LEP Fitness


CrossFit vs Bodybuilding | Which One Is Best?

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding | Which One Is Best?

Both CrossFit and Bodybuilding can help you improve your health, fitness, and body shape, but which one is best… CrossFit or Bodybuilding?

CrossFit vs Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding has been around for donkeys years (for at least the last century!). The sport became increasingly popular, and more accepted in the 1970/80s with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Pumping Iron) and Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) and it has continued to grow in popularity ever since.

CrossFit however, is a more recently developed sport, becoming mainstream around the year 2000, although the roots of the sport started many years before. It has rapidly grown in popularity and CrossFit gyms are opening up on every corner! 

Now i’m sure that most of you reading this article don’t want to be the next Mr Olympia, or a pro bodybuilder, or to compete in the CrossFit Games…however you would like to improve your physique, how it looks, how you perform, etc? and both disciplines, bodybuilding, and CrossFit can help you to achieve this.

In this article we will look at both Bodybuilding and CrossFit, looking at the pros and cons of each sport. You can then make up your mind as to which is best for you and your goals…

Bodybuilding | Background and Benefits…

Bodybuilding | Background and Benefits

First lets look at bodybuilding. The aim of bodybuilding is build muscle and improve appearance, it’s not necessarily about fitness, its about the image.

For example the aim is to build a symmetrical physique, with well proportioned muscles. All muscle groups are worked (often in isolation) and the aim is to have a good balance between the upper and lower body (not a barrel chest and chicken legs!). It’s also about having both the right and left sides of the body symmetrical i.e. the same shape, same size, etc. 

Like i said the main aim is appearance, not fitness, although fitness is often improved via bodybuilding training because it involves lots of high rep training which is also known as hypertrophy training – where the aim is to pump up muscles and make them swell – this is known as the pump. 

I’d also like to point out that there are different degrees of bodybuilding, for example not many people want to be a freakishly big bodybuilder like Kia Greene or Phil Heath, lots of people aspire to look more like physique athletes, for example Logan Franklin or Steve Cook…


bodybuilder physique

Physique Athlete

steve cook body

And then there are people that want less muscle than this, but they want to look aesthetically please and have a great beach body, for example the guys on Mens Health covers…

kirk miller - mens health

It’s all about personal preference, BUT if improving how your body looks is the number one goal, then you’d be best doing bodybuilding training.  

Bodybuilding | Disadvantages…

There are many disadvantages of bodybuilding, the sport is very ego driven, and ridden with insecurity. People (Including myself) often get into the sport because they are unhappy with how they look. You work hard and get a good physique, and feel more confident, but then all of a sudden you compare yourself to other guys in great shape, and the insecurity continues. It’s often a never ending cycle, because there’s always somebody out there in better shape, and it can make you less confident, unless you learn how to cope with your own insecurities and focus on your own mission.  

Bodybuilding like most sports can be very selfish, and lots of time is required in order for you to build a big physique. The more muscle you want, the more work you’re going to have to put in. If you want a physique like on Mens Health, lots of guys can do this in 1-2 years, however if you want to be a pro bodybuilder, it could take you 10 years. The more extreme the physique the longer it will take, and the more sacrifices you will need to make. 

The bodybuilding industry is also rife with steroids, something that all of the Olympia bodybuilders take, and likewise the smaller physiques like the Physique Athletes. To get that level of dense muscle, tight skin and vascular veins popping from every inch of your body – steroids are often used! 

CrossFit | Background and Benefits…

CrossFit | Background and Benefits

CrossFit… the clue is kind of in the title ‘Cross… Fit’ – it’s basically a mixture of fitness, strength, mobility, stamina, you name it! It’s an all around sport and the focus is solely on performance, although all pro Cross Fitters have incredible looking physiques, as a by product of their strength.  

The sport requires athletes to work on all components of fitness, for example…

  • Cardio: running, swimming, cycling, rowing, skipping
  • Strength: olympic lifts, body weight exercises (pull ups, dips, handstand press, etc)
  • Mobility: required for Olympic lifts 

Doing CrossFit is a great way to improve your overall health, fitness, body shape and well being. Workouts are very tough, but at the same time… highly rewarding. It’s a great sport for those of you who like a challenge, like a variety of workouts, and want to be part of a community. Unlike bodybuilding which is a very isolated/individual sport, CrossFit has more of a community vibe and it’s a great feeling being part of a squad of people who are all looking to improve their performance. 

There’s no doubt that if you do CrossFit for 1-2 years, training 3-5x per week, that you will be much fitter, stronger and have a more athletic physique.

CrossFit vs Bodybuilder Physique…

Bodybuilder, CrossFitter, Powerlifter

In terms of looks wise, you can see that CrossFitters and Bodybuilders look very different (see image above).

A bodybuilder will focus on strength and high rep work (to pump up muscles) whereas a CrossFitter focuses more on speed, high reps and endurance. Whilst both have great looking physiques… bodybuilders are bigger, whereas CrossFitters are much fitter!  

Here’s a great video of a bodybuilder doing a CrossFit/ functional training style workout, you can see it’s a totally different sport…

That said if you get a CrossFitter to do bodybuilding training they will not be able to perform as well as the bodybuilder. Although I would say a top CrossFitter would fare better at bodybuilding, than a bodybuilder doing CrossFit, most bodybuilders move poorly and aren’t very functional, they look great but move like an Ocean Ship – slow!

CrossFit | Disadvantages…

The disadvantages of CrossFit is that it places a huge amount of stress on not only muscles, but also… joints, ligaments, tendons, and the central nervous system. It’s extremely taxing and can cause serious damage if done incorrectly. 

Lots of the exercises are extremely technical, and for the beginner or person who’s out of shape… it’s probably not the best place to start – unless you attend a beginners class, or hire a one to one personal trainer who specialises in CrossFit. 

With CrossFit you need to start slow and build up. You also need to make-sure that you do plenty of mobility and recovery work in between workouts. For example doing things like foam rolling, stretching, mobility training, taking ice cold showers, improving sleep, eating plenty of protein, etc. 


So what’s best CrossFit or Bodybuilding? 

Honestly it really depends, both sports are awesome and it depends on what you want to achieve. If vanity is the main aim, then go for bodybuilding, if fitness and health are more important then CrossFit is better 

Thank for reading, what do you think is best Bodybuilding or CrossFit? and are there some points that i’ve missed… if so comment below? 

Thanks again,

fitness blogger Nick Screeton

Nick 🙂