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Meet DEKA, Your New Favorite Hybrid Workout Event From The Spartan Race Team

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DEKA Fit is an indoor fitness competition that Spartan Race created. It is a fitness event that combines functional fitness and endurance elements.

The name “Deka Fit” is derived from the decathlon. It is similar because it incorporates ten different fitness stations or exercises that participants must complete in a specific order as fast as possible, with running spurts between each station. 

The exercises involved in a DEKA event encompass activities like rowing on machines, lunges, sit-ups, and tank pushes and pulls. Participants are timed as they progress through these stations, with their overall time determining their performance and ranking. 

DEKA Fit is designed to be an all-inclusive fitness event, catering to individuals of various fitness levels, and offers different categories to accommodate beginners, intermediate participants, and experienced athletes. 

In this guide, we will cover the following: 

  • What is DEKA? The DEKA Fitness Stations
  • DEKA Equipment
  • Participating in DEKA
  • Is DEKA Competitive?
  • How to Prepare for DEKA

Let’s dive into the details of DEKA!

A person on an air bike.

What is DEKA? The DEKA Fitness Stations

The Spartan DEKA Fit event comprises 10 DEKA Fit zones and a running track that goes around the station zone.

The event starts by having competitors run 500 meters around the running track before stopping in zone 1.

After completing each DEKA zone, competitors must run 500 meters before moving on to the next DEKA zone. 

The 10 DEKA Zones are:

  • 30 Ram Alternating Reverse Lunges
  • 500 Meter Row
  • 20 Box Jump/Step Overs
  • 25 Medicine Ball Sit-Up Throws
  • 500 Meter Ski Erg
  • 100 Meter Farmers Carry
  • 25 Calorie Air Bike 
  • 20 Dead Ball Wall Overs
  • 100 Meter Tank Push/Pulls
  • 20 Ram Burpees 

As you can see, the DEKA Fit zones have a lot of variety regarding the types of movements, body engagement, and equipment involved, so having basic-level fitness abilities is a must. 

A person on a rowing machine.

DEKA Equipment

For this event, a piece of equipment called a “ram” is used. These come in different weights and are short logs made of recycled tires. The men and women use different weights for the event and for different zones.

There is also a dead ball and medicine ball used for this event, and again, men and women use different weights when using these pieces of exercise equipment. 

Three different exercise machines are required for this event as well. A rowing machine, an air bike, and a ski erg. This event also utilizes a tank rather than a traditional sled used in other more mainstream events.

The tank is sort of like a sled on wheels that works using resistance rather than weight. Men and women use different resistances for the event. You will also use dumbbells in some of the zones.

While the movements are pretty straightforward, participants must follow strict movement standards and risk being “no repped” if a movement is not completed to the judge’s satisfaction. Similar to what you may see in a CrossFit event. 

People performing box jumps and step ups.

Participating in DEKA

One of the great things about DEKA is that it is a fitness competition for everyone. While it involves running and the ability to move some weight around, all of the weight is quite manageable, and participants can sprint, jog, or even walk the run portions if needed. 

Many local gyms are starting to get their members on board with DEKA and offer training groups to help them prepare for the event, which is a great way to get people excited about fitness and working towards a goal. 

Participating in a DEKA event is also a way to ease yourself into running. It only requires 5k of running, which is just over 3 miles. This distance is very manageable for new runners and does not take too much time to build up to running.

If you are a running and indoor gym workout fan, DEKA is the perfect event for you. Or, if you want to learn to enjoy those things, then training for an event like this is the motivation you need. 

Whether you are an elite, amateur, or beginner athlete, there will be a place for you in the DEKA arena.

This event offers three different waves to compete in. Elite, age group, and open options are available, and you can choose whichever best suits your current fitness level. 

A person throwing a med ball in the air.

Is DEKA Competitive?

The official large and competitive DEKA event is called a DEKAFit. When you sign up for this event, you have three categories to choose from for participating in. The categories are elite, age group, and open. 

At registration, you will be given a timing chip. This timing chip will track the total time it takes to complete the event and how long it takes you to complete each zone and run.

