CrossFit vs HIIT

No matter what your goal is, looking good in swimsuit, get stronger and fitter or simply being healthier, we all know going to the gym is a must. But there are many types of workouts and many ways to do the same workout. These ways tend to become trends and every few years it seems a new trend appears and some just fade away. Sometimes it’s hard for someone looking to start to choose what to follow.

CrossFit is often said to be a type of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout philosophy, but that is not entirely true. Some aspects might be the same and CrossFit incorporates much from HIIT but both have developed into their own respective regimens. If you are eager to start working out, or if you already perform either of these methods, make sure you are familiar with its characteristics.

What is HIIT?

HIIT workouts have been around for a handful of decades. It was made famous primarily by Dr. Tabata when he found that short bursts of intense work followed by even shorter breaks allowed athletes to build muscle while improving stamina and cardiovascular ability. “Tabata” has become the name of that work/rest scheme. It is 8 rounds of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of recovery. The beginning of “interval training” had a problem though. It didn’t specify the force generated through the “work” phase. That’s when “high intensity” came in. When you are exercising, you are pushing yourself as hard as you can. When you are resting, that is all you’re doing.

HIIT workouts quickly became a trend. The fast showing results, along with the short-timed workouts, were well accepted by the fitness community. People were seeing their body fat percentage decrease rapidly, while building muscle and toning up, and started creating their own way of doing HIIT workouts. Many methodologies sprung out of HIIT. Trampoline workouts, cardio workouts, body building, bootcamps and calysthenics, all had their version of HIIT workouts. To this day, HIIT is a common routine for people with limited time, resources and equipment.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is on its third decade of existence and it’s bigger than ever. It’s popularity comes in part due to its short and intense workouts, but that’s only part of it. Sometimes, those workouts are interval training, with work and rest periods, but most of the time they are not. The WOD (Workout of the Day) usually tends to be task or time sensitive. “Do this workout as fast as you can”, or “how much can you do in this amount of time”. Both of those methods require high intensity, but rest is minimized due to each workout’s goal.

CrossFit also incorporates much more than HIIT could train. Gymnastic movements, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, long distance cardiovascular exercises are all activities that cannot be trained in HIIT due its short work intervals. CrossFit believes all of those are necessary for an overall fitness mastery and should not be neglected. The reason behind that is that we believe there are 10 general physical skills that everybody needs to work on. Power, strength, stamina, flexibility, speed, accuracy, balance, coordination, agility and cardiovascular endurance all need to be trained and HIIT simply can’t improve all of them.

Both methodologies deserve credit for being on the spotlight for so long and for producing great results. HIIT can be considered the inspiration for many different workout regimens but it can be very basic on what it trains. CrossFit took HIIT workouts to another level and it incorporated other sports into its methodology.

Before committing to a new workout routine make sure you understand what it is and what its intent is. Also, learn about the facility and the coaches there. Working out should be something you enjoy and those things play a big role in how you like what you’re doing. At Celebration CrossFit we offer both CrossFit classes and HIIT workouts (in form of Personal Training) so come by and let’s talk about your goals and figure out how we can help you best!


by Coach Matt