CrossFit Isn’t Just Trademarked HIIT

Love to Eat? Introducing

Are you passionate about food, nutrition and recipes? Unleash your inner foodie and check out our brand-new site - share your favorite recipes at Nutrition-WOD today!

Print
by TATUM VAYAVANANDA

It comes up all the time to the unfamiliar: “CrossFit is just HIIT, right?” Before I give you my take, let’s take a look at High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.

What Is HIIT?

CrossFit Isn't Just Trademarked HIIT

The short answer: HIIT is a great way to burn a lot of fat, sculpt muscle, and build athletic efficacy in a short amount of time.
HIIT is a specialized and programmable form of interval training that combines alternating periods of intense anaerobic work with less-intense rest periods. These have been trending in the past decade because they work, but the truth is that HIIT is nothing new. In the 1930s, the Swedish were tired of losing to the Finns in cross-country competitions. A guy by the name of Gösta Holmér decided to put his athletes through workouts that incorporated brief amounts of fast-paced runs followed by a slower pace for long distances. He called it “speedplay” in his native language, which translates to “fartlek.” Anyone who has ever trained for an aerobic race over 5K has probably heard of fartleks because they are commonly-practiced methodology in those realms of exercise. Of course, this has been translated into the fitness world to transcend more than running technique; it builds athletes.

HIIT is a great way to burn a lot of fat, sculpt muscle, and build athletic efficacy in a short amount of time. Now the public is finding out that HIIT works! Fitness fads, such as the “Insanity” and “P90X” DVDs build upon this method, as well as the actors who starred in the movie “300,” who had to transform their bodies into Spartans in a short span of time. Along with the rapid evolution in social communication, it didn’t take long for the public to figure out the secrets of the professionals.

So, it “burns a lot of fat, sculpts muscles, builds athletic efficacy…” Sounds a lot like the benefits of CrossFit; therefore many people assume that CrossFit and HIIT must be the same thing. But let me explain why that is only a partially-correct answer.

“The Fran Example”

"The Fran Example"

Question: [F]or a competitive CrossFitter, is Fran an “interval exercise?” Some of the elite have sub 2-minute Fran times, and they don’t break that up at all.
Yes, it’s true that CrossFit programming includes elements of HIIT training (Tabata intervals, for example). But to say that they are the same thing is a misnomer; HIIT is but a portion of the pie when you are talking about constant-variance through functional movements at high intensity across broad time and modal domains. I like to use the Fran example:

Fran is a set-structure of 21-15-9 thrusters followed by pull-ups for time. Most CrossFitters achieve this by breaking them up; one example is to do 3 sets of 7 reps for the 21, 3 sets of 5 reps for the 15, and 3 sets of 3 reps for the 9. It’s intense, it’s broken up into sets and reps with little rest and it’s done rapidly; so yes, that’s an interval workout.

But consider this: for a competitive CrossFitter, is Fran an “interval exercise?”  Some of the elite have sub 2-minute Fran times, and they don’t break that up at all; it’s a continuous motion from 21 thrusters and pulls ups all the way down to the last 9. So Fran is only a “HIIT exercise” if you scale it down to one.

What I’m trying to say is, HIIT is not inclusive enough to be considered the exact same as CrossFit. You can do “Fight Gone Bad” — one of the more a more classic benchmark workouts — every single day, but is that “CrossFit”? Where’s the constant-variance? Where’s the broad modal and time domains? Where’s the unknown and unknowable?

Going Beyond HIIT

Going Beyond HIIT

CrossFit & HIIT: It doesn’t mean we don’t do it and it doesn’t mean that it’s bad; [CrossFit is] simply much more profound than just high-intensity intervals.
To “CrossFit” means you are building athletic efficacy through all physical domains. You touch upon metabolic conditioning, gymnastics and weightlifting modalities. You squat, you run, you flip tires, you muscle-up, you burpee, you snatch. The variance is just as much a part of CrossFit as the HIIT-portion is. CrossFit is also scalable; it believes that our needs in fitness vary by degree but not kind. Even the simple fact that you don’t know what you’re getting into until a couple hours before your WOD is part of being prepared for the unknown and the unknowable, unlike a 6-week workout routine where it is all planned out for you.

CrossFit even has guidelines for nutritional and competitive eating plans, mobility guides and specialty courses for a myriad of sport-specific skills like martial arts and football. All these elements are what make CrossFit programming so unique and different than just “working out.”

