Almost every athlete has one thing in common—the desire to be the best. Our competitive nature is what drives us to be the best we can, both in terms of being better than our competitors and also bringing out our own strengths.
You can run a road race, which can demonstrate how good you are at running, or you can tackle a multisport event like a triathlon to determine how well you can best the competition in swimming, biking, and running.
So, what is HYROX? How does it work? What are the HYROX events?
In this article, we will discuss what the HYROX workout and competition entail and how to replicate the HYROX workout at your own gym, even if there are no facilities around you that offer official HYROX competitions.
We will cover:
- What Is HYROX?
- How to Do the HYROX Workout
- HYROX Competition Divisions
- How Long Does a HYROX Race Take?
- HYROX Workouts and Training
Let’s jump in!
What Is HYROX?
HYROX is a multi-discipline fitness competition that involves running and performing eight different fitness exercises, ranging from cardiovascular exercises to strength, HIIT, power, and speed challenges.
HYROX was created by Christian Toetzke, one of the top race organizers of mass participation races in the world, alongside Moritz Fuerste, a three-time Olympic Medalist and World Champion.
Since its inception in 2018, HYROX has grown to become the world’s largest mass participation fitness race, with some individual events hosting more than 10,000 spectators and 4000 race participants.
In a nutshell, HYROX is a unique run-lift-HIIT event designed to be performed in most commercial gyms using regular gym equipment.
There are events in eight countries, including the UK and the US, and the event continues to grow as more and more people are excited to take on the challenge and show their prowess in their overall fitness through the comprehensive nature of the disciplines that comprise the HYROX event.
In this way, the HYROX competition is a true comprehensive picture of your overall fitness, and replicating the event with your own self-led HYROX workout can help you develop well-rounded strength and fitness.
The eight functional exercises that are included in any official HYROX event, in one variation or another, are:
- 1000m SkiErg
- Sled Push
- Sled Pull
- Burpee Broad Jump
- 1,000m Rowing Machine
- Weighted Farmer’s Carry
- Sandbag Lunges
- Wall Ball
You also have to run 1 kilometer in between each event for a total running distance of 8 kilometers (5 miles) over the duration of the HYROX race.
It should be noted that the weights and distances for the functional workout section of the HYROX competition may vary from event to event but mostly depend on your division; therefore, HYROX times from one event to another are not necessarily apples-to-apples comparisons.
How to Do the HYROX Workout
Whether you are competing in an official event or trying to replicate the composition with your own HYROX workout, here is how to do each of the components of the HYROX:
The SkiErg (like a cross-country skiing machine) mainly targets the lats/triceps, shoulder and core muscles. But when done properly, the muscles of the lower body are also involved in the movement, making it a total-body exercise.
HYROX Sled Push
The sled push is a challenging exercise that builds explosive strength, speed, and power.
You can use it in your workouts to build sprint speed and strengthen the muscles in your lower body, primarily your quads, hip flexors, adductors of the inner thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
The exercise can be modified for different fitness levels by adding or decreasing weight on the sled and increasing or decreasing the distance, speed, and rest in between sprint bursts.
HYROX Sled Pull
The sled pull exercise is essentially the reverse of the sled push in terms of the motion and muscles used, but it still challenges your explosive strength, speed, and power.
This exercise primarily works the entire core, particularly the lower back, as well as your quads, biceps, and shoulder muscles.
HYROX Burpee Broad Jump
Unlike a traditional burpee, the HYROX workout involves burpee broad jumps. This is essentially an amplified burpee in that you not only have to perform the traditional burpee (jump squat plus push-up together), but you also have to do a broad jump, propelling yourself as far forward as possible, with each rep.
The burpee is a total-body exercise that strengthens nearly every major muscle of the body while simultaneously increasing heart rate and providing a cardiovascular and metabolic challenge.
Because you have to do the broad jump component, the HYROX burpees can also be considered a HIIT and explosive power exercise.
Use your arms to really propel your body forward with each jump to maximize your horizontal distance.
HYROX Rowing Machine Exercise
The rowing machine is a good opportunity to show off your cardiovascular fitness, but it is also a total-body exercise, demanding power and strength from your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as your back and upper body.
