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The Difference Between Cross-training and CrossFit

The CrossFit Games cross-training and crossfit

Confused about all the cross-this’ and cross-that’s in the fitness world? Well, you’re not alone. That’s why i’ve put together this article to highlight the important differences between cross-training and CrossFit®.

Crossfit and cross-training can both be described as specific types of training styles. However, their foundational philosophies differ. CrossFit is a trademarked strength and conditioning program that incorporates high-intensity workouts with interval training, weightlifting, and gymnastics. Cross-training (also referred to as XT), on the other hand, is more of a conceptual approach to training where athletes train in a sport outside of that which they already play, to boost their performance.

Benefits of CrossFit and Cross-Training

In a way, a CrossFit program could be used as cross-training for many athletes who are looking to improve their performance in their chosen sport. Many footballers, weightlifters and gymnasts use CrossFit to become a more well rounded athlete and approve their performance.

Cross-training offers a multitude of benefits to physically active athletes including:

Injury prevention – Cross-training with different exercises. For example, a marathon runner might cross-train by swimming, cycling, or doing yoga once a week. It helps athletes avoid repetitive stress on their joints and engage and strengthen different muscle groups to correct imbalances that make them prone to injury.

Improved performance – The core idea behind cross-training is that it can boost the performance in the sport in which you already excel. Marathon runners who cross-train with a guided CrossFit program, for example, can increase key performance markers like lactate threshold and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max).

Variety – A competitive swimmer may seek variety by weaving cross-training activities outside of the pool into his or her workouts. This may include CrossFit, rowing, even hiking. Variety helps athletes keep their workouts interesting, engaging, and challenging.

Rehabilitation assistance – If a fitness injury or other condition has sidelined your normal training schedule, cross-training allows you to take advantage of different fitness modalities to stay in shape and even aid your rehabilitation. You can incorporate recovery aids like knee braces, sleeves, splints, and compression wraps into a thoughtful cross-training schedule as well.

CrossFit can offer similar benefits, as well as a social component that, depending on the exercises you choose, cross-training may not. The small group-training involved with CrossFit transforms working out with friends into working out with family. There are very tight-knit communities from within the local CrossFit gyms around world. Often this adds an extra layer of motivation which people feed off of to hit new goals and PRs.

cross-training and crossfit

WODs (workouts of the day) often also pit CrossFit members against one another, fueling both a competitive spirit as well as new degrees of accountability. Performance scores are displayed for all to see, generating group encouragement and driving you to push your limits even further.

With cross-training, on the other hand, you are often going to be competing against yourself. And depending on the methods of cross-training you use, you may not have the all-encompassing guidance from trained and knowledgeable instructors like you get with CrossFit. Both training modalities help you master basic physical skills including:

  • Respiratory/cardio endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Stamina
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Accuracy
  • Speed

In CrossFit, every session is designed to focus on several muscle groups and physical skills. It is about optimizing your functional fitness as a whole and working the entire body. Cross-training may serve to improve specific aspects of your fitness or performance that can lend a hand to your primary sport.

Where to Start?

If you are searching for something to spice up your workout routine, or simply looking to reassess your fitness goals and methods, hop off the treadmill and think about cross-training with CrossFit. Dedicating 1 to 3 days a week to switching up your go-to training schedule for CrossFit workouts could be your key to improving your overall athletic performance as well as connecting with a rich and vibrant community of CrossFit members who support and encourage one another.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.