Many find that CrossFit is the holistic prescription for health and fitness, and it would be unfair to consider it exactly like HIIT. It doesn’t mean we don’t do it and it doesn’t mean that it’s bad; it’s simply much more profound than just high-intensity intervals.

It’s simply much more profound than just high-intensity intervals
Tatum is a lead trainer for CrossFit Panzer Kaserne and is a part of the close-knit CrossFit community of Stuttgart, Germany. Follow him on Twitter at @tatumvay.

Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

CrossFit Los Gatos posted an article
mindcoach published the post Confidence and High Intensity Performance on Tabata Times
I know we just moved out of ski season, but skiing has so much to teach us about mental strength...
Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

week5 wod4 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-jj

CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/whiteboard/

CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/daily-wod/

CrossFit Sweatshop posted an article
CrossFit Oakdale shared a link on Facebook

http://cfoakdale.com/2014/07/03/kevins-climb-completed/

Concord CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Welcome some new faces :-) great job tonight Courtney, John and Megan!!!

CrossFit Mill Valley shared an image on Facebook

Worlds colliding to save lives. Juggling for Jude #poweredbymammoth

CrossFit 209 Sport shared a link on Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=735577119822185&id=163071317072771

CrossFit 209 Sport posted on Facebook

What will you be making for your 4th of July BBQ??? Let's hear it!! https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=410308475776149&substory_index=0&id=271313329675665

CrossFit 209 Sport shared an image on Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=284606848385040&id=148284738683919 More info on knee pain!!

CrossFit Oakdale posted on Facebook

http://www.playbuzz.com/erikw/what-crossfit-exercise-are-you

CrossFit Los Gatos shared an image on Facebook

Noon class finishing strong today! Kb's, push jerks and C2b pull ups! Oh ya ;)

CrossFit Envy shared a link on Facebook

Oops, forgot to mention, use the link to sign up and help a brother out :-P.

CrossFit Envy shared a link on Facebook

Hey everyone! Inov-8's, along with Skins and CEP compression gear, and other great gear for CrossFit.

CrossFit Modesto posted on Facebook

Just a little FYI guys, Friday July 4th. Coach Chris will be in at 5:30am for a workout and Coach Billy will be in at 9am as well! These are the only two classes for Friday, so prepare for some fun!

CrossFit Davis shared a link on Facebook

Make Coach Elliot happy and sign up for the Tommy Kono Meet coming up in August! There are sign up sheets at the gym! Talk to Elliot or any other coach for more info!

Tamalpais CrossFit posted on Facebook

July Happenings: Friday July 4th- 8 & 9am Classes only! Sunday July 6th- 9am Swim WOD at COM Kentfield Pool Sunday July 6th- Oly Strong moves to 10:15am on Sundays Tuesday July 8th- 11-11:45am CrossFit Kids starts, 2 spots left, register today! Parents WOD while your kid plays! Saturday July 12th- Crosstown Throwdown TCF vs Santa Rosa Strength and Conditioning – 11:45-2 pm at TCF, sign up on competition board located in SRB- all levels welcome! July 21st- Clarke Holland attends and dominates the CrossFit Games 2014

FTF Fitness posted an article
CrossFit Petaluma posted on Facebook

Schedule for the week of July 4th: Friday, July 4th: 10am class @ CSC only Saturday, July 5th: 10am class @ CSC only Make your way up to CrossFit Sonoma County to pick a Hero workout to complete in honor of Independence Day! The gym will be open from 10am-11:30am. Come in and throw down before a day filled with food, family, and fireworks!

CrossFit 209 Sport posted on Facebook

4th of July hours 8 and 9 AM only!!

bevchildress published the post Do You Struggle With Chronic Disease? on
I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it at bay and...
mlsweezey published the post Baby Got Back: My New CrossFit Ass and Other Image Crushing Muscles on
Random Person: “um, do you workout?” Me: “No. This totally happens by accident. Strangest...
Morgan Hill CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

My awesome 7pm Metcon class workin' hard!

CrossFit Modesto shared an image on Facebook

Last nights Pull Up Skill,Clinic was full as can be! We had people get their first Kipping Pull Up, we had others improve their technique, and started others on their way to getting pullups! It was great time yesterday, good work to all those who attended!

CrossFit HEALDSBURG posted on Facebook

Schedule for 4th of July weekend Thursday, July 3rd 6:00am 8:30am 9:30am 12:00pm 5:00pm Friday, July 4th 8:30am 9:30am 12:00pm Saturday, July 5th 9:00am Have a safe and happy 4th!!

South Sacramento CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

24:17 top time for the ladies for Shakira!

South Sacramento CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Mr. Sub 20 Michael! 19:40 score to beat.

