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The Rise Of Hybrid Fitness Events: DEKA, CrossFit + HYROX Explained

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If you are at all into fitness, then you are likely familiar with CrossFit and will want to become more familiar with DEKA and HYROX, the new “hybrid fitness” events on the scene.

CrossFit has continued to gain popularity over the last 15 years, and it is likely that you can find a CrossFit box no matter where you live. 

Until recently, CrossFit was the only well-known sport combining functional fitness movements with occasional cardio, which was the start of hybrid fitness.

That is no longer the case because more and more hybrid fitness events have arrived! In 2018, the HYROX event was born. Shortly after, in 2019, the Spartan Race brand released DEKA events.  

These “hybrid fitness” events appear to be CrossFit spin-offs due to the combination of functional fitness movements and cardio, but they actually require a much different athlete and abilities than CrossFit. 

In this guide, we will explore DEKA, CrossFit, and HYROX hybrid fitness events that are meant to test the fitness abilities of athletes from all walks of life.

We will cover the following: 

  • What is Deka?
  • What is CrossFit?
  • What is HYROX?
  • The Similarities Between These Hybrid Fitness Events
  • The Differences Between These Hybrid Fitness Events

Let’s talk about how all of these events compare!

A person pushing a weight sled.

What is DEKA?

DEKA is an event that combines ten functional fitness stations with increments of running between each fitness station. This hybrid fitness event occurs in an indoor fitness arena, often utilizing city convention centers. 

This event utilizes a variety of fitness equipment and exercises.

You must complete movements like sit-ups, alternating reverse lunges, box step-ups, burpees, tank pushes and pulls, farmer carries, and deadball wall-overs.  

When completing the sit-ups, lunges, burpees, and tank pushes and pulls, you will be required to utilize a weight component or resistance.

The amount of weight or resistance you must use varies depending on sex. However, each sex must complete the same amount of distance/reps. 

In addition to the seven exercises, you will also need to utilize some cardio fitness equipment. You must use a rowing machine, ski erg, and assault bike for the remaining three of the stations. 

An indoor track.

Now let’s talk about the running!

A DekaFit event begins with a 500-meter run right off the start line. Then, you will continue to complete 500 meters of running between all fitness stations. 

The run takes place on an indoor track that is arranged around the organized fitness station area. The total run distance equates to a 5k. 

The event runs off of chip time. Timing starts when you cross the start line and ends when you finish your last burpee and step over the finish line. 

Your total “score” is the total time it takes you to complete all of the running and all 10 DEKA zones. 

A burpee.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a fitness program that is considered to be high-intensity and has a competitive aspect. CrossFit aims to improve your general physical fitness level by doing diverse workouts. 

This sport utilizes a variety of fitness components. Weightlifting, gymnastics, cardio, and functional movements are all included in everyday CrossFit workouts and are also all included in the actual CrossFit games event. 

Functional movements are the primary attraction of CrossFit, and it also focuses on constantly varying the types of workouts that are done. 

You can count on completing time-based, high-intensity routines when working out at a CrossFit gym or competing in a CrossFit event. 

One thing that CrossFit is very well known for is encouraging a sense of community within the local gyms or “boxes.”

A box jump.

When preparing to start working out at a CrossFit box, you must work with a CrossFit coach to learn proper safety for the types of routines you will engage in. 

CrossFit has proven to be very effective in helping people get fit and look aesthetically pleasing, but it has generated a good bit of controversy because of the potential injury risks that the movements and routines pose.  

CrossFit is also well known for Workouts of the Day, or “WODS.” These gym routines lay out a combination of functional fitness movements and cardio activity that is expected to be completed in a certain amount of time or for a certain amount of reps. 

Every WOD varies greatly in design and purpose and is a huge part of being a CrossFitter. 

The CrossFit Games is the competitive event that CrossFitters compete in.

The exercises and cardio that athletes complete for the CrossFit games vary from year to year and can require advanced lifting techniques and a lot of endurance. 

A kettlebell farmer's carry.

What is HYROX?

Another hybrid fitness event that snuck onto the scene is HYROX. This event was born in Europe in 2018 and made its way to the States shortly after.

