With so many decisions to make in our quest to find the perfect recipe for fitness we often feel that we have to make a choice when determining the type of training that will give us the best results. But why? Is it because of popular opinion at the time? Or maybe it is based on what we see our favorite athlete or performer doing. Guess what …you don’t have to choose!
Yes, it’s true. There is a way to combine multiple forms of exercise into one training regimen. Let’s take a look at a common question we receive from our members: which is better cardio or CrossFit? We consider a cardio-based workout as one that focuses on physical exercise that’s low to high intensity and raises your heart rate.
A misconception is that CrossFit is not cardio based and an athlete must choose one or the other. CrossFit is defined as “constantly varied high intensity functional movement”. So, you will get varied intensity movements and types of exercises in each workout of the day (WOD) in CrossFit. In a CrossFit WOD you have the ability to perform both a cardio and strength-based workout all in one session.
You will also find that there are many CrossFit workouts that are designed for endurance where you focus on cardio-based movements such as rowing for time, jumping rope for a specific time domain or repetition count or even running for time or distance. Some days may focus on an endurance workout where the goal is to condition your body to physically be able to sustain a certain level of exercise for a period of time. These workouts will also test your mental strength and teach you how to pace yourself, ensure consistent rhythmic breathing and ultimately build your cardiovascular ability over time.
For example, performing a 20-minute AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) of a 200-meter run, 10 overhead squats and 15 box jumps will test your endurance with a major focus on pacing and controlling your heart rate. Comparatively, other workouts may focus on how to train your body to deliver a higher output in a shorter period of time at a high intensity. This includes workouts that are programmed with shorter time domains, possibly couplets (two movements only), with small repetition numbers. Programming a 10-minute AMRAP of a 7-calorie row and 10 back squats will push you to move quickly which increases your heart rate but also provides you a significant time on the rower, one of the best exercises for cardio endurance (besides everyone’s favorite…running!).
Ultimately, the choice of whether cardio or CrossFit is better for you is based on the goals of the athlete. But choosing a type of workout such as CrossFit will give you the ability to have the best of both worlds with varied functional movements and programming. This way you don’t have to focus on a singular type of exercise regimen and ultimately get the benefits of cardio endurance style training in addition to strength training, gymnastics, mobility and other forms of fitness all in one.