FitnessThe Ultimate Guide To Spartan's DEKA FIT Race

The Ultimate Guide To Spartan’s DEKA FIT Race


Think of DEKA Fit as the Super Bowl of all fitness events. From the creators of Spartan, DEKA FIT is a modern-day functional fitness decathlon, designed for all fitness levels, and it’s making its way across the globe with speed.

Emphasizing training with purpose, DEKA, named after the Greek word term for the number 10, is the very first community-based environment that inspires continuous training and functional exercise consisting of 10 training zones (aka DEKA Zones).

The mission of the company, led by CEO Joe de Sena, is to positively impact 100 million lives through fitness by providing diverse programming and events for all fitness levels while encouraging DEKA participants to celebrate their fitness.

“We wanted to create something that was for the masses, for everyone of all fitness levels,” says Jarod Cogswell, co-creator and senior director of DEKA. As one of the most well-rounded indoor functional fitness training courses to date, there is a sound reason behind each DEKA zone.

The purpose behind the DEKA zones

“Every zone is based on rudimentary movements,” Cogswell says of the 10 challenges in each DEKA race. “Thousands of years ago when it wasn’t called exercise, fitness, or training, it was survival: lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, kneeling, jumping, stepping, climbing over something, getting down on the ground and standing back up, and three basic forms of transportation — row, ski, and cycle.”

Safe to conclude, everything within the 10 zones will whip even the hardest of the hardcore athlete into serious shape!

The zone flow was designed to start with basic movements throughout the early zones that, when combined, target the entire body. The second half, zones 6-10, requires 100% full-body focus at each stop. The addition of running before each zone adds to the challenge of the training, yet is a great choice of exercise for all fitness levels — whether you walk or run.

Courtesy of Spartan Race

A closer look at DEKA: Events, zones, and how to train for a DEKA.

DEKA consists of three different types of events:

  • DEKA STRONG – A straight-up fitness test and assessment featuring all 10 DEKA zones (with no running).
  • DEK A MILE – Each DEKA zone is preceded by a 160-meter run (1 mile total).
  • DEK A FIT – Each zone is preceded by a 500-meter run (5K total).

Ready to train for a DEKA?

If a DEKA gym location isn’t close by, you can still get in DEKA shape. Cogswell suggests that those who do not have applicable equipment choose 10 functional training movements that incorporate a full-body workout with running in between. And at the speed DEKA gyms are expanding, you may have one in your area before very long!

Day 1:

    • 500m run at mile race pace x 6 w/2min rest

Day 2:

    • Spartan RAM (or other weight implement)
    • Alternating Reverse Lunge x 30 .
    • Row 500m
    • Box Jump or Step Overs x 20
    • Rest 3 min. This completes 1 round.
    • Continue repeating for a total of 3 rounds

Day 3:

    • Med. Ball Situp Throw x 30
    • SkiErg x 500m Farmer’s Walk x 100m
    • Rest 3 min. This completes 1 round.
    • Continue repeating for a total of 3 rounds.

Day 4:

    • Run, run/walk, or walk x 22min at comfortable aerobic effort (Zone 3 if you know your HR zones)

Day 5:

    • Air Bike x 25 cal
    • Dead Ball Wall Over x 20
    • Tank M4 or Sled push/pull x 100m
    • (10m push / 10m pull x 5)
    • Spartan RAM Burpee x 20
    • Rest 3 min. This completes 1 round.
    • Continue repeating for a total of 3 rounds.

Fit female Deka FIT Competitor carrying a weight behind her neck for the obstacle course race
Courtesy of Spartan Race

Train, then test yourself

Training with purpose before and in between each DEKA Mark test (time/score) and event provides an opportunity for every level of fitness to improve in these 10 functional areas of movement. “As one’s DEKA marks improve, that person’s well-rounded fitness along with health will improve,” explains Cogswell. Self-improvement can be addicting, Cogswell says, as when you become stronger and healthier, you’ll also be even more motivated to improve on your scores.

“With DEKA, we provide training and testing with purpose for all fitness levels; in the same arena, on the same day, using the exact standards, every level of fitness can come together and celebrate fitness together.”

Bottom line, whether you’re a 20-something elite athlete, a 40-something novice, or even a 60-plus grandmother, you’re more than capable, Cogswell says, to participate in a DEKA race.

The DEKA zones: Cogswell takes us through the details of what each zone provides the body. (Between each Zone in the DEKAFIT, athletes run 500 meters before proceeding to the next zone)

DekaFit Racer competiting in Zone 2 and rowing while being observed by a judge
Courtesy of Spartan Race

ZONE 1: RAM ALT REVERSE LUNGE

Kicking off the event, DEKA starts with a basic kneeling/lunge move that targets the lower body muscle groups, core, mobility, flexibility, balance, and coordination, while holding a weighted Ram roller (55 pounds for men/33 pounds for women) over your shoulder for 30 reps (15 each leg). Knees must touch the ground and no split- squat jumps are part of the criteria for a successful rep. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 2: 500M ROW

No fancy descriptions required for this gym staple: your entire body, from legs to core to upper body, going all out for 500 meters. Only rule: The competitor must stay seated on the rower with feet strapped in until the display reads 500 meters. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 3: 24-INCH BOX JUMP or STEP OVERS

By now, you’re beginning to feel some of the burn. This event focuses on balance and coordination, challenging your neuromuscular system and central nervous systems. You’ll perform 20 jumps. Both feet must touch the top of the box and the ground for one rep. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 4: MEDICINE BALL SITUP

Your core and upper-body strength (including grip strength and shoulder mobility) will be challenged at this stage of the event. By design, by the time you complete all 25 med-ball situps (20 pounds for men/ 14 for women), your coordination, balance, and every muscle group will have been tested. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 5: 500M SKI ERG

It’s more of the same when hitting the ski erg for 500 meters, which means more strain on your shoulders, core and lower body. Competitors must remain on the erg platform until 500 meters is reached. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 6: 100M FARMER’S CARRY

The farmer’s carry provides a move that requires basic lifting and carrying ability (60 pounds for men/40 pounds for women) which places the body in a situation where full- body strength (with a big focus on grip strength after being taxed by the two previous zones), balance, and coordination are required. You’re allowed to put the weights down at any time, but not dragging to the finish line. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 7: 25 KCAL AIR BIKE

Once the first six zones have been completed, there’s no question the body is warmed up and ready for the start of the “DEKA Gateway” — Zones 7-10. This is where every muscle group is needed, and where the competitors’ aerobic engines will be tested. This may be the toughest zone as it’s where most will see how strong their aerobic engine is. After completing 6 zones, they are now being challenged with arguably the toughest zone of all 10. (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

Mobility, flexibility, balance, and coordination will also play a key role in hoisting a weighted slam ball (60-pound ball for males/40 pounds for females) by any means necessary over a 4-foot wall for 20 reps (10 each side). (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 8: DEAD/SLAM BALL SHOULDER OVER

Mobility, flexibility, balance, and coordination will also play a key role in hoisting a weighted slam ball (60-pound ball for males/40 pounds for females) by any means necessary over a 4-foot wall for 20 reps (10 each side). (500M Run before proceeding to the next zone)

ZONE 9: 100M TANK PUSH/PULL

With pushing 10 meters while pulling back 10 meters five times each way, your entire body will feel as if it’s been pushing an actual tank. To complete the entire 100 meters, the back of the tank must start behind the start line and must be pushed until the entire tank crosses the finish line.

ZONE 10: RAM BURPEES

Arguably the most well-rounded strength-training move ever used. The Spartan RAM Burpee requires a squat, lowering the body down to the ground from a plan position, pressing the body off the ground, standing up while lifting the weight off the ground, and finishing by pressing the weight overhead. More than any other move in the zones, every joint and muscle group is used while also challenging the now fatigued body with extensive balance and coordination.

The ultimate functional strength workout program to prepare your body for everything



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