If you’re at all interested in fitness, you’ve likely heard of CrossFit. In case you haven’t, it’s an intense exercise program that has become increasingly popular across the globe after its introduction in the early 2000s. It was originally made to train military forces, firemen, and police officers but thanks to its effectiveness, it’s been taken up by fitness-minded people looking for a powerful workout.

man collapsed after CrossFit

CrossFit is meant to build muscle in your body faster while promoting better recovery and mobility. What started as an effective exercise routine has really turned into a global movement. In fact, you can find certified CrossFit trainers, specialty gyms, and training programs across the world. With all of the hype surrounding this, you might be curious about the advantages of CrossFit over other exercises. While this might seem subjective, once you find out more about this intense exercise routine, you can make that determination for yourself.

What Is CrossFit?

This isn’t a standard cardio workout. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning exercise routine where you use your own bodyweight as resistance instead of weights or machines. While you can use weights with certain movements within your routine, you don’t necessarily have to which makes CrossFit a versatile workout you can do just about anywhere.

woman doing crossfit rope training

CrossFit was created after observing different athletes and their training styles. The basic principles of this high-intensity routine were made with the power of heavy lifters in mind as well as the burst training of sprinters. It then takes the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts as well as the disciplined training of endurance athletes and bodybuilders to create a full routine that aims to strengthen your body and give you a cardio workout all at once. All of this aims to help you lose fat and build muscle faster with CrossFit workouts taking under an hour at times.

The workouts cover 10 specific aspects of fitness to create a full-body workout with limitless benefits. Those aspects are:

  • Accuracy
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory functions
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Strength

By doing a CrossFit routine you’ll be able to get the benefits of a number of different exercises all at once. This will help you spend less time working out while still getting the same benefits you would be by spending hours a week at the gym going from one machine to another.

Benefits of CrossFit Workouts

CrossFit is usually directly compared to weight training due to the ability of both burn fat and build muscle. In order to prove to you the benefits of one over the other, traditional weight training will be used as a basis for comparison.

man pushing weight sled

When looked at side-by-side both CrossFit training and weight training burn calories and help you get in shape. However, when further analyzed, they differ in their overall goals, the equipment needed (such as CrossFit shoes), and their basic structures.

Different Goals

Weight training is done to increase your muscle mass and build your physical strength. It’s used to help your body burn fat easier since the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolism will be which, in turn, allows you to burn fat and calories faster than you would if you had a lower metabolism. This type of workout is down by performing sets and reps of specific muscle exercises. For example, doing three sets of eight reps of bicep curls.

man doing deadlift

In comparison to that, CrossFit looks to provide you with overall fitness instead of specific muscle building. This is why it uses weightlifting techniques but doesn’t simply look to help you increase your lifting capacity. Instead, it aims to that while also helping you increase the number of repetitions you can do of a certain movement. This increase in strength and stamina is key in CrossFit.

Different Structures

In standard weight lifting, you usually create your own program either with a workout partner, a trainer or on your own. There is no real routine that people follow as a whole. For example, two random people working out in the same gym aren’t going to follow the same routine. More so, there is no sense of comradery between those two people or anyone else weight training in the traditional sense.

In CrossFit, there is usually a community of people training together despite being perfect strangers most of the time. This is something that actually draws a lot of people to CrossFit. You get encouragement from other people while friendly competition fuels every workout. Even when the routines are taxing, having a group of people struggling through the same exercise that you help push you further and benefit more from your workout.

barbell weights clip

With these two exercise routines compared to each other, the physical benefits are quite similar but CrossFit’s structure really boosts it above weight training as well as other exercises. This is mainly because it combines so many different workout elements in one routine. This means that you’re getting the benefits of a number of different routines while only performing one. You can essentially exercise less without losing anything in terms of results. If you really are fitness minded, instead of exercising less with CrossFit, you can vary your workouts more and get that much more from your weekly workout routines. Couple that with the community around CrossFit, and it seems to be a better option when looking for a complete workout routine.

How to Start Doing CrossFit Workouts

In CrossFit training, you follow a “workout of the day” or WOD. This is a created routine of different movements with sets and repeats similar to weight training. You’re meant to complete the determined sets or movements, rest, repeat the sets, rest again, and then repeat it again for a determined amount of repetitions.

The amount of time you can rest is also pre-determined within the WOD but is usually based on your ability to recover from an exercise and the overall goal of the specific WOD. If you’re doing a CrossFit routine in a gym, you’ll likely be timed throughout the routine. However, if you’re following a routine on your own you can be a little more lenient and give yourself some extra rest time if you need it.

crossfit gym

As you advance, or if the specific WOD calls for it, you may need different equipment to help push you further. Weights, jump ropes, medicine balls, a solid pair of women’s CrossFit shoes and also mats are some of the things you may use during CrossFit training but more advanced routines might call for things like parallel bars, plyometric boxes, heavy ropes, or gymnastic rings.

No matter how fit you are, if you’re new to CrossFit training, it’s very important that you schedule rest days between your workouts. Your muscles will need time to recover from your new high-intensity workout. More so, CrossFit training has a higher risk of injuries due to the fact that it works out your whole body at once while testing your flexibility, strength, and stability. In fact, health industry experts cite the high risk of injury from overtraining as one of the only risks of CrossFit training. By resting properly and monitoring yourself, you can lower this risk and successfully reach your fitness goals.

As you can see, CrossFit training, when done properly, really can be better for you than other traditional forms of exercise like standard weight training or simple cardio exercises like running or jogging. If you think CrossFit training might be ideal for you, you can create your own routine at home or you can find a local gym or training center that offers CrossFit programs where you can join a strong community of fellow CrossFit enthusiasts. You’re sure to start reaping the benefits and reaching your own fitness goals.