Crossfit and circuit training are training systems that do not exclusively focus on one muscle group at a time. Instead, they try to enhance functionality across different activities and physical metrics.
To compare Crossfit vs circuit training, we will take a look at the requirements of the two training modalities, necessary equipment, and their fitness purpose.
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What is circuit training?
Circuit training works across different muscle groups throughout one cycle of exercise called a circuit. There is minimum rest between exercises. Therefore, it is ideal for those who look for a full-body workout in a short time.
A circuit can include 8-10 different exercises, depending on the goal and fitness level of the participants. After each circuit, there are about 1-2 minutes of rest before starting another circuit. Usually, a circuit is completed in about 1-3 minutes.
In circuit training, exercises are typically designed based on time or repetition. If it is based on time, you will perform an activity for 30 to 60 minutes before moving to another activity. Similarly, if it is based on repetition, you will complete a certain number of repetitions before moving to another exercise. Often, the number of reps in each exercise is less than 20.
In some training regimens, there are two different types of circuit training.
- Continuous exercises: There is no rest between exercises.
- Continual exercises: There are rest intervals between exercises.
Circuit training can be performed in two major formats: “aerobic circuit training” and “circuit weight training”.
Also read: Calisthenics circuit workout no equipment to learn about practicing circuit training with bodyweight.
What's the Difference Between CrossFit and Circuit Training?
In order to have a better understanding of Crossfit vs circuit training, we will take a look at the definition of Crossfit. Crossfit is a form of functional training that is constantly varied and usually at high intensity.
In Crossfit, variation is the discriminating point. Essentially, it does not promote the idea of performing the same exercises continuously. However, this variety is not random. It is planned based on what has been done before and what we are trying to achieve. Circuit training performs a series of different exercises per circuit, but this program will be repeated regularly in different sessions.
Another point of comparison in Crossfit vs circuit training is that Crossfit is a branded set of exercises, whereas circuit training only defines the methodology of the activity. Circuit training is not a branded term and can be used to describe any combination of exercises that follow its principles.
Another difference between Crossfit vs circuit training is that Crossfit incorporates exercises of different natures, such as cardiovascular, strength and conditioning, and flexibility. On the contrary, circuit training was not initially designed to combine strength and aerobic exercises into one training regimen.
In spite of that, many people consider circuit training a combination of different training methods. For example, they may combine 2-4 resistance exercises with cardiovascular exercises, such as running in a single circuit. This type of circuit training makes you subpar in both strength and cardio categories. This is acceptable for general health and burning some calories, but it is not the most efficient way around. Resistance training requires periodic rest intervals to maximize the gains, while aerobic and cardiovascular systems need to be continuous for the best results. A program designed to gain the best of the two worlds needs to consider all these rules.
Is CrossFit Considered Circuit Training?
Although we discussed the differences between Crossfit and circuit training, Crossfit style circuit workout is involved in Crossfit. Some Crossfit exercises include certain repetitions of X exercise, and then move to the Y exercise and so on, in a Crossfit circuit training manner. For example:
3 rounds of:
- 10 shoulder presses/push press/push jerk
- 1 minute row/ski/bike (increase output for each round)
- 2 minutes rest
3 rounds of:
- 10 overhead/front/back shoulder press
- 90 seconds row/ski/bike (increase output for each round)
- 2 minutes rest
Is CrossFit Interval Training or Circuit Training?
By definition, interval training signifies brief rest periods between exercises. When interval training shifts to high-intensity mode, it is close to anaerobic training zone; during recovery, it uses low-intensity aerobic activity. Crossfit consists of both features of interval training and circuit training. To learn the differences between Crossfit and HIIT, read: Crossfit vs HIIT.
Cardio vs Crossfit
In the Crossfit fitness pyramid, metabolic conditioning is set in the second place ofter nutrition which shows the importance of cardiovascular fitness as a basis in Crossfit methodology.
Cardio as an independent fitness modality is a set of exercises that aim at increasing heartbeat. Subsequently, it increases oxygen consumption and optimizes aerobic capacity. A cardio athlete can run uphill for an extended period of time compared to a non-cardo athlete.
However, a mere cardio regimen lacks strength training. For someone who is in a recovery period after an injury, strength training as in Crossfit may not be a wise option. Cardiovascular activities such as running on treadmill and swimming are generally low impact and can reduce the revival period.
Emom workout is a type of HIIT in Crossfit. Emom which stands for “every minute on the minute” requires the Crossfitter to perform a certain number of reps in less than one minute. It is a challenging cardiovascular exercise and can be a part of the METCON aspect of Crossfit.
Is Crossfit Cardio or Strength?
Although Crossfit is designed to challenge all domains of fitness, it seems, it is more into strength than cardio. However, it eventually depends on how you program it for yourself. If you are doing Metcon (metabolic conditioning), you are in the cardio or high-intensity domain, although this type of workout combines cardio with weight training. Being mindful of our heartbeat, we can always gauge the training zone we are in.
What Is CrossFit Circuit?
The term Crossfit circuit is probably borrowed from circuit training. It refers to a series of Crossfit exercises performed back to back. For example:
15 bodyweight squats
This is one Crossfit circuit. Perform as many circuits as possible in 20 minutes for a complete Crossfit circuit workout.
Cross Training vs Circuit training?
Cross-training brings additional types of exercise to the main exercise. A footballer may cross train by adding swimming or climbing to their program. The purpose is usually to improve certain aspects or weaknesses in the primary exercise. Some people may also cross train for its health benefits; alternating between swimming, climbing, and TRX training can be a great combination. On the other hand, circuit training combines different exercises in one training session.