CrossFit Vs. HIIT: Which One Should YOU Choose?

Written by — Tonya

Wondering about the benefits of CrossFit vs HIIT? As a fitness enthusiast, I’ll break down the similarities and differences between these two training methods so you can make an informed decision on which one to try out!

CrossFit vs. HIIT What Is the Difference?

Quick answer:

CrossFit is a form of athletic training that incorporates various protocols, including High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) [1]. However, HIIT is a specific training program that involves periods of intense movements alternated with recovery time or complete rest. While CrossFit workouts generally involve medium-intensity training, HIIT focuses on high intensity to achieve a maximum heart rate.

Which is better: CrossFit or HIIT

Crossfit

CrossFit is a training method encompassing several exercises and routines focusing on functional movements. The primary goal of CrossFit is to improve overall fitness, but fitness professionals that engage in CrossFit also aim to improve aerobic fitness and explosive muscle strength.

Popular CrossFit Exercises

CrossFit involves several types of exercises, including:

  • Athletic training
  • Calisthenics
  • Plyometrics
  • Olympic lifting
  • Gymnastic training
  • Stretching
  • Burpees
  • Pushups
  • Powerlifting
  • HIIT
  • Rowing
  • Kipping pull-ups
  • Air squat
  • Running
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lateral Run/Side Drills
  • Russian twists
  • Mobility exercises

Intensity & Frequency

The level of intensity involved in CrossFit is usually low to medium, but it can also be high depending on the type of exercise. Regarding frequency, CrossFit trainers hit the gyms four to five times a week, and the duration can range from 6 to 60 minutes.

CrossFit: How Often Should You Train Per Week?

The frequency of CrossFit training per week will vary for each individual based on their fitness levels, goals, and other physical activities or sports they may participate in.

However, a general recommendation is to train four to five times per week. This schedule allows for enough rest and recovery time between sessions while still providing a consistent and challenging workout regimen.

Who can do CrossFit?

With CrossFit, everyone can succeed, from complete beginners to advanced athletes. This fitness program involves exercises that involve lifting lightweight dumbbells to performing exercises with complex movements making it suitable for anyone who wants to get fit.

HIIT

True to its name, HIIT is a training method that focuses on periods of intense exercise with periods of rest called the recovery period. HIIT focuses on the cyclical tempo of explosive movements to achieve a heart rate of 90% and complete rest to activate the anaerobic fitness system.

HIIT intervals usually have a 1:1 ratio, but some trainers/programs also use a 1:2 ratio, meaning 30-second exercise to 30-second rest. The goal of HIIT is mainly weight loss, but it also has another benefit of developing strength.

Popular HIIT Exercises

A HIIT program may include several types of interval training exercises:

  • Running
  • Jump squats 
  • Rope jumping
  • Battle Ropes
  • Boxing rounds
  • Plank to Hip Dips
  • Treadmill sprints
  • Ski-Erg sprints
  • Rower sprints
  • Pushups with Shoulder Taps
  • Bodyweight workouts
  • Stationary bike sprints
  • Sled pushes and pulls
  • Strength training exercises
  • Plank to Hip Dips
  • The Battle Ropes Blitz

 Intensity & Frequency

As the name implies, HIIT workouts are very high intensity, so the training frequency is less than a CrossFit. Most people benefit from HIIT three times per week.

HIIT: How Often Should You Train per Week?

There is no harm in training two to three times per week for those who practice HIIT. HIIT fitness training should also be followed by at least 24 hours of rest to allow your body to recover properly.

Who can do HIIT?

Everyone can benefit from HIIT, regardless of their age, fitness level, or tolerance level. This is because the cardiovascular exercises in HIIT can be customized for the best intensity and frequency.

Benefits of CrossFit

There are several health benefits of CrossFit, including:

Strength & Power

One of the top reasons Greg Glassman and Lauren Glassman created CrossFit was the discovery that it helped with strength development.

CrossFit trainers often engage in dynamic movements and powerlifting that help to develop muscle strength and power significantly.

The powerful combination of resistance exercises and athletic activities steadily increases your strength, reducing the risk of injury.

Endurance

Another great benefit of CrossFit is improving endurance; your muscle can take a lot of beating without exhaustion. CrossFit trainers undergo intense routines the entire time, increasing oxygen consumption and improving metabolic rate, cumulatively improving overall endurance.