American River Crossfit shared a link on Facebook

07/02/2014 http://wp.me/sGeX1-07022014

CrossFit East Sacramento shared a link on Facebook

Today's blog post is up on the CFES Blog - [4th of July Outta The Box WOD @ Guy West]

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Prehab/activation: SMR - low back / erectors 2 min Banded hamstring mobilization 2x10 glute bridges 2x10 supermans -then- 10x2 Banded Speed deadlifts Take a few minutes to find a reasonable work weight for Banded deadlifts. It will be in the 50-70% range of your best Deadlift... But use a weight that allows you to PULL FAST off the floor, and lockout fast, even with the band. Hold each lockout for a 3 count, and deload the bar between reps. Guys use the blue or red band, and girls use red. -then- 4 rounds for time: 400m run 500m row 60 double unders

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Competitors Program Week 6, Day 3: 6x3 Power Cleans from the blocks @ 70-75% (at the knee or slightly above) -then- AMRAP in 10 minutes: (4,8,12...) toes to bar *unbroken 25' handstand walk after each round *if you complete the round of 24, then stop and mark the time -then- 4 rounds for time: 400m run 500m row 60 double unders

mindcoach published the post The Importance of Performance Goals on
I’ve written several posts and articles on the mental strength skill of goal setting, so this...
CrossFit West Petaluma shared a link on Facebook

Red, White, and Blue! http://blog.genesispetaluma.com/?p=2664

CrossFit Folsom Lake shared a link on Facebook

It's a new month! What are you going to do with it? These folks are making it happen! http://t.co/AJV8iYk8OR

CrossFit Davis shared an image on Facebook

June! Another great month at CFD!

Corey's Gym posted an article
CrossFit Petaluma shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Sacramento posted on Facebook

Attention All Members.....The gym will be open on the 4th of July from 8-10am. There will be 1 class at 8 and open gym at 9. The gym will be closed on Saturday July 5th. Have a great Holiday weekend!

CrossFit Davis shared a link on Facebook

New On Ramp starts tonight! We are running a new schedule now that allows you to start on any Tuesday and attend classes for 4 weeks! For more info visit www.crossfitdavis.com or send an email to info@crossfitdavis.com

CrossFit Echelon posted an article
CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

Who hit today's Swim WOD? If you missed it, have no fear. 5:30 and 6:30 classes are heading out soon. Get there!

Good Times CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

There's still time to sign up for the Rowing Clinic with Scott Frandsen on July 12th at 10am. Learn how to row with Power and Efficiency from the Olympian and Rowing Coach. $60 per person. Sign up at the gym.

CrossFit Genesis shared an image on Facebook

paleobutter published the post Paleo Chocolate & Amaretto Macaroons on Nutrition WOD
  Macaroons The legend of how amaretto liquor was first created is (oh man), so Italian...
Jefferson State CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Get your teams together now!

CrossFit Anywhere shared a link on Facebook

Let's Go USA!

North State CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

This Friday for Independence Day! we will be having a 10am Class ONLY with childcare. Wear your red, white, and blue and lets start the day off right!!!

CrossFit Redding posted on Facebook

4th of July CrossFit Redding Schedule: We will be running 3 WOD times 8a, 930a, 11a.

Another Level CrossFit posted on Facebook

For anyone who was wondering if the gym was going to be open on Friday the 4th of July..... We will be holding one 9AM class for anyone who wants to come get there WOD in before all the parties and family time start. =)

CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

Swim WOD fun with all the kids this morning!

Another Level CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Make a change in your life today!! Step outside of your normal box and explore something new.

CrossFit Genesis shared a link on Facebook

July 1, 2014 Workout of the Day #workout #crossfit #roseville

Dan Klug published the post Quick and Easy (5-Ingredient) BBQ Sauce on
Finding a relatively “clean” BBQ sauce can often be a more daunting task than the actual...
CrossFit Determination posted on Facebook

Strength: 1a) 4x:40 FLR 1b) 4x 8 pendlay rows WOD: 10-1 reps of Pull ups Power cleans

American River Crossfit posted on Facebook

CORRECTION: Special Hours on Friday, July 4th. 8am Group Class 9am Open Gym

CrossFit Campbell shared a link on Facebook

My fitbit #Fitstats for 6/30/2014: 25,136 steps and 11.2 miles traveled. http://t.co/lGgXoqQWii

CrossFit Campbell shared a link on Facebook

If you're always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you're in? #crossfitcampbell http://t.co/kxFRncZPR7

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV