EQOL Journal (2022) 14(2): 13-19
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
13
Effects of CrossFit training program and traditional gym training on
morphological characteristics of men
Ljubiša Kićanović
1
Bogdan Živanović
1
Mila Vukadinović Jurišić
1
Jelena Obradović
1
Received: 20
th
May, 2022 DOI: 10.31382/eqol.221202
Accepted: 4
th
November, 2022
© The Author(s) 2022. This article is published with open access.
Abstract
CrossFit is recognized as one of the fastest-growing
high-intensity functional training modes in the
world. The study aimed to compare the effects of the
CrossFit training program and traditional gym
training on anthropometric measurements in
healthy, active men. The study sample consisted of
50 participants who were divided into two groups,
22 participants who practiced the CrossFit training
program (CFT group; 28.64±2.04 years; body height
181.74±6.96 cm; body mass: 72.75±5.53 kg), and 28
participants who applied traditional gym training
(GT group; 26.89±2.99 years; body height:
184.52±7.80 cm; body mass: 74.86±8.48 kg). A total
of ten anthropometric measurements (Body height,
Body mass, BMI, Subscapular, Abdominal and
Triceps skinfolds, Chest, Forearm, Upper arm, and
Thigh circumferences) were monitored before and
after twelve weeks. The Shapiro-Wilk test was used
to test the normality of distribution. The multivariate
analysis covariance (MANCOVA) and analysis of
covariance (ANCOVA) were used to analyze the
data. The results of this study indicated that there
were statistically significant differences between
groups in the Circumference of the upper arm
(p=0.02), Thigh circumference (p=0.00), Chest
circumference (p=0.03), and Subscapular skinfold
(p=0.00). The findings of this study demonstrated
that healthy, active males who participated in the 12-
week CrossFit training program improved their
anthropometric measurements more than those
who trained in the traditional gym training.
Keywords Skinfolds Body circumferences
BMI.
Introduction
CrossFit (CF) training is high-intensity functional
training that combines aerobic and anaerobic
exercises which are performed quickly and
contain multiple repetitions with or without a
pause between series (Feito, Burrows, Tabb,
Ciesielka 2020). The CF training is often
characterized by the execution of exercises
integrating large muscle groups (i.e., squat, push,
press, etc.) or more specifically resistance training
with free weights or body mass performed with
high intensity with short rest intervals (Weston,
Taylor, Batterham & Hopkins, 2014). Initially,
this program was designed for people whose work
required a certain level of physical form as well as
muscle strength, like soldiers, policemen and
firefighters (Weisenthal, Beck, Maloney,
DeHaven, & Giordano, 2014). Because the CF
training includes weightlifting (squats,
deadlifting, power snatch, power clean) with a
large number of repetitions during a short period,
gymnastic movements (pull-ups, hand-walking,
push-ups on the wall), and aerobic exercises
(running, swimming, rowing) (Longe, 2012).
However, in the last few years, CF training has
also been applied to physically healthy boys of 16-
17 years (Petrova, Bala, Masliak, & Mameshina,
2022), overweight men aged 21.6 ± 1.6 years
(Dehghanzadeh Suraki, Mohsenzade, Tibana, &
bogdanzivanovic97@gmail.com
1
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sport and
Physical Education, Novi Sad, Serbia
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(2): 13-19
14
Ahmadizad, 2021) and healthy active men aged 20.8
± 2.0 (Özbay, 2019).
The basic principle of CF training is based on the
uniform application of modalities that include
weightlifting, gymnastics, and metabolic
conditioning (Crawford, Drake, Carper, DeBlauw &
Heinrich, 2018). The CF program aims to choose
methods that will have an impact on the partial
segment improvement and which will later improve
overall fitness development. thehe Each complex in
CF training is referred to as "training of the day",
which is short for WOD ("Workout of the Day").
Most of these complexes bear a certain name (late
soldiers, policemen, firefighters). These complexes
are considered as official CF training and their
number is steadily increasing (Crossfit, 2016). Since
CrossFit is a relatively new group exercise program,
there are a few longitudinal types of research that
scientifically and statistically indicate its effects. Eun-
Ju, Wi-Young, and Taikyeongm (2017) reported that
14 weeks (two times per week) of CF training
improved the body composition of male students.
