Crafting the Perfect HYROX Training Plan: Mastering Endurance, Strength, and Movement Economy
Are you planning to compete in a Hyrox event and wondering how to train and eat to perform at your best?
Welcome to the ultimate guide for crafting your HYROX training plan. If you're new to the HYROX world, you're in for a exciting blend of functional strength, high-intensity conditioning, and endurance. This unique competition is unlike any other, requiring a multifaceted approach to training. In this post, we'll dive into the key characteristics that define HYROX as a sport. We'll also explore The Box Performance Triad, a comprehensive framework that focuses on three pivotal aspects: Endurance, with a spotlight on VO2Max and lactate threshold; Strength, breaking down absolute strength, strength speed, and speed strength; and Movement Economy, the art of moving efficiently in every challenge. Strap in, as we demystify what it takes to excel in this exhilarating competition
What is Hyrox?
Hyrox is a fitness competition that combines strength and endurance. It is a multi-stage competition that involves completing a series of 8 functional exercises (such as rowing, burpees, sled push, and wall balls) followed by a 1km run between each station. The goal is to complete all exercises and runs in the quickest time possible.
Hyrox is designed to test athletes' strength, endurance, and mental toughness. The competition is open to people of all fitness levels, and there are multiple divisions and age categories to ensure fair competition.
What are the key characteristics of Hyrox performance? - The Box Performance Triad
Now, let's delve into The Box Performance Triad, a comprehensive framework designed to elevate your HYROX performance. This triad is made up of three pivotal pillars: Endurance, Strength, and Movement Economy. Now let's need to develop three key physical components:
Endurance: Hyrox is a demanding endurance competition that requires athletes to maintain a high level of performance over an extended period. Developing endurance through regular cardiovascular exercise, such as running, rowing and using the ski erg is essential.
Strength: Functional exercises in Hyrox require significant strength and power. Developing strength through weight training, plyometric exercises, and other targeted exercises can help improve performance in the competition
Movement economy – Movement economy refers to the efficiency of movement during exercise. Developing movement economy through better efficiency and proper form can help athletes conserve energy and improve overall performance in Hyrox. This ultimately saves time and enables athletes to finish the event quicker.
Preparing yourself for Hyrox and Your Hyrox Training Plan
Once we understand the needs of the sport, we can then start breaking down each of the sections to gain more clarity in what we need to work on.
1. Endurance for Hyrox
To excel in Hyrox, athletes need to develop their endurance performance, and this can be done by working on two main areas, VO2Max and Lactate Threshold.
A high VO2Max
A high VO2Max is important because it is a measure of an individual's cardiovascular fitness and endurance capacity. VO2Max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can consume during exercise, and it is a measure of the body's cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Here are some reasons why a high VO2Max is important:
Improved endurance: A high VO2Max is associated with improved endurance capacity, which means that an individual can exercise for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued.
Improved athletic performance: VO2Max is a predictor of athletic performance, particularly in endurance sports like Hyrox. Athletes with a high VO2Max have a competitive advantage because they can perform at a high intensity for a longer period of time.
How can you improve your VO2Max for Hyrox
High Intensity Interval training: Interval training involves short, high-intensity efforts interspersed with periods of lower intensity recovery. This type of training has been shown to be effective at improving VO2Max.
Endurance (Zone 2) training: Endurance training involves lower-intensity, longer-duration efforts that improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance capacity. This type of training can also improve VO2Max
A high Lactate threshold
The lactate threshold: The lacate threshold is the point during exercise at which an athlete's body begins to produce lactate faster than it can be cleared from the muscles, which is associated with fatigue. This is important for Hyrox because much of the event is performed at this intensity. A higher lactate threshold is a marker for aerobic power and enables athletes to push harder for longer. This is true for all parts of the race. Understanding an athlete's anaerobic threshold can also help them to determine the appropriate intensity and pacing for these types of exercises.
How to improve your lactate threshold
Interval training: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be an effective way to improve the lactate threshold. This type of training involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise above your lactate threshold, with periods of low-intensity recovery
Zone 2/Easy training: Training at a low intensity for extended periods of time can also help to improve the lactate threshold. This type of training helps to improve the body's aerobic capacity, which can help to delay the onset of lactate accumulation. Improves lactate clearance: Although zone 2 training is done below your lactate threshold, it still helps to improve your body's ability to clear lactate. This can indirectly improve your LT2 by helping to increase your overall endurance and ability to sustain high-intensity exercise.
Specific lactate threshold training: Specific lactate threshold training is a type of training that is designed to improve an athlete's ability to perform at or near their lactate threshold. This type of training involves working at intensities that are close to the athlete's lactate threshold for an extended period of time
A note on compromised running
Running on fatigued legs is a major part of the Hyrox competition. Whilst VO2Max and lactate threshold are the key determinants of endurance, by incorporating exercises and drills that mimic the type of fatigue you will experience during the competition can help develop this type of fitness. For example, doing intervals of running and burpees, or running with sled pushes or lunges, can help to simulate the type of fatigue you will experience during a Hyrox competition.
