CrossFit vs Boxing: Which is better for you?

This article will compare CrossFit vs Boxing, two excellent fitness programs for losing weight, gaining strength and joining a community of like-minded athletes.

Both are challenging, fun, and effective. But which is best for your specific health and fitness goals?

In my case, I wanted to get into shape and lose the extra weight that had been piling on over the years. But I also didn’t want to get bored with the same old routine. So, I looked at both fitness strategies, considering the following:

  • CrossFit works out the entire body and encourages a supportive atmosphere among its followers. You never know what exercise the coaches will throw at you.
  • Boxing builds speed, endurance, agility, and upper body strength. It depends on four types of punches and their combinations.

In the end, CrossFit became my regimen of choice. The workouts kept changing to hold my interest, and they built my entire body, including its strength, endurance, flexibility, and power. While fitness boxing also works on strength, endurance, and power, it focuses on upper-body work.

If you’re evaluating each program, like me, you’ll want to break down the fundamental differences to make an informed choice and pursue one (or both) to get the most bang for your buck.

Let’s look at CrossFit vs Boxing (specifically fitness boxing) more closely to see how they match up.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a high-intensity training program that exercises the entire body. Its WODs (Workouts of the Day) mix weightlifting, calisthenics, and aerobic exercises to improve strength, endurance, flexibility, and power.

The workouts are held in a gym called a box and vary each day to stimulate different body parts in different ways. They are usually held in a class format under the watchful eye of one or more coaches. The shared pain and gain fosters a strong sense of camaraderie and support.

Some CrossFitters excel enough to progress in athletic competitions held at the box, city, regional, national, and global levels. However, most adherents are satisfied with getting a rigorous workout to keep fit.

All genders, ages, and athletic abilities work out in the same class at the same time because the movements scale to individual abilities. An Olympic lift might be done with a plastic pipe by a senior citizen, an empty bar by a newbie, at the recommended weight by an experienced athlete, and a heavier weight by an elite crossfitter.

What is an example of a Crossfit WOD?

A CrossFit WOD starts with a warm-up designed to get the blood flowing, loosen the joints and muscles, and prepare the body for the workout.

A typical warm-up might include rowing or running, stretching, and movements that duplicate the upcoming WOD, only with fewer reps and lighter weights.

Here is a sample workout from the CrossFit Open of 2017.

In 13 minutes, complete as many rounds and reps as possible of the following:

  • 55 deadlifts at 225 lbs. With your hands shoulder-width apart, grab a weighted bar resting on the floor. Lift the barbell as you straighten your body. The bar should reach the upper thigh. Then lower the barbell back to the ground. You can scale the weight based on your ability.
  • 55 wall balls. With a 20-lb. wall ball held chest high and feet shoulder-width apart, squat down below parallel. Move up while throwing the ball to a 10-ft. target. Catch the ball, squat, and repeat. You can scale the weight of the ball and the target’s height.
  • 55-calorie row on a machine. Scale the number of calories.
  • 55 handstand pushups. Stand on your head with your back against a wall. With your hands to the side of your shoulders, push with your arms until they are fully extended. And then lower your head to the ground and repeat. Scale to a hand-release pushup.

What is fitness boxing?

Boxing puts two gloved opponents in a ring, so they can slug it out until one is declared the winner. Fitness boxing programs, whether through a home-based workout program or one of the many boxing programs and classes like Title Boxing club and Legends Boxing, duplicate many of the moves. But, for the most part, it avoids you getting into a ring as well as hitting or being hit.

You gain upper-body strength, endurance, agility, coordination, and power.

While having a high skill level is helpful, you do not need to be in boxing shape to participate in these workouts. You’ll find people of all shapes and sizes trying to get fit. You learn to use your entire body rather than just your arm to throw a punch. This adds power to the movement and raises your heart rate quickly.

The workout consists of variations with both the left and right arms.

  • Jab: Punch forward quickly.
  • Cross: Punch across the body.
  • Hook: While twisting your back and core, swing your arm, which bends at an angle near 90 degrees, at a horizontal arc into the jaw, mostly, but also the body of your opponent.
  • Uppercut: Punch upward using your hips.

