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August 29, 2022 6 min read

There’s been an ongoing feud between CrossFitters and bodybuilders about who’s better and who’s stronger. Bodybuilders claim that CrossFitters use too much momentum for their exercises, and CrossFitters claim that bodybuilders’ muscles are all size and no strength.

No matter which side you’re on, it’s important to know the differences between these two types of training modalities and why they can both be beneficial depending on your goals.

The first step is to determine what you’re trying to achieve. The second step is understanding what bodybuilding and CrossFit are. The third step is putting it into practice.

CrossFit vs. Bodybuilding

Any type of exercise can be beneficial for your overall health, and incorporating different types of strength training, cardio, and high-intensity work can help keep your training diverse, interesting, and help you avoid plateaus.

However, if you have one specific goal in mind, you must adopt a training program that will be beneficial to it.

  • CrossFit focuses more on speed, power, and endurance, implementing heavy weights, plyometrics, and calisthenics.
  • Bodybuilding focuses more on slower, higher reps, implementing moderate to heavy weights to help pump up and build muscles.

What is CrossFit?

The goal of CrossFit is to be skilled in multiple or all aspects of fitness from swimming to weightlifting to gymnastics. Anyone from beginners to advanced athletes can do CrossFit as it can be modified and customized to your fitness level.

It’s intended to make you stronger and healthier in and outside the gym through different types of cardio and weight training.

CrossFit can be beneficial for your life and for your overall strength. If you want to see an example of the strength CrossFit can build, flip on the CrossFit Games and watch CrossFit athletes throw around hundreds of pounds of weight like it’s nothing.

Winners of the CrossFit Games are dubbed “Fittest on Earth”, which veteran, Rich Froning, had won four times in a row, and Tia Toomey had won six times.

However, you don’t have to be in the Games to build strength in this sport — you can find a local CrossFit gym to workout at. Each CrossFit gym programs WODs (workout of the day) that typically include a strength portion and then the Metcon (metabolic conditioning).

Benefits of CrossFit

CrossFit workouts are designed to challenge your strength and cardio to help build strength and conditioning, but you can gain so much more.

Better Function:  Daily tasks that you do everyday — vacuuming, carrying groceries, picking up clothes off the floor — can all be improved through functional exercise. CrossFit exercises focus on functional movements like push, pull, squat, hinge, lunge, and rotate, so moves you do outside the gym become easier and less prone to injury.

Improved Heart Health:  CrossFit training intends to increase your heart rate, and by doing so regularly through exercise, you can help improve cardiovascular health. Performing CrossFit consistently has been proven to help decrease blood pressure and lower resting heart rates, and it can also improve your cardiovascular endurance, making things like walking up a flight up stairs easier.

Better Athletic Performance:  Powerlifting and Olympic lifts are both included under the CrossFit umbrella, and these types of training can help athletes become better in their sport. They can help improve better force production, sprint times, and jumping performance compared to traditional strength training.

Body Fat Loss:  High-intensity interval training can be more beneficial for burning fat, and it can also be more time efficient. If you’ve ever taken a CrossFit class or watched the Games, you may notice that some of the workouts can be as short as six minutes or even less. CrossFit helps prove that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to improve your body composition — you just have to work hard the whole time.

Ultimate Strength Gains:  The deadlift, bench press, back squat, and clean and jerk are just some of the exercises you’ll likely see regularly in the CrossFit gym. These are compound exercises, meaning you’re working multiple muscle groups at a time. Since you’re recruiting multiple muscle groups to help you lift heavy weights, this training helps maximize muscular strength.

What is Bodybuilding?

On the complete other end of the spectrum is bodybuilding. This type of training is very different from CrossFit in that it focuses less on compound exercises and more on isolation exercises, working one muscle group at a time.

If your goal is to maximize muscle hypertrophy, then bodybuilding will be more for you. 

Look at the most famous bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger. His enormous muscles bulge out of his skin and make him look like an actual Greek god.

This is because he focused on isolating different body parts at a time. That means he had a session dedicated to biceps and triceps. A session dedicated to pecs. A session dedicated to quads. You get the pattern.

It’s not just the time in the gym that’s important in bodybuilding, but it’s also the nutrition. 

Nutrition is a huge aspect of any type of fitness, but to gain muscle and a lot of it, you must stay extremely disciplined and eat the right amount of macros.

To help hit your daily protein goal, check out  Whey-PRO  with 20g of rapidly-absorbing, pure whey protein isolate per scoop.

Benefits of Bodybuilding

Whether your goal is just to gain some muscle or to gain enough to like the greats, understanding the how’s and why’s of bodybuilding is the first step.

Build Muscle Mass:  Bodybuilding is all about packing on the muscle. Since you’re performing isolated exercises like bicep curls and leg extensions, you can focus solely on one muscle group at a time. This eliminates the possible compensation from surrounding muscle groups, which could hinder muscle growth. Performing single-joint movements allow for more growth gains of that particular muscle.

Better Body Composition:  If you’ve ever wanted the ultimate beach bod with washboard abs and an overall toned body, bodybuilding can help you get there. However, it’s not just looks that can improve, but it can also lower body fat percentage, which can be beneficial to your cardiovascular health. Having less body fat can also make moving around in and outside the gym easier.

Increased Strength:  With resistance training can come an increase in strength. As you train your muscles with weights, they adapt to resistance and can become stronger. Although increased strength can help push you to use heavier weights in the gym, it can also help you carry groceries inside, move furniture around, and other real world activities.

Stronger Bones:  Bodybuilding can help you look sculpted, but it can also help more than just your muscles. As you age, you can lose bone mass and density, which can increase your risk of a serious injury. When you lift weights, your muscles can benefit, but your bones can also get stronger. This can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis when you get older.

Why the Feud?

If CrossFit and bodybuilding are both beneficial, then why is there a feud between the two types of athletes? The feud may not lead to a fight in the gym, but it may cause some eye rolls from either group.

Bodybuilders believe that the momentum CrossFit uses for exercises like Olympic lifts or pull-ups are not the true form. On the other side, CrossFitters look at bodybuilders and see a lot of muscle, and they believe that muscle proves to be just looks more than strength.

It’s important to understand that both of these sports have their benefits.

Although CrossFit does incorporate momentum, it also practices the fundamental, slow, strict movements to be able to even perform those powerful lifts.

And although bodybuilders may not possess the total strength that their body looks like, they are still incredibly strong compared to the average athlete.

So, Which One is Better For You?

It’s time to throw the stereotypes away and all get along. Your choice of fitness should depend solely on your goals and no one else’s.

To put it simply, if your goal is to maximize muscle and get gains like Arnold, check out bodybuilding. If your goal is to maximize strength and athletic performance, check out CrossFit.

If you’re a beginner, it can be beneficial to consult with a knowledgeable personal trainer or coach to help get you started.

Bodybuilding coaches can be found in commercial gyms or online, and CrossFit is typically led by a certified coach to help with form.

Whichever route you take, make sure it’s one you enjoy and that will help you reach your goals.