Written by James Cooper
Last Updated

It seems like everyone is talking about CrossFit these days. But, what is it really? Is it worth the hype?

CrossFit is a fitness program created by Greg Glassman. It combines gymnastics, running, weightlifting and similar sports. CrossFit uses functional movements, and focuses on high intensity. Moves are sort of complex, so make sure you have good CrossFit shoes on to give you stability.

It is all about motivation and using data. CrossFit is done in groups. People motivate each other. Workouts are usually timed, so you are competing against the clock too.

It all sounds great, but how does it compare to your average gym?

The Surroundings

You wouldn’t do a CrossFit workout in a gym, but rather a box. Boxes are called so, because of their simplicity. The first thing you will notice are blank walls. There are no mirrors or motivational posters. The equipment is pretty simple too. There are usually some bars, weights, kettlebells and battle ropes. Whiteboard is a must in every box.

So, don’t expect many fancy machines, treadmills and benches.

The People

CrossFit is the sport of the people. It is done in groups. The best groups are the ones that consist of people with different fitness abilities. This way, the beginners will have someone to work with, and someone to look up to. Just think about how intimidating would it be if you were the only beginner in a group of athletes.

While in the gym you can walk in, say hi at the reception and spend the rest of your workout listening to your tunes. This is not a possibility for CrossFit. You need to interact with people. You all work together and motivate each other. Forget about your earphones, as you have to listen to the coach during the session. Don’t be disappointed. The music will be blasting throughout the workout.

The Workout

Yes, there are weights, bars and ropes, but the way you use them differ a lot. The main difference is the intensity. In traditional weight lifting, you work out in a gym, using weights from 5 to 200 pounds and do exercises in sets. It can last quite a while, and even after a long workout there may not be much sweat.

A CrossFit workout is completely different. It focuses on bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, tractor tires and boxes. The workouts are much more intense. It is all about having the greatest power output in the shortest time.

A typical CrossFit workout is AMRAP. It means as many reps as possible. Here you would do exercises for 20 – 30 minutes, taking little to no breaks.

The Equipment

All you need for CrossFit is comfortable clothes (t-shirt and shorts) and a good pair of CrossFit shoes. There is no need for belts, straps and other accessories you would use in the gym, although some people do like to have some strong gloves and grips.

You may also read: 2021 Guide to 8 of the Best Treadmills 

If you want to build your own box, getting equipment is much easier and cheaper than for the home gym. You will need the basics:

Burning Calories

CrossFit is all about short high intensity workouts. With a good diet, it can burn a ton of calories.
One study was done to show the effects of CrossFit. 16 male and female subjects were included. They were divided into two groups. Both groups did CrossFit, but different workouts. The researchers came to a conclusion that a 12-minute workout burns about 115 kcal on average.

Your average cardio burns about the same, but there are other things to take in consideration. Fun! Cardio is no fun, and we all know it. Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes, can seem like eternity. On the other hand, CrossFit is all about doing different exercises in a short time, so it goes by pretty fast.

The Aftermath

There is a big difference between a feeling you have after a gym workout and a CrossFit workout. If you ever did a good workout, you know the great feeling of pumped, but tired muscles.

A CrossFit workout will leave you feeling something different. You will feel mostly depleted and out of energy. From personal experience, walking uphill will be a challenge.

What About Injuries?

CrossFit get’s a bad rep because of the high injury rate. One study was done on 117 participants to tests if the injury risk is higher with CrossFit. It was concluded that the injury rates were not higher than with other fitness activities.

Another study was done on people who did CrossFit, and have sustained some injuries. Injuries of the shoulders, knees and lower back were shown as the most frequent. Competitors were more likely to sustain injuries than non-competitors.

The good news is that injuries are mostly associated with bad form and movement. So, the next time you do squats, or clean and jerk think about your form and you’ll be fine.

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