Crossfit or gym for weight loss?

There are so many fitness programs promising weight loss and somehow they all swear that they hold the key to doing it in the quickest and the healthiest way possible. Today, we can settle the differences between the two of them that seem to be among the most popular. We will cover the pros and cons of both of them, and try to help you decide if you should turn to crossfit or gym for weight loss.

Laying down the groundwork

First off, let’s even the playing field and explain what these terms really mean. CrossFit is a way of exercising introduced in the early 2000s, and it was developed for the needs of the military, police force, and firemen. It’s a combination of strength training and endurance training meant to improve the strength and cardiovascular health at the same time, with less hours spent in the gym. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? Yes, and no, but we will get to that later.

Next up is traditional resistance training done in the gym. The image that springs to mind when you utter these words is a guy doing his chest and triceps on a Monday, somewhere in a dingy basement, following his 3-sets-of-12 protocol. But there is more than meets the eye, and gym (resistance training done with free weights or using machines) can be a great way to build your overall strength and lose weight in the process. There is no clear winner between the two, but there are some benefits and downsides to both of them, so let’s try to see what is what.

Splitting hairs with crossfit – when bar is subpar:

Crossfit is a revolutionary program for many reasons. There is no shortage of crossfit weight loss success stories. It is beyond doubt that these people are in great shape: strong, lean, and generally healthy. The lifts that they use are definitely athletic, and involve compound movements, thus burning a whole bunch of calories during and after training, as a result of the afterburn (similar to HIIT training). More to the point, crossfit community is amazing, and exercising this way makes you much less prone to quitting, exactly due to the constant support you are getting.

But there is a flip side to this, like with everything in life. Most importantly, there is a big issue with crossfit coach certificates. Almost anybody that enters a crossfit box can become certified, and that is the root problem. Am I saying there are no good crossfit trainers? Not by a long shot! On the other hand, I am saying that crossfit itself includes some technically demanding exercises, like clean and press, snatch or overhead squat. Now imagine having those randomized by an incompetent trainer and mixed with some burpees in between. The chances of injuring yourself can go through the roof.

Another issue I have with crossfit is that is not necessarily the best option for novices. Most people who want to lose weight are completely out of shape, and this kind of training can be a shock for their body, not to mention the injury risks that come with the turf. Put together a trainer with a lack of knowledge and a client with risk factors, and you have a disaster waiting to happen. What I want to leave you with is – there are great gains you can reap in crossfit with proper guidance and the right equipment (good weight set and some TRX bands) but I would not recommend it for initial weight loss.

Gym weight loss – buff or bluff?

Now, it’s time to put the gym training under the loop. Let me tell you right off the bat, gym training has its pros and cons as well. First up, gym memberships can be costly. You can save some money by making a bench and a couple of dumbbells or buying a smith machine for your home gym, but even that can be a big expense for say – students. On the other hand, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can just as easily end up hurting yourself. And the final reason people don’t associate gyms with weight loss is a common prejudice that gyms are places in which we gain mass, not lose it.

Even though gyms can be costly, there are still some ways around that problem. You can get a discount when applying for a yearly subscription or you can just find a local gym that charges less.

Also, while exercising in a gym can be dangerous for newcomers, I would have to say that doing exercises that way is much more intuitive than crossfit. I would still recommend hiring a personal trainer to show you the ropes, but even if you can’t really spring for a trained professional, it’s still much more difficult to get a row on a machine wrong, than, say clean and press.

Circuit training – not just going in circles

The last supposed downside of exercising in a gym is that resistance training can cause increase in muscle mass, and have no effect on weight loss or aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health. This is where circuit training comes into play. It’s basically an exercising method in which you make 8 or 12 stops with different exercises with little or no rest in between, ideally hitting different parts of your body. This workout will burn tons of calories, improve your strength, and leave your gasping for breath in the process. The method is quite versatile, and both beginners and advance lifters can benefit from it.

There is another hidden benefit here. Muscle is a very demanding tissue, metabolically speaking. What that means is that the more muscle you have, the more energy your body needs to maintain it, and the higher your calorie expenditure will be, even during rest. Simply put, the more muscular you are, the more difficult you will get fat.

To wrap it all up, in my opinion, crossfit is a great exercise plan, and a great way to up your game if you are an intermediate/advanced lifter looking for a challenge. However, there are some aspects of training in the gym that make it a more suitable choice for people just starting to work out, but also for experienced fitness addicts with and adequate imagination and knowhow. So, yes, gym training wins, but it’s definitely not a knockout.

About the Author Dumbbellsgeek

Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!