If you’re reading this, you almost certainly have heard about Hyrox…the “CrossFit killer”.
(and, I mean, how could you not be at least a little curious in a sport/activity with that reputation?)
I get it, though; Hyrox videos look cool and the people look fit. Ripped dudes and athletic-looking chicks…you may as well get on the Hyrox bandwagon…
Truth be told, Hyrox training is very different from more “traditional” forms of exercise and even differs pretty significantly from other forms of “functional” training.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the key elements of Hyrox training, as well as how long before events Hyrox athletes begin training and the what the hardest element of Hyrox is, to better help you determine if this type of training is what you were born to do!
What Is Hyrox?
First rule of Hyrox:
“It’s not just a fitness race; it’s a celebration of functional fitness and endurance that attracts athletes from various disciplines.”
Second rule of Hyrox:
You have to run (a lot) and perform 8 functional fitness exercises between runs…and, yeah….you have to run.
Long story short, Hyrox is a unique fitness event that challenges participants with a series of exercises and running. Often referred to as the World Series of Fitness Racing, Hyrox showcases an individual’s agility, strength, speed, and endurance through a standardized series of workouts.
The competition is divided into categories:
- Pro Division: For the elite athletes seeking to test their limits and compete against other top athletes
- Individual Division: Where solo, advanced athletes test their limits.
- Relay Division: Teams work together, allocating reps and activity as needed in order to complete the outlined tasks.
Participants are tasked with completing segments of:
- (A lot of) Running: At ~half the workout, the cornerstone of Hyrox.
- “Functional” Exercises: Featuring some exercises that (sorta) mimic everyday movements…and a lot that look more like CrossFit.
While Hyrox is designed to push athletes to their limits, it also welcomes fitness enthusiasts of all levels. Despite the challenge of Hyrox events, it is an incredibly accessible activity with generally low-skilled movements included.
Whether one is preparing for their first race or their tenth, the key is to train smart – focusing on functional workouts that mirror the Hyrox challenges and integrating endurance training so they can survive the runs in between the functional portions.
What Do Hyrox Races Consist Of?
Unlike in CrossFit where just about every workout is different, Hyrox follows more of a standard, straightforward format that is more in line with a powerlifting or weightlifting meet. If you’ve completed a Hyrox event before, it will be the exact same (assuming you remain in the same category) the next time you compete.
Each Hyrox event features a series of “functional exercises” split up by running segments. They line up the following way:
- Running: A 1km run that competitors complete between each functional exercise, accumulating a total of 8km by the event’s end.
- Functional Exercises: These include a diverse mix of tasks that test various aspects of fitness:
- Ski Erg: Athletes engage their upper body and core on the SkiErg machine, somewhat simulating the motion of cross-country skiing.
- Sled Push and Sled Pull: Athletes push and pull a weighted sled, targeting their lower body strength and endurance.
- Burpee Broad Jump: A combination of everyone‘s favorite torture movement (burpees) with a forward broad jump.
- Sandbag Lunge: The athlete continuously steps and lunges with a heavy bag, challenging leg strength, coordination, and plyometric power.
- Rowing Machine: Athletes engage their entire body on the RowErg machine, a classic cardio exercise.
- Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry: A long journey hauling around a couple of heavy kettlebells
- Wall Balls: Athletes repeatedly throw and catch a heavy ball…a popular CrossFit exercise.
Competitors cycle through these stations. They wear timing chips to measure their performance/time themselves, allowing them to compare their results with others.
|Burpee Broad Jumps
|75 to 100 reps
What Are the Benefits of Training for Hyrox?
Engaging in Hyrox training is not just about getting ready for the competition; it’s about getting in really good shape.
Functional Training Integration
Hyrox training promotes numerous aspects of functional training. This includes exercises designed to improve everyday movements by enhancing
- Core Stability: The cornerstone of any athletic endeavor, a rock-solid core facilitates all other movements.
- Muscular Endurance: The extremely long (~1-3 hours) race requires endless endurance from all muscles involved i.e. all muscles of the body.
Functional exercises mirror the types of movements and capacities we experience in our everyday lives. Get better at these, get better at “life”.
Endurance and Cardiovascular Health
Training for Hyrox is akin to setting the heart and lungs on a never-ending labor venture (but in a good way!):
- Cardio: Cardio sessions are key in accelerating endurance levels, which is crucial for Hyrox competitions, where stamina is tested pretty much the entire time.
