Whether you want to burn fat or build strength, high-intensity interval training is one of the most popular forms of exercise worldwide. So, what fitness regime should you be following to maximize your efforts and achieve great results?

In this guide, we will introduce you to CrossFit and boot camp, and also emphasize the differences between the two. You should gain an informative insight into what training program will best suit your body and overall fitness goals.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the quickest ways to burn fat and lose weight. HITT involves pushing the body through vigorous training workouts that require bursts of energy and short but active recovery periods.

CrossFit and Boot Camp both make use of this form of exercise, but which implements it best? Below we compare CrossFit Vs. Boot Camp for maximum results.

Weight Loss

Many potential gym-goers consider the gym solely for weight loss. Boot camp places emphasis on bodyweight exercises and, for this reason, will probably lead to more cardio-based workouts.

The result is a training program that burns more calories but sacrifices muscle gain.

CrossFit will see better results in the long term, but for quick weight loss, boot camp is the winner.

Increasing Muscle

So, if you're doing a bunch of HIIT and burning your muscles, surely that means they will grow, right? Well, not necessarily, but they will tone up.

If your goal is to pack on muscle, you'll find better results in CrossFit. The compound lifts and weights will help you increase your muscle mass over a duration of a few weeks.

Boot camp does make use of strengthening exercises, but it's sometimes too short to see actual muscle growth.


Endurance is a tough one because both forms of training are high intensity and promote functional fitness. However, to have great endurance, this must be done over a period of time with practice.

CrossFit, therefore, implements a more balanced program that accounts for both strength and stamina.

You'll therefore be able to perform various activities (not just bodyweight exercises) while becoming comfortable over time due to the diverse nature of a CrossFit workout.


Once you've achieved the result you want, the next challenge will be maintaining your physique. You can put a lot of effort into your training, but if you don't watch your diet and keep training your muscles, you may go right back to where you started.

Therefore, maintenance is always important so you can have longevity regarding your results.

In this case, CrossFit is the better method to keep in shape.

For Serious Athletes

  • Powerlifters And Bodybuilders
    The short-term nature of boot camp would appeal more to this type of athlete. This allows for a change in the routine should you experience a training plateau. While CrossFit does include all of the compound lifts, it is not used enough to achieve powerlifting/bodybuilding results.
  • Sports Athletes
    While there is no doubt that CrossFit will improve your overall fitness and make you functionally strong, boot camp's shorter program duration would be better suited toward sports athletes during their off-season periods. Running those drills will keep you fit both physically and mentally.
  • Solo Lifters
    For athletes accustomed to setting up their own workout plan, the adaptability of CrossFit’s workout routine would be a great fit. Unlike boot camp’s fixed exercises, CrossFit will allow you to maintain that control of your workout while still doing something different.

What Is CrossFit Training?

CrossFit was created in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in Santa Cruz, California [1]. In 2020 it was reported that there were approximately 15,000 CrossFit affiliates around the world.

CrossFit can be defined as a strength and conditioning program. The training consists of bodyweight exercises, aerobic exercise, and Olympic weightlifting.

The aim is to develop fitness in terms of the 10 components of physical fitness: cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, stamina, strength, accuracy, balance, and coordination.

CrossFit furthermore greatly differs when compared to a standard muscle-building gym program. The emphasis with CrossFit is that the workout will consist of a variety of challenging workouts. Sure, you will be building strength in your muscles, but there will be no dedicated 'chest day.'

Instead, one half of the session might focus on conditioning and cardio, while the other has you weightlifting and moving between circuits. The end goal will be to achieve a physique that is capable of anything. CrossFit is functional fitness.

CrossFit is unique because the scale and intensity of an exercise are adjusted to an individual's current fitness level [2]. The program itself will not change, and everyone will be doing the same exercises throughout the class.

For example, instead of a squat bar loaded with weights, an instructor might let the participant substitute this with a single dumbbell and continue the squat motion. What always remains is that there is 'one' workout for everyone, including athletes to beginners, and each movement is customizable, so nobody is left behind.

