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Fitness Trends: HIIT Vs. CrossFit Vs. Piloxing

Posted on June 15, 2017 by Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F

Whether your exercise motivation is bathing suit season, burning more calories or building a stronger, higher performing you, we all know how important it is to hit the gym. But is the best workout the one that promises quick results, the one that increases stamina or the one that doesn’t feel like a workout at all?

There are as many workout trends out there as reasons why people decide to exercise in the first place. So it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But knowing the difference between each plan will help you choose the right workout for you.

And we’re here to help! Here’s a handy guide for three of the most popular workout methods out there today: HIIT, CrossFit and Piloxing.

Where it began: An acronym for High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT has been around since the 1970s. It was made bigger when Japanese doctor Izumi Tabata, together with a team of sports fitness researchers, found that this form of training not only increases your aerobic capacity, or stamina, but also your anaerobic capacity, or ability to build muscle.

What it involves: It involves short, intense periods of exercise, followed by short rest periods. The rationale is that mixing high intensity cardio activities like sprinting with strength training allows you to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time. It’s 20 seconds of intense activity, then 10 seconds rest, done eight times to maximize results. Sample exercises often include pushups, sit-ups, squats or rowing.

Let’s talk results: HIIT is designed to help you see maximum muscle tone and weight loss in the shortest amount of time. This is because the spurts of activity burn A LOT of calories, essentially melting away fat. Results will vary, but you should start noticing a difference within a few weeks.

Where it began: Another highly popular workout, CrossFit was created by former gymnast Greg Glassman. The first CrossFit gym opened in California in 1995.

What it involves: It aims to improve endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy through a variety of conditioning and strength exercises, including battle ropes, kettlebells and plyometrics (exercises designed to improve strength and power by having muscles exert a maximum amount of force in short amount of time). While it may seem like the same thing as HIIT, don’t be fooled – CrossFit and HIIT are both an example of mixed modal training, which means both involve doing different types of activities within one workout. But CrossFit has HIIT and a bit more. It uses things like gymnastics and Olympic weight lifting movements.

Let’s talk results: Like HIIT devotees, many CrossFitters begin seeing muscle definition and weight loss almost immediately – within a few weeks. The strong community and teamwork culture of CrossFit is an added motivational bonus.

And while CrossFit is sometimes criticized for causing injuries, that shouldn’t necessarily be the case. The CrossFit Games made people [who weren’t necessarily ready] want to try it. But remember, those are athletes – not everybody is at that point. If done correctly, CrossFit doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You just have to have realistic goals and properly trained coaches. If you’re not there yet, they should modify the exercises accordingly.

Where it began: Pil-what? As you may have guessed, this is a combination of two very different workouts: Pilates and boxing. Swedish trainer Viveca Jensen created it in 2009, and it has become increasingly popular with women.

What it involves: It uses Pilates exercises, weighted gloves for resistance training and it’s mixed in with dance, too. The group fitness element is motivating, much in the same way that CrossFit participants find a sense of community among their fellow athletes.

Let’s talk results: Results are similar to those experienced by Zumba aerobic dance fitness class participants. While Piloxing burns calories, the results may not be as noticeable as those of CrossFit or HIIT and may take more time and a combination of strength training to really see.

Choosing the right workout typically comes down to what your goal is, how much time you’re willing to dedicate to it and for many people, enough variation to keep from getting bored or plateauing. Free trial classes typically are available for many workouts, but the most important thing is that they’re taught by properly trained coaches.

So try one, try all three or a combination, but kudos for making the decision to get fit. With proper diet, consistency and effort, you’ll be on your way to meeting your goals before you know it.

To make an appointment with a doctor or athletic trainer at Henry Ford, call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) or visit

Get more tips to help you meet your fitness goals in our MoveWell section.

Categories : MoveWell

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