On your marks, get set, go… the race for best fitness competition is on.
CrossFit has unquestionably been the market leader for fitness competitions for the last decade… but, are the times changing?
Hyrox, an up-and-coming fitness race that promotes a more inclusive competition, is scaling rapidly.
But what’s the difference between these fitness brands and ultimately, which one is best suited to your goals.
We’ve tried both… and here are our key takeaways.
- HYROX events include the same format every time (8 x 1km runs + 8 functional exercises), while CrossFit events include more variety.
- The inclusion of Olympic weightlifting in CrossFit might put some people off.
- Running plays a much bigger role in HYROX.
- It’s worth trying both and seeing which one you like (many CrossFit athletes will enter HYROX events too).
What is HYROX? Key Aspects
Hyrox is a functional fitness competition that is open to everyone, regardless of their athletic background. It describes itself as the “World Series of Fitness.”
The competition is standardized, meaning the workout doesn’t change. A Hyrox event involves a combination of 1km runs and functional workouts, repeated eight times.
This makes it easier to train for and track progress.
The functional workouts are also designed to be safe and simple to perform… with no Olympic lifts or overly complex movements.
They include SkiErg, Sled Push, Sled Pull, Burpee Broad Jump, Row, Farmers Carry, Sandbag Lunges, and Wall Balls.
What is CrossFit? Key Aspects
CrossFit, on the other hand, is a high-intensity fitness training method that combines weightlifting, cardio, and gymnastics.
It’s known for its variety and the element of surprise, as the workouts, known as “WODs” (workouts of the day), change daily.
This means that CrossFit athletes need to be prepared for anything, from heavy Olympic lifts to complex gymnastic movements.
CrossFit workouts are typically shorter than Hyrox events, often lasting less than 20 minutes (compared to roughly 1.5 hrs). But, they require a high level of skill and can take years to master.
CrossFit also has a strong community aspect, with many workouts designed to be done in a group setting.
Get Started with CrossFit
HYROX Vs CrossFit – Key Differences
The types of exercises found in HYROX and CrossFit are inherently functional, but their deployment and approach are significantly different.
In HYROX, exercises are designed around a predictable and pre-defined format, ensuring that participants know exactly what they are up against in each event.
This uniformity gives competitors the ability to train specifically for each event, honing their skills and strategies to excel in these exercises.
In contrast, CrossFit thrives on unpredictability and variety. Its foundational philosophy revolves around preparing its participants for the unknown and unknowable, embodying this concept in its “workout of the day” (WOD).
CrossFit workouts often include elements from weightlifting, cardio, gymnastics, and more, challenging athletes across multiple fitness domains.
This difference in approach to exercises represents a fundamental difference between HYROX and CrossFit.
Running is a core component of HYROX competitions. Each event features eight 1km running segments, interspersed with eight functional workouts.
The predictability of the running component allows participants to train with a specific focus on endurance, speed, and recovery. The total running distance in a HYROX competition is consistently 8km, so competitors can strategize their pace and energy expenditure.
CrossFit, while incorporating running in its regimen, doesn’t have a set standard or distance for it. Some WODs may involve short, high-intensity sprints (like hill sprints), while others may incorporate longer runs.
But, unlike HYROX, running is not guaranteed to be a component of every CrossFit workout. The unpredictable nature of CrossFit means that athletes need to be prepared for anything, but it also provides a varied training stimulus, keeping workouts fresh and engaging.
A typical HYROX competition is a single-day event with the competition lasting around 60-90 minutes for the most elite performers.
The predictability of HYROX allows for training and preparation that is specifically geared towards maintaining high performance over this set duration. The longer duration of HYROX competitions means that athletes need to train for endurance as well as strength and power.
In contrast, CrossFit workouts are typically designed to be shorter, high-intensity bursts of exercise. An average CrossFit WOD often lasts around 20-30 minutes, requiring athletes to work at high intensity for this period.
The training methodology for HYROX and CrossFit also differs due to the structure of their respective events.
Given the set structure of a HYROX event, training can be more specialized. Competitors can focus on improving their 1km run times and getting more efficient at the specific functional exercises included in the competition.
In contrast, CrossFit training requires a broader fitness base due to the variety of the workouts. It’s not uncommon for a CrossFit athlete to perform weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular exercises in a single training session.
As a result, CrossFit athletes must be adaptable and maintain a high level of general physical preparedness.
Both HYROX and CrossFit have wide appeal, but they often attract slightly different demographics.
CrossFit’s variability, community focus, and scalability make it appealing to a broad demographic, from those just starting their fitness journey to elite athletes… but, the workouts often include Olympic lifts, which will naturally put some off.
On the other hand, HYROX, with its consistent format and endurance-based challenge, often attracts athletes who are interested in a more standardized competitive environment.
This could include endurance runners seeking a new challenge, functional fitness enthusiasts looking for a test of their abilities, or individuals drawn to the mental and physical challenge of a longer, more predictable event.
With its focus on simple movements, it is probably better for beginners too.
Hyrox might also steal athletes from things like a triathlon and Ironman, not just CrossFit.
HYROX Vs CrossFit – Similarities
At their core, both HYROX and CrossFit are rooted in functional fitness. This means they emphasize movements that mimic everyday activities and enhance overall physical performance.
Both training programs incorporate multi-joint movements that use multiple muscle groups, such as squats, lifts, pulls, and pushes, making them highly beneficial for improving strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
While the specific exercises and their frequency may vary, the underlying principle remains the same – train movements, not just muscles.
This approach enhances real-world fitness and functionality, equipping participants with the strength and conditioning to handle real-life physical challenges beyond the gym walls.
Both HYROX and CrossFit are not just about training – they also foster a sense of community through competitive events.
HYROX holds standardized competitions around the world, providing an opportunity for athletes to test their fitness against an international field of competitors… and travel to new places.
Similarly, CrossFit has its own series of competitions, most notably the CrossFit Games, which crowns the “Fittest on Earth”.
But, CrossFit competitions also extend to local and regional levels, providing more opportunities for athletes of all levels to compete and test their fitness.
In both cases, these events serve to unite the community, fostering camaraderie and sportsmanship. They offer a platform for athletes to challenge themselves, to push their limits, and to celebrate their achievements with like-minded individuals.
Whether it’s a local CrossFit throwdown or an international HYROX competition, these events are a testament to the power of community in fitness.
Which One is Best Suited to Your Goals
Choosing between Hyrox and CrossFit largely depends on your personal fitness goals and preferences. If you prefer a standardized workout and enjoy running, Hyrox may be a good fit for you. It’s also a great option if you’re new to fitness or prefer simpler exercises.
On the other hand, if you enjoy variety, thrive on the unexpected, and are willing to learn complex movements, CrossFit might be more up your alley.
Both Hyrox and CrossFit can help you improve your strength, endurance, and overall health. While they share some similarities, their differences make them suited to different types of athletes.
We’d recommend trying both and seeing which one you naturally prefer.
Many CrossFit gyms are starting to offer Hyrox classes too, making it easier to get a taste for what these events are like.