Below we have included some standard CrossFit equipment you'll be using while training:

  • Olympic bench
    The Olympic bench is a great exercise to work the pectoral muscles, shoulders, and arms.
  • Power rack
    A power rack is a diverse piece of gym equipment that can be used for an assortment of safe exercises. Sometimes called a workout cage, the power rack can help gym-goers safely break through their deadlift, squat, and bench press plateaus.
  • Fitness equalizer
    The most common exercises you’ll perform on an equalizer are drips, pull-ups, inverted rows, and push-ups.
  • Dumbbells
    Everyone has heard of them, and for good reason. Dumbbells are found in every gym and fitness center. Most people think they can only be used for your arms, but in a CrossFit environment, they can be used as a variation for other muscle groups.
  • Tire Flip
    Flipping tires help develop posterior muscles like the glutes, hamstrings, and back. While you’re leaning down and pushing up, your shoulders, triceps, biceps, and forearms will also feel the burn.
  • Kettlebells
    Kettlebells are another all-in-one body conditioning tool. They are great to use for increasing your strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Some of the exercises you can perform using kettlebells include - goblet squats, one arm rows, shoulder halo, hip halo, one arms press, and chest-loaded swings.

Related Article - Best Power Racks Reviewed

What Is Crossfit

Popular CrossFit Workout Routines

A full CrossFit workout routine consists of four elements: the warm-up, the workout of the day, strength training, and the cooldown period.


A warm-up usually consists of exercises that are designed to get the blood flowing. Common warm-ups include - jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges, squats, jump rope, and pull-ups.

Some instructors warm up for 10 minutes, while others will increase the time to 20 minutes if it's more of a 'cardio' day.

Workout Of The Day (WOD)

The main course of the CrossFit routine, with various exercises that interchange between high intensity and strength training. The WOD is usually spread over multiple timed periods. There are mini-breaks in between sessions that are around 30 seconds.

Generally, the WOD can range anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes depending on the time of the other three elements in a CrossFit routine.

Strength Training

Strength days are usually twice a week. These compound exercises include - deadlifts, squats, and bench press. Strength training can also last the same time as the workout of the day, so you’re looking at 20 to 30 minutes.


Stretching post-workout is often looked over, but it's imperative to avoid injury and prevent the muscles from cramping. The cooldown is around 10 minutes, and after that, you're free to go.

Pros & Cons Of Crossfit Training


  • Functional fitness
    CrossFit is all about improving your strength, endurance, and agility.
  • Fat loss
    Not only will CrossFit training result in more stamina throughout the day, but stubborn fat will also begin to melt off.
  • Improved mindset and mental health
    Crushing goals in the gym will allow you to use that same mentality to conquer real-life obstacles.
  • Community support
    Unlike a regular gym, you will have a buddy to support and spot you while you exercise.
  • Tailored to you
    Every exercise can be adjusted and tailored to your current fitness level, which means that CrossFit lets you work the same muscle groups while adapting to your limitations.


  • Not recommended for competitive lifters
    CrossFit might include compound lifts, but they are not the core focus of the sport.  
  • A challenging start
    CrossFit throws you right into the action, and the first day or two can feel overwhelming.
  • Membership fees and contracts
    Whether that's 6 months or a year, these contracts can lock you in for some time.

What Is Boot Camp Training?

Boot camp training traces its origins as far back as the early 1990s, with most of the programs conducted by former military personnel themselves. The first boot camp appeared in Australia and later expanded to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Boot camp is a program designed to build strength and improve overall fitness. It differs from CrossFit in that it involves a group/pack workout where everyone does the exact same thing.

Unlike CrossFit, boot camp is a single activity that everyone completes at once. It takes the buddy aspect of CrossFit and shapes it into a larger group task.

Boot camp is also different in its times and overall duration. While CrossFit is ongoing, boot camp is a program that seeks to get quick results in a few weeks or a month.

