Is CrossFit Good For Weight Loss?

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You can work out more in many different ways. Find out whether CrossFit is good for weight loss, how it compares to other options, and more.

To lose weight, you need to use up more energy than is coming in from food.

CrossFit is good for weight loss in the sense that it helps in this process. The more intense movements and extra muscle mass you build make it so your body uses more energy.

In fact, while there are a few more effective options too, CrossFit is relatively good for these purposes and in turn, for losing weight.

One of the additional benefits of CrossFit is that many people find the variety of exercises enjoyable. This can benefit consistency.

At the same time, your habits in lifestyle areas like your diet still need to be good enough to see weight loss results from CrossFit.

Additionally, CrossFit can be relatively rough on your body. If you are sensitive to injuries, you likely want to choose different workouts.

Can CrossFit help you lose weight?

Before going into the details, it is worth quickly mentioning that similar to other forms of exercise, CrossFit can indeed help you lose weight. That being said, there are still conditions.

To lose weight, you need to get in a situation where your body requires more energy to function than is coming in from food. At this point, you start using up energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.

CrossFit helps in this process because the movements involved are likely more intense than your usual activities.

This requires more energy from your body and in turn, increases your chances of getting into the situation above and/or making the difference bigger to see more weight loss results.

At the same time, you still need to keep the other part of the weight loss fundamental above in mind. Your habits in areas like your diet still need to be good enough to lose weight with CrossFit.

Something else to note is that you likely also want to know how CrossFit compares to other workouts. You only have a small amount of time to exercise more.

How long does it take to lose weight doing CrossFit

Calories burned CrossFit vs other exercises

To compare CrossFit to other exercises in terms of weight loss you can look at how many calories each activity burns.

One thing to note first about these amounts is that they are for during the workout only. Building extra muscle mass with CrossFit would result in more long-term calorie burning that is not included in the estimations.

Another detail that makes things harder is that CrossFit can consist of so many different exercises and even workout categories. These actually burn different amounts of calories.

So while there are some estimations for vigorous weight lifting, running, and rowing, you have to keep in mind that the numbers of calories burned during CrossFit are actually hard to predict.

At the same time, the estimations do you give an idea of how different activities compare in this area.

A 155-pound (70 kg) person can burn more or less the following amounts of calories when doing the activities for 30 minutes (1):

The following numbers are an estimation for a 155-pound person doing the exercises for 30 minutes (1).

  • Weight Lifting (vigorous): 216 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
  • Running 5 mph: 288 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 144 calories
  • Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 144 calories
  • Walking 4 mph: 175 calories
  • Stair Step Machine (general): 216 calories
  • Swimming (general): 216 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 324 calories

The first thing that becomes clear is that your choice of CrossFit workouts will influence your calorie-burning results a nice amount.

Secondly, while there are more effective options, CrossFit can help you burn a good amount of calories (and hopefully in turn help you lose weight).

Is CrossFit good for losing belly fat?

There is a common myth that you have to do certain workouts or eat certain foods to lose fat in certain areas like your stomach.

Unfortunately, CrossFit or other workouts will generally not allow you to target fat loss in areas like your belly. To do this, you have to lose enough weight overall.

Over time, your body will “decide” to use more and more of the fat from around your stomach.

So in a way, you can say that CrossFit can help you lose belly fat.

However, you first need to have good habits in other areas like nutrition. Even then, it could take a while before CrossFit really helps you lose a lot of belly fat.

Does CrossFit build muscle?

As briefly mentioned, the fact that CrossFit can help you build muscle is an important detail when it comes to losing weight.

One of the main reasons for this is that how much you weigh plays an important role in how many calories you burn.

This does not only apply to CrossFit workouts but also to your daily life.

Compound lifts for big muscles are relatively common in CrossFit. With somewhat good resistance, repetition, and set ranges, these can help you build a nice amount of muscle mass.

In turn, you get some extra calorie burning from CrossFit that may not be included in the estimations above.

So if you see that a cardiovascular-only workout and CrossFit burn the same number of calories during the workout, you can expect CrossFit to be slightly more effective in the long term.

How long does it take to see weight loss from CrossFit?

After reading the things above, it is normal that you want to know how long it would take to see weight loss results once you start doing CrossFit.

