HYROX vs. CrossFit — Comparing Training and Nutrition

Functional fitness competitions have exploded in popularity, with CrossFit leading the charge since its 2000 debut. Its worldwide presence and constantly varied workouts have captivated millions of fitness enthusiasts.

On the other hand, HYROX, founded in 2017 in Germany, offers a standardized, accessible alternative. HYROX combines running and functional movements and hosts events globally, with some races drawing over 8,000 participants and 10,000 spectators. 

Gommaar D’Hulst, Ph.D. in Sport Sciences and Biology, delved into the nuances of CrossFit and HYROX on June 4, 2024. He explored the physiological demands, training strategies, and nutritional considerations for competitive athletes in each sport.

HYROX and CrossFit both use functional movements performed at high intensity, combining aspects of strength and endurance.

Check out the video below:

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Key Differences between HYROX and CrossFit

D’Hulst breaks down the main differences between the two sports into five categories:

1. Event Duration

HYROX races demand greater endurance than CrossFit, as the former lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. Conversely, CrossFit competition events prioritize intensity and many events’ durations are sub-10 minutes.

2. Focus

Given its longer duration, HYROX racing emphasizes aerobic conditioning more than CrossFit, which prioritizes explosive power generation in shorter bursts.

3. Predictability

HYROX races are standardized, so athletes can prepare accordingly with mostly perfect information. Conversely, in CrossFit competition, many workouts remain undisclosed until the moment of competition.

4. Skill Level

HYROX movements are generally less technically demanding than CrossFit, which requires proficiency in high-skill gymnastics and weightlifting movements.

5. Athlete Body Type

Per D’Hulst, taller athletes tend to excel in HYROX due to the biomechanics of the test movements like running, wall balls, rowing, lunges, and sled pushes. In comparison, shorter athletes may have an edge in CrossFit events, which feature movements like burpees and snatches.

Physiological and Nutritional Implications

Below is how the differences between these two sports impact athletes physically and nutritionally:

Energy Systems

The extended duration of HYROX races demands a greater reliance on the aerobic energy system, which utilizes fat and glucose for sustained energy production. In contrast, CrossFit’s shorter, high-intensity workouts predominantly utilize the anaerobic energy system, which relies on glycogen stores for quick bursts of energy.

Aerobic Base

“I tested a couple of elite CrossFit athletes, and their aerobic conditioning was not that high,” said D’Hulst, who contends that HYROX athletes generally possess superior aerobic fitness.

“The anaerobic system is highly important in CorssFit training, and that’s probably why we see such high lactate threshold and low aerobic base in many elite CrossFit athletes,” D’Hulst added.


HYROX training usually involves longer intervals of Zone Two training to enhance aerobic capacity. CrossFit training prioritizes shorter, high-intensity intervals with extended rest periods to replicate competition demands.

Most elite CrossFit athletes train in Zone Four or Five.

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The longer duration of HYROX races leads to significant glycogen depletion, necessitating carbohydrate consumption during competition to sustain power output. Although CrossFit’s shorter workouts don’t require intra-workout meals, athletes still need ample carbohydrates to fuel training sessions.

Featured image: @crossfitgames on Instagram

The post HYROX vs. CrossFit — Comparing Training and Nutrition appeared first on BarBend.


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