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Bodybuilding Before CrossFit

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
Bodybuilding Before CrossFit
You're going to have to decide which is more important to you - bodybuilding or CrossFit? Photo Credit RomanOLebedev/iStock/Getty Images

Set up your list of priorities in the gym the same way that you set up your list of priorities in your life: by putting the most important thing first. That which comes first on your list of priorities (i.e. your puppy or that new Netflix show you can't stop watching) gets the most attention and energy. The same thing is true with the gym. If you're thinking about doing bodybuilding training before CrossFit, make sure you have your priorities straight.


Bodybuilding is a sport that was made popular by actor, governor and before all that, bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Competing in the sport means that you go to a sanctioned show and do a posing routine on a stage. After, judges decide who has the best physique and declare them the winner. Generally, the winner has the most muscular and defined body.

Read More: Healthy Weight & Height for Bodybuilding

To get the body of a bodybuilder you need to train in a certain way. Bodybuilders train for maximum muscle gain and they care about even the small muscles of the arms and calves. It's essentially the sport of gaining muscle and reducing bodyfat to show it off.

Split Routines

Bodybuilders use split routines to get the most out of their muscles. They split their workouts for the week up by body part and hit a different part of the body each day that they workout. Sectioning up the week lets you train each part of the body with as much intensity as possible and then allows it to recover and rebuild. A crucial part of the bodybuilding split is that they avoid training the same muscles on consecutive days.


In CrossFit, the goal is to master multiple facets of fitness, including weightlifting, gymnastics, running and body weight circuits. Participants want to become overall masters of fitness, which also means that they have to be prepared for any type of workout at any time. If they have two workouts in a row that involve their leg muscles they have to be ready and able to push through.

Standing in stark contrast to the rigid and calculated world of bodybuilding, CrossFit has more of a free-for-all attitude, which makes combining bodybuilding and CrossFit quite the challenge.


Before you try to throw a bodybuilding workout in before your CrossFit workout, you have to decide your priorities. According to a 2012 study from Sports Medicine, you should put the exercises that you care about most in the beginning of the workout. If you want to bodybuild and gain more muscle, you should put your bodybuilding exercises first. If not, CrossFit should go first.

Performing bodybuilding before CrossFit can set you up for injury.
Performing bodybuilding before CrossFit can set you up for injury. Photo Credit LUNAMARINA/iStock/Getty Images

The deeper you get into your workout the less energy you have to throw at the next exercise. If you don't have enough energy for an exercise you likely won't get much benefit out of it, you'll just be going through the motions.

Read More: Which Muscle Group Should you Work Out First, Larger or Smaller?

Injury Prevention

As your energy levels decrease, so does your coordination. The exercises in CrossFit, especially the Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics exercises, are extremely complex. They require a lot of coordination and balance. If you do a bodybuilding workout before these complex CrossFit exercises, you're more likely to hurt yourself. From a safety and injury prevention perspective, it's best to put CrossFit first and work on bodybuilding after.

Alternative Option

The best option is to do bodybuilding and CrossFit on separate days. Do a bodybuilding workout the day after CrossFit and work the muscle group that was used the least during the CrossFit workout. This way you can put more effort into doing each style of workout well and decrease your risk for injury.

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