Fat Loss

CrossFit revolves around multiple intensity levels and variable frequency with little to no rest meaning it is an excellent fat buster. When combined with proper nutrition, CrossFit becomes the ideal weight loss training.

Muscle Building

Muscle growth is another benefit of CrossFit, which is why fitness enthusiasts interested in lean hypertrophy focus on this training. CrossFit involves resistance and progressive overload exercises that are excellent for achieving maximum muscle tone.

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

The benefits of HIIT workouts include the following:

Increases Metabolism

HIIT workouts are intense and, therefore, excellent at raising your metabolic level during workout sessions.

In addition, HIIT is also fantastic for metabolic increase several hours after exercise, called active rest, which is one of the best benefits.

No Equipment Necessary

Whether it is a cardiovascular or an aerobic exercise, HIIT requires little to no equipment. In most cases, your body weight is enough to complete a round of HIIT that can help develop a larger muscle and improve flexibility.

Quick and Convenient

HIIT exercises also have the advantage of convenience since you don’t need dedicated equipment for the workouts.

Calorie Burn

Another great benefit of HIIT is the fast burning of calories. The high-intensity interval acts as a fat burner, especially for people who are overweight.

Is HIIT Harder Than CrossFit?

No, HIIT is not harder than CrossFit primarily because you can customize the level of interval training workout based on your specific fitness requirements.

Regardless of your age, level of activity, and energy levels, these high-intensity training exercises can be tailor-made for you.

CrossFit is more challenging than HIIT, especially in terms of endurance and time limit. It is one of the reasons why cross-training and CrossFit are referred for military training.

CrossFit vs. HIIT: Similarities and Differences

Similarities

  • CrossFit and HIIT follow a minimalist approach, so there is minimal equipment and the convenience of training anywhere.
  • Both exercise protocols help to achieve muscle gain and improve overall fitness goals.
  • CrossFit and HIIT are suitable for improving cardiovascular health and building anaerobic and aerobic endurance.
  • Both exercise routines require decent levels of dedication to achieve your fitness goals with Crossfit and HIIT. After the initial training period, you will likely do CrossFit or HIIT on your own, and it can become difficult to stay motivated.

Differences

  • CrossFit training has a specific frequency of sessions and set repetitions with no recovery time. HIIT, however, involves timed intervals of intense workouts followed by a specific rest period.
  • CrossFit encompasses low to high-intensity exercises, but HIIT is set exclusively on high-intensity interval training.
  • From a competitive aspect, CrossFit is popular, but HIIT is not.
  • HIIT is part of CrossFit, but CrossFit protocol is not employed in HIIT.

Which is better for weight loss?

It depends on whether you are an obese person or weigh the same as an average person.

CrossFit is a better choice for an average-weighted person if your training goal is weight loss. An average weighted person can burn anywhere from 13 to 18 calories per minute during cross-training. This is great news, especially compared to the 9 to 11 calories per minute burnt during traditional exercise such as weight lifting.

However, for obese individuals, studies have shown that HIIT is more effective at overall fat loss and waist circumference.

Which is Better for Muscle Mass?

Crossfit program is better for building muscle mass. This fitness protocol involves a lot of weight lifting and resistance exercises essential for building muscle mass.

In this workout routine, there is continuous training with a personalized tempo that allows better muscle activity allowing better hypertrophy than other forms of training.

However, to build muscle mass and keep it, it is important for you to train with the right CrossFit routine and have a complementary diet.

Which is Better for Athletes?

For athletes, nothing beats a great CrossFit program. Crossfit is not limited to a couple of exercise or training forms that are fantastic for endurance and higher levels of physical activity.

Since this training method involves strength exercises with dynamic movements and various resistance exercises, it challenges an athlete’s body to adapt quickly.

The versatility of CrossFit exercises also makes it easy for athletes to customize the training to their specific needs.

Crossfit is a great example of an all-encompassing exercise routine, which is why athletic training experts use it in training for competitive events.

Conclusion

These two training methods have a lot of similarities, and the benefits are even similar.

Crossfit is a great choice for athletes and those looking to build endurance, better muscle mass, and overall physical strength.

HIIT, on the other hand, is an excellent fitness routine to follow if your ultimate fitness goal is to tone your body and become an expert in fitness.