The Strength-Cardio Nexus
Don’t worry, you’re not going to lose your gainz:
- Strength Training: Contrary to the old wives tale that intense cardio might hamper strength development, Hyrox training finds the sweet spot between strength training workouts and cardiovascular session. Yes, you can still build significant strength even while enhancing aerobic capacity.
Workout Variety and Athlete Engagement
…because regular gym bro sessions are just kinda…boring.
- Workout Diversity: Expect a rich blend of activities— from running to rowing to functional exercise — ensuring that no two workouts feel the same. On days when you don’t feel like running, do some strength training (and vice versa).
Challenge for Athletes of all Experience and Skill Levels
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned athlete, Hyrox training is your accomplice in fitness improvement:
- Adaptability: Workouts can be modified to accommodate all athletes ensuring that they can progressively up the challenge of their workouts while also promoting recovery.
Ultimately, there is a lot to get excited about in regards to Hyrox and its associated benefits. Engage in Hyrox training and get fit.
How Long Should I Train for a Hyrox Event?
Preparing for an official Hyrox competition requires a degree of deliberate training that ensures that you are primed for the event. If you’ve got your eye on an upcoming competition, here’s a guide to help you determine when you need to start getting serious.
For beginners who are new to Hyrox, it’s safe to start focused (training specifically for Hyrox) at least 12 weeks prior to the competition. Here’s a breakdown of what a standard training timeline might look like:
- Weeks 1-6: Establish a fitness base with a mix of cardiovascular and strength workouts.
- Focus on building stamina and getting comfortable with HYROX-specific exercises.
- More specifically, this generally calls for a lot of running, building up muscle endurance for movements like wall balls, and starting to get comfortable pushing and pulling the sled.
- Weeks 7-10: Introduce more HYROX simulations and increase the intensity of workouts.
- Adding simulations to Hyrox training is intended to create more of a “race day” atmosphere. It involves performing events in order in which they will appear in the race with the same/similar weights, reps, and distances for each exercise.
- Weeks 11-12: Continue honing technique and reduce the volume while maintaining intensity.
- Aim to peak cardiovascularly in the final weeks leading up to the event.
- For optimal performance, begin tapering during the final two weeks to ensure they’re well-rested for the competition.
- Instead of focusing on full/quasi-full simulations, athletes can perform shorter simulations at faster paces and with race day weights to up the intensity. They should be sure to slow down a bit in the days before the race to ensure they are at 100 percent of their capabilities on race day.
Athletes can generally expect to finish the course in three hours or less, with an average finish time of around 1.5 hours (with slight variation across the different classifications/levels). As such, training should also include interval workouts to complement the long runs, and strength training sessions.
Every couple of days, they should also focus on Zone 2 training, characterized by a longer cardio bouts at an intensity level where athletes can still maintain a conversation (or can easily breathe only through the nose)—starting with at least 40 minutes and working up to an hour (or more!)
Should You Complete a Full Hyrox Workout During Training?
When preparing for a Hyrox race, athletes often ponder whether to simulate the entire event during their training.
Considering the layout of a Hyrox race:
- 1km run
- A functional exercise (e.g., sled push, wall balls)
- Repeat for a total of eight exercises
Incorporating simulations of this sequence in training can be beneficial for the following reasons:
- Mental Toughness: Completing a full Hyrox simulation gives athletes a psychological edge. They learn the rhythm of the event, understand how transitions feel, and can mentally prepare for race day.
- Pacing: Athletes discover their optimal pace for both the running and strength training sections, which is crucial to prevent “red-lining” on race day.
- Stamina and Recovery: Simulating the event helps athletes better asses their stamina and recovery times between exercises.
- Race Strategy: Athletes can fine-tune their strategy by determining which exercises will likely require more time and energy and which exercises they can speed through or even “recover” during.
However, a complete simulation should not be overdone. Athletes should consider:
- Limit full simulations to 1-2 times during their training cycle to prevent injury.
- Allow ample recovery time post-simulation, given the intensity of a Hyrox event.
- Maybe not attempt a full simulation near the beginning of training. I tried this once and felt almost too demoralized to continue with my training!
Main Components of a Hyrox Training Plan
A comprehensive Hyrox training plan emphasizes a mix of running, strength training, and skill work to prepare athletes for the unique demands of the race. Each component is crucial for optimal performance, and incorporating all three effectively can lead to success on race day.
Running and Endurance Training
Running forms a substantial part of the Hyrox event (like, over half of the total time), requiring both speed and endurance. An effective Hyrox training regimen incorporates:
- Interval Running: Short bursts of high-intensity running followed by recovery periods enhance speed and cardiovascular endurance.