Since boot camp is related to the military, the training routine will likely be quite intense and difficult. For that reason, boot camp sometimes comes with an age restriction and will ask that members are around mid-teens or twenties.

When deciding to join a boot camp, you can generally start at any fitness level. However, if you have an existing injury or you're elderly to the extent of risking an injury, you should stay clear. Boot camp is more catered towards teens to middle-aged adults ready to work and push themselves to exhaustion.

There is also an emphasis on losing body fat, promoting a regular exercise routine, and increasing cardiovascular health. This is done through a wide range of activities with a focus on bodyweight exercises.

Unlike CrossFit, boot camp will be done outdoors and won't include compound lifts. That means no deadlifts, weighted squats, or bench press.

Below we have included some of the specialized equipment found in a boot camp. It's a bit different from CrossFit but achieves somewhat the same results.

Bootcamp Training
  • Suspension Trainers
    Using your body weight, you'll be able to do 7 fundamental movements, which include: push, pull, plank, rotate, hinge, lunge, and squat. See our top suspension trainers here.
  • Battling ropes
    Battling ropes might seem intimidating at first, but they’re a good option for toning your abs, arms, back, and glutes.
  • Tires
    A great way to burn calories and develop posterior muscles. Common exercises include adding step-ups, pop squats, box jumps, and even tire slams.
  • SKLZ Lateral Resistor
    Develops first-step quickness and lateral speed, as well as tones leg muscles and improves flexibility.
  • Sandbags
    Used for building strength and improving endurance with exercises like lunges, front raises, hammer curls, rows, squats, and burpees.
  • Agility ladders
    A great way to improve speed and burn a ton of calories, agility ladder drills include 'single foot in each square, lateral stepping, jumping jack feet, and cross-overs.'
  • Sled Push
    Helps build both the upper and lower muscles, as well as a calorie burner, helping you strengthen your muscles while toning them too.

Popular Boot Camp Workouts

Since every boot camp is different, we can't necessarily predict what kind of equipment will be available to you, so we have compiled the most common equipment-free workouts you can expect.


A common exercise will be running from one place to another. After you’ve completed the initial 5-minute warm-up stretch to limber up the muscles, you might be told to run between beacons and repeat. Have you ever watched a military movie where everyone runs as a group and sings? Well, boot camp can be pretty much the same.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are an excellent way to get your heart racing and improve your cardiovascular health.

They are relatively easy to perform and offer a low impact on joints, so everyone should be able to perform the exercise without risking injury. These are a favorite among boot camp drill instructors, so prepare to jump for joy!

Butt Kicks

Butt kicks are another cardio-based exercise that also offers a good stretch for your quads and hamstrings. They’re often found in the warm-up routine, but it’s not uncommon for instructors to ask you to perform a few sets while you wait for everyone to complete the exercise.


Squats can come in a wide variety of variations. You may be asked to do them with just your bodyweight alone, with a single dumbbell, or perhaps a sandbag. They're great for leg and back muscle strengthening. As boot camp tends to be outside, you probably won't be using Olympic-sized barbells to squat.

Related Article - Olympic Barbell Vs Standard

Calisthenics Squats


Lunges can also be performed with bodyweight alone or additional weights. They help strengthen core, butt, and leg muscles. Additionally, they can also help correct your posture and range of motion.

When trying to increase the difficulty, instructors might have you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell while performing the exercise.

Mountain Climber

A classic boot camp training exercise. Depending on your fitness level, you could tackle it at a running speed or perform slow controlled reps.

The mountain climber is a core and cardiovascular burner. Additionally, your triceps and shoulders will get a good workout too!

Related Article - Most Effective Dumbbell Tricep Exercises


You might be told to perform a few stretching techniques, or the session might end with a slower jog. Boot camp takes the focus away from heavy compound lifts, so there is less risk of injury.

Therefore, instructors might push you to exhaustion and leave the workout like that. You can rest when time runs out and catch your breath.

Pros & Cons Of Boot Camp Training


  • Group activities
    Instead of a single workout partner, you’ll be able to complete the exercise with everyone without the pressure of a timed activity.
  • Intensive
    Boot camp encourages pushing your limits and doing what you didn’t think was possible.
  • Mental health
    The challenges you overcome in boot camp might allow you to break through bad habits or overcome challenges in life’s day-to-day activities you once thought too difficult.
  • An emphasis on endurance and cardio
    Lots of cardio and endurance-based exercises will lead to an increase in fat loss, and for most, that's the most crucial aspect of training.
  • A shorter program and contract
    Boot camps usually run for a few weeks and are not indefinite contracts. The shorter program time also means increased intensity while training for maximum results.
  • An outside training environment
    Boot camp often takes place outdoors, so you can enjoy a change of scenery if you're accustomed to training in an inside gym.


  • Limited adaptability
    Since everyone is doing the same exercise as a group, this can be a difficult situation for those suffering from injuries, people who are extremely unfit, or adults/kids who are physically unable to perform the exercise.
  • No compound exercises
    Boot camp steps away from the indoor environment, so you'll likely not find any bench press, squat rack, or barbells.
  • A short-term program
    Boot camp’s short-term nature does not promote long-term physique goals.

What Is Barry’s Bootcamp?

If you're interested in boot camp but would prefer a more modern approach, then let us introduce you to Barry's Bootcamp [3]. The company was founded in 1998 by Barry Jay and is a fitness brand that offers high-intensity interval workouts consisting of alternating cardio and strength training. 

Today, Barry's is available in more than 14 countries, including 70+ studios worldwide.

Instead of an outdoor boot camp feel with dated equipment, Barry's Bootcamp features red lighting, loud music, and state-of-the-art treadmills and machinery. The common boot camp bodyweight exercises remain the same, but it has been upgraded to more of a 'weight floor.' Clients will be able to make use of body mass and aerobic steps.

Generally, half the class will be on treadmills, while the other performs strength and conditioning exercises. When the instructor says so, you will be able to change activities and repeat the process.

Barry's Bootcamp is usually around 50-60 minutes, depending on how fast everyone completes their workout [4]. But, this raises the question, Barry's Bootcamp vs. CrossFit? Although Barry's Bootcamp contains more gym equipment and machinery, there won't be any compound lifts. 

Again, you'll need to head over to CrossFit if you want to practice your deadlifts, squats, and bench press.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is bootcamp considered HIIT?

Yes, boot camp can be considered HIIT to a certain extent. Intense training with short intervals can form part of your boot camp workout, but you'll also perform strength exercises with longer breaks. Boot camp, therefore, isn't just 'HIIT'; it's a mixture of exercise techniques.

Does boot camp build muscle?

Yes, boot camp can help you build some lean muscle depending on the time frame. Theoretically, lifters see 'new' muscle after 6 weeks of training, so the boot camp should extend for a few weeks in order to see results. However, it also tones your body, so you will see better muscle definition of what you already have.

Why do bodybuilders hate CrossFit?

Bodybuilders don't necessarily hate CrossFit; it just conflicts with the required training needed to be a bodybuilder. CrossFit bases a lot of focus on functional fitness and full-body workouts, whereas a bodybuilding routine will split workouts into different body parts for each day.

How is CrossFit different from circuit training?

CrossFit implements both compound exercises and Olympic lifts. Although it is similar to circuit training where you would move on to another exercise, CrossFit also offers short breaks in between. Circuit training, on the other hand, is more of a bodyweight training style without breaks and constant rotation.


If you’re interested in a long-term fitness plan with an emphasis on building lean muscle, performing compound lifts, and a circuit-based buddy system, then CrossFit might be what you’re looking for.

However, if the long-term training routine isn’t your thing, then boot camp might be something worth considering.

Sign up for a month course and experience bodyweight exercises, intensive cardio, and an outside training environment. Whatever your choice may be, both training programs will lead you to a healthier and more active life.






Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.