CrossFit vs HIIT: What’s The Difference?

women stair climbing for HIIT

If you’re looking for a good way to stay fit and healthy, but want to make the most of your exercise time, then you might be wondering whether you should do some HIIT training or CrossFit. Or, is there really any difference between these two popular workout options?

Feeling the time crunch of limited workout openings in my schedule, I also wondered what the difference is between HIIT and CrossFit – so I did some research and found out. 

Below you can see how these two compare to each other and determine which better meets your fitness goals.

What Is HIIT?

If you’re anything like me, then you’re already a bit familiar with HIIT, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This type of cardiovascular exercise is exactly as it’s name implies – it’s interval training where you go at a high intensity.

To accurately do HIIT training, you go at a high intensity (usually for one minute), then you take a short break (usually 30 seconds) and then you go back to the high intensity, and so on. 

How long do you do a session of HIIT? That’s really up to you, but personally I do them in three to six minute blocks. For instance, if I’m on an elliptical machine, then I’ll do a six minute session. 

The nice thing about HIIT is that you can do any activity – from cycling to sprinting. Plus, it’s perfect for people who are short on time.

And, HIIT is a great workout for beginners.

HIIT lets you reach your peak without needing to spend a lot of time working out. Wouldn’t you much rather do a six minute HIIT session on the treadmill than spend an hour in the gym getting the same results at a slower pace?

HIIT is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, plus it’s great for burning fat. But if you’re looking to build up your strength and muscles, then HIIT is not the right choice for you.

What Is CrossFit?

CrossFit gyms have been popping up all over the country for a few years now, but you still might not be fully aware of what exactly CrossFit is all about. It’s okay – I was a bit confused at first to — is it just the brand name of a gym? Is it a specific type of workout? 

Back in the year 2000 was when CrossFit got its start as a fitness brand. But it’s more than just a brand.

crossfit class

If you ask them, they will tell you that CrossFit is a training philosophy that is used as a fitness program, including at a line of CrossFit branded gyms. At it’s core though, CrossFit focus on a variety of high intensity movements.

So in that way, CrossFit is a lot like HIIT training.

But CrossFit is also so much more than HIIT. You see, CrossFit includes HIIT as well as strength training, plyometrics, gymnastics, and more.

So, CrossFit is about more than cardio and burning fat — you get that plus strength training and flexibility. However, due to the “doing as many reps as possible” component of CrossFit, there is a high potential for injury – especially when doing weight lifting.

If you’re considering taking up CrossFit, then you should know that CrossFit workouts are called WODs (Workout Of the Day) – and they are super intense. It’s like HIIT to the extreme, so it’s not for everyone and you should definitely check with your doctor before taking up CrossFit or any other exercise regimen.

With CrossFit, it’s all about doing as much of the exercise as you can in the allotted time. So, while you can take HIIT-style rest periods, it’s not really as common with CrossFit workouts.

Final Verdict

 As you can see, there are some similarities between CrossFit and HIIT, but they are both very different forms of workout.

HIIT is ideal for people who want to improve their cardiovascular health and burn fat. If you want to burn calories and lose weight, then go with HIIT training.

CrossFit is a bit more well-rounded of a workout and ideal for people who want a variety of health benefits including strength training, cardiovascular benefits, fat burning, weight loss, and more. If you want to focus on getting strong, fit, and toned, then focus on CrossFit training.

Additionally, HIIT focused on timed intervals of intense training with short rests between the intervals, while CrossFit focuses on doing as many reps as possible in a timer period without rest breaks.

And if you’re only interested in building muscle, then neither of these are a good option for you and instead you should do weight lifting.

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