CrossFit vs. HIIT vs. Bodybuilding: Which is Best for You?

Before you can decide which workout is best for you, you need to figure out what results you are looking for and how you want to achieve your fitness goals.

Fitness experts and enthusiasts recommend three common workouts: CrossFit vs. HIIT vs. Bodybuilding. But there is some controversy on which one is best.

So, how can you determine which workout will get you the results you want without hiring a personal trainer?

Let’s break down each of the top three leading workouts the experts recommend, along with their benefits.

What are CrossFit Workouts?

CrossFit is a training method that incorporates various training techniques and strategies to develop high levels of strength and fitness. Fitness professionals began teaching CrossFit in the early 2000s, but it became increasingly popular in 2007 with the first-ever CrossFit games.

Common CrossFit techniques include:

  • Athletic training
  • Calisthenics
  • Gymnastic training
  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine balls
  • Olympic weightlifting
  • Powerlifting
  • Rowing
  • Running

Exercises vary for each session, and athletes perform them against the clock to encourage competitiveness. CrossFit workouts, known as WOD (short for Workout Of the Day), often combine training modalities to challenge different fitness markers in the same sessions.


Image Title: CrossFit’s Popularity Throughout Various Age Groups

Image ALT: Circle graph of the popularity of CrossFit across various age demographics  

For example, a WOD might require running, heavy lifting, push-ups, and sit-ups, all integrated into one short, high-intensity exercise.

Benefits of CrossFit

CrossFit’s goal is to build a heightened level of general physical fitness.

These multifaceted workouts build strength, agility, balance, core strength, anaerobic fitness, aerobics, and muscle strength.

CrossFit’s goal is to build a heightened level of physical fitness to build strength, agility, balance, core strength, anaerobic fitness, aerobics, and muscle strength.

As a result, CrossFit is popular with the military, law enforcement, firefighters, and general fitness professionals who want to stay in shape. The advantages of CrossFit include:

Strength & Power   

Some CrossFit exercises consist of lifting heavy weights for maximum strength gains. CrossFit activities such as box jumps,  regular pushups, plyo pushups, and Olympic lifts develop explosive muscle strength and endurance quickly.


High-intensity aerobic exercises such as pushups and overhead squats help build endurance. CrossFit enhances the muscle’s ability to perform a large amount of work without fatigue.

Aerobic Fitness  

The ability to absorb, move, and use oxygen throughout your body during your workouts.

Most CrossFit activities include an element of aerobic conditioning, but WODs like a 10K (6.2 miles) run or 5K (3.1 miles) run on a rowing machine target this type of fitness specifically.

Anaerobic Fitness

Many CrossFit exercises are quite short and intense or consist of short durations of intense exercise alternated with passive or active rest. This helps develop your anaerobic fitness, which is your ability to exercise without oxygen, such as high-performance sprints and calisthenics.

Fat Loss  

CrossFit exercises burn quite a bit of calorie per minute. As a result (and when you combine this activity with a healthy diet), it can support your efforts to slim down and lose weight.

Muscle Building

CrossFit may lead to muscle growth. Exercises that are intense and often involve training that leads to muscle failure, which are two contributors to hypertrophy – the enlargement of tissues, organs, or muscles. Nevertheless, this muscle development is a byproduct of CrossFit and not a goal of the workout routine.

Functional Fitness

With such a wide variety of exercises, CrossFit will develop a high degree of strength and fitness without the routine boring you. It also builds endurance for workouts and other movements outside of the gym, such as military training, sports training, or physically demanding jobs.

What are HIIT Workouts?

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is one of the most popular interval training programs.

It includes periods of high-intensity exercise that increase your heart rate to about 90% of your maximum heart rate, followed by extended phases of low-intensity activities that lower your heart rate and activate your anaerobic energy system. 

HIIT is also known by other names:

  • SIT: Sprint Interval Training 
  • HIIE: Intermittent Exercise 

The history of HIIT workouts goes back as early as the 1900s (possibly before that). However, HIIT in its current form was established sometime in the 1970s. 

HIIT aims to enhance your fitness both aerobically and anaerobically – the two primary components of this comprehensive fitness program. Other facets (depending on who you ask) include strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance.

HIIT exercises always include interval training.

An example of a HIIT exercise might include 45 seconds of jumping squats, rock climbing, Russian twists, hover kicks, burpees, planks, and side lunges with 30 seconds of rest in between. Then repeat for 30 minutes. 

Unlike medium-intensity style training, a HIIT workout offers the best ROI when you rest for no less than 24 hours between workout sessions, although 48 hours will give you more time to recover. Also, you must consider your age and physical condition.

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

HIIT workouts allow athletes to burn calories in a relatively short amount of time, beating most other workout methods regarding fat loss.


Image Title: Benefits of HIIT workouts 

Image ALT: Infograph of the benefits of HIIT workouts

Also, when doing aerobic exercise using HIIT, a fairly rapid pace throughout the workout can lead to a great transition to similar athletic activities, such as sprinting or avoiding a tackle in football.

The advantages of HIIT workouts include:

Increases Metabolism

The combination of high-intensity and interval training leads to EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption), which speeds up your metabolism and leads to a metabolic boost that can last up to 48 hours after a full HIIT routine. That means you will continue to burn fat even after leaving the gym.

