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HIIT vs. CrossFit: Which Is Right For Me?

September 21st, 2022 | 4 min. read

HIIT vs. CrossFit: Which Is Right For Me?
Silven Cox

Silven Cox

Motion Specialist // Certified Personal Trainer // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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When you want to switch up your fitness routine with something new, it can be challenging to decide what you want to try. You could take a Zumba class, a barre class, a Pilates class, a yoga class, or hire a personal trainer. HIIT and CrossFit are two popular exercise methods that have become more mainstream in recent years. But which is right for you, and how do you begin figuring that out? 


While both HIIT and CrossFit have their benefits, it is essential to know what each entails before trying one for the first time. At EW Motion Therapy, our trainers work with each client to develop an exercise plan that works for them, which may include HIIT workouts. Even if you choose to exercise elsewhere, knowing the difference between the two is essential, so you can choose what works best for you. 


This article discusses the similarities and differences between HIIT and CrossFit and situations in which one might be better than the other. With this information, you can develop a workout routine for your lifestyle and goals.


What is HIIT? 

HIIT is an acronym for high-intensity interval training. It is a type of exercise that includes short, high-intensity bouts of activity followed by a typically short rest period. A HIIT session can be as simple as going for a walk, and after every 2 minutes of walking, jog for 30 seconds, then walk for two more minutes. You can repeat intervals as many times as you like. Still, typically, the more intense the activity, the fewer rounds you should do to help avoid overtraining. 


There are many beneficial ways you can incorporate HIIT into your routine to burn more calories in a shorter time. For example, some people bring weights into a HIIT circuit through dumbbell presses or kettlebell swings. But you do not have to bring in weights or anything else if you don’t want to - HIIT is what you make it, and it can be easily tailored to your activity level.


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What is CrossFit? 

CrossFit is a branded cross-training method that can include various exercises in one workout. CrossFit workouts involve doing various movements for multiple repetitions at high intensities. Gyms worldwide carry the CrossFit brand, meaning they will use the CrossFit programming method with clients. 


Workouts can have various elements performed in different styles, including Olympic lifting, powerlifting, HIIT, and even gymnastics. A typical flow in many gyms is called RFT, or Rounds for Time. This type of workout aims to perform a given set of exercises as often as possible within a given time frame, typically between 10-20 minutes. The trainee can then rest for as long or as little as needed. 


How are they similar and different? 

HIIT and CrossFit can be one in the same but also different. Both incorporate periods of high intensity with short bouts of rest. They can also consist of multiple forms of exercise, including cardio and weight training. The primary difference between the two is that CrossFit, a branded company, is typically done in a gym or class environment. You can do a HIIT workout anywhere, with no equipment required. HIIT can also be more easily adapted for different age groups and skill levels, but CrossFit can be harder to adapt due to the class environment.


Are there any risks involved with HIIT or CrossFit? 

As far as benefits, the core benefit of training at a high intensity is it can allow you to burn more calories in a shorter period. High-intensity exercise can also promote positive changes in body composition, muscle mass, and cardiovascular health due to the body being in a high-stress environment, which will cause it to adapt accordingly. HIIT and CrossFit can also be highly scalable, meaning both beginners and seasoned pros can reap benefits from the same workout. 


While HIIT and CrossFit have benefits, they can involve some risks. Like any exercise, you need to know when to perform an exercise with maximum effort and when to dial the intensity back. In many class settings, it is common for participants to get competitive as they see how hard their peers work. While this can be a great motivator, this mentality can be toxic in some environments. Injuries can occur when someone is driven to push themselves beyond their means just to outdo the person beside them. It is essential, especially in a class environment, to keep your ego in check and not succumb to the pressure of people around you - only push yourself to what you can handle. 


Is HIIT or CrossFit right for me? 

Now you know more about HIIT and CrossFit and can decide which you might want to pursue in your fitness routine. For the most part, almost anyone could do well with HIIT or CrossFit, provided they at least meet specific criteria. They should at least be able to perform the basic human movement patterns, including the squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotation, and have a regular gait pattern. They should ideally have no current serious injuries or are recently out of surgery and possess adequate bodily awareness and positioning, although you can obtain those things through careful coaching. Age can also be a factor, but as long as the criteria are met and you can move well, you can scale any workout to accommodate. 


HIIT and CrossFit are only two options in a vast world of workout plans, and finding what works best for you is vital to maintain a lifetime of healthy movement. We strive to help all our clients at EW Motion Therapy move, feel, and live better through individualized treatment and constant encouragement. If you are interested in working out with us, fill out the questions in our personal training self-assessment to see if our program is the best fit for your needs.

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