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CrossFit Vs. Powerlifting

author image Eliza Martinez
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.
CrossFit Vs. Powerlifting
Weight bench Photo Credit Indeed/Digital Vision/Getty Images

CrossFit and powerlifting are two intense forms of exercise but are different from one another is several ways. CrossFit incorporates many aspects of physical fitness, while powerlifting involves primarily weightlifting. Both forms of exercise offer several benefits, such as building muscle and calorie burning. Talk with your doctor before beginning either exercise routine.

The Programs

CrossFit is an exercise program used by many police and military units to train new recruits and improve the physical fitness of current officers. It involves a variety of exercises, including burpees, hang cleans, kettlebell swings, kipping, overhead squats and pullups, that provide strength training and cardiovascular moves and routines. In contrast, powerlifting requires doing three lifts with the most weight you can handle for a bench press, a deadlift and a squat. A winner is determined based on who lifted the highest number of pounds for each weight class. Powerlifting does not include any type of cardiovascular exercise and is meant for serious bodybuilders.


Powerlifting requires a minimal amount of equipment, such as a barbell and weight plates. A weightlifting bench is needed as well. Some powerlifters wear safety belts to protect their backs while lifting and gloves to prevent the barbell from slipping during a lift. The CrossFit program involves a variety of exercise sets, some that use free weights, a jump rope, kettlebells, gymnastics equipment, barbells and Parkour running materials. Powerlifting is also included as part of the CrossFit training program, according to the CrossFit website's exercise options.


The CrossFit program offers many benefits that include building muscle strength and endurance. The large variety of exercises included with the training routine burn calories, which aids in weight loss and maintenance and works the muscles in your body evenly, preventing muscle imbalances that contribute to injuries. Powerlifting is a program used by competitive bodybuilders, but the small number of repetitions combined with the large amount of weight placed on the barbells allows a participant to build muscle quickly. Powerlifting is beneficial for muscular strength but doesn't build endurance.


Powerlifting and CrossFit are not programs designed for people who are new to exercise. Both are physically demanding and require some knowledge and prior experience with regular exercise and weightlifting. The potential for injury with both programs is high if you don't use proper form and work with an instructor. If you'd like to try either type of training, talk with your doctor about its appropriateness. This is especially important if you have a health condition, such as pregnancy, back problems or heart disease.

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