How To Train for Hyrox: 5 Strategies To Dominate the Fitness Race

Learn how to combine endurance, strength and functional fitness to dominate the competition, with insights from industry experts

What do you get when you combine burpee broad jumps with sled pulls, inside an arena with hordes of people running against the clock? You get Hyrox, a fitness competition that combines running with functional workouts, demanding a high level of endurance, strength and athleticism. 

Hyrox originated in Germany in 2017, founded by Christian Toetzke, an entrepreneur and former triathlete, and Moritz Furste, a two-time German Olympic gold medalist in field hockey. The competition has since expanded, with events held in numerous countries.

What Is Hyrox?

Unlike CrossFit, Hyrox follows a standardized race format. Participants must complete a series of eight functional exercises, each preceded by a 1-kilometer run, over the course of a few hours, depending on their individual pace. The event’s structure is as follows:

Run 1K

Ski Erg 1000 m

Run 1K

Sled Push 50 m

Run 1K

Sled Pull 50 m

Run 1K

Burpee Broad Jumps 80 m

Run 1K

Rowing 1000 m

Run 1K

Farmer’s Carry 200 m

Run 1K

Sandbag Lunges 100 m

Run 1K

Wall balls 75 to 100

Anyone can participate, there are several divisions and no course time limits. Competitors must complete each 1-kilometer run and the subsequent functional exercise before proceeding to the next station, ultimately covering a total of 8 kilometers and performing all eight exercises in the prescribed order.

credit: Hyrox

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or new to the sport, effective training is key to performing well in a Hyrox event. Here are five approaches, with science-backed commentary, to help you prepare for the competition.

1. Structured Periodization Training

Periodization involves dividing your training program into specific phases, each with distinct goals, to systematically build your fitness over time. As you train for Hyrox, you can structure your training into three main phases. Here’s a basic template to follow:

Base phase: This phase focuses on building a solid foundation of endurance and strength. Incorporate steady-state cardio exercises such as running, cycling or swimming, and basic strength training movements like squats, deadlifts and push-ups. Aim for longer, moderate-intensity workouts to develop your aerobic base.

Build phase: During this phase, increase the intensity and volume of your workouts. Include more functional movements specific to Hyrox events, such as rowing, sled pushes and sandbag carries. Mix in interval training sessions to improve your cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

Peak phase: In the final phase leading up to competition, focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and simulate race conditions. Perform workouts that mirror the format, combining running with functional exercises in a continuous, high-intensity circuit.

Brian Biagioli, EdD, graduate program director for strength and conditioning in the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Science at the University of Miami, suggests an intentional training approach. For example, for the preparatory phase, establish a balance between anaerobic and aerobic conditioning and maximize coordinated movements for function and mobility.

Biagioli also recommends focusing on strength balance across agonist and antagonist relationships. 

“Start flow patterns with free weights, sandbags, medicine balls and kettlebells and condition over 20-second TUT (time under tension) sprints,” he says. 

Finally, Biagioli recommends adding in “micro-doses of heavy compounds” focusing on ballistic/Olympic movements, lowering distance to 10-15 sec TUT, adding drag training and working on the competition skills balanced with prior phase characteristics.

2. Functional Strength & Conditioning

Hyrox requires a unique combination of strength and endurance. 

“Any loading improves the kinetic chain – all muscle works better together bottom to top, and in rotation,” says Biagioli.  

To build the necessary functional strength, incorporate the following exercises into your training routine:

Lower body strength: Perform squats, deadlifts, lunges and step-ups to build powerful legs capable of handling the running and functional movements in Hyrox.

Upper body strength: Incorporate push-ups, pull-ups, bench presses and overhead presses to develop the upper body strength needed for exercises like rowing and wall balls.

Functional strength: Use kettlebells and sandbags for exercises like kettlebell swings, farmer’s walks and sandbag carries. These movements enhance your grip strength and overall functional fitness, which are crucial for Hyrox events.

“The demands placed on the body for this type of training are immense, regardless if the participant is a professional athlete looking to shine at the top of the leaderboard, or a weekend warrior in this for personal pride and a cheering family in the stands,” says Nathan Hyland, director of international business for the National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF). 

“I recommend that an integrated training approach be the starting place, Hyland adds. “Ideally, the participant will be working with an NCCA-accredited certified personal trainer or strength coach registered with USREPS and allow for proper lead time to prepare for competition. That will allow the athlete to optimize performance and reduce risk of injury.” 

