CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: What’s The Difference? & Which is Better?

CrossFit and bodybuilding are the two key emerging trends in the fitness world with their unique objectives and approaches.

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between CrossFit and bodybuilding, and then focus on the different aspects between the two of them, including training methods, physique outcomes, competition formats, muscle gain, and fat loss.

What are CrossFit and Bodybuilding?

What is CrossFit

CrossFit is a type of high-intensity and functional interval fitness program. The workout consists of vigorous movements aimed at conditioning and strength. In addition, the movements include daily life activities such as pulling, squatting, and pushing.

what is bodybuilding

Sometimes considered a sport, bodybuilding aims to maximize your muscle growth and size with minimal body fat for competition. As such, the training involves highly repetitive isolation movements and medium-to-heavy weights.

Similarities Between CrossFit and Bodybuilding

Similarities Between CrossFit and Bodybuilding

Despite being two distinctive disciplines, CrossFit and bodybuilding have some similarities which are as follows:

  • Strength Training– CrossFit and bodybuilding programs’ emphasis and foundational aspect is strength training. The techniques include weightlifting workouts for building muscle size and strength.
  • Fitness Focus– The priority for both programs is to enhance your overall physical performance and fitness. Even though you only focus on muscle development and aesthetics with bodybuilding, CrossFit targets better functional fitness through the different elements, including flexibility, strength, endurance, and agility.
  • Community-driven– The community of CrossFit and bodybuilding disciplines comprise committed enthusiasts with a mutual passion.
  • Goal-focused Technique– Before joining the CrossFit and bodybuilding community, you must set a specific goal you work to achieve. It would be best if you were dedicated to a well-structured training regime, from specific physique sculpting to increasing your strength and improved conditioning.
  • Diet and Nutrition– The significance of proper dieting and nutrition is well recognized in CrossFit and bodybuilding for better physique goals and performance. The disciplines often emphasize following particular nutritional strategies, adequate protein consumption, and micronutrient intake management for optimal outcomes.

Key Differences between CrossFit and Bodybuilding

Key Differences between CrossFit and Bodybuilding

Apart from the identifiable similarities between CrossFit and bodybuilding disciplines, there are significant differences in their overall objectives, training methodologies, and completion formats.

The key distinguishing aspects of CrossFit lie in its focus on endurance, power, and speed alongside the implementation of calisthenics, heavyweights, and plyometrics.

Bodybuilding, on the other hand, mostly focuses on higher but slower reps and the implementation of moderate to heavy weights for pumping up and building muscles.

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Understanding the Differences

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Understanding the Differences

As two different fitness programs, CrossFit and bodybuilding have notable distinctive features. Let’s have a look at each of them:

Training Focus

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Training Focus

CrossFit mostly involves a variety of workouts and functional movements, including bodyweight, weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular exercises. This training aims to improve your fitness through flexibility, power, agility, and strength.

Conversely, the primary goal of bodybuilding is aesthetics and muscle hypertrophy. During your training, the main focus will be enhancing resistance in specific muscle groups to ensure maximum symmetry and size.

Bodybuilders often target specific muscles using controlled repetitions, isolation workouts, and increased volume.

Training Techniques

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Training Techniques

Usually, CrossFit exercises incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that combines various fast-paced movements and exercises. You will perform task-based or timed workouts as you must complete the specific rounds and repetitions within a particular period.

Bodybuilding training incorporates targeted workouts for specific muscle groups, including slow, controlled repetitions, drop sets, and supersets.

This means you will perform split training routines that target a particular muscle group on different days as a bodybuilder.


CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Competition

The competitive aspect of CrossFit comes from its pinnacle event, the CrossFit Games, held every year.

During this time, athletes test various fitness domains, including gymnastics, strength, and endurance. The fittest athlete is determined after the participants perform various challenges and workouts.

The focus of bodybuilding competitions is aesthetics, as the judgment is based on the competitors’ overall presentation, symmetry, muscle size, and definition. That entails showcasing the physique by performing compulsory routines and poses.

Objectives and Goals

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Objectives and Goals

The key aim of a CrossFit program is to cultivate well-rounded and proficient athletes in different fitness areas. You prepare for physical challenges, functional fitness, and overall athleticism improvement.

Meanwhile, the primary aim of bodybuilding is to achieve an aesthetically pleasing and highly developed physique. The workout focus on body sculpting until you realize the desired appearance.

Environment and Community

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Environment and Community

Crossfit strongly encourages a sense of camaraderie and community by having participants train together. During workouts in the affiliated gyms or boxes, you will be in the company of others for support and motivation.

Pursuing bodybuilding is mostly individualistic as the trainees train with personal fitness trainers or alone. Despite the bodybuilding community, your focus is to achieve their individualistic goals.

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Physique

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Physique

The desired physique that CrossFit and bodybuilding participants aim for is different.

CrossFit athletes mainly focus on functional fitness instead of specific physique. That entails a well-rounded physique incorporating power, flexibility, strength, endurance, and agility. The workouts yield a muscular and lean physique for functionality and performance, not focusing on muscle definition and size.

Bodybuilding’s primary emphasis is to develop a symmetrical and highly muscular build focusing on definition, aesthetics, and muscle size. Bodybuilders aim at well-defined muscles, a stage-ready physique, and low body fat levels.

They also pursue X-shaped or V-shaped figures with well-built muscles, broader shoulders, and a narrower waist.

Crossfit leads to a muscular and lean physique but produces a different definition and muscle size, as seen with bodybuilding. Various factors, including nutrition, individual genetics, preferences, and training intensity, shape the ultimate body physique attained.

