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When you go to the gym are you training for functionality or aesthetics? If you are training for function then your goals will align with CrossFit. If you are trying to become ripped and aesthetically pleasing CrossFit in itself might be problematic. In the years I have been doing CrossFit and coaching CrossFit I have seen a recurring issue that most people face including myself. First, most people come to CrossFit to get in better shape and improve their function for everyday tasks. Once they are able to move proficiently and establish a baseline of fitness their goals either tend to shift to becoming ripped and having a more aesthetic figure or competing and being concerned with their weights. I’ve seen it time and time again.

Along with many others I joined CrossFit in hopes to get a better looking body and get my conditioning up. I was fresh out of the military and was in OK shape. I have always had a love for bodybuilding since I was younger. Bodybuilding changed my physique through my younger years into my young adulthood. CrossFit has also changed attributes about me as well and has most certainly gave me a wealth of training, mobility and nutritional knowledge that I did not have before. You must realize that CrossFit is about what the body can do not how muscular it looks. The end goal of CrossFit is to perform optimally in a wide variety of tests; strength cardio, balance, etc. Being part of the CrossFit atmosphere for a few years I have seen both end of the spectrums. Those that want to be aesthetically pleasing and those that want to compete and move big weights.

CrossFit most certainly will improve your function and help you get stronger but will CrossFit alone make you ripped? Yes and no and here is my reason why. Aesthetics are based off body figure and certain muscle groups. CrossFit focuses on strength and function. I can’t tell you how many members I’ve had come to me saying they want to tone this or tighten that. The truth is that doing CrossFit WODs will help tighten and tone to SOME degree but not to the extent that most want. You want bigger biceps you must do curls, you want a lifted butt you must isolate and work the glutes, you want to tone the arms you must isolate the arms. Some may not agree with what I am saying but I am speaking from experience and I can speak for Denise as well. Denise had been doing CrossFit for a few years before I met her and she was in OK shape. Her strongest attribute was her motor. She could go for days but she had certain areas of her body that were not toned. She still looked great but for her she wasn’t where she wanted to be.

We shifted our focus off of primarily CrossFit and focused on strength movements and bodybuilding mostly. We still did CrossFit WODs to keep our conditioning in check but CrossFit wasn’t the focus anymore. After a month of so of strength work and isolation bodybuilding exercises the results were INSANE! She was RIPPED.. literally! She had striations in her shoulders, the definition of her chest was solid, her legs and glutes popped, her back was shredded and her arms were that of wonder-woman.

Not only did she get ripped but because we isolated her muscles in such a way, all those tiny stabilizer muscles were being worked because of the slow tempo we placed on them and therefore her strength skyrocketed!! She was able to bang out strict pull-ups like a champ, do sets of 10 on dips, do strict military style push-ups and more.. All things she did not accomplish in the 2-3 years of doing CrossFit alone. I absolutely love CrossFit to the fullest but I also adore bodybuilding and I know how beneficial it is. When you combine the two together you have a recipe for a GREAT dish. The takeaway from this blog is that if you want to increase your physical fitness, improve your strength, flexibility and functional fitness then CrossFit is the way to go. If you are in the pursuit of lean muscle mass, less bodyfat, and looking to change or enhance specific muscle groups then aesthetics is the way to go. At our gym we offer individualized training sessions 3x per week that focuses on aesthetics of certain muscle groups based off our your goals. If you are looking to tighten or tone specific areas we will design a program for you to complete in conjunction with your CrossFit so you can reap the benefits as Denise and I both have.

The photos attached show when she did CrossFit alone and then when she started to bodybuilding and CrossFit combined.

CrossFit only VS Bodybuilding / CrossFit