2. Strength for Hyrox performance
Developing specific strength for Hyrox requires a focus on exercises and training methods that improve strength in the specific movement patterns and muscle groups involved in the competition. This can be done by understanding the strength continuum:
Absolute strength: This refers to the maximum amount of force that a muscle or muscle group can produce in a single effort. Absolute strength is typically trained using heavy weights for low repetitions in exercises like squats, deadlifts and presses. This type of strength may not be used in Hyrox competition, however is a pre-requisite for developing strength speed.
Strength speed: This refers to the ability to produce force quickly and with a high level of force, like with the sled push in Hyrox. Strength speed is typically trained using heavy weights for low to moderate repetitions like Olympic weightlifting, with an emphasis on explosive movements. This is exactly what you need to develop for Hyrox.
Speed strength: This refers to the ability to produce force quickly, such as in jumping or throwing. Speed strength is typically trained using moderate to heavy weights for moderate repetitions, with an emphasis on explosive movements. Similar to strength speed, speed strength should also be developed to help with Hyrox performance. Wall balls and burpees are perfect examples of speed strength.
Absolute speed: This refers to the ability to move quickly, such as in sprinting or agility drills. Absolute speed is typically trained using bodyweight exercises or light weights, with an emphasis on developing quickness and agility. Speed training is less relevant for Hyrox competition.
Understanding the different types of strength and speed on the strength continuum can help tailor a training programme specific to Hyrox.
3. Movement Economy
Developing movement economy through better efficiency and proper form can help athletes conserve energy and improve overall performance in Hyrox. This ultimately saves time and enables athletes to finish the event quicker. There are numerous ways we can improve movement economy and be identifying some of the factors that impact it, we can work on actioning these metrics.
Combining strength and endurance – how to do it?
The interference effect, also known as the concurrent training effect, refers to the phenomenon where combining strength training and endurance training in the same workout or training programme can negatively affect the adaptations and improvements in either or both of these types of exercise. This isn't what we really need for Hyrox!
When performing concurrent training, the adaptations to one type of training can interfere with adaptations to the other. For example, endurance training can reduce the strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth) gains from strength training, while strength training can inhibit the endurance adaptations from endurance training.
The interference effect is thought to occur due to several physiological mechanisms, such as changes in muscle fibre type, energy metabolism, and neuromuscular function. For example, endurance training can cause increases in the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which can inhibit the mTOR pathway, a key regulator of muscle protein synthesis, thus reducing the potential for muscle hypertrophy from strength training. The other main culprit is simply fatigue, trying to perform an endurance session after a heavy weights session is hard!
However, it is important to note that the magnitude of the interference effect can vary based on factors such as the type, duration, and intensity of training, as well as individual factors such as age, fitness level, and genetics. Some studies have shown that the interference effect can be minimised or even eliminated with careful programming and appropriate recovery strategies.
Just look at CrossFit! A prime example of how athletes can successfully build muscle and be aerobically fit.
To minimise the interference effect for Hyrox, it is important to design a training programme that balances the demands of strength and endurance training while minimising the negative impact of concurrent training. Here are some strategies to help:
Prioritise Training: Prioritise training for the most important components of Hyrox. For example, if an athlete has a strong endurance base but lacks upper body strength, they should prioritise upper body strength training. This can be found out through testing.
Separate Training Sessions: Separate strength and endurance training sessions into different workouts or days. This allows for adequate recovery between sessions and minimises the potential interference effect.
Integrate Alternating Periods of Emphasis: Alternating periods of emphasis can be used to focus on strength or endurance while maintaining the other component. For example, an athlete could focus on strength training for a few weeks, followed by a period of endurance training, and then repeat the cycle.
Utilise Appropriate Recovery Strategies: Appropriate recovery strategies, such as rest, massage, and nutrition, can help to minimise the negative impact of concurrent training.
Consider Exercise Order: Exercise order can also be important for minimising the interference effect. Studies have suggested that performing strength training before endurance training may minimise the negative impact of concurrent training.
Monitor Progress: Monitoring progress and adjusting the training programme as needed can help to minimise the interference effect. By tracking improvements in strength and endurance, athletes and trainers can identify areas that need more attention and adjust the training program accordingly.
Include it - Ultimately, Hyrox competition combines both strength and endurance at the same time which is why your training must still include sessions that are a combination of the two.
Bringing it all together
Building an effective Hyrox training programme requires a multi-disciplinary approach that targets all of the key components of performance, including strength, endurance and power. Athletes should focus on developing a strong aerobic and anaerobic base through a combination of endurance training and high-intensity interval training. They should also incorporate variations of strength training to improve muscular strength, power and strength endurance.
So no mean feat! In the next post we'll be diving into how to design your Hyrox Training Plan across the year.