CrossFit vs. Bodybuilding: What Is the Difference?

CrossFit vs. Bodybuilding: What Is the Difference?

When it comes to the fitness world, there has been a huge ongoing debate as to which training routine is better for getting ripped and losing weight: CrossFit or bodybuilding. The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer. It is all up to your personal preference and your fitness goals. 

At Haven Athletic, we believe the best fitness journey is one that is organized and informed. Below we will discuss the difference between CrossFit and bodybuilding. We’ll also dive into some of the benefits both training programs have to offer to anyone interested in starting or bettering their fitness journey. 


What Is CrossFit? 

CrossFit gyms, also referred to as CrossFit boxes, have become increasingly popular all over the United States. 

CrossFit is a form of high-intensity functional training. It is a combination of strength and conditioning workouts that are made up of functional movements performed at a high-intensity level. Many of these workouts are geared towards movements that you perform in your day-to-today life, such as squatting, pulling, and pushing. 


How Does CrossFit Work? 

The main purpose behind CrossFit training is to get as “fit as personally possible.” 

CrossFit training does not focus on one specific area of fitness, whereas bodybuilding does. CrossFit aims to incorporate not only strength training but also cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.

CrossFit does not have personal trainers. Instead, they have “coaches.” These coaches develop a CrossFit workout plan surrounded by high-intensity functional movements. These daily workout routines are called “Workouts of the Day,” otherwise known as WODs. 

Workouts involve elements surrounding gymnastics, weightlifting, Olympic lifts, cardiovascular, and calisthenic exercises which are performed quickly with little to no rest between sets. Many of the workouts involve variations of squats, pull-ups, push-ups, and powerlifts that last for a predetermined amount of time to help build muscle. This is different from traditional workouts that tell you how many reps to complete.


Is CrossFit for Me? 

If you are looking to improve your fitness in all aspects, from strength to cardio, then CrossFit may be something you want to consider. 

Unlike bodybuilding, CrossFit does not focus on your size or aesthetic appearance. It aims to give you intense workouts to help improve your overall wellness by incorporating whole-body workouts to make you as fit as possible. 

However, if you are a beginner in the fitness world, you may want to start slower with your CrossFit workouts. Many CrossFit programs involve Olympic lifts such as deadlifts and bench presses. Before jumping into the CrossFit box, you should perfect your form when doing these specific lifts so you do not injure yourself. But don’t worry; the CrossFit coaches are there to help you and can modify workouts for all fitness abilities. 


What Is Bodybuilding? 

Bodybuilding is the process of developing muscle fibers through a combination of weight training, increased calorie intake, and rest.


How Does Bodybuilding Work? 

The goal of bodybuilding is to lose as much body fat as possible while maximizing your muscle mass. The main focus is muscle growth and development of each body part. Bodybuilders plan their weight training by working every muscle individually, from their shoulders to their calves. 

Bodybuilders are known for coining popular terms such as “leg day” and “back day.” This simply comes from their devotion of an entire workout to a specific few muscle groups, which they work to exhaustion for muscle gains. This type of training allows your body to experience hypertrophy (enlargement) of all muscle fiber types. 

Unlike CrossFit workouts, bodybuilding workouts focus on keeping the heart rate steady. Bodybuilders focus on heavy weight and low rep exercises that slowly break down and rebuild the muscle fibers, which over time can make their muscles grow to incredible sizes.


Is Bodybuilding for Me? 

If you are focused on the aesthetic appearance of your body and want to gain more muscle mass, then bodybuilding is the training style for you. However, you have to remember that bodybuilding takes time and patience. It can be a lengthy process depending on your diet and rest/recovery. 

Bodybuilder-styled workouts are performed at a much slower pace and allow you to focus on one muscle group at a time. However, if you are looking to become your fittest while still building muscle, then CrossFit may be a better style of workout. 


The Major Differences Between the Two:

We’re sure you can gather the difference between CrossFit training and bodybuilding from what we just discussed above, but let's look at some key takeaways that differentiate to two: 

  • Fitness goals: Bodybuilding-styled training focuses on hypertrophy, whereas CrossFit considers hypertrophy a byproduct of its training methodology. 
  • Types of exercises: Bodybuilders focus on isolating muscle groups and mixing in tried and true muscle growth techniques like drop sets, tempo control, angular changes, and muscle contraction and stretching. 

On the other hand, CrossFit focuses on quick, endurance-based workouts such as Tabata style or AMRAP style workouts. 

  • Workout intensities: Bodybuilding-style training is a much slower-paced workout that aims to maintain a steady heart rate. In comparison, CrossFit is a high-intensity whole-body workout that makes your heart fluctuate often. 

Again, there is no right or wrong style of workout. Research has shown that incorporating both styles of workouts into your workout routine produces the best overall results. Doing so will, of course, depend on your personal preferences and your overall fitness goals. 


In Summary 

Bodybuilder-styled workouts are slower and work one muscle group at a time. In bodybuilding, the aim of the game is muscle growth. 

In CrossFit, workouts are more intense and often raise your heart rate. The goal of these workouts is to push your body to its absolute fittest.

Whichever you choose, you’ll need a sturdy, organized gym bag to take with you — and Haven Athletic has the perfect option. For more fitness information to help you achieve your goals, check out our blog.



CrossFit vs. Bodybuilding, Apples To Oranges or Two Sides To the Same coin? | BMEG442: Engineering Exercise and Sports | University of Delaware

CrossFit Overview: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis | PMC

What Is CrossFit? And Is It Right for You? Here’s What You Need To Know | NCB News

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