In the CrossFit vs regular gym debate, heated discussions usually ensue, with strong words sometimes erupting among fitness experts and enthusiasts everywhere.
But which one is better? What are the differences between the two? Should you have a WOD (workout of the day) or a workout routine? Which is better for weight loss: CrossFit or gym exercises?
In the following paragraphs, we’ll try to answer these questions. But in the end, after knowing the pros and cons of each, it all boils down to which one is right for you.
What Is CrossFit and How Is It Different From Typical Gym Workouts?
First, what is CrossFit?
It is a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It is designed in such a way that CrossFit practitioners have to perform functional fitness exercises at a high-intensity level. This means that if you do CrossFit exercises, your body won’t be getting much rest, unlike typical gym workouts where you’re given some time to recover between sets.
You’ll also be performing what’s called functional exercises, such as jumping, pulling, pushing, running and squatting, with minimal or no equipment. This is quite different from conventional gyms that have dedicated spaces for free weights and various types of machines.
CrossFit exercises are constantly varied, so you’ll be doing a mix of moves instead of the same steps with reps and sets. If you’re familiar with gym workouts, you know that there are specific exercises to be done depending on your goals. These exercises are usually done with reps and sets, with some active recovery after the routine is finished.
To get into the thick of things, let’s move on to the pros and cons of CrossFit and conventional gym exercises.
CrossFit: Pros and Cons
Below are the pros and cons of CrossFit exercises.
- Emphasises the importance of achieving group fitness through mutual motivation
- Promotes a strong sense of community
- Work with certified, experienced coaches
- Improves stamina, strength, flexibility, power and balance
- Increases the body’s anaerobic capacity
- Boosts cardiovascular fitness
- Works out different muscle groups in an hour or less, depending on your goals
- CrossFit membership is more expensive than a typical gym membership
- Can be technically challenging
- Training is scheduled at set times
- Without proper coaching, it may cause injuries such as Achilles’ tendonitis, knee pain, back strain, etc.
- CrossFit gyms are not as common or accessible as regular gyms
Gym Exercises: Pros and Cons
When it comes to gym workouts, here are the pros and cons.
- More affordable gym membership
- Option to train with or without coaching
- Individualised or group training options
- Accessibility of equipment
- Flexible schedule
- Ideal for exercisers with an intermediate or higher level of fitness
- Personal training or working out on your own could erode accountability and consistency
- Gym workouts can take an hour or several hours to finish
- It can become routine or boring
CrossFit vs Regular Gym: What’s Better?
The better one of the two depends on your fitness goals. If your primary aim is to build strength and increase muscle mass, then the typical gym could help you achieve this goal. But if your goals are body composition and increasing your anaerobic capacity, then CrossFit would be the better choice.
There are other things you should consider: Do you enjoy exercising with weights or doing cardio or both? Do you find the gym body or CrossFit body more appealing? Do you prefer routine over variety?
Both CrossFit and regular gym workouts can burn calories, but the goals, equipment, and exercise structure are different.
CrossFit exercises tend to be varied and, hence, challenging. They usually incorporate almost everything in a single session, such as strength training, cardio and powerlifting.
Unlike gym workouts with sessions that usually focus on a specific goal or muscle group, CrossFit is designed to meet generalized goals of achieving overall fitness. It’s also said that CrossFit gyms usually attract Type A personalities and overachievers. While this may or may not be true, what’s undeniable is that CrossFit exercises are always challenging.
CrossFit vs Gym Results
When it comes to CrossFit vs gym results, exercises done using either system, when done right, should help you achieve the results you want.
Consistent weight training and other muscle-building workouts at the gym combined with consuming the required nutrients and calories could help you bulk up. CrossFit training, on the other hand, can help you become stronger and leaner overall as the exercises are varied and “Workout of the Day” exercises combine elements of aerobics, strength training, and interval training.
Which Is Better for Weight Loss: CrossFit or Gym?
If you’re in a rush to lose a significant amount of weight with CrossFit, it’s possible to burn almost 3,000 calories a week if you attend WOD sessions for a total of 5 hours or more.
However, you can also achieve the same by following a strict regime of weights, cardio and a nutritionist-recommended weight loss diet without going to a CrossFit gym.
So, if your primary goal is to lose weight, going to CrossFit or a gym would help you fulfil your objective. It all depends on whether you’re in a hurry to lose weight or have the luxury of time. However, remember that the reason you can burn a lot of calories with CrossFit within a short period is that it’s high-intensity interval training.
If you are overweight or have medical conditions, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider to check whether CrossFit is suitable for you.
Cost Comparison Between CrossFit and Gym
CrossFit classes at places like Revenant are priced at $50 per week for three classes or $65 per week for unlimited classes. The prices quoted are all-inclusive and the classes are conducted only by highly experienced coaches.
On the other hand, Australians spend around $79 per month on gym memberships – which is a lot more affordable than CrossFit classes. However, one stumbling block in gym memberships is that some people end up not using or maximising theirs at all, which ultimately defeats the purpose of registering.
CrossFit vs Gym: Do What’s Best for You
Most people prefer to stick to one training regime, which is why the CrossFit vs gym debate is always alive. However, you can always mix things up to keep your workouts exciting and interesting.
But if you’re to choose between the two, it all boils down to your fitness goals and discipline. If you’re very disciplined and are focused on bodybuilding, then going to the gym would help.
If you need more structure and group motivation and prefer more generalised workouts, then CrossFit will suit you best.
Either way, focus on doing what’s best for you.