Have you ever seen people at the gym doing these crazy movements and wondered if you can build muscle with CrossFit?

How effective is it exactly and is it better for muscle growth than traditional training? Let’s find out.

Can You Build Muscle With CrossFit?

Yes, CrossFit contains many explosive movements that combine two or more exercises together. These will tire you out and break down muscle quicker than traditional lifts. CrossFit is also great for burning calories through its intense workouts.

What Is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a form of high intensity interval training designed to build strength and conditioning. It is focused on building muscle and burning fat, which is similar to most people’s goals in the gym.

Most of the workouts contain variations of compound movements such as squats, push-ups, and overhead presses. The benefits of CrossFit come from the emphasis on the elements of load, speed, and distance.

Various workouts provided each day to tests different parts of strength whether that’s functional strength, conditioning, or cardio.

Can You Build Muscle With CrossFit?

How do you know if CrossFit is right for you? CrossFit is versatile and can fit anyone’s fitness needs. There are even children classes designed to increase balance, coordination, and motor skills.

Every athlete is given the same workout to do, but weight and intensity is varied depending on your fitness levels. If the exercise is barbell squats, you choose whatever weight you are comfortable with.

CrossFit classes are usually split up into 4 sections. The warm-up, strength or skill, the workout of the day, and a cool down or mobility session. The warm-up is pretty self-explanatory.

Just as in any training session, you must warm up your muscles and get them prepared for the heavy lifting that follows. The strength component is all about building strength. Moves such as the deadlift or squat are performed with the goal of increasing weight from last time.

Skill workouts are a little different and most people probably have not heard of them. The goal here is improve abilities using exercises such as handstand walking or double unders which refer to skipping rope.

These are obviously difficult movements so exercises that help you build up to them are provided.

The workout of the day portion is the main CrossFit workout. You perform a combination of exercises aiming to go for a certain amount of time or reach a desired amount of reps.

The cool down is very important as it involves stretching out the muscles to help prevent injury and promote muscle recovery. Again, this should be implemented in all workout routines.

Benefits of CrossFit Training

Whether you’re a fan of CrossFit training, it does have a lot of important components that you can implement into your own training.

Stretching and warming up before and after training is very important. This will prevent injury and actually force your muscles to recover and rebuild sooner.

It’s also significant that cardio is included in the training. Many people train heavy but don’t ever include cardio into their training. Cardio isn’t just good for burning fat, it has many health benefits.

First of all, having less body fat prevents against disease such as heart attack and stroke. When you have trouble breathing during cardio it is because it’s increasing your lung capacity as you’re pushing your breathing ability. This improves lung capacity.

Cardio also releases endorphins which promote healthy mood. Battling over the mental hurdle of completing a tough high intensity circuit will boost your mood and confidence.

Having an exact plan of what you’re doing each day is great. Many people walk into the gym with no idea of what they’re really doing. Planning out workouts in advance makes sure you know exactly what you’re training each day.

Implementing this type of training also improves sleep quality. This is simply because it tires you out. You will be a lot more tired at the end of the day if you had a demanding CrossFit workout.

CrossFit is great for allowing people to break barriers they never thought they could. When you push through pain and do something that you didn’t think you body could do, it’s a rewarding feeling. CrossFit aims for this kind of push in most of its workouts.

There’s also the community aspect that a lot of people enjoy. You have people cheering you on and motivating you to go harder, as opposed to training by yourself.


CrossFit can be dangerous as it uses moves where heavy amounts of weight are lifted. While being pushed though intense HIIT workouts you may push yourself too far and injure yourself.

Some of the movements are difficult physically and mentally and should be practiced with lower weight until mastered to prevent strain.

Best Muscle Building CrossFit Exercises

The deadlift is one of the best exercises for both leg and back mass. You pile on a lot of weight and it works multiple muscles at once. Your entire back, legs, core, biceps, and forearms are all working during the deadlift.

The more muscles you work at once, the more testosterone your body releases, leading to increased muscle gain. Deadlifts can be taxing on the lower back so consider using a belt so that you can further breakdown the muscles while preventing injury. Read more about the deadlift here.

The barbell thruster is an exercise that people who haven’t tried CrossFit probably have not heard of. It’s an explosive compound movement that targets the legs, back, shoulders, and arms.

This is a very draining exercise which makes it great for burning calories and building muscle.

You start in a front rack position. Place the bar at about shoulder level. Rest the bar on your upper chest and collarbone area which the bar resting in your fingertips and elbows out.

Unrack the bar and perform a front squat. Engage your core and squat down as low as you can, keeping your elbows and chest up. Make sure to not round back.

Explosively push your heels into the ground at the bottom of the movement driving yourself up. Use your momentum to push your barbell straight up above your head as you reach the top of the movement.

This is a complex movement and you should nail down your front squat and overhead press form before combining the two. Start with very lower weight and perfect your form before increasing.

Mistakes in this movement include rounding of the back and shoulders, tilting forward, letting the elbows drop, and heels coming off of the floor.

Build Muscle With CrossFit

The man maker exercise is a HIIT movement that will burn a lot of calories. Your start by grabbing a dumbbell in each hand and getting into push-up position with your back straight.

Bring your chest down to the floor as if doing a push-up and then do a one arm dumbbell row after you get to the top. Do the same with the other arm. Now you want to bring your feet in under your body and perform a squat clean thruster.

This is where you start in a squat position and explode upwards pressing the dumbbells straight above you head.

Is It The Best Way To Build Muscle?

CrossFit training is a great way to build muscle as it focuses on big compound lifts. These lifts use heavier weight to work multiple muscle groups which increase testosterone production.

However, there are a few aspects that prevent it from being the best way to build muscle. With all the intense cardio exercises in between your heavy lifting, you won’t have enough strength to go as hard.

For example, if you are running sprint before you perform the deadlift, you are already fatigued. Because of this, you perform fewer reps and your muscles are not overloaded as much as they could be, leaving muscle gains on the table.

By combining cardio and weight training to such a high extent, you are taking away from one or the other. You are better to split them up if you want to get the most results.

If your goal is muscle hypertrophy, it is better to do all of your lifts without the added cardio. Do cardio before or after your workout or at another time altogether to prevent it taking away from your lift strength.

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