While there are some interesting numbers below, something to note first is that your habits in areas like your diet will influence the actual results a lot.

That being said, you can assume that there is a 155-pound (70kg) person who has a routine that keeps them at the same weight. The only change this person makes is doing more CrossFit.

Let’s say this 155-pound (70kg) person implements a minimalist CrossFit workout of 15 minutes of vigorous weight lifting and 15 minutes of running 5 mph three times a week.

In that case, this person can burn an extra 756 calories or about 0.22 pounds (0.1 kg) of body fat a week.

After doing these CrossFit workouts for a month (4 weeks), this person could burn an extra 3024 calories or lose about 0.86 pounds (0.38 kg) of body fat.

CrossFit causes these changes in your body during the workout. So theoretically, you could see results very soon.

In practice, it will take more something along two to four weeks before CrossFit changes your body in significant (but still small) amounts.

How often you should do CrossFit to lose weight

By now it should be clear that how often you should do CrossFit to lose weight is not a straightforward question to answer.

With the right habits in other areas, you could lose weight while doing zero CrossFit workouts.

On the other hand, it is possible to do five CrossFit workouts a week or more without seeing any weight loss results.

Another factor to keep in mind is that doing CrossFit too often can be too challenging for your body. In turn, this can lead to injuries.

So how often you should do CrossFit to lose weight depends on your other lifestyle habits, goals, and sensitivity to injuries.

When in doubt, you can start with something like one CrossFit workout a week, see how your body reacts (in terms of injuries and weight loss), and adjust this number if possible/desired/needed.

How to maximize weight loss with CrossFit

If you are interested in losing weight, you likely want to know how you can maximize the results you get with CrossFit. Some of the following tips can help with that:

  • Stick to compound lifting movements for big muscle groups (not sit-ups or other core isolation exercises)
  • Implement repetitions, resistance, and sets that are good for building muscle mass
  • Increase the intensity of your cardiovascular movements (to safe extents)
  • You could wear a weighted vest during cardiovascular movements (if your body can deal with it
  • Pay enough attention to other lifestyle habits like your diet

Even if some of these tips do not make the biggest difference in one CrossFit workout, small changes can still add up to nice amounts of weight loss results.

Why you are not losing weight doing CrossFit

There are people who spend hours sweating away in their CrossFit gym, lifting extremely heavy weights, and still not losing weight.

The first thing to note is that building muscle mass will also increase the number on the scale. Even though you are actually getting healthier.

Make sure you pay attention to body fat percentage too.

That aside, if you are not seeing any fat loss results while doing CrossFit, you likely have suboptimal habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition.

Is CrossFit a good exercise choice for losing weight?

While there are a few more optimal choices too, CrossFit is relatively good for burning a lot of calories and building a nice amount of muscle mass.

Additionally, many people like the variety of exercises in CrossFit and the group aspect of CrossFit gyms.

The result of this is that CrossFit can definitely be a good exercise choice for losing weight.

One thing you do want to keep in mind is that CrossFit can be relatively rough on your body.

If you are new to working out you may want to start with other strengthening activities first. Injuries can reduce the amount of exercise you can do a lot.

Besides that, you again want to keep in mind that your habits in other areas like your diet will influence your CrossFit weight loss results a lot.

It is possible to have a great exercise routine but still gain weight.

Should you do CrossFit or weightlifting for weight loss?

A nice amount of the weight loss results from CrossFit come from the muscle mass you build. You may wonder if it is a good idea to only do the weightlifting exercises instead.

First of all, it is hard to predict how effective each exercise will be per minute of working out. Partly because different people get different results.

Weightlifting will generally help you build more muscle than CrossFit. However, there could be a point where the small extra muscle gains do not compensate for the challenging cardiovascular movements in CrossFit.

Additionally, you have to take the injury risk of CrossFit into account.

If you are a resistance training beginner with a very busy schedule, you may see more weight loss results from doing weightlifting exercises.

As your body gets stronger and more muscular, you may get to a point where there is not that much extra room for muscle growth within your busy schedule.

Switching over to CrossFit at that point can get you the extra calorie burning and weight loss results from the cardiovascular movements while preserving your muscle mass.

If you have more time and your body is strong enough, you could consider doing both CrossFit and weightlifting for weight loss. Potentially in a routine with weeks of one or the other.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.