine with being soft through the mid section so they can fuel their training and put up another 20 lbs on their deadlift.

These workouts consist of very low reps of 5 or less and usually 3 or less. At these low ranges, there’s almost no metabolic benefit but it is a lot of fun to experiment with for the average person.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic lifting is very similar to Powerlifting in the sense that there are competitions that people compete in but the lifts are more explosive with examples being the Power Clean, Clean and Jerk, and Snatch.

These lifts have been popularized by CrossFit and the Olympics of course. They are best performed with sufficient rest and lower reps. These are very technical lifts that can really improve sport performance, but they take a lot of practice to be great at.

At Faster Fitness,we believe the average person is better off focusing on other types of training due to the low metabolic benefit and high skill and mobility required to do it correctly.Although it is a blast to train this way.

As popular as it is, it doesn’t match the first style of training that brought weight training to the masses, which is Bodybuilding.


MSgt Troy Saunders (middle) and SrA Justin Usery (far left) are amongst members of the American Team who competed in the Mr. Universe competition. All of the American competitors placed in the top-15 of their classes. Saunders and Usery are both assigned to Spangdahlem Air Base. (Courtesy photo)

Body building is a style of weight training that requires 4-7 days a week of weight training generally in the 8-15 rep range that has purely aesthetic goals. There are competitions that people compete in with different classes and types. For example, a women’s bikini show is a smaller women that has much less muscle mass that a female bodybuilder. Here is a list of some of the main competitions with them generally scaling from smaller to larger frames:

Women: Bikini, figure, fitness, physique, bodybuilder

Men: Physique, fitness, bodybuilder

Each class has unique qualities that we won’t get into here, but the goal is to look a certain way and generally with high levels of evenly developed muscle mass throughout the body.

The training is super high volume (a lot of sets), a lot of days (up to twice a day for periods of time) and strict adherence to a nutrition plan.

The goal here is purely looks for the most, but some develop some nice strength in the process but maybe not as much as you would think. The key is all of those details in the training and nutrition program.

Finally, you have the rest of us:

General Fitness

Chris and Taran Squatting

People who’s goal is general fitness usually don’t have a main sport, but want to feel those athletic juices flow. They want to be healthy, sharp and look and feel fit.

For some, adding more muscle mass may be a goal, so more of a hypertrophy (muscle size increasing) program that has similarities to a bodybuilding program is performed.

Maybe they like lifting heavy weights, so they focus on general strength and they do a combination of deadlifts, squats and other movements that build athleticism and their metabolism.

For most, they want to be lean and athletic, so a combination of strength training for the upper (6-12 reps) and lower body (3-8 reps) is the perfect foundation program. This helps build muscle, strength, your metabolism and helps you look and feel amazing.

But if you keep the training variables in line such as the reps, sets and weights, you’ll never cross the line of being to big and bulky if you’re a female, or not having your legs fit into any jeans if you’re a guy.

Also, weight training can be used to perform Metabolic Conditioning workouts. These are interval based programs that are up to 8 times more effective at burning fat than standard cardio.

For the average person, this is the ideal program: 2-4 days of balanced strength training and metabolic conditioning.

There is a huge range from effective to ineffective types of exercise but here’s what isn’t effective: super light weights, never progressing, not having a program designed to balance your posture and strength, and a randomness that is on display at exercise facilities across the country. Sad but true. Also, general cardio type workouts that just make people sweat are proven to have limited effectiveness even though they “feel” like they’re working.

That’s why you have to work smart, not just more!


In closing, there are many different styles of weight training and the type you should do all depends on your goals. Mixing it up is fun, but often can distract you from what you really want: to be lean, fit and healthy.

So if you have friends that compete in some of the sports above, your training probably differs considerably from them even if you’re doing the same exercises.Which is what makes this field so much fun 🙂


If you need help identifying your fitness goals or finding the right training program for you, consider our Group Personal Training or Personal Training program. Or click “Request More Information Below” to get more info.

Thanks for reading, now go make me proud!

About the Author: Marshall Ray

Marshall Ray is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Level 2 Poliquin International Certified Strength Coach (PICP), Biosignature Practitioner and a certified Precision Nutrition Coach (Pn1). He is the founder of Faster Fitness and co-founder of Femme Fit. He's passionate about building a community of people who love fitness and taking control of their health.