Barfild and Anderson (2014) concluded that the
CF program was effective for raising aerobic
endurance levels, but it did not have significantly
better effects on muscle endurance, flexibility, and
body composition in comparison to Olympic
weightlifting. Based on that, previous studies (Eun-Ju
et al., 2017; Barfild et al., 2014) showed that CF
training improves aerobic endurance level and body
composition of male population. On the other hand,
resistance training is a modality of exercise that has
grown in popularity over the past two decades,
particularly for its role in improving athletic
performance by increasing muscular strength, power
and speed, hypertrophy, local muscular endurance,
motor performance, balance, and coordination
(Kreamer et al., 2000). Additionally, Maksimović,
Vukadinović, Rakonjac, Obradović, and Barišić
(2016) reported that 12 weeks of heavy resistance
training effect on the morphological characteristic of
young males.
According to the author’s knowledge, no study
examined the effects of CF training programs and
traditional gym training on anthropometric
measurements of men. Therefore, the purpose of this
study was to compare the effects of the CF training
program and traditional gym training on
anthropometric measurements in healthy, active men.
Method
Participants
The study included 50 healthy, active men who
volunteered to participate in the survey and were
members of the Sports Society “Sportagora” from
Čačak. These 50 participants met the following
criteria: (i) all participants had to train CF in
'Sportagora' from Čačak for at least 6 months; (ii) this
study included only the male population; (iii) age
between 18 to 30 years. Exclusion criteria were: (i)
injury before or during the study (N=5); (ii)
supplementation (N=7). They were divided into two
groups. The experimental group consisted of 22
participants (CFT group; 28.64±2.04 years; body
height: 181.74±6.96 cm; body mass: 72.75±5.53 kg)
who trained the CF training program, and the other
experimental group included 28 participants (GT
group; 26.89±2.99 years; body height: 184.52±7.80
cm; body mass: 74.86±8.48 kg) who exercised
traditional gym training program. Both groups had
one-hour training sessions three times a week, for 12
weeks.
Measuring instrument
The following anthropometric measurements were
taken: Body height and Body mass, body mass index
(BMI), four circumferences (Chest circumference,
Circumference of the forearm, upper arm and thigh)
and three skinfolds (Subscapular, Abdomen, and
Triceps). The BMI was calculated using a formula
and the categorization of the feeding condition was
taken according to Harrison’s scale (Harris, Bradlyn,
Coffman, Gunnell & Cottrell, 2008). Body height was
determined by Martin’s anthropometer (GPM,
Switzerland), skin folds were measured using a John
Bull’s caliper (British Indicator Ltd, UK) with an
accuracy of 0.2 mm, and circumferences were
measured with a centimeter tape with an accuracy of
0.1 mm. Training program
Procedure
Anthropometric measurements were tracked for 12
weeks. The first testing was conducted at the
beginning of the program, while the final testing was
carried out after 12 weeks of CF training intervention
and the traditional gym training program. The
experimental group practiced CF workouts in the
presence of coaches, and the other experimental
group went to the traditional gym training. The study
was conducted at the Sports Society “Sportagora”
from Čačak. The participants were asked not to
perform any intense physical activity the day before
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(2): 13-19
15
the testing, and not to consume food or drink for at
least 3 hours before it. The testing was performed in
the morning, and the same examiners took the same
anthropometric measurements on the initial and final
testing, in the same order.
Following the principles of CF training, the CFT
group applied three training complexes. Each
complex consisted of three pieces of training
performed in one week (Table 1). For 12 weeks, these
complexes took turns every week. Each training was
followed by a 48-hour rest period to allow
participants to recover and prepare for the next
training.
The workout began with a warm-up, after which
participants did one of the complexes that lasted for
20 to 30 minutes, and the training was finished with
static stretching.
Table 1. Training program for CFT group
“Cindy”
“Barbara”
“Ralph”
AMRAP 20’
5 rounds for time:
For time:
5 pull-ups
20 pull-ups
8 deadlifts
10 push-ups
30 push-ups
16 burpees
15 air squats
40 sit-ups
3 rope climbs
50 air squats
600m run
“Angie”
“Helen”
“Kelly”
For time:
3 rounds for time:
5 rounds for time
100 pull-ups
400m run
400m run
100 push-ups
21 kettlebell swing
30 box jumps
100 sit-ups
21 pull-ups
30 wall ball
100 air squats
“Annie”
“Loredo”
“Donny”
For time:
6 rounds for time
21-15-9-9-15-21 reps
50-40-30-20-10
24 air squats
For time:
Double-unders / single unders
24 push-ups
deadlifts
sit-ups
24 walking lunges
burpees
400m run
Legend: AMRAP As many repetitions as possible
In the GT group, all participants followed the same
resistance training for twelve weeks (3 days/ weeks;
3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions, resting between
repetitions in the series 2-3 minutes, between
exercises 4-5 minutes). The load ranged from 80-95%
of the 1 repetition maximum. Participants were
trained three days per week. There were three
different training sessions. Briefly, the first training
involved chest and biceps musculature and included
six different exercises; the second training involved
back and triceps musculature and included six
different exercises; the third training involved
shoulder and leg musculature included six different
exercises. The total time of one training session for
each participant was approximately 90-120 min.