- Steady Pace Training: Consistent, moderate pace runs build the endurance needed for the race.
Runners should be comfortable running 8 rounds of 1km, interspersed with other exercises during the event. They must also train to handle additional running portions inside the Roxzone, which averages around 700 meters.
(none of this should come as a surprise. After all, a Hyrox race is an endurance event!)
Top athletes regularly include fast, shorter (600-800-meter runs) with an equally short, but intense functional exercise movement (ex. 250-300-meter row/ski sprint) during interval training sessions.
To conquer Hyrox, an athlete must also focus on strength training tailored to the event’s requirements:
- Functional Exercises: Movements such as squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell work are vital since they mimic the actions performed during the race.
- Weights Usage: Incorporating dumbbells and kettlebells, athletes work on building power through weighted exercises.
Strength training sessions aim to improve muscular power and endurance, focusing on exercises that enhance performance in the race-specific tasks an athlete will encounter. Get stronger, get better at Hyrox!
I understand that when you scan the exercise list of Hyrox races, you don’t see “squats” (besides he bottom of wall ball reps) or deadlifts, but if you want to have a chance at moving that sled, you’re going to want to incorporate these powerlifting movements into your regimen.
Additionally, working with kettlebells can not only build strength and muscle endurance, but high-rep kettlebell swing, snatch, etc. sessions will greatly improve cardiovascular capabilities as well (you also gotta be used to running with kettlebells).
Mastering the race’s specific exercises is a key component of a successful Hyrox training plan:
- Technique Focus: Good form and technique are critical for efficiency and injury prevention during both running and strength components.
- Specific Endurance: Training sessions should work on developing an athlete’s endurance for the unique combination of running and functional exercises that Hyrox entails.
While Hyrox doesn’t incorporate the vast array of movements (to include gymnastics movements) that CrossFit does, there is definitely time and energy to be saved by refining technique. Anything from proper sled pull hand positioning:
to wall ball arm positioning:
If you’re pulling a sled 10 meters or doing 20 wall balls, this kind of stuff doesn’t really matter…but 50 meters/100 wall ball shots…over the course of an ~1:45 race…any technique edge is worth working on.
What Is the Hardest Part of Hyrox That People Should Focus on in Training?
There are obviously a lot of components to focus on when preparing for a Hyrox race and the “hardest” component is going to be subjective…different for every person competing. However, one of the major constants that everyone who has completed a Hyrox event regularly talks about is…
The carpet on the floor of Hyrox races is a bit different than it is in your local gym or training facility. Instead of nice, lush turf track/trail or smooth, easy-going material, the carpet, particularly during the sled pulls and pushes, is like, an exercise in itself.
Because these exercises are so early in the race (2nd and 3rd exercises), getting surprised by the unique challenge the carpet presents so early in the race can be very demoralizing. By getting either:
- accustomed to sled work on a “difficult” carpet
- prepared for the additional challenge of the carpet on race day and ready to preservere when it feels more challenging/difficult
athletes can best put themselves in a position to overcome the “hardest” part of Hyrox.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at some additional questions that athletes of all fitness levels have regarding Hyrox training.
In a Hyrox training schedule, one should incorporate a mix of cardio and strength training focused on functional movements. A sample workout might look like one of Josh O'Neill's workouts:
- 1 kilometer run @ 4:00 min/km pace
- 30 unbroken wall balls @ 14 pounds
- 80-meter kettlebell farmer carry @ 50 pounds
- 20-meter walking lunges @ 65 pounds
90 seconds rest. Complete for 5 rounds.
Hyrox stands for a globally recognized fitness competition combining running with functional exercises. Unlike CrossFit, which includes a broader variety of exercises and emphasizes Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and more "obscure" movements Hyrox is structured around specific training elements.
Hyrox Training…If you Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
A few months before we published this article, we took a look at the “age old” Hyrox vs. CrossFit showdown. In this battle, we established that Hyrox is quickly surpassing CrossFit in popularity, at least in regards to Google searches…in the UK.
Sure, this is only one snapshot of one country, but I can confirm from personal experience…Hyrox and, by extension, Hyrox training are really starting to get popular.
Rather than being the confused-looking person wondering why everyone at the gym is now pushing sleds around and running for half of their workouts…you should just, ya know, join them.
Between the numerous benefits, excitement of race day, and the never-ending challenge and intrigue the sport presents, you may as well kick your Hyrox training into high gear and get after it.
Understanding how macronutrients affect your athletic performance is paramount to both gameday success and to maximizing your personal health. Check out our guide on CrossFit macros and start actually building those abs in the kitchen!