Depending on the class and the coach, you may punch the air or a heavy bag, a great stress-reliever. You can also do the moves solo or go back and forth with a partner. The session can also include stretching, strength training, and endurance movements, such as skipping rope.

What is an example of a fitness boxing workout?

A warm-up for a fitness boxing workout increases mobility, elevates the heart rate, and preps the body for the coming movements. It can include arm and hip circles, jumping rope, or hitting a heavy bag with minimal power.

This sample fitness boxing workout is from Men’s Journal.

  1. Start with four 3-minute rounds of jabs, crosses, and hooks, followed by 30 pushups.
  2. Each of the next rounds lasts three minutes on a heavy bag followed by 30 seconds of rest.
    • Jabs only.
    • Double jab-cross.
    • Jab-cross-hook.
    • Any four punches.
    • Any combination of punches and 180-degree semi-circles around the bag between combinations.
  1. Do 20 hard hooks, 20 hard crosses, and 40 quality jabs.
  2. Finish with 200 situps, 30 pullups, and 40 lunges.

How are they different?

CrossFit boasts a wider variety of exercises with more types of equipment, such as rowers, exercise bikes, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, exercise balls, ropes, sleds, tires, and gymnastic rigs. No part of the body escapes the workout.

The complexity of some movements demands training in a week-long ramp-up program before you’re allowed to participate in a regular WOD. Membership in a CrossFit box with unlimited use runs close to $200.

Fitness boxing involves taping your hands and wearing gloves. While a more comprehensive session can include calisthenics, weightlifting, and running to exercise different body parts, it focuses on throwing punches in various combinations. You may end up hitting a bag, which is a great stress reliever.

The boxing workout favors the upper body over the lower one unless you sign up for kickboxing. Membership in a fitness boxing gym runs about $100 or less.

How are they similar?

While the top athletes of boxing and CrossFit impress with their high skill levels, most of their trainees are simply ordinary people trying to get in better shape. Both regimens build endurance, strength, agility, and power. Workouts last an hour, including a short warm-up and cool-down.

Aficionados of either workout can progress to higher-level competitions. Those who enjoy boxing can eventually test their skills against an opponent in the ring. CrossFitters can move on to competitions that culminate in the CrossFit Games, held every year.

What’s better about CrossFit?

In a typical CrossFit WOD, you’ll jump, swing, throw, lift, bend, push, pull, and climb. These are movements you use in everyday life, so the regimen helps you get through normal activities during your day.

You use your entire body, if not in one WOD, in a whole week’s worth of WODs. This effectively increases calorie burning, which helps you lose weight more quickly. The sheer variety of exercises and equipment staves off boredom because you never know what’s coming at you in the next workout.

The structure of a CrossFit WOD encourages mutual support and a social atmosphere. It’s not unusual for adherents to attend competitions together, plan healthy meals, and socialize after being done at the box. That level of camaraderie extends even to the Crossfit Games, where competitors cheer each other to excel.

What’s better about fitness boxing?

The variety and complexity of CrossFit exercises can increase the odds of injury because you need skills in all of them to do them correctly. Fitness boxing lowers the chances of hurting yourself because you only have four basic punches to learn.

Fitness boxing is also about half the cost of CrossFit. It works more often with a partner when you spar. All you need is a pair of gloves and not a gym full of equipment.

Who should try CrossFit (and why)?

If you prefer a social atmosphere with plenty of support, try CrossFit. It’s made for those who get bored easily with the same exercise because of the variety of movements in a WOD. For those who like numbers, you can gauge your progress by keeping track of increases in the weight used and the reps done as well as the decreases in time.

While CrossFit emphasizes competing against yourself, those who like to compete against others can advance to contests from the local to the international level.

Who should try fitness boxing (and why)?

If you live a stressful existence, an efficient way of relieving the tension is by hitting a heavy bag in fitness boxing. It also works better for those on a budget because of its lower cost.

The focus on upper-body punching encourages those who have difficulty standing or walking to participate. The regimen acts as a stepping stone for those who want to progress to the ring or participate in other martial arts.

Tim Rollins, Editor

About boxletes was created by a team of CrossFit athletes and fitness enthusiasts who love to share information about the best CrossFit boxes, workout gear and equipment, and fitness and nutrition tips.

Learn More

Share to...