CrossFit Versus HIIT
Two of the most popular training styles amongst exercise enthusiasts are CrossFit and High Intensity Interval Training otherwise known as HIIT. Each training style has its own band of loyal supporters arguing their chosen training style’s benefits, however for many recreational trainers it is difficult to cut through the hype and get to the facts. To make the decision whether CrossFit or HIIT are suitable for you we will take a side-by-side look at each.
Supporters of CrossFit argue that it is more than just a workout, and in a sense, they are right, CrossFit training provides not just workouts, but also dietary guidance and a sense of community. When it comes to the actual workouts, each participant completes the specific workout of the day (WOD), aiming to finish it in the fastest time possible without sacrificing technique.
All workouts are designed by the CrossFit organization and typically take place at a CrossFit Box, which is the name given to Crossfit’s affiliate gyms. WOD’s generally involve a mixture of Olympic style lifting, plyometrics and high intensity athletic training. These workouts are not for the faint of heart and can be extremely intense. For highly conditioned athletes CrossFit can provide a challenging workout with the added benefit of camaraderie that is absent in typical gym workouts.
However, many exercise science experts have criticised CrossFit due to the generic nature of the workouts, because regardless of one’s fitness level or training objectives everyone completes the same workout. However, it is important to note that Crossfit is scalable to individual fitness levels, and there are introductory classes for newbies at Crossfit gyms that train them for the WODs. Some have also raised concerns due to the timed nature of the workouts, which can often result in sloppy technique that can potentially lead to injury.
HIIT High-Intensity Interval Training
The best thing about HIIT is that it can be adapted to fit your preferred type of training, whether that is in the gym, on the running track or something entirely different such as rowing.
A Typical HIIT Session
A typical HIIT session will often include a gentle warm up period of exercise; this is to ensure that the athlete’s muscles are ready to perform at a high intensity without undue risk of injury.
The main portion of HIIT consists of short intervals of high intensity work that need to be completed at near the athlete’s maximum intensity and short recovery periods of medium intensity exercise, which should be completed at approximately 50% of the athlete’s maximum effort. The session then ends will a cool down period where the athlete brings their heart rate down and may complete some static or active stretches.
The number of intervals can vary greatly between athletes, but can often be as little three or as many as ten. HIIT sessions typically range in length between 4 and 30 minutes, making them a great choice for time poor athletes. The beauty of HIIT is that there is no set formula that must be followed and it is highly adaptable to the individual athlete. It can be used by trainers of all levels of cardiovascular development, with the recovery periods able to be as slow as walking.
And The Winner is…
Regardless of whether you choose CrossFit or HIIT both can be highly effective workouts when done with professional guidance. The advantage of HIIT is that it can be adjusted in intensity to be suitable for all athletes, whereas CrossFit is better suited to athletes that already have an established base level of fitness and are looking for an intense workout.
HIIT is also something most people do on their own, whereas CrossFit is more of a community and also provides a nutrition program and lots of comradery and motivation. Before starting a new exercise program, it is wise to have a general check-up from your doctor.
How CrossFit Workouts Succeed for Weight Loss
The Pros and Cons of CrossFit for Weight Loss
In order to lose weight with CrossFit, you need to adjust CrossFit programs. The CrossFit program is not designed specifically for weight loss, though when you participate in the workouts regularly and follow a healthy diet, you will lose weight.
Firstly, CrossFit can help you to lose weight because its workouts are intense and have a military style. Many of the moves are bodyweight exercises, which are some of the most efficient in creating aerobic and anaerobic effects that stimulate fat burning. CrossFit's high intensity workouts can also burn calories. They are challenging, and they allow men to burn an average of 17 calories per minute, while women burn an average of 14 calories per minute.
Furthermore, due to a phenomenon named “EPOC” (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which occurs after CrossFit workouts, people who practice CrossFit burn calories all day long, even when the body is at rest.
Lean Muscle Mass
In addition to this, CrossFit's full body exercises help to increase muscle mass. This reduces your body fat; increases muscle mass, gets you in shape and, more importantly for your weight loss goals, keeps your metabolism healthy. Having a healthy metabolism is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Community and Motivation
Another element that makes CrossFit a good option if your goal is to lose weight is the CrossFit community, which is very strong and something rare in the fitness industry. It provides social support, as people who participate in CrossFit share their achievements online and with fellow CrossFitters. This can really help you to work out consistently and keep you accountable for your achievements as well as for your failures.
CrossFit provides sound nutritional advice that is favorable with any workout program or even without exercises. It advocates eating whole food, with plenty of fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens along with healthy fats, and lean protein. No sugar and avoidance of high glycemic foods and starches is also part of the plan.
CrossFit May Hinder Your Weight Loss Goals
Although CrossFit workouts can really help you lose weight, it might also prevent you from doing so. This is because the CrossFit dropout rate is high – some people just cannot keep up with the intense workouts and the difficult exercises that are used. In order to lose weight, you really need to find a weight loss program that you can stick to in the long term.
In addition to this, CrossFit comes with an incredibly high risk of injury. This is because CrossFit exercises involve high-risk activities, like Olympic lifts, and because you are encouraged to complete moves within a certain time limit and compete against other members. Bear in mind that you need to take time to recover after suffering from an injury. If you have a foot or leg injury, you might be on crutches, and have to spend a lot of time sitting down, without working out. This will make it ten times more difficult to lose weight.
CrossFit Training Intensity
Some people may also be intimidated by CrossFit's intensity, thus be overwhelmed by the training and by the competitive environment. If you feel that this may be a problem for you, you may want to consider taking up a different sport. However, this depends on your personality type – some people thrive under pressure. Another consideration is your weight; if you are more than 40 pounds’ overweight, you may find it too difficult to perform the CrossFit moves, some of which include, pull-ups, push-ups, ring dips, and other bodyweight exercises.
You may want to consider doing a lower impact workout to lose weight, and then use CrossFit to develop your fitness, conditioning, and strength. Great beginner workouts are walking, exercise bikes, aerobics, spinning, and other low impact classes.
Is It Possible to Lose Weight with CrossFit?
The answer is you can lose weight by doing CrossFit, as long as you can handle the intensity, the environment, and are able to work out that hard on a regular basis. CrossFit workouts are short and efficient, but they are also very intense. If your aim is to lose weight by exercising, it might be a good idea for you to do two short workouts per day, instead of longer workouts, but less frequently.
If you are fit, active, athletic, ambitious, enjoy challenges and eat properly, CrossFit may just be the ideal way for you to lose weight. Otherwise, it may be best to make use of the many other great workout programs available at gyms, community centers, and YMCAs.