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Physique (Male and Female)

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Physique Male and Female

CrossFit and bodybuilding are linked to the following characteristic physiques for females and males.

Crossfit Physique Male

Crossfit Physique Male

  • Muscular and lean
  • Well-rounded build focused on athleticism and functional strength
  • No excess muscle size but the visible definition
  • Low body fat amounts
  • Balanced major muscle group development
  • Differs with training intensity and individualistic genetics

Crossfit Physique Female

Crossfit Physique Female

  • Athletic and lean
  • Well-rounded build focused on agility, athleticism, and functional strength
  • No excess muscle size, but muscle definition and toning are visible  
  • Low body fat amounts
  • Balanced major muscle group development
  • Differs with training intensity and individualistic genetics

Bodybuilding Physique Male

Bodybuilding Physique Male

  • Extremely shaped and muscular physique
  • Excess muscle definition and size
  • Extreme lower body fat levels, usually showcasing vascularity and striations
  • Focus on aesthetics, symmetry, and proportion
  • Balanced major muscle group development
  • Differes with training intensity and individualistic genetics

Bodybuilding Physique Female

Bodybuilding Physique Female

  • Extremely shaped and muscular physique
  • Excess muscle shape and size
  • Extreme lower body fat levels, usually showcasing vascularity and striations
  • Focus on aesthetics, symmetry, and proportion
  • Balanced major muscle group development
  • Differes with training intensity and individualistic genetics

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: for Fat Loss

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: for Fat Loss

Both can actually be effective for fat loss. Even, you may notice that each has its own kind of approach and focus.

CrossFit for Fat Loss

CrossFit for Fat Loss

  • Functional movements and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) effectively promote fat loss and calorie burning
  • Intense and varied workouts incorporating bodyweight, cardio exercises, and weightlifting for simultaneous engagement of multiple muscle groups
  • High-intensity workouts promote calorie burning, increase heart rates, and boost metabolism after and during workouts
  • Focuses on conditioning and overall fitness, leading to fat loss and enhanced body composition

Bodybuilding for Fat Loss

Bodybuilding for Fat Loss

  • Resistance-focused training aimed at muscle mass development and maintenance
  • No calorie burning or high-intensity workouts but long-term fat loss due to muscle mass increase
  • Muscle building and preservation facilitate fat loss and increase overall calorie burning
  • Nutritional adjustment and cardio exercise incorporation preserve muscle mass but aid in fat loss when preparing for the contest

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: for Muscle Gain

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: for Muscle Gain

Speaking of muscle gain, both workout models can be great alternatives. What is important to point out is that CrossFit focuses more on using heavy weights and calisthenics, while bodybuilding puts an emphasis on slow and higher reps to drive muscle development.

CrossFit for Muscle Gain

CrossFit for Muscle Gain

  • Strength training, HIIT, and functional training are combined to help muscle gain
  • Squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses are used to activate different muscle groups at the same time
  • Varied and challenging workouts are used to improve overall strength and athleticism

Bodybuilding for Muscle Gain

Bodybuilding for Muscle Gain

  • The main goals of the workouts are hypertrophy and aesthetics
  • Each training session usually targets one specific muscle group
  • Isolation exercises are commonly used
  • It puts emphasis on  progressive overload

Despite the differences, both workout methods demand quality nutrition intake. For example, protein intake is crucial in both to help sustain muscle development and support recovery. Additionally, bodybuilding often involves calorie surplus while CrossFit usually involved a more balanced diet.

CrossFit vs. Bodybuilding: Quick Comparison Table

Below is a concise comparison table highlighting the key differences between CrossFit and Bodybuilding:

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Quick Comparison Table




Training Focus

Overall fitness, functional movements

Muscle hypertrophy, aesthetics

Training Methods

Varied exercises, functional movements, HIIT

Resistance training, isolation exercises


CrossFit Games, testing multiple fitness domains

Bodybuilding competitions, physique presentation


Functional fitness, athleticism

Muscle size, symmetry, definition, aesthetics

Physique (Male)

Lean and muscular

Highly muscular, extreme muscle size and definition

Physique (Female)

Lean and athletic

Muscular and sculpted

Fat Loss

Effective due to high-intensity workouts

Caloric deficit, balanced nutrition

Muscle Gain

Promotes muscle development through functional movements

Emphasis on progressive overload, isolation exercises

Training Environment

Community-oriented, CrossFit boxes

Individual or trainer-focused


Performance, functionality

Muscle size, aesthetics

Best for

Overall fitness, functional strength and athleticism

Muscle hypertrophy, aesthetic-focused goals

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Which is Better and How to Choose?

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Which is Better and How to Choose

Crossfit can be a good option for those who are okay with high-intensity training and can deal with more varied workouts. But just be careful when engaging in high-intensity workouts to avoid unwanted injury.

If you’re looking to boost muscle mass though, bodybuilding may be the best option. Feel free to work with a personal trainer to assess your exact situation and choose the best fitness route.

The Key Takeaway

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: How to Choose

In conclusion, CrossFit is a well-rounded fitness technique involving functional movements and high-intensity workouts. With its community-oriented setting and varied exercises, you will improve your flexibility, agility, power, endurance, and strength.

Conversely, the primary focus of bodybuilding is muscle aesthetics, hypertrophy, and symmetry. The approach includes targeted nutrition protocols, resistance training, and posing routines to develop your chiseled physique and maximize muscle size.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment