If you go to any gym, you’ll notice a few patterns among the other patrons. Notably, there are people who love bodybuilding, and those who enjoy CrossFit. The two groups rarely overlap. Why does this bodybuilding vs CrossFit “competition” occur?

What are the differences between the two types of exercises? How are both bodybuilding vs CrossFit involved in building mass? How do they help with weight loss? We’ll compare both types of exercises here in order to develop a full comparison of the two.

Bodybuilding Vs CrossFit

In order to paint the whole picture between bodybuilding vs CrossFit, we first have to define what each of these forms of exercise is, starting with bodybuilding. Of course, bodybuilding is exactly what it sounds like.

It consists of lifting weights, doing calisthenics (exercises that use the body as a weight), and using other means in order to build muscle mass in the body. Often, bodybuilders focus more on building mass than they do cardio exercises, although weight loss is a goal.

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The main benefits of bodybuilding (which are the main part of this bodybuilding vs CrossFit comparison) are that you physically build up muscle mass. This allows you to lift progressively heavier weights as time goes on. Weight loss is another benefit.

Many bodybuilders follow a strict diet and take protein supplements in order to lose weight. This is done in order to show off those muscles – they are easier to discern when there’s no fat covering them.

On top of this, your bone health and your heart health are increased, since bodybuilding is a very comprehensive form of exercise. Improving your bone health is good, as it prevents osteoporosis.

It’s also crucial to emphasize the heart health factors of bodybuilding. Since there really isn’t any cardio involved in the effort of building mass, it’s easy to think that there aren’t any cardiovascular benefits. This isn’t true at all since bodybuilding can improve your blood flow and heart health.


Of course, in order to fully evaluate bodybuilding vs CrossFit, we need to point out some of the detrimental effects – or hazards, if you will – of bodybuilding. It isn’t all fun and games. In fact, bodybuilding can be tough, since you’re constantly pushing yourself.

Some people who spend their time bodybuilding have been known to take it too far and end up with a type of body dysmorphia. They want to constantly grow bigger and bigger muscles, and begin thinking that theirs are inadequate when they aren’t. The resulting disorder to similar to an eating disorder, only it involves muscles and not body fat.

In addition to this, some bodybuilders follow a very strict diet that focuses on eating a lot of protein and not so many fruits and vegetables. It’s easy to end up with vitamin deficiencies this way.

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To put it simply, the overall aim of bodybuilders is to enhance their muscle mass. Building mass is the most important focus. As you’ll see when we go over the other half of this bodybuilding vs CrossFit comparison, things are quite different on the so-called “other side of the aisle.”

What Does CrossFit Focus On?

Now, it’s time to focus on the other portion of this bodybuilding vs CrossFit comparison – the CrossFit part. CrossFit is a brand of exercise that’s practiced and coached in specific CrossFit gyms, with CrossFit equipment.

However, as time has gone by, this type of interval training has emerged from those branded gyms and into standard ones. What do we mean by intervals? Well, unlike the bodybuilding portion of this bodybuilding vs CrossFit comparison, those who practice it do many different exercises for very specific lengths of time.

Often, people move from one interval to another with very little time in between. A typical CrossFit regimen will consist of doing weightlifting, plyometrics, calisthenics, gymnastics, Powerlifting, and more. It’s common to see someone start out with some cardio-type exercises, do a bit of Powerlifting, more cardio, some gymnastics, and calisthenics, and then go back to cardio.

The idea behind CrossFit is building mass in a leaner way, with plenty of weight loss built in. There’s less emphasis on building huge muscles than there is in bodybuilding. With that said, there’s a competitive aim to CrossFit. It’s kind of like a decathlon, only with different exercises.

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The main benefits of CrossFit include good cardiovascular health (including improved blood pressure), weight loss, muscle gains (although not as much as those built up by bodybuilding), and improved bone health.

On top of this, since CrossFit tends to be practiced in very specific gyms, there is a sense of community amongst those who enjoy it. It’s easy to make friends with other Cross-Fitters, despite the competitive nature of the sport. This helps self-esteem.


CrossFit has received plenty of criticism over the years. Due to its competitive nature (and the competitive nature of the people who practice it), it’s common for people to end up injuring themselves. They don’t stop when something hurts, and instead, keep on moving or “playing through the pain.” This leads to things like torn muscles, sprains, strains, and even broken bones.

At the same time, a condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis has been attributed to CrossFit. To put it simply, this is a condition where the muscles breakdown in a very extreme way.

Those with it can end up with compartment syndrome, where the muscles end up swelling to the point of trapping the tissue near them, as well as renal (also known as kidney) problems. This exertional rhabdomyolysis typically occurs when people exercise to an extreme point.


It’s important to point out as part of this bodybuilding vs CrossFit comparison that CrossFit, when done properly, is designed to get you in great physical shape. This makes it somewhat similar to bodybuilding, although weight loss is more important than building mass in CrossFit.

Key Differences Between the Two

We’ve discussed both bodybuilding vs CrossFit in some detail above. Now it’s time to focus on the key differences between the two. As you can see from the descriptions above, these two forms of exercise do have some things in common, including building mass and weight loss.

However, when it comes to bodybuilding in this bodybuilding vs CrossFit comparison, those who practice it focus more on building mass. They want those huge muscles and lifting gains. With CrossFit, which does contain some bodybuilding, albeit, in intervals with other forms of exercise, the main emphasis is on weight loss and cardiovascular health.

Those who practice CrossFit will be in great shape and they’ll have defined muscles, but those muscles tend to be less huge than those of bodybuilders.

It’s tough to say which is the healthiest form of exercise. Both bodybuilding vs CrossFit have plenty of their own pros and cons. Bodybuilders tend to focus solely on those muscles and the lifting gains that they get with them, to the detriment of their own health in some cases.

While at the same time, the competitive nature of CrossFit can interfere with the whole body health emphasis of the exercises. What it comes down to is finding the right balance, no matter what type of workout you prefer.

Last Updated on April 12, 2024