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How Andrew Achieved His Best Shape Yet with One Simple Goal

Learn how proper training for a performance goal led to the shape of his lifetime! 


FORM Athletic Trainer Andrew Farley recently got into the shape of a lifetime - read on to learn more!

Andrew had always enjoyed staying active through strength training and recreational sports. But it wasn't until he signed up for his first HK Hyrox event that he started taking his fitness to the next level. His original motivation was to support a client who was racing after overcoming cancer, but the experience lit a competitive fire within him. 


When the Hyrox event returned for a second year, the opportunity for Andrew was there to really push himself further. After finishing 54th out of a field of 200 with a time of 1:27, he set an ambitious goal of finishing in the top 10 overall, but achieved something even greater along the journey - the physique of his lifetime


Designing The Training Plan

When training for his first Hyrox event, Andrew was a little haphazard. He had structured his strength training with a basic upper/lower body split 3x per week and supplemented it with 2 steady-state runs per week of 5-8 km. 


After competing in his first Hyrox race, Andrew quickly realised this generalist approach was not anywhere near specific enough to help him meet the demands of each event! 




The Hyrox fitness race requires a combination of strength, endurance, and metabolic conditioning over its 8km course. After each kilometer of running, competitors must tackle a functional exercise station which may involve different aspects of strength and endurance across varied movements. 


For the second time around, Andrew decided to become far more methodical and specific with his training program. He made sure he had a few months in hand before the event, and was able to specify which areas of weakness he needed to improve to reach his targeted goal of a top 10 finish


The entire plan was built around the specific athletic qualities required by the events, and the order of training was periodised to ensure he was in peak condition on these qualities for race day.


Training Plan Details


Training specific strength qualities and specific endurance qualities as stand-alone athletic development was much more effective than combining strength and endurance training together in less focused, more randomised stimulus sessions. 


The identified athletic qualities required for Hyrox were: 

  • Strength Endurance

  • Muscular Endurance 

  • Aerobic Output (Vo2 Max)

  • Skill based strength (technique on movements such as farmers carry, sled push/pull, lunges, burpees)

  • Running efficiency/technique



Phase 1 - General Base Building


STRENGTH - This phase was front loaded with heavy strength work 4x per week.


  • Develop high level neuromuscular output and efficiency in large compound lifts

  • Identify any weaknesses that need to be addressed. For Andrew, this was a split squat/lunge pattern under heavy load as his single leg hip stability was a comparative weakness.

  • Ensure all of the movement patterns required are accessible with joint mobility. Specifically for Hyrox this is the Squat and Lunge pattern


ENDURANCE - Building a large aerobic/Vo2Max base was important here. Running 3x per week for longer distances at slower pacing, with a technique and steady state focus 


  • 2x per week 8km run, 140+ bpm, finding pacing, base building, improving running technique

  • 1x per week 2-3 km running at near race pace


Phase 2 - Specific Base Building


STRENGTH - This phase allowed greater focus on building top line strength in the specific movement patterns required for Hyrox, consolidating the increases in stability and mobility developed in Phase 1.


  • Develop specific top line strength outputs in the Squat and Lunge Patterns

  • Develop toward specific strength qualities required for Hyrox event (muscular endurance)


ENDURANCE - Becoming specific with longer duration runs and intervals at the identified race-pacing


  • 1x per week 8 x 1km run, 150+ bpm, at 110% of Max Aerobic Speed

  • 1x per week 10km run, 140-150 bpm, easy run, building the capacity for long continuous activity 

  • 1x per week 2-3 km run at race pace


Phase 3 - Realisation/Peaking


STRENGTH - This phase focused on peaking of the identified strength qualities and specific event movements required for the Hyrox event


  • Peaking for competition day with a slight taper in training prior to the event

  • Muscular endurance via higher repetition circuit training

  • Practicing the skill of specific event movements (farmers carry, sled push/pull, wall balls, burpee broad jumps)


ENDURANCE - consolidation of aerobic base, building up shorter interval runs to train running power, speed and running economy. This progressed gradually through the weeks and months leading up to the event with a slight taper the week before race day.


  • 1x per week 8 x 1km interval runs, 150+ bpm, at race pace.

  • 1x per week 8km run, 140-150 bpm, easy run, focusing on efficient running mechanics.

  • 1x per week 5km run at race pace, maintain running power and economy




Fig 1. An example of the changes in rep-ranges for strength work across the training phases



RESULTS

Come race day, the results spoke for themselves. Andrew shaved over 14 minutes off his previous time to finish in 1:13:55, good for 23rd place out of a group of 350 participants. It was an extraordinary improvement from his first outing.


A large amount of the progress was found via Andrew’s highly developed aerobic system and running efficiency, which allowed his running times to be much faster and more consistent in between events. 


Equally, the focus on building his muscular strength and endurance meant that he had zero cramping in his quadriceps during the functional events this time around, which hindered his first attempt drastically! 


In Andrew’s words, “the second time was so much easier psychologically even though I smashed my old time by 14 minutes!”.


The muscular endurance gains translated to more controlled movements during challenging events under extreme fatigue, and targeted mobility and skill work also helped improve his functional strength for various pulling, pushing, lunging and carrying elements.



The Shape of His Life


With a specific training plan developed for competitive sports performance, Andrew achieved more than just a better race score. His enhanced training carried over to other areas of his physique and health as well. 


The combination of specific strength, conditioning and endurance training saw him achieve his leanest physique at 9% body fat with visible six pack definition. Showing that even without the aim of losing weight, it became a very positive by-product of simply focusing on a motivating performance goal with a specific timeframe!


The results had led to boosts in confidence, mental toughness and a huge appreciation of efficient time management from this training block.


Fig 2. 20+% bodyfat                                                                                     Fig 3. 9% bodyfat, peak athleticism & confidence

Having a specific deadline for his performance goal meant that time management efficiency was crucial for Andrew. He had to carefully balance his day between work, social life and training, prioritising workouts. Having this tangible goal really highlighted the importance of training in his daily routine and kept him entirely accountable.



If you are looking to develop a performance-based goal that motivates you (Hyrox or otherwise!) and achieve the best shape of your life with full accountability to a coach who has walked the same path, reach out to work with Andrew today!




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