Hyland says a good personal trainer will assess a client and take them through various movement tests “to see where compensations may be taking place and prescribing a program that specifically addresses that client’s needs.” 

“Before doing the work, we must evaluate how the body is performing,” says Hyland, who competed in the Hyrox himself, adding that when he was training for the competition, he used battle ropes, endless rope pulls, an aqua bag, and boxing and grappling at different intervals to “mimic the change in energy systems demands.”

Nathan Hyland competes in a Hyrox fitness race (credit: Israel Palacio/@israelpalacio)

3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT workouts are essential for building the cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength required for Hyrox. These sessions alternate between short bursts of intense activity and periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. Hyland says that while there are several variables that play into the percentage one’s program should include HIIT, he suggests 25%.

 Examples of effective HIIT workouts include:

Tabata workouts: Perform 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. This format can be applied to exercises like burpees, sprints or kettlebell swings.

Circuit training: Create a circuit of functional exercises such as rowing, burpees, sled pushes and box jumps. Move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest to keep your heart rate elevated.

Interval runs: Alternate between sprinting and jogging or walking. For example, sprint for 30 seconds, then jog for 1 minute, and repeat for 20-30 minutes. This improves your running efficiency and speed.

“HIIT is necessary for foundational acidosis to promote improved buffering,” says Biagioli. “Hydrogen ions are neutralized by bicarbonate and from carbonic acid. Then the athlete can be intermittently tested for consistent volume/time completion comparisons. The goal is to maintain a +7.3 pH; if it drops to 6.8, you puke. The amount of time it takes for adaptation is VO2 specific, but generally 3-4 weeks if one’s VO2 is below 45 ml/kg/min.”

4. Sport Specific Training

To prepare for the specific demands of a Hyrox competition, simulate the events in your training sessions. Hyland says that sport-specific training and cross training are a vital aspect for both progression and injury prevention in preparation for Hyrox. This approach helps you become familiar with the exercises and builds the specific strength and endurance required. Key exercises to include are:

Ski Erg and rowing: These exercises improve upper body and core endurance, essential for the rowing and ski erg components of HYROX.

Burpee broad jumps: Enhance your explosive power and agility, mimicking the movement patterns required in the competition.

Sled pushes and pulls: Build full-body strength and endurance, crucial for the sled push and pull events. Vary the weight and distance to challenge your muscles in different ways.

Hyland says that hybrid athletes (rugby players, gymnasts, grapplers, and exercise competition athletes) tend to be the most successful in Hyrox competitions “because they have successfully struck the balance in anaerobic/aerobic training and have cultivated the ideal amount of functional muscle mass that can both bear heavy load but manage the demands of muscular endurance as well.”

credit: Israel Palacio/@israelpalacio 

5. Recovery & Mobility Work

Recovery is just as important as the training itself. Incorporate the following recovery and mobility practices into your routine to prevent injuries and improve performance:

Foam rolling and stretching: Use a foam roller to release muscle tightness and improve flexibility. Stretch major muscle groups after workouts to reduce soreness and enhance recovery.

Yoga or mobility classes: Participate in yoga or mobility classes to improve joint mobility and prevent stiffness. These activities can also help with mental relaxation and focus.

Active recovery sessions: Include low-intensity activities like walking, swimming, or light cycling on your rest days. Active recovery promotes blood flow and helps repair muscles without adding additional stress.

Biagioli calls recovery “vital,” and also recommends sports nutrition timing. 

“Glycogen hydration status should be above 90%,” he says.

“Active recovery shows benefits relative to complete rest when your body is experiencing fatigue or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), such as light trail hiking,” says Hyland. 

“Yoga, Animal Flow, or my favorite, ZUU, are incredible bodyweight systems that promote proper activation and lengthening without tearing additional muscle sarcomeres from traditional strength training,” he adds.

credit: Fit Life Productions

Hyland stresses that it’s “ideal” to be guided by an exercise professional and offers the following advice: 

“If operating on your own, be mindful of managing duration and intensity in active recovery sessions. The idea is to offer your body multiplanar movement without raising heart rate excessively or adding to the demands the body is already experiencing while healing itself.” 

Training for Hyrox requires a comprehensive approach that combines structured periodization, functional strength and conditioning, high-intensity interval training, sport-specific exercises and adequate recovery. By incorporating these five approaches, ideally with a certified personal trainer, you can effectively prepare for the unique challenges of a Hyrox competition and achieve your fitness goals. 

The post How To Train for Hyrox: 5 Strategies To Dominate the Fitness Race appeared first on Athletech News.


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