It has now expanded to multiple continents and is catching the attention of CrossFitters, runners, and fitness enthusiasts of all abilities. 

HYROX occurs indoors, often at a convention center, and involves completing fitness stations followed by spurts of running. 

HYROX has started to attract CrossFitters because it involves well-known CrossFit movements like pushing and pulling a sled, completing wall balls, doing farmer carries, and working on cardio machines. 

The running portion of HYROX totals 8k. Each run interval is 1000 meters and completed on an indoor track surrounding the fitness zone set-up. 

This event requires a lot of endurance and strength. The sled is very heavy, and the weight used for farmer carries and lunges is no small feat. 

A wall ball.

The weight/reps required for stations does change based on the division you compete in, and in all divisions, males and females use different weight but complete the same reps/distance. 

To complete a HYROX, you will need to be able to complete walking lunges, burpee broad jumps, a heavy farmer carry, wall balls, and a sled push and pull.  

In addition to these exercise movements, you also need to be able to complete 1000 meters on both the rowing machine and ski erg machine. 

The event runs on chip time and starts when you cross over the start line to begin your first 1000-meter run and ends when you complete your 100th wall ball rep and cross the finish line. 

Your overall “score” is the total time it takes you to complete all runs and fitness zones. 

The Similarities Between These Hybrid Fitness Events

Wall balls.

Fitness Components

All of these events/sports have some similarities. You must be comfortable completing functional fitness movements for each one while utilizing weighted components. 

The weight used for HYROX at the pro level may be considered advanced. Most of the weights used in a DEKA event are more on the average level. 

CrossFit can vary from lightweight to heavyweight, and movements can be straightforward or complex. It can be a guessing game, but skill is often required for many of the strength movements. 

Location

All of these events take place at an indoor facility. However, HYROX has hosted outdoor events, and some components of the CrossFit open have also taken place outside. However, you are unlikely to see any of these events taking place out in the mountains. 

The Rise Of Hybrid Fitness Events: DEKA, CrossFit + HYROX Explained 1

Equipment

All of these events use similar exercises and cardio equipment in training and in the competitions. 

Rowing machines and ski ergs can be seen across all competitions, and you will also likely see some type of sled or tank, the use of a medicine ball, and kettlebells or dumbbells (often used for farmer carries).

CrossFit and hybrid fitness competitions love tossing in cardio machines.

Endurance

Endurance and strength are both key components to each of these events.

It is important to be able to move a reasonable amount of weight and to be able to work constantly, switching between cardio and strength components constantly. 

HYROX is similar to DEKA in the way that it involves starting with a run, completing an exercise at a fitness station, running again, rinsing, and repeating eight times. This is truly what categorizes these events as hybrid fitness events.

CrossFit does not require the same consistent pattern but combines cardio strength and constant work over time. 

A person pulling a sled.

The Differences Between These Hybrid Fitness Events

Skill Level

The movements that you may be required to complete during a CrossFit event are often very advanced and not safe or possible to complete without previous training. 

HYROX and DEKA movements are typically more accessible by the everyday fitness goer. While they may not be able to be completed perfectly or quickly, they are typically doable, which is a common aspect of hybrid fitness competitions. 

Duration

The CrossFit Games are different every year, but they are always made up of various events that usually span 4-5 days. CrossFit WODS can last anywhere from a few minutes to around an hour, and the games often include different WODS

Kettlebell remos.

A HYROX event typically takes around 60-70 minutes for the best pro men and 65-75 minutes for the best pro women. Open-wave individuals usually take 90-120 minutes to complete the event. 

When completing a DEKA event, specifically the DekaFit, the best pro men and women usually finish in around 30-40 minutes. The participants toward the back of the age group, and open waves usually finish in between 50 and 90 minutes. 

Takeaways

Fitness continues to evolve; the more fitness events surface, the more new fitness events are inspired and created. CrossFit may have been the beginning of the marriage of lifting and cardio, but hybrid fitness has swooped in and stolen the spotlight. 

If you are an athlete who loves to lift and doesn’t mind running and working on cardio machines, these newer hybrid fitness events may be your calling. 

If you are curious, don’t be afraid to start your training by trying out a CrossFit WOD with some running involved!

Two people in a gym giving a high five.
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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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