Data analysis
Statistical data included descriptive statistics: mean
(Mean), standard deviation (SD). The statistically
significant differences between groups, for all
analyzed variables, during the initial testing were
measured by multivariate analysis of variance
(MANOVA) and univariate analysis of variance
(ANOVA).. To determine statistically significant
differences between groups in the final testing of a
given sample, a multivariate analysis of covariance
(MANCOVA) and univariate analysis of covariance
(ANCOVA) were used. Data were analyzed in the
IBM SPSS Statistics 20.0 software package at a
significance level of p ≤ 0.05.
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(2): 13-19
16
Results
Based on P-values (Table 2), it was concluded that
there was no statistically significant difference
(P=0.12) between the experimental groups in
anthropometric measurements during the initial
testing. In the individual analysis of each analyzed
variable, it was concluded that a statistically
significant difference (p≤0.05) existed in the Chest
circumference, Circumference of the forearm,
Circumference of the upper arm, Thigh
circumference and Subscapular skinfold.
Table 2. Differences between groups in anthropometric measurements on the initial measurement
CFT group
(n = 16)
GT group
(n = 16)
Variable
Mean ± SD
Mean ± SD
f
p
Body height (cm)
181.74±6.96
184.52±7.80
1.72
0.29
Body mass (kg)
72.75±5.53
74.86±8.48
1.01
0.32
Body mass index (kg/m
2
)
22.11±2.31
22.05±2.80
1.17
0.28
Chest circumference (cm)
87.35±2.90
86.18±2.75
5.29
0.03
Circumference of the forearm (cm)
23.70±0.87
23.78±1.50
5.49
0.02
Circumference of the upper arm (cm)
26.52±1.84
26.31±2.39
17.32
0.00
Thigh circumference (cm)
59.11±3.81
56.50±4.76
211.16
0.00
Triceps skinfold (mm)
100.45±23.79
104.57±33.57
0.06
0.80
Skinfold on the abdomen (mm)
133.45±55.56
125.00±48.39
0.11
0.74
Subscapular skinfold (mm)
91.64±28.26
92.29±24.12
8.32
0.00
F=1.70
P=0.12
Legend: f test for univariate analysis of variance, p statistically significant difference between the groups within one
variable (p 0.05); F test for multivariate analysis of variance; P statistically significant difference between the groups
in a system of variables (p ≤ 0.05)
Based on P values (Table 3), it was concluded that
there was a statistically significant difference
(p=0.00) between the experimental groups in
anthropometric measurements during the final
testing. An individual analysis of each
anthropometric measurement concluded that
statistically significant differences (p≤0.05) in the
Chest circumference, and Thigh circumference.
Statistically significant differences were not found for
the remaining 8 variables.
Table 3. Differences between groups in anthropometric measurements on the final measurement
CFT group
(n = 16)
GT group
(n = 16)
Variable
Mean ± SD
Mean ± SD
f
p
Body height (cm)
181.74 ±6.96
184.52±7.80
1.72
0.20
Body mass (kg)
72.41±4.69
74.81±7.45
1.73
0.20
Body mass index (kg/m
2
)
22.01±2.17
22.05±2.63
1.02
0.96
Chest circumference (cm)
87.90±2.99
86.18±2.81
4.37
0.04
Circumference of the forearm (cm)
23.89±0.94
23.80±1.52
0.50
0.82
Circumference of the upper arm (cm)
27.22±1.77
26.61±2.38
1.00
0.32
Thigh circumference (cm)
63.13±3.84
56.69±4.84
25.9
0.00
Triceps skinfold (mm)
94.59±22.70
100.25±28.58
0.58
0.45
Skinfold on the abdomen (mm)
135.86±76.73
124.75±49.45
0.38
0.54
Subscapular skinfold (mm)
86.41±27.30
90.86±23.09
0.39
0.56
F=5.99
P=0.00
By neutralizing the differences in the initial
measurement, the respondents from the CFT group
achieved better and statistically significant results
than the GT group (Table 4.). Statistically significant
differences were noted in Chest circumference
(p=0.03), Circumference of the forearm (p=0.02),
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(2): 13-19
17
Circumference of the upper arm (p=0.00), Thigh
circumference (p=0.00) and Subscapular skinfold
(p=0.00) in favor of the CFTgroup. Statistically
significant differences were not found for the
remaining variables (Table 4).
