Difference between Crossfit and HIIT

By Krystal Dollery
Sep 27 2022

Difference between Crossfit and HIIT

Shoes are laced, knee sleeves are rolled up, hair is in a messy bun, and the music is cranked–you’re ready for your workout! You tap the screen on your fitness watch and scroll down to select your workout and you pause…how do you categorize Crossfit?! There is a cross training option (crossfit training) and a HIIT training (high intensity interval training) option. 

If you’re a meticulous calorie tracker, you might slightly panic, afterall what is the difference? Does one burn more calories than the other? Are Crossfit and HIIT not one in the same? Which one is better for weight loss? What about strength training, that’s an option too and Crossfit does incorporate olympic weightlifting. HALP! 

Fear not, our fitness friend, we have broken down the workout regimens for you so you can get back to that workout and crush your fitness goals (and find out once and for all the difference between Crossfit and HIIT.)

HIIT Training (HIIT Stands for High Intensity Interval Training)

A HIIT workout requires the exertion of rapid bursts of energy followed with low energy recovery periods. This workout style demands you workout to your maximum effort before taking it back a few notches for a rest, then repeat. 

HIIT benefits come from the adaptation of the body to meet the demands being placed on it. Workouts that challenge the body to perform at maximum capacity reap the rewards of quick burning calories and increasing anaerobic capacity–great for weight loss and to improve endurance. 

HIIT Workouts


One workout that is most commonly seen in a HIIT session is the Tabata workout, a workout that requires maximal intensity followed by short rest periods. Don’t worry, you don’t have to operate at high intensity for very long when doing Tabata, a typical workout consists of 20 seconds of an exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is usually repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Mind Blowing, isn’t it?! 

Now, this is not to say that you only need a 4 minute exercise program a day to achieve your fitness goals or to lose weight. If it were that simple, suffice it to say we would have many more contenders competing for a shot at the Crossfit Games.

It is, however, a great place to start. 

Bodyweight Exercises

The best thing about HITT bodyweight exercises is that they can be done anywhere. Stuck in a hotel room? Clear out a corner and knock out some air squats, mountain climbers, or push ups just remember to make this an intense exercise to really burn calories. 

HIIT workouts are most effective when you really push yourself, so rather than doing 10 sets of air squats then resting, push yourself to do as many as possible within a given amount of time. For instance, a good rule of thumb for HIIT is to keep a consistent ratio like a 1:1, workout for 30 seconds and recover for 30 seconds. In order for this to be high intensity training, strive for as many movements as possible.

Strength Training

HIIT workouts can also be done with strength exercises. Grab a set of dumbbells and really rev up your HIIT workout by adding in some weight training exercises like bent over rows or thrusters if you’re feeling spicy and want to train different muscle groups. 

Interval training with high intensity exercises and weights is a great way to improve cardiovascular health and your resting metabolic rate.

Running Workouts

We can’t really talk about high intensity training without bringing up running. Doing sprints for interval training is a surefire way to improve your cardiovascular health, weight loss, and overall fitness. 

Another HIIT workout that can be done anywhere, sprinting at maximum intensity for short spurts actually helps you prepare for longer distances at a slower pace. If you’re new to running, try using a HIIT ratio of 1:2, sprinting for 30 seconds and then take it down to a low intensity exercise by walking for 60 seconds to allow your body time to recover. Over the course of a few weeks, slowly change your ratio as your body adapts. 

Crossfit Workouts

Crossfit workouts are what is commonly referred to as functional fitness due to its ability to mix functional movements with high intensity. 

Functional movements are best described as being exercises based on real-world application. Movements such as pull ups, push ups, squats, and lunges would be examples of such. Crossfit workouts follow the principle that fitness training should be applicable to real life and not strictly in a Crossfit competition.

Crossfit incorporates strength training with bodyweight exercises, mobility exercises, and running so each workout is constantly varied. This approach to exercise follows current fitness trends and allows for modification to each workout so it is suitable to different fitness levels. 

Crossfit Exercises

A typical crossfit workout is going to use constantly varied functional movements and stack them into a time restriction called a time cap. 


Standing for as many rounds as possible, this is a Crossfit workout that requires you to do as many rounds as possible of a given set of movements. For example, the Crossfit WOD may do 8 reps each of power cleans, push ups, and box jumps for a total of 15 minutes. 


Every minute on the minute workouts can be found in Crossfit classes everywhere for their focus on building both strength and stamina. An EMOM may program 3 snatches every minute on the minute, starting at a percent of your one rep max, and building as the time increases. 

An EMOM in Crossfit allows for short bursts of intense energy, for however many prescribed reps, and once the rep quota is met, you have the remainder of time to recover until the next minute. The longer it takes to perform the movement, the less recovery time you have. 

Crossfit EMOMs are an excellent way to build strength and muscle growth, while also working toward weight loss. 


RFT (Rounds for time) in Crossfit is finishing a certain amount of rounds within a given amount of time. 


In Crossfit, ladder workouts are when one or more movements are programmed, with the workload increasing or decreasing (sometimes both) over time. Crossfit ladder workouts burn calories like nobody’s business!


Chipper workouts in Crossfit are usually written to have high reps of several movements and are expected to be hammered out as fast as possible, quickly “chipping away” at the exercise. 


Oooo we’ve seen this word before! Just like with HIIT Crossfit incorporates Tabata workouts. Since both HIIT and Crossfit are about max capacity, it only makes sense to use a classic Tabata in the fitness program. 

Crossfit vs HIIT

Now that we know the basics of Crossfit and HIIT, let’s take a look at the similarities and differences Crossfit and HIIT have. 

The two training protocols emphasize high intensity training exercise and on the surface appear to be the same however, Crossfit takes fitness to the next level by adding gymnastics, olympic weightlifting, and plyometrics. Crossfit is better suited for the more advanced athletes or those training for competitions like the Crossfit Open. 

When comparing Crossfit vs HIIT for health benefits, weight loss can be attributed to both HIIT and Crossfit (with proper nutrition), however the modes differ. The main priority for Crossfit is strength development, which results in muscle growth, whereas HIIT prioritizes cardio. However, both HIIT and Crossfit exercise can result in improved cardio health. 

Thinking about Crossfit vs HIIT, it’s important to remember that Crossfit is a brand and HIIT is a type of exercise. Crossfit can integrate HIIT exercise principles, however HIIT does not comprise of Crossfit. 

While HIIT is an excellent fitness template, and continually doing it as your sole fitness routine might result in some weight loss, it is not likely you will make any significant gains. Whereas Crossfit workouts that focus on progressive overload will result in muscle gain. 

Last Round!

Both Crossfit and HIIT are incredibly intense workouts, but Crossfit takes it a little bit further adding in plyometrics, gymnastics, and olympic weightlifting. While Crossfit and HIIT both have their place in the fitness world and both are extremely beneficial for your overall health, Crossfit seems to be the favorite for its constant variation. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top