How Many Calories Does CrossFit Really Burn?

Men doing deadlifts during a CrossFit session | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In 1995 out of a small gym in Santa Cruz, CrossFit was born. The small gym sparked a flame, which has grown at an incredible pace into unbelievable popularity. If you do not do CrossFit yourself, chances are you know at least five people who do. And even those who are not avid members of a CrossFit gym have come to realize that the first rule of CrossFit is always talk about CrossFit. One thing is hard to deny: Some of the best CrossFitters in the world also have some of the best bodies in the world.

So, what’s the catch? There has to be a reason why these short HIIT workouts create crazy sculpted and strong bodies. And how many calories are typically burned during a short and sweaty CrossFit sesh? Men’s Heath investigated this question, diving into the dynamics of CrossFit and finding out the breakdown of one of the most common CrossFit workouts, known as “The Cindy.”

CrossFit members warm up by jumping rope

Jumping rope at a gym | Source: iStock

For those who are not familiar with this workout, The Cindy is a 20-minute workout that consists of only body-weight exercises. In order to complete the circuit, start by setting a timer for 20 minutes. Then do five pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats in that order. These three exercises make up one round, and the key to this HIIT is to complete as many rounds as you can before the 20 minutes are up.

Sounds super simple, right? That’s because it is. You need barely any equipment, but don’t let that fool you — because this simple Cindy will make you sweat. According to a study conducted by Kennesaw State University, the CrossFit routine workout can burn 261 calories per session. It might not sound like much, but for a 20-minute workout that is some serious sweat.

Lifting weights for CrossFit | Source: Thinkstock

Want some comparisons? According to The Mayo Clinic, an average male who hits the treadmill for an hour at 8 miles per hour will burn around 861 calories. Whereas exercises such as playing basketball for an hour will burn up to 584 calories. Notice that both of these examples require a lot more time to work up a serious calorie burn. This demonstrates that HIIT workouts challenge your body and burn calories, all while building muscle.

“The entire workout contains just three bodyweight exercises,” Brian Kliszczewicz, Ph.D. and lead study author, told Men’s Health. “But because the exercises incorporate all your muscles and you do them intensely, the workout is impressive in terms of caloric expenditure.”

So, even if you’re not quite ready to join your local CrossFit gym, you still might want to consider trying out The Cindy. A 20-minute HIIT that burns 250 plus calories and builds muscle — count us in!

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