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How To Train For A HYROX Event

Woman throwing a medicine ball at a HYROX event
HYROX events finish with 75 or 100 wall balls (Image credit: HYROX)

HYROX events (opens in new tab) are a great way to put your all-round fitness to the test. The mass-participation format was founded in 2017 and puts on races at indoor arenas across Europe and the USA, with each event hosting up to 3,000 participants, plus spectators when permitted, which creates a terrific atmosphere. It launched in the UK in 2021 and returns to London for an event at ExCel on 30th April. 

If that sounds appealing, keep in mind that it is a serious physical test. The format requires participants to run 1km, then tackle a functional exercise, eight times. The mathematically minded will have noticed that’s 8km of running in total, and you’ll actually be racking up even more distance through the exercise you do in between those runs.

First up is 1,000m on the SkiErg, a cardio machine that imitates Nordic skiing. Then you do a 50m sled push, followed by a 50m sled pull and 80m of burpee broad jumps. After that it’s 1,000m on the rowing machine, a 200m farmer’s carry, 100m of sandbag lunges and finally 75 or 100 wall balls. It’s probably worth reminding you that in between the exercises you run 1km. It all adds up to an event that will challenge your strength and endurance to the max, and pacing yourself effectively will be crucial.

Given the variety of exercise involved, preparing for a HYROX event requires careful planning to ensure you’re ready to tackle each and every station on the circuit, as well as all that running in between. We spoke to HYROX master trainer Mintra Tilly to get some expert advice on how to train for the fitness race.

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What kind of training should you do before HYROX?

Man running at a HYROX event

(Image credit: HYROX)

HYROX combines running and functional training which opens it up to a broad audience of fitness enthusiasts. Everyone can do it, even if you haven’t trained, though we don’t recommend that – you’ll be sore for days afterwards. 

How best to train for HYROX depends a little on where you’re coming from. If we were to start with a beginner or someone who’s not familiar with HYROX, the best thing to do is build their base fitness, building endurance and strength. 

Once you’ve built your base fitness, you can address your weaknesses and do less of what you’re good at. If you’re a great runner then you need to work on strength and the functional movements. And vice versa, if you’re stronger and a less accomplished runner.

What we don’t suggest is crazy technical lifts, like snatches or Olympic lifts. We stick with the basics.

Should you complete a full HYROX in training?

It doesn’t hurt to do the whole thing, just to know what it feels like. Obviously, it’s going to be totally different in the competition when the adrenaline kicks in.

If you don’t have all the equipment needed, then do a training session that mimics that amount of work. It’s around an hour and a half, on average, and you should challenge your body with different exercises and have some running in there.

Aerial view of HYROX event

HYROX events can have as many as 3,000 competitors. (Image credit: HYROX)

How long does it take to train for a HYROX?

If you’re committed and you do three to four workouts a week, then eight weeks is enough, but if you really want to be well prepared, I would recommend 12 weeks.

How should you structure that training?

In an ideal world, I recommend periodisation. Take weeks one to four to get stronger. Don’t do much running or cardio. Then move on to the next phase in week five to eight, and incorporate the cardiovascular components. Keep one or two strength days, and then on the other two days ramp up the cardio. Then four weeks before the event, get specific. Do all the HYROX movements with running in between.

What parts of the event are people weakest at in general?

Woman doing sled pull at HYROX event

The sled pull is the second station at HYROX events. (Image credit: HYROX)

Exercise-wise, it’s the sled. Some people might not have the opportunity to incorporate that into their training and then it just hits you. And because it’s the second station, people go in too quick. The sled is unique: it hits your heart rate and your muscles at the same time. Do not underestimate the sled, and try to train with it so you know what it feels like.

Number two would be the lunges, because they can be overlooked. They’re towards the end, maybe an hour or an hour and 15 minutes in, and it’s 200 metres of lunging over and over again. At that point in the competition, you need to have that extra energy and your legs need to be able to manage that. So the lunges are something that you should focus on in training too. 

And then in third place, I’d say running. I mean, it’s so obvious, but people struggle!

Can you train for a HYROX at home?

My coach used to say no equipment is not an excuse, so in honour of him, I want to say it’s possible. If you have to do it all at home, think about time and muscle. Look at how long it takes to do a section, and then try to get your heart rate up and hit the muscles that exercise hits for that duration of time. 

For example, it takes people roughly four or five minutes to do the SkiErg section. So that means for five minutes, you would have to do something that targets your heart rate, and then also your arms. So I would do burpees with double press-ups. Be creative.

Do you need to consider how you fuel for a HYROX event?

People underestimate what completing HYROX does to your body and some who start in the morning just don’t have breakfast. You have to eat something in order for your body to not shut down. But don’t eat too much, because you’ll throw up. And drink! Hydration is a big thing. 

At the event, unfortunately, we don’t have any food available or any gel packs because of COVID – we used to. If you know that you need that, take it with you.

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.