When people think of powerlifting training they automatically jump to overweight guys with red faces moving heavy weights. While there may be some truth to that, these guys are actually very strong and have a great deal of muscle that they don't really show off too much. Most powerlifters carry a few extra pounds because they are most concerned with getting stronger and not necessarily about their appearance or shaving a few pounds for a particular weight class.
Actually there are numerous professional bodybuilders who used to do nothing but powerlifting training before they went professional. The most notable of those is Arnold Schwarzenegger who in his prime was deadlifting over 700 lbs. Even those who didn't call themselves powerlifters subscribed to the powerlifting training routines by focusing on strength, compound movements, and progressive loading.
In a nutshell powerlifting training is really nothing more than building a solid foundation on your frame by focusing on those exercises that bring the most results. I'm a huge fan of this approach because it is basically the Pareto Principle applied to working out. For those of you not familiar with Pareto it is more commonly referred to as the 80/20 principle which basically states that roughly 80% of results are produced by 20% of efforts.
Think about it like this. Let's say you are looking to get a big and strong chest. You decide to take the bodybuilding approach to training and are going to do a chest day that consist of bench press, incline press, and dumbbell flys. You decide to finish off your chest workout with triceps and are going to do some dips, pressdowns, and kickbacks. To keep it simple let's assume you do 3 sets of 8 for all exercises.
Now when you dig into this workout you notice you are doing 9 sets for chest and 9 sets for triceps. Depending on your work rate and rest periods you are probably looking at one to one and a half hours for this workout. If you have ever done any lifting, you know that the first exercise you do is normally your biggest lift and the one you perform the best on (prioritization). After the first lift you are a little sore and tired and your next lifts typically don't get the same kind of intensity. Another common scenario is that you take it easy on your first exercise so that you can finish the workout. If we believe in the Pareto Principle we have 18 total sets and only 20% of those are truly producing the majority of our results. 18 - 80% = 3.6. So in this workout example my results would be coming from the first 3-4 sets in my workout which would be the bench press. Makes since the bench is a compound lift that hits my chest, shoulders, triceps, and to a lesser degree my back, abs, and biceps.
So let's say instead of doing all these sub-optimal sets and reps I decide to apply the 80/20 rule and say okay I'm getting results from my first 3 to 4 sets. 3 sets of 8 = 24 +8 = 24-32 reps for chest. Break this into a manageable work load and I end up with 5 sets of 5-6 reps which funny enough is exactly what powerlifter training and strength training are all about. Matter of fact this training style is how the old school bodybuilders got so big in the first place. It has been recommended by Bill Starr, Glenn Pendlay, Mark Rippletoe, and countless others as the program of choice. I have detailed out the free workout plan already so I won't do it again but the bottom line is if you want big muscles then powerlifting training is the way to go.
Be Warned: Following this kind of program you should expect larger muscles, smaller waist, increased hunger, and more time away from the gym.