There are several differences between conventional weight training and CrossFit, the biggest of which is the fact that CrossFit is a combination of several types (or modalities) of exercise, whereas weight training focuses on the singular modality of lifting weights. In a typical weight-training workout, the exerciser works various select body parts by lifting a load (e.g., dumbbells, barbell, weight machine, etc.) for a number of repetitions (e.g. 8 to 12), followed by a rest period before performing another set of repetitions. This traditional training format has been pervasive since the 1970s when the concept of bodybuilding became popularized in the media. Conventional weight training works well for developing moderate levels of muscular strength and hypertrophy (increased muscle mass). Other aspects of fitness, such as cardiorespiratory endurance and sports performance skills, are not addressed with a typical weight-training program.
www, on the other hand, incorporates various modalities (including gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, power lifting, interval training, rowing, and kettlebell training), in a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of what CrossFit recognizes as the ten fitness domains: cardiorespiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. The CrossFit program design is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” A CrossFit training session is called a “Workout of the Day" (or WOD). The frequency of training is typically 3 days on followed by 1 day off, or 5 days on followed by 2 days off. An example of a popular WOD is the “Fran” workout, which consists of:
• 21 Thrusters (a squat with a 40-kg barbell on the front of the shoulders, followed by a press above the head until the arms are straight)
• 21 Pull-ups (chin ups)
• 15 Thrusters
• 15 Pull-ups
• 9 Thrusters
• 9 Pull-ups
The goal is to complete the workout as quickly as possible (some athletes have successfully mastered Fran in as few as 3 minutes). In the Fran WOD, there are only two functional movements for the entire workout. However, there is no rest between sets, which makes it highly fatiguing on the muscles and exhausting, especially toward the end of the workout.
As you can see, the differences between conventional weight training and CrossFit are numerous. Each type of training has its benefits and people will be drawn to either one for various reasons.