CrossFit started way back in 2000 and has grown to become a worldwide fitness phenomenon. It’s now one of the most popular workouts around. The original aim of CrossFit was to produce very high levels of all-round fitness. It combines lots of different types of workout including weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, running, and rowing. These methods build strength, speed, power, agility, athleticism, and cardiovascular conditioning. Because of this, CrossFit is very popular with law enforcement and the military.
Combining numerous workout methods, CrossFitters are fit, fast, strong, agile, and athletic. For this reason, CrossFit is very popular in law enforcement and the military.
CrossFit’s primary focus is on performance, but you can also use this popular workout to build a physique to be proud of.
CrossFit and fat burning
Most CrossFit workouts are already perfect for fat burning. They are high intensity, fast-paced, and are built around compound exercises like squats, burpees, and push-ups. Many of them involve proven fat burning methods, such as high-intensity interval training.
But what makes these workouts so effective, and why are they better than regular cardio for fat loss? CrossFit helps you burn fat in several different ways.
1- CrossFit burns a lot of calories in a short time
Studies show (1) that activities such as sprints, circuit training, and other high-intensity training methods are better for calorie and fat burning than low-intensity jogging, swimming, and aerobics classes. All of these training methods feature in CrossFit workouts.
The number of calories you burn doing CrossFit depends on which workout you are doing, and how hard you train. However, the chances are very high that you’ll be burning more calories than you would with any other kind of workout.
2- CrossFit increases post-exercise calorie expenditure
High-intensity CrossFit workouts trigger the afterburn effect (2). This term describes how, after a hard workout, your metabolism remains elevated for many hours, burning more calories in the process. This is also known as EPOC, which is short for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
EPOC is triggered by a significant build-up of lactic acid, something that is commonplace with CrossFit. Your body uses a lot of oxygen and energy to break down and clear out lactic acid, and the more lactic acid a workout produces, the longer this process will take. The faster your metabolism, the more calories your body uses, and that will help you burn fat faster, even between workouts and while you sleep.
3- CrossFit builds muscle which will increase your metabolic rate
Even if building muscle is not your goal, it’ll probably happen with CrossFit. Many of the workouts involve lifting weights, and studies show that HIIT, in general, can produce increases in muscle size (3). Muscle is metabolically active tissue. This means it needs calories. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn per day. Adding even a few pounds of muscle to your body will increase your metabolic rate, leading to faster fat loss.
4- CrossFit will increase your insulin sensitivity
When you eat carbohydrates, your body produces the hormone insulin to move the resulting glucose out of your blood and into your muscles. Any unused glucose will be converted into fat. Lack of activity and high levels of body fat can reduce the effectiveness of insulin, causing something called insulin resistance. CrossFit increases insulin sensitivity and lowers your blood glucose level (4), which prevents fat gain and also creates a better environment for fat burning.
Building muscle with CrossFit
Many CrossFit workouts can help you build muscle. They use heavyweights, high reps, or both. In response, your muscles will get bigger and stronger so that your body is better prepared for your next workout.
There are several additional things you can do to make CrossFit even more useful for building muscle.
1- Focus on CrossFit strength training workouts– some CrossFit workouts are all about cardio and involve activities like distance running or rowing. These are not your best option for building muscle. Instead, choose workouts that include strength training exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, dips, overhead presses, power cleans, and squats. These are amongst the best muscle building exercises you can do.
2- Do some selective bodybuilding training– CrossFit mostly uses compound exercises. Compound exercises use a lot of muscle groups at the same time and also allow you to lift heavyweights. This makes them very effective for building strength and muscle. However, but you may need to do more if muscle hypertrophy is your goal.
Supplement your CrossFit workouts with some bodybuilding exercises like lateral raises, biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, and leg curls. Adding these exercises to your workouts will provide your muscles with the training volume needed to build muscle.
3- Eat for muscle growth– intense CrossFit workouts break your muscles down in a process called catabolism. When you rest, your body goes into repair mode and builds your muscles back up again. This process will happen faster if you provide your muscles with adequate nutrients and energy. Your diet, discussed next, should support muscle growth.
Eating for building muscle, losing fat, and CrossFit
To lose fat, you need to provide your body with fewer calories than usual so that it has to burn stored body fat for fuel. This is called creating a calorie deficit. However, you also need to provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs so you can power through your workouts and recover afterward. Follow these guidelines to build muscle and lose fat with CrossFit.
1- Consume one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight– your body needs protein for muscle repair and growth. Use a food tracking app to make sure you are eating enough. Good protein sources include meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as soy products, nuts, and beans.
2- Time your carbohydrate consumption around training– unused carbs are not just converted to fat; they also interfere with fat burning. Avoid this problem by eating most of your carbs shortly before and immediately after your CrossFit workout.
The pre-workout carbs will give you the energy you need to train hard, while the post-training carbs will go directly to your muscles because of increased insulin sensitivity. This will speed up recovery while reducing the chances of fat gain. The rest of your meals should be low carb.
3- Eat less on non-training days– it makes sense to eat a little more on the days you work out so that you have all the energy you need to do your CrossFit workouts. However, on non-training days, you don’t need as much energy, and any unused calories will be converted into body fat. Avoid this problem by eating less on non-training days. 300-500 fewer calories will be enough to offset any inactivity.
4- Eat healthily– your body needs more than protein, carbs, and calories to build muscle and lose fat. It also needs vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Building muscle and burning fat are metabolic processes, and these processes are more efficient when you are healthy. For example, eating healthily will boost your immune system so you are ill less often and miss fewer workouts. A healthy diet will also enhance your digestive system so you can make better use of the nutrients you eat. Make sure your diet contains plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, as well as things like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds.
CrossFit is one of the best all-around workouts you can do. You’ll not only get fit and strong; it can help you change how you look too. Top CrossFitters have very impressive physiques. Use these guidelines to help you build muscle and lose fat with CrossFit.
1.Heydari M, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise on body composition of overweight young males. J Obes. 2012;2012:480467. doi:10.1155/2012/480467
2- Schleppenbach LN, Ezer AB, Gronemus SA, Widenski KR, Braun SI, Janot JM. Speed- and Circuit-Based High-Intensity Interval Training on Recovery Oxygen Consumption. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(7):942–953. Published 2017 Nov 1.
3- Martins C, Kazakova I, Ludviksen M, Mehus I, Wisloff U, Kulseng B, Morgan L, King N. High-Intensity Interval Training and Isocaloric Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training Result in Similar Improvements in Body Composition and Fitness in Obese Individuals. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2016 Jun;26(3):197-204. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0078. Epub 2015 Oct 19.
4- Hwang CL, Yoo JK, Kim HK, et al. Novel all-extremity high-intensity interval training improves aerobic fitness, cardiac function, and insulin resistance in healthy older adults. Exp Gerontol. 2016;82:112–119. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2016.06.009 MLA