The term hybrid athlete has gotten quite a lot of buzz in the fitness community this year. Combining cardio and weightlifting was deemed to be something people do only when preparing for competitions (or if they’re doing CrossFit), but now it seems like everyone’s hopping on this latest trend.
To make it easier to understand what hybrid training is and how it’s possible to combine both running and lifting in one training schedule, we’ve delved into things in this post.
What is Hybrid Training?
If you’re someone that has been going to the gym for some time and you follow fitness content creators and influencers, you’ve likely heard the term “hybrid training” and “hybrid athlete.” But what does it actually mean?
Hybrid training is a term used to explain the combination of different workout styles into one training program. Essentially, it means that you try to fit everything from weightlifting, cardio, and endurance to functional fitness and mobility.
The idea is to shift your training style from one single focus and instead to put emphasis on becoming a better athlete in every aspect. With that said, a hybrid athlete is exactly that – a person that combines strength training with running and occasionally does mobility or someone that focuses on running but also lifts and does yoga.
The primary goal of people that take part in these kinds of training regimes is to improve their overall physique while also working on the way they move and ensuring that they have a balance between functionality, looks, and strength.
More often than not, you will see hybrid athletes that have one primary training focus area but also incorporate other workouts in their program. For example, a long-distance runner that’s preparing for a marathon also does 2-3 strength sessions per week and goes to Sunday yoga.
How Can You Combine Running and Strength Training?
Typically, we always exercise with a particular goal in mind – that can be gaining strength, losing fat, building muscle, or improving endurance. Whatever it is, we always start a training plan with a primary goal, and that’s no different from hybrid training. And so, the first thing you need to do before you begin to wonder how you can fit both running and lifting into one program is to define your primary goal.
For the sake of our article, let’s say that’s gaining strength and building muscle. If that’s the case, then you need to put emphasis on your weightlifting sessions, and they should be your main focus.
That means that if you have five days per week for working out, 3 of those should be focused on lifting – that means your training session should be 80% weights and 20% another type of training. If we have to give an example, you may have a push day on Monday, and you can end that day with a 20-minute run.
Then on Tuesday, you can have a pull session that ends with 20 minutes of cycling. Finally, on the third day – the one with a lower body focus, you can leave the last 20 minutes for mobility work. That leaves you with two days that you can dedicate to endurance training and mobility.
Another way to combine running and lifting is to dedicate each training day to one particular focus. For example, you lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then run on Tuesday and Saturday.
A different example would be someone that’s preparing for a marathon but doesn’t want to lose muscle mass. In that scenario, you will have to put the main focus on running, which means 3-4 runs per week, with one or two days dedicated to weightlifting. Here, it’s important also to incorporate running-specific movements, like these kettlebell exercises. That way, your sessions at the gym will not only help you maintain muscle but will also be beneficial to your runs.
What Will I Need as a Hybrid Athlete?
Now that you know what it means to be a hybrid athlete and how you can combine endurance and strength training, it’s time to talk about the equipment and accessories you may need.
As you probably know, both runners and weightlifters have their own specific accessories that they use to make workouts more effective. However, you won’t need all of them to start your hybrid journey. In fact, in the beginning, there’s only one crucial accessory that you will need – shoes.
If you’re a dedicated runner, you know how important proper running shoes are – for such athletes, it’s only vital to note that running shoes shouldn’t be used for weightlifting. So on your gym days, better swap out the Hokas for a pair of Converse, Vans, or any other shoe with minimal cushioning.
For people who primarily focus on lifting, however, it’s best to look for the so-called “cross-training shoes.” These types of trainers are usually made to be suitable for both running and lifting, so they bring maximum comfort and help you save money on an extra pair of shoes.
What About Recovery?
One of the most important aspects of hybrid training is nutrition. When you’re doing both lifting and running, you’re in need of a ton of calories so that you can recover well. Essentially that means that you may need to stock up on protein powder or protein bars so that you always have something to snack on when you’re hungry.
And if you’re a long-distance runner, you also need to have some kind of long-run fuel in the form of gels, tablets, or bars. It’s key to ensure you’re never undereating – more often than not, hybrid athletes tend to underestimate how much food they need, and that can lead to slower recovery and even REDS.
As you can see, combining running and lifting is possible, and it’s not that hard to do. Hopefully, our article helped you understand the concept of hybrid training better, and now you feel ready to become one.