I’ve always been a hybrid athlete. Personally, being in shape, means cultivating athleticism, increasing functional strength, and improving overall health and longevity. There’s so much more to fitness than just hammering out the monotonous standard split training program five days per week.
Lifting heavy and stacking muscle, while also building the endurance capacity to run an ultra-marathon, is what being a hybrid athlete is all about. Loosely defined, a hybrid athlete combines resistance and endurance training into a form of concurrent training. Studies have shown that concurrent training can actually assist in building more muscle mass than resistance training alone. We’re going to discuss all the different aspects of how to be a hybrid athlete, what to eat, how to train, and what supplements are best to make you into a beast in the gym and on the pavement.
What Is A Hybrid Athlete
The idea of a hybrid athlete is not a new concept. Team sports, such as football, is a great example of an athlete that trains for maximal strength, as well as aerobic capacity. Military or tactical training also closely resembles the same type of concurrent training a hybrid athlete would undergo to maximize athletic performance. A hybrid athlete is really, just an athlete.
Hybrid athletes utilize multiple training modalities, such as high-intensity functional training, bodybuilding, and endurance training, such as running, sprinting, and cycling.
Concurrent training involves using multiple modes of exercise. Hybrid athletes typically utilize endurance and resistance training in their training program, to achieve more than one goal. This type of training can be perceived and modified multiple ways, dependent upon your goal, whether you want to improve physical performance, speed, power, strength, aesthetics, or muscle hypertrophy.
The goal of a hybrid athlete is to maximize aerobic and anaerobic capacity - concurrently.
A hybrid athlete combines functional training and endurance training. Strength training elevates running economy by increasing power output, explosiveness, and strength. Optimized running economy translates to better efficiency requiring less energy to run the same speed, prolonging endurance capacity and running duration.
Studies also show that strength training can help improve running speed, duration, and power output.
How To Train As A Hybrid Athlete
If your goal is to maximize physical performance, whether for sport, or simply to challenge yourself, the training protocols for becoming a hybrid athlete can take many shapes and sizes and be modified to your specific preference.
Research consistently demonstrates that a combination of both resistance training and cardiovascular training is ideal for health, longevity, and body composition.
However, concurrent training can be beneficial, or detrimental, dependent upon several key factors, which include your nutrition protocol, as well as your recovery. Overtraining can impose negative effects as well as muscle catabolism. There are diminishing returns to training, when you do not provide yourself with the proper performance nutrition and ample time for recovery. Therefore, concurrent training must be methodically programmed for maximal performance.
For example, intense physical workouts, such as prolonged endurance training, (I.e., running, cycling, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), followed by an intense maximal effort and heavy resistance training, can lead to a higher incidence of overreaching, and negatively impact hypertrophy and strength gain.
The important dynamic in concurrent training, especially when training intensely, is to listen to your body. High volume endurance training paired with heavy strength training can make recovery difficult increasing overtraining and risk of injury.
To fully improve and maximize athletic performance, training strategy is crucial for success. This could mean that you run, or cycle three days a week and incorporate resistance training between those days, for better rest and recovery. Or perhaps, you could incorporate cardio acceleration between your lifting sessions to improve both aerobic and anaerobic performance pathways, and go for a long run or ride two days per week.
Another example could be that you incorporate high-intensity functional training, such as CrossFit and pair that with resistance training, and a morning run.
In terms of performance, it really depends on what your specific goal is, allotted time, nutrition, and recovery. The main premise of concurrent training is to enhance both endurance as well as strength. Personally, I use a training methodology, in which I have created, called High-Intensity Functional Bodybuilding [HIFB].
The goal of this type of training protocol, is to increase endurance capacity, improve functional strength, as well as muscle hypertrophy and optimize body composition.
It’s a hybrid training protocol, that uses multiple workout modalities such as high-intensity functional training methods, functional bodybuilding, accelerated cardio and interval training. By combining these training methodologies, you can build more muscle mass and strength, burn more body fat, and optimize your athletic performance.
HIFB is also a form of concurrent training. As you can see, there are many modifications as well as training methodologies, you can use to enhance both aerobic and anaerobic training capacity.
Varying modality, intensity, frequency, and volume of training, directly effects molecular signaling pathways such as mTOR and muscle protein synthesis.
Hybrid Athlete Strategy
Is there a strategy to become a hybrid athlete? Like any training program, there’s a standard framework but the details are different for everyone. The exercises, workout volume, training duration, and intensity will vary. But there are some underlying principles, that can be applied in any training format, to help you reach your goals.
1. Track Your Progress
What’s not measured, is not managed, especially when it comes to training. Tracking weekly and monthly progress, through measuring workout benchmarks, progressive overload progression, and training volume is crucial for building strength and improving performance. But your workout is also not the only thing you need to track.
If you want to become a hybrid athlete, optimizing your nutrition and supplementation is also crucial to your success.
Whether that means counting your macros or getting a personalized meal plan from a nutrition coach, your diet is the key to your improving your performance. If you’re serious about becoming a hybrid athlete and you’re not sure where to start, hire a nutrition coach. They’ll take the guesswork out of your diet, so you can effectively and measurably reach your goals, at a much faster rate for long-term and sustainable results. I suggest TSK Training.
2. Define Your Goals
The ratio of strength to endurance training will change, based upon what you are training for. For example, if you’re training for a marathon, or for an ultra, your training will begin with a very balanced approach. As the weeks approach your event, you will taper off strength training and slowly increase the volume and duration of your endurance training. Whatever your goal may be, adjust your training accordingly, to reflect those goals.
3. Optimize Your Nutrition
Nutrition, like your functional training is equally as important to your goal of becoming a hybrid athlete. You’ll need to eat to perform. That means incorporating lean proteins, healthy fats, and quality complex carbohydrates. Without the proper fuel, you’ll sacrifice your performance outcomes.
4. Supplement Accordingly
Supplementation is important especially when you’re pushing the limit of your athletic performance in your pursuit as a hybrid athlete. Supplementation will largely depend on your dietary habits and nutrition, however, there are a few key supplements that will help you in any hybrid training protocol.
Electrolytes: INTRA workout supplements, especially those with essential amino acids and electrolytes, will help keep you hydrated and in an anabolic or muscle building state. With an increase in training volume, your body will naturally demand more and need additional nutrients and amino acids, to continuously maintain and build muscle mass.
During an endurance event, the energy requirements demanded from your body are somewhat extreme. Bonking often referred to as “hitting the wall”, is an unfortunate but common race-day phenomenon that occurs when carbohydrates and amino acids get completely depleted from your body. Tanking during race day is exactly what you don’t want to happen.
Bonking is a relatively well-known phenomenon, often referred to as hitting the wall. The reason why you bonk, is due to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). You can also experience what is called central nervous system fatigue, from a lack of amino acids, feeling as if you want to curl up in a little ball and take a nap on the side of the road.
RELATED ARTICLE How To Avoid Bonking On Race Day
During high-intensity and prolonged endurance activity, you may experience an amino acid deficit, which leads to neurotransmitter imbalance. We call this muscle catabolism. Muscle catabolism takes place, when your body uses your muscle mass for energy, in times of severe nutrient depletion. When this takes place, you may also experience what’s called central nervous system fatigue.
For your nervous system to synthesize amino acids, you also need an adequate intake of b-vitamins which are also the primary building blocks of neurotransmitters.
Ingesting essential amino acids each hour during a race, will help you amplify your resistance to mental and muscle fatigue.
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Protein: Protein is a critical macronutrient, to initiate the muscle rebuilding process for growth and recovery. Most people fall short of their protein intake, meaning that protein must be prioritized as a hybrid athlete. Whey protein isolate, not whey concentrate, is always the first and best choice when it comes to fast absorbing amino acid delivery.
Swolverine’s INTRA workout contains essential amino acids, electrolytes, as well as superfoods, to help with focus such as ginseng, coconut water for additional hydration, and
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Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are broken down into glycogen, which is the fuel for anaerobic exercise, and recovery. Without an adequate amount of carbohydrates in your diet, you’ll fall short of performance goals, and sacrifice power output and energy reserves.
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Recovery is crucial when combining strength and endurance training. Performing strength sessions in close proximity to endurance training, can be taxing on performance, power output, and strength. Hitting a hard leg day, followed by a 5-10k will be difficult, considering you’re using the same muscle groups and tapping to the same energy systems to recruit power and strength. Ideally, having time between your endurance and strength component, will help restore glycogen and enable enough time for recovery, to provide better power output in your training cycle. I typically like to run first thing in the morning, followed by a strength training session, or high-intensity training session in the afternoon, giving myself more time to restore and reset.
We all know what it feels like when we don’t get enough sleep. We’re groggy, heavy headed, irritable, and worst of all, our hormones can get out of balance quickly. Sleep affects your recovery, as well as your hunger hormones, cortisol, stress, and ability to build muscle. Sleep is a top priority, because without it, you’re performance will suffer. If you have trouble sleeping, try a clinically dosed sleep supplement like ZMT®.
Swolverine’s ZMT® maximizes your body’s ability to stimulate muscle growth by promoting high-quality sleep and naturally boosting testosterone levels. ZMT® is made with clinically dosed sleep ingredients such as Melatonin, GABA, Theanine, Tryptophan, Valerian Root, Magnesium Glycinate, and powerful adaptogens like Ashwagandha, Zinc, Rhodiola Rosea, DIM, and Tongkat Ali. ZMT is the perfect nighttime elixir for restful recovery and sleep.
Becoming A Hybrid Athlete: Takeaway
Becoming a hybrid athlete is not easy task. Consistency is perhaps the most important aspect in any athletic endeavor. If you want it bad enough, you have to dedicate your time, and commit to that goal, otherwise, you'll never reach your true potential. Prioritize training, nutrition, recovery and most of all, don't forget to have fun. Get outside, run a few miles. Find a new trail, and blaze it. Hydrate, eat, rinse, and repeat. Before you know it, all that time spent in the gym and developing your endurance capacity, will turn you into a hybrid athlete in no time.
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