Table 4. Multivariate analysis of covariance for examined anthropometric measurements
CFT group
(n = 16)
GT group
(n = 16)
Variable
M
*
± SD
M
*
± SD
f
p
Body height (cm)
72.41±4.69
74.81±7.45
1.18
0.29
Body mass (kg)
22.01±2.17
22.05±2.63
1.17
0.28
Body mass index (kg/m
2
)
87.90±2.99
86.18±2.81
5.29
0.03
Chest circumference (cm)
23.89±0.94
23.80±1.52
5.49
0.02
Circumference of the forearm (cm)
27.22±1.77
26.61±2.38
17.32
0.00
Circumference of the upper arm (cm)
63.13±3.84
56.69±4.84
211.16
0.00
Thigh circumference (cm)
94.59±22.70
100.25±28.58
0.06
0.80
Triceps skinfold (mm)
135.86±76.73
124.75±49.45
0.11
0.74
Skinfold on the abdomen (mm)
86.41±27.30
90.86±23.09
8.32
0.00
Subscapular skinfold (mm)
72.41±4.69
74.81±7.45
1.18
0.29
F=34.83
P=0.00
Legend: M* corrected mean
Discussion
The present study aimed at the comparison of the
effects of the CF training program and traditional
gym training on anthropometric measurements in
healthy, active men.
During the initial testing, the differences between
groups in anthropometric measurements (Chest
circumference, Circumference of the forearm,
Circumference of the upper arm, Thigh
circumference, and Subscapular skinfold) can be
observed. At the beginning of the treatment, the
groups were approximately equal in terms of
analyzed anthropometric measurements. The results
of descriptive statistics only confirmed the facts
presented by other authors in this field of group
training (Hillsdon et al., 2002), that CF requires a
certain level of motor skills, in addition to an
adequate body constitution and physique that is above
all harmonious.
The results of the final testing indicated the
difference between groups in Chest circumference
and Thigh circumference.
The results from Table 4. show the difference
between groups in Chest circumference,
Circumference of the forearm, Circumference of the
upper arm, Thigh circumference, and Subscapular
skinfold. After 12-week CFT group had a larger
increase in body volume and reduction in adipose
tissue compared to GT group. Similar results were
obtained from Eun-Ju et al., (2017), who noted
statistically significant changes in body composition
after 14 weeks of CF training. Furthermore, Bellar,
Hatchett, Judge, Breaux, & Marcus (2015) showed
that CF training contains both aerobic and anaerobic
activities which affected cardiovascular abilities as
well as the reduction of subcutaneous fat tissue.These
results support the findings that physically active
adults engaged in CF training have a higher level of
fat oxidation during the training (Tremblay, Coveney,
Despres, Nadeau, & Prud'homme, 1992) and during
the resting period (Choi, So, & Jeong, 2017). The
resulting changes during the final testing in the CFT
group could be explained by the body's adaptation to
training with muscle load and hypertrophy. The
training with load leads to muscle hypertrophy, which
is reflected in increased body volume (Outlaw et al.,
2014). It is assumed that during CF training the load
was higher than during the traditional gym training,
which led to the muscle hypertrophy which had a
positive effect on the increased body volume.
In contrast to other studies (Hillsdon et al., 2002;
Lyman et al. 2005)), participants from this study did
not have statistically significant differences (p≥0.05)
in BMI and Body weight, which could be attributed
to external control of research related to the diet of
exercisers that was not predetermined and controlled
for 12 weeks.
This research has shown that the application of 12
weeks of CF training led to a greater improvement in
anthropometric measurements in comparison to
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(2): 13-19
18
traditional gym training in healthy active men. The
strength of this study is that, according to the author’s
knowledge, this is the first study that investigated the
effects of CF training and traditional gym training on
the anthropometric characteristics of men. It is also
important to note that this study compares the effects
of CF training and traditional gym training on the
anthropometric characteristics of men, which has not
been done so far. Despite the benefits observed in this
study, there are a few limitations. First, we have a
small sample size. Secondly, we investigated only
male participants aged between 18 30 years while
female adults were not included. Thirdly, there was
no control group. Future research ought to investigate
the effects of CF training on the motor abilities
(strength, power, endurance, flexibility, and speed) of
male and female athletes. Also, future research should
compare the CF training programs to other traditional
training methods like HIIT. It can be assumed that
high levels of strength, power, and agility,
accompanied by low subcutaneous fat content and a
larger volume of thigh muscles, forearms, upper
arms, and normal nutritional volume, are required to
successfully participate in CF training.
Acknowledgments
The authors thank the sports association “Sportagora”
from Čačak for permission to conduct the research.
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