This is great because it allows you to track your progress over time and set goals for yourself at each event you compete in. You can also see how you compare to others and where you can most improve. 

Let’s break down each category:

Elite

The elite category is meant for athletes who are very experienced in fitness and running. Females in this category should be able to complete the event in 45 minutes or less, and men should be able to complete it in 40 minutes or less.

If you plan to compete in this category, you can expect to be sent out in heats of about 12 people and run head-to-head with your competitors. This category offers cash prizes to the top 3 athletes of each sex. 

A person holding a kettlebell.

Age Group

For this category, you should have a decent amount of experience in fitness and running and be comfortable running all of the run portions. You should also be able to complete all movements without long breaks in between reps or without modifications. 

While you may not be the fastest or strongest, people in this category should desire to complete all movements to standard. This category offers podium awards to the top 3 males and females in each age group.

Unlike the elite category, this one does not put you head-to-head with your competitors. The heats are larger, and you will be mixed with competitors from various age groups. 

Open

People who want to try something new and are working on improving their fitness but are not yet interested in competing for awards or record-breaking times should sign up for the open category.

You will still be timed, but modifying movements is allowed, and this category is much more lenient than others. Walking or taking breaks as needed is okay in this category, making DEKA a fitness competition for everyone.

A person squatting with a med ball.

How to Prepare for DEKA

In order to prepare for a Spartan DEKA event, you will want to be sure that you have at least some fitness experience. Although the event is very inclusive regarding abilities, jumping in without any prior fitness experience or knowledge may put you at risk of injury. 

Distance and Weights

You should be able to complete 3 miles of distance comfortably. Whether walking or running, this should be a distance your body can handle.

You should also be able to comfortably lift 40 pounds minimum for women and 60 pounds minimum for men, up to your shoulder.

You will need to be able to hold onto a set of 40-pound dumbbells for women and 60-pound dumbbells for men. It is important that you have the arm and leg strength to pull and push weight as well.

A person pushing a sled.

Movements

For DEKA events, you will need to work on your ability to complete a reverse lunge, sit-up, box step-up, and burpee. It would be a great idea to practice completing these movements using body weight until you are ready to work up to the weight of the event.

This may take time, but it is important to be sure you understand how to complete the movement properly and can do so without pain or injury before adding weight to the mix.

You should prepare yourself to walk while holding dumbbells by your side as well.

This can take some getting used to, and the more you practice, the more comfortable it will become and the better you will understand how to position the weights in a way that works for you. 

Understanding how to properly push and pull weight without causing painful strain on any one area of your body is also a must for the tank portion of this event.

Work on exercises like toe risers and push-ups to help prepare your calves, shoulders, and back for this movement. 

A person sprinting.

If available, you should also practice on the air bike, ski erg, and rowing machine.

You are able to adjust the resistance on the rowing machine and ski erg at the event, so it is recommended that you practice beforehand to get an idea of what you want the machines set at. 

The more you work on these machines, the more comfortable and fluid the movements will become, making you more efficient and quicker.

You do want to know what seat height is most comfortable for you on the air bike and how much you do or do not want to use your arms, so getting on one before the event is ideal.

Different people have different approaches, and everyone is different regarding what is most efficient for them. 

Takeaways

DEKA is a hybrid fitness event that is meant to encourage people of all abilities to step out of their comfort zones and live a fit and active lifestyle. This event will push people to challenge themselves and discover exactly what they are made of.

DEKAFit is the big event put on, but you may also be able to compete in shorter events like the Mile DEKA Fit event or DEKA Strong at a local gym near you.

If you want to do a workout that will help you prepare for this event, give this HYROX workout a try.

A person doing a burpee.
Photo of author
I am a UESCA-certified running coach, psychology PhD student, and competitive obstacle racer and trail runner. Once 100 pounds overweight I found fitness and fell in love with an active and competitive lifestyle. My passion for inspiring others and fitness come together seamlessly in the world of writing where I get to share the thing that changed my life. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, my dogs, as well as baking and cooking.

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