A race of strength, endurance and determination, the popularity of HYROX has exploded in recent years.
Promoted as, “The World Series of Fitness“, this new fitness competition is looking to fill a gap left open by the likes of CrossFit, Ironman, Tough Mudder and Spartan events.
More inclusive, easier to get started and a focus on being a race for “Every Body”, HYROX’s messaging seems to be winning the race for new athletes looking to compete.
But, functional workout races aren’t new… and big names like CrossFit have dominated the market for a long time… so how does HYROX compete and ultimately, who are these races best suited to?
We thought we’d delve into the world of “fitness as a sport” to help you decide if this is something that could help inspire your workouts and training plan.
What is HYROX?
HYROX hosts in-person race events around the world, where participants follow the exact same format. The format, as we’ll explain in more detail below, consists of a 1km run followed by a functional movement, repeated 8 times.
The goal for each participant is simple… complete the race as fast as you can.
The events take place indoors, which creates a unique atmosphere for both participants and spectators.
Founded in Germany in 2017, the brand has grown from strength to strength… and has subsequently pulled in sponsorship deals with Puma and Redbull, as well as investment from Infront Sports & Media Group.
In similar spirit to CrossFit, Tough Mudder, Deka Fit and Spartan, HYROX is taking advantage of the fact 52% of gym goers currently describe “fitness” as their sport of choice.
Unlike CrossFit, HYROX is less technical and includes no Olympic lifts, which means it will likely appeal to beginners too.
What Does the HYROX Workout Involve?
HYROX has a unique proposition for participants and fans, compared to other fitness race brands, because every race follows the exact same format.
There are no surprises for any athletes because the workout never changes.
This includes a 1km run followed by a functional workout, repeated 8 times, as shown in the table below. The order of the functional workouts also never change.
|Sled Push (102kg – 202kg*)
|Sled Pull (78kg – 153kg*)
|Burpee Broad Jump
|Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry (16kg-32kg*)
|Sandbag Lunges (10kg – 30kg*)
|Wall Balls (4kg – 9kg*)
|100 / 75
*The weight will depend on the race category you enter.
Our Thoughts on the Race Workouts
Overall, we really like the 8 exercises that are included in the race. They are all functional movements that should appeal to a wide audience, as well as being effective at building practical strength.
Our only criticism would be that we’ve found SkiErg machines aren’t that common in most commercial gyms, so for those looking to train for a HYROX event, you may find you need to do a bit of research on gyms that have that equipment, or potentially look at buying one for your home gym setup (they vary in price, but you’re looking at around $800 to buy one outright).
We would have perhaps rather seen a workout that was more accessible to the masses, so training for an event could be done in any sort of gym.
Nevertheless, the exercises themselves can’t be faulted for the overall health benefits they offer and the ability to use them within a race format.
Ultimately, the 8 functional workouts aren’t too technical either… which means you don’t need to get coaching or specialist help to get started. You can sign up and just give it a go.
The exclusion of Olympic lifting is an obvious difference between HYROX and CrossFit and something that will probably mean casual gym-goers and beginners feel less intimidated to sign up. Although there are CrossFit exercises suitable for beginners, the competitions have a much bigger focus on strength compared to HYROX.
Finding an Event
HYROX hosts events all over the world and you can see their schedule on their website. Due to the company originating from Germany, Europe currently hosts the most events, but the brand is actively expanding to the US and other regions, so the event calendar is likely to grow too.
HYROX has potentially found itself at the centre of a new trend in tourism too, whereby participants may look to book a weekend trip away when they compete.
Especially for European athletes, there is opportunity to do lots of traveling and meeting the regular participants at different events.
For some, this is going to be a huge appeal and a way they can combine travel with fitness.
The boom for yoga retreats and wellness breaks in recent years reflects this same ethos… and shows no signs of slowing down.
HYROX Workout Benefits
The HYROX workout includes 8km of running… so first and foremost, it’s helping you improve your cardiovascular fitness.
The 8 individual functional workouts all target different muscles.
The SkiErg will really target your shoulders, arms and core. You also need to engage your lower body, to maintain stability during the exercise too.
The sled push and pull workouts combine to challenge your whole body. These two events are worth practicing so you understand your current level of pushing and pulling strength.
The benefits of the sled push is that it is generally seen as a better alternative for those will knee pain compared to other lower body exercises like squats, so that’ll be a bonus for some (especially after the 1km runs).
If you want to compete for a HYROX race, learning the proper technique to push a sled will mean you can go much faster.
Rowing is a great all-round exercise that actually engages 86% of the muscles in your body. You need to drive from both your legs and arms to really generate that power needed for a fast time.
The farmer’s carry is a great addition to the race and will test your grip strength as well as your core and upper back muscles. Practicing with single arm farmer’s carry can help spot any muscular imbalances and really fire up your core too (an exercise like the fulcrum deadlift is another great way to develop this core strength as well).
The sandbag lunges will help strengthen the glutes, quads and hamstrings, whilst the final exercise, wall balls, is another high intensity all-round exercise that will require both lower and upper body strength.
HYROX Competition Categories
There are 4 different race categories:
Open – This is the standard HYROX race that is suitable for everyone.
Pro – This includes heavier weights, making it more challenging and better suited to experienced athletes.
Doubles – This involves doing the race with a partner. You run together but split the workload of the functional workouts.
Relay – Join a team and complete two 1km and two workouts each.
HYROX Affiliated Gyms
Following in the footsteps of CrossFit, HYROX is also offering local gyms the opportunity to partner with the brand to help members prepare for the global fitness races. This includes exclusive training programs, coaching certifications and discounts for the races themselves.
For gym owners, this could be a big lure for new customers if the HYROX brand continues to grow as it has over the past few years.
We’ll probably see a race to become the HYROX gym in each town and city over the coming years, so gym owners that can get in there early are going to be at a big advantage.
Training Tips for a HYROX Competition
Arguably the best way to train for a HYROX race is to give all the functional workouts a go, as well as running 1km 8 times.
Depending on what your regular gym workout looks like, we’d recommend not underestimating the running component, as this is going to require endurance and a good overall level of fitness.
You may also find you need to take mobility and recovery more seriously compared to just training in a commercial gym.
Things to Consider
Doing a race simulation on your own is probably going to be tricky in most commercial gyms. You may therefore want to find a gym that offers HYROX workouts.
CrossFit and other gyms promoting functional workouts are going to be your best bet in terms of having the relevant equipment.
But, anyone can sign up to a race and there’s no shame in taking it at your own pace… so even if you haven’t got much experience with a certain workout/exercise, that shouldn’t put you off.
Fitness races are booming and HYROX has positioned itself very well to take center stage.
With a focus on inclusive fitness that is suited to “Every Body”, HYROX’s competitions and races should appeal to a wide audience.
If you like functional workouts, such as CrossFit, we’d definitely recommend giving HYROX a go… or alternatively, if you’re lacking some motivation to get exercising, signing up to a race like HYROX could be a great fitness goal that you can work towards at your own pace.