I’ve been weightlifting for just over three years now and I love it. Not only has it completely transformed my body composition, but as a woman I love feeling strong. But, last month, I decided to leave the weightlifting world behind and set myself a new training challenge by signing myself up for my first ever HYROX in October.
‘What’s HYROX?’ you ask? HYROX is the biggest indoor fitness race that's made up of an 8km run – which is divided into eight 1km runs – and in between each run you complete a functional fitness workout. These include things like an 1000 metre row, to a 200 metre farmer’s carry, a 50 metre sled push and so on. I like to think of it as baby CrossFit without the crazy walking handstands and muscle-ups.
A lot of people have questioned my sanity, especially as weightlifters rarely (if ever) do cardio and more than 50% of HYROX is running. Plus, I’ve only given myself three months to prepare. Maybe I am a tad crazy, but I enjoy a challenge.
As a result, my training has changed completely, from my typical low reps and heavy weights, to a mixture of running, CrossFit-style workouts and functional fitness movements. It’s been tough, but I’m enjoying it so much that it’s even left me wondering at times if I'll ever go back to just weightlifting. Especially as I’ve seen big changes, both physically and mentally, that I want to share, just in case you’re intrigued or keen to take up this new style of training yourself.
1. My endurance levels have gone up
Having good endurance – so being able to do something for a long period of time – is key in HYROX, as it’s a pretty long race with lots of running. On the weekends I’ve been doing my local Parkrun (5km) and during the week I combine short bursts of running with functional workouts. I had to fully stop around four times during my first Parkrun, panting for breath. But by my third week I didn’t stop once. A few months ago you'd be lucky if I could even complete 1km.
2. My core’s got stronger
Two of the discs at the bottom of my spine are degenerative, so I regularly have lower back pain. But my HYROX training has consisted of lots of farmer’s carries (which are my new favourite core exercise), planks and deadbugs. All of these are great exercises that strengthen your deep core muscle and, as a result, my back pain has improved and become a lot more manageable.
3. You can still be strong and fit
I always avoided aerobic training in the past because, despite it being great for our overall health, I was worried it'd affect my strength gains. But this isn’t true, to an extent. Yes, I’m not as strong as I was before, but I’m still squatting and deadlifting over 90kg. I think that’s pretty good going with all the running I’m doing, plus I’m a lot fitter as a result. Personally, it’s a win-win in my eyes.
4. I've got a perkier booty
When I was weightlifting I did loads of great exercises to help grow my glutes, from heavy squats, to glute bridges and Bulgarian split squats. But since training for HYROX, with the combination of aerobic exercise and strength training exercises, I’ve noticed my bum is a lot more perky than it was before. This is probably a mixture of all the running, so I'm burning lots of calories, alongside strength exercises that I'm still doing which is keeping it firm. As a result, I've lost some fat from my bum, so the muscle underneath is peeping through more.
5. My energy levels have increased
We all know exercising boosts our energy and mood due to the release of endorphins that make us feel pretty fab afterwards. But I’ve definitely noticed a bigger difference since doing my HYROX training, especially the runs and high intensity workouts. That’s not to say I’m not dying for a good 10 minutes afterwards (I am) but, once that initial shock has passed I feel fantastic. It’s the very thing that’s helped me roll out of bed at 8AM on a Saturday to do the Parkruns.