No Equipment Necessary

If you do not have a set of dumbbells, don’t worry! HIIT workouts typically use just your body weight, as the focus is on increasing and maintaining your heart rate. These exercises lead to optimal muscle growth and maintenance, along with increased calorie burn and fat loss.

Quick and Convenient

Gone are the days of not having enough time to exercise. You can do HIIT exercises anywhere. At home, at a hotel, on the beach, in the park, and more. Most last 30 minutes or less, so there’s no excuse for not having the time to work out.

Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption

Often referred to as “afterburn,” EPOC is the body’s natural cycle of returning to equilibrium or homeostasis. Think of the engine of a car after a long ride.

It remains hot as it gradually returns to its original resting temperature. Likewise, after a HIIT exercise, the body continues burning calories but at a rate higher than before the workout. 

After HIIT workouts, your body needs to consume oxygen, and so it must burn calories to: 

  • Replenish the fuel your body uses for muscle activity
  • Restore restores oxygen levels
  • Resynthesize muscle glycogen
  • Work with the body’s proteins to repair tissues, like muscles 
  • Restores the body to its normal, resting temperature

Aerobic Capacity

By enhancing VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen individuals can use during training), your body is better able to absorb and use oxygen. Rotating between exertion and rest also helps you breathe more efficiently.

Calorie Burn

Experts compare calories burned during 30 minutes of HIIT, running, strength training, and cycling and have discovered that HIIT burns 25-30% more calories

Fitness experts have discovered that HIIT workouts burn 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise.

A HIIT session consisted of 20 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 40 seconds of rest. That means athletes only have to exercise a third of the time compared to running and cycling groups.

Even if each exercise lasts 30 minutes, HIIT workouts are typically much shorter than traditional workouts. That’s because HIIT lets you burn the same number of calories while spending less time working out.

What is Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding has been around since before the turn of the 20th century. It peaked in popularity in the 1970s, often referred to as the golden age of bodybuilding. 

The goal of weight training is to build larger muscle groups and form an aesthetically pleasing physique. Bodybuilders utilize resistance exercises to overload their muscles so that they get bigger.

Strength training exercises vary from full-body workouts to splits, where different muscles get worked on during varying days. Some bodybuilders train two times every day, six days a week.

Although, that level of activity is usually reserved for pre-competition professionals. Most amateur bodybuilders train four to six times a week. For instance:

  • Monday – back
  • Tuesday – shoulders
  • Wednesday – chest
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – legs
  • Saturday – arms
  • Sunday – rest

Many bodybuilders also incorporate cardio to achieve or maintain lower body fat levels. However, most only do this to burn calories and not to improve performance or overall fitness.

Invariably, bodybuilders combine strength training with one of two dietary strategies: cutting or bulking. Diets meant for bulking up involve eating more than usual to increase muscle size. In contrast, a reduced-fat diet is aimed at fat loss.

Many of these athletes will alternate between these two diets, depending on if they’re looking to dramatically increase muscle mass or lose weight for improved definition.

Benefits of Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders work out to change their appearance. They train by lifting weights to sculpt what the industry considers to be an aesthetically pleasing figure. That includes broad shoulders, V-taper back,  narrow waist, and muscular limbs. The advantages of strength training include:

Muscle Growth

The primary goal of bodybuilding is to increase the size and shape of your muscles. Exercises are designed to break down each muscle group so that (with rest and proper nutrition) it will grow back bigger.

Strength training targets muscles from various angles to maximize the growth of the muscle and improve its shape. For example, chest workouts could include flat, incline, and recline exercises to work the lower, middle, and upper chest.

Increased Strength

Bigger muscles are typically stronger muscles. Bodybuilders use what is known as a progressive overload to guarantee that their muscles continue to grow. That means these athletes increase the volume of their workouts weekly and monthly.

That not only stimulates growth but also boosts strength. It should be noted. However, that strength is largely a by-product of hypertrophy training, not the goal.

Endurance & Fitness

Bodybuilders often perform high-repetition sets with short rest periods between sets. It effectively overloads your muscle groups while improving localized endurance and overall physical fitness. However, it is an extra benefit of training, not your primary goal.

CrossFit vs. HIIT vs. Bodybuilding: Consider the Results You are Looking to Achieve In the CrossFit vs. HIIT vs. Bodybuilding battle, the winner is the one that best fits your fitness goals.

In the CrossFit vs. HIIT vs. Bodybuilding battle, the winner is the one that best fits your fitness goals. Here are the workouts best suited to the results you may be looking to achieve:

  • Best for building muscle – Bodybuilding
  • Best for building endurance – HIIT
  • Best for building strength – CrossFit
  • Best for fitness – CrossFit
  • Best for fat loss – CrossFit
  • Best for sociability – CrossFit
  • Best for beginners – All of the above

Also, you can choose more than one form of workout. If you choose CrossFit as your primary method, you can also incorporate HIIT and bodybuilding into your routine.

Get Everything You Need to Take Your CrossFit to the Next Level

Most people choose CrossFit because it can get them the results they are looking for, from strength to building muscle and endurance to just plain feeling better. CrossFit is an excellent way to improve your health. 

At WOD Review, we are CrossFit experts who want to make sure that you have the equipment to help you get your desired results. Sure, you do not need additional gear for CrossFit, but the right equipment will help you get maximum results.

We want to make sure you get everything you need and answer any questions you might have about the CrossFit lifestyle.

If you are looking for a workout routine that will fit into your lifestyle and get you the results you are looking for, it is time to consider CrossFit.