Focus on pushing as hard as you can with your legs rather than pulling as hard as you can with your arms to increase your speed and power.
HYROX Farmer’s Carry
The HYROX race includes a Farmer’s Carry exercise, which is a strengthening move that primarily targets the upper back muscles (trapezius), the entire core, and legs. It also tests your grip strength.
HYROX Sandbag Lunges
Sandbag lunges are surprisingly difficult. Because the center of gravity can shift with a sandbag, unlike with traditional dumbbells or barbells, sandbag lunges not only challenge the strength of your leg muscles but also involve much more core activation and balance.
HYROX Wall Balls
The HYROX Wall Ball exercise is a total-body HIIT exercise that challenges not only your shoulders, upper back, arms, and core muscles, but also your glutes and hamstrings.
Throw powerfully at the wall, rebounding and then re-throwing as fast as you can.
HYROX Competition Divisions
The full HYROX may sound daunting, but the good news is that there are four different HYROX competition categories to choose from based on your fitness level:
- Open: The standard HYROX event, which is challenging but doable for everyone with training.
- Pro: The HYROX Pro category is for experienced racers because it involves using heavier weights. It is composed of the top 20 racers based on HYROX finish time in each age category.
- Doubles: The doubles racing category is fun because you not only get to have a partner to share the experience with, but it can also be more approachable for beginners and intermediate athletes. You do all of the runs together as a pair, but the workload of the functional exercises is split amongst the two of you, making it more doable.
- Relay: The HYROX relay racing category is the most beginner-friendly foray into the event. Teams of four tackle the entire event, each member taking on two of the 1-km runs and two of the exercises.
The Open and Pro race categories are further divided into men and women. All of the HYROX race divisions are also split into 11 age groups, each spanning five years with the exception of the youngest (16-24 years old) and oldest (70+ years) age groups.
However, the doubles divisions only have half as many age groups, each spanning 10 years, and the pro division ends with the oldest age group at 65 years and up.
There is also the HYROX World Championship in which competitors receive invitations by having one of the twenty fastest times in their respective division from other races held throughout the year.
In the official HYROX competitions, competitors wear timing chips and receive official finishing times, including times for each individual portion of the event. This can help you determine your relative strengths and weaknesses to better tailor your HYROX training workouts.
There are also HYROX global rankings across all of the events, divisions, and age groups, allowing competitors to see how they stack up against peers around the world.
This is one of the really cool features of the HYROX competition, and because the exercises are performed with traditional gym equipment, the results from any two events can be compared rather equally, unlike when trying to compare race finish times from road races or cross-country races that take place on very different courses.
With that said, the distance, time, and/or reps for the functional exercises can vary from event to event.
Even though the event is certainly challenging and physically demanding, the entire mission and tagline of the organization is to create a premium fitness competition for “Every Body, not only elite athletes.”
Another benefit of the fitness event is that it takes place indoors, allowing it to be a functional competition worldwide during any season, regardless of climate, with comparable results from venue to venue.
How Long Does a HYROX Race Take?
The average HYROX finish time depends on the level of the athlete.
A good HYROX finish time for elite and advanced athletes is an hour or less, but the average HYROX time for most participants is around 90 minutes.
Given the long nature of the race, improving your HYROX time is ultimately a matter of improving both your cardiovascular endurance, as well as your strength and performance for each HIIT functional exercise.
HYROX Workouts and Training
HYROX is said to be a fitness event for Every Body, so it is important to note that it is certainly not easy. Because you will run 1 km between every event, the entirety of the event involves running a total of 8 kilometers (5 miles) as well as performing eight total-body functional movements.
It can certainly take a lot of training just to build up the fitness level to be able to perform the eight runs in between each event.
Additionally, most of the functional movements incorporated into the HYROX competition are technique driven-movements that require training and practice to not only get strong enough to perform the movement well but also to be able to master the correct form and technique to perform the exercise properly.
For this reason, if you are interested in competing in HYROX events, or even if you just want to practice the format with your own HYROX workouts, it’s important to take the time to train.
Learning the proper technique and gradually progressing the load, speed, and number of reps you can do will help prevent injury and improve your HYROX performance.
What about a Spartan race? Have you heard about these obstacle-filled races? For more information, check out our article: How To Train For A Spartan Race.