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Hybrid athlete

What is a Hybrid Athlete

You may have seen a change in the style and type of content that is being shared over platforms like Instagram and TikTok in recent months where there has been a shift. This shift, is towards the world of Hybrid Athletes and hybrid training models. But what is a hybrid athlete?

Well, a hybrid athlete is kind of defined by someone who wants to have their cake and eat it. Run a sub 20 minute 5k and then go and lift heavy weights and also be functionally “fit” and healthy. 

This, is a change from the dominated bodybuilding sphere (that I’m personally accustomed to), where cardio is seen as an afterthought or part of prep, and you’re either in the gym to get big or get strong and kind of nothing else.

Whereas now, what I’m increasingly seeing a lot of (maybe more to do with my age now), is those that I see are transitioning after bodybuilding or aesthetic related goals into a more rounded goal set, with physical performance coming in as a primary ahead of aesthetics. There are many more traditional bodybuilders moving away from the stage and into things they would never have dreamed of, and this stem has come from getting outdoors more (we all love a hike) and then starting to get into running (I’m dead serious) and like many of you, I saw this starting to happen at a point where my body is battered and my mind has been consumed by my 20s and decided that I needed to make a change in my training. 

Now, by no means am I a hybrid athlete, I still train like a powerbuilder, but I have incorporated more cardio into my training as time has gone on and I now frequently programme for people in sport specific and hybrid models where they’re looking to both look good, feel good and perform well in and out of the gym. 

So, what I’m going to do in this (and it will be a rather large article) is cover all that goes into being a hybrid athlete and how to programme as if you are one (or for any sport specific training you have in mind).

What is Hybrid Training?

Hybrid training is quite simply training towards multiple different facets of fitness instead of towards a singular goal. 

What that comprises varies person to person but generally the elements that are thought of when looking at hybrid training are:

  1. Strength training
  2. Functional fitness
  3. Cardiovascular fitness
  4. Endurance

And then you can tag onto that anything that is related to anything sport specific or even flexibility and wellness related to provide an overarching training split that comprises all that you are looking to achieve.

The key with hybrid training is that no one size fits any or all. It is completely custom to your goals (multiple) and the way you train and structure that training varies to fit those goals. 

For instance, someone from a powerlifting background may weight more heavily towards strength training but also want to improve their cardiovascular fitness and do a half marathon, that would fall well within the realms of hybrid training, where they’ll still complete most of their work as though a powerlifter, but also incorporate aerobic and endurance based training alongside it. 

Hybrid training

Why is hybrid training becoming popular?

Hybrid training is gaining popularity due to its holistic approach, incorporating various fitness modalities like strength, cardio, flexibility, mobility, and skill-based exercises. By enhancing overall athleticism, reducing injury risk, and fostering personalised workouts adaptable to individual goals and fitness levels, you’re making something more interesting to each person.

Moreover, the success of hybrid athletes who excel in multiple disciplines inspires others to embrace this dynamic approach, ensuring its continued growth in the fitness world. Think of the likes of Ross Edgley here. 

I mean, it’s quite easy to see why. If you could achieve a really good level of physique, whilst also being very strong and able to move freely and run, swim, cycle, whatever it may be, improving your overall level of fitness and health, why wouldn’t you?

However, I think that’s more of a change in fitness culture (and I do have to caveat that with age here) in that when we millenials were going through the fitness industry boom, we singularly focused on one strand , and many of us (me included) have ended up getting quite large and strong, but I was getting out of breath walking up the stairs, and unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder and doing that for a specific reason, now getting to the age of having children and pushing 30 when things are a little bit harder, realising something has to change.

Whether that’s going from looking good but not being particularly functional, or being a great runner but you’re weak as p*ss, many of us have just wanted to get a best of both worlds kind of method, and we’re also just not quite as bothered about looking like a prime Zyzz anymore. (It’s not quite the same when you work in a corporate job, sink pints and are going grey up top is it?)

Alongside this though, there’s also the huge benefit to the training style variance in that it creates variety and new challenges. I could pull 6 plates from the ground but believe me I’m blowing after running for 5 minutes, now, what if you could do both well? Well, you can. And this challenges you in different ways, and if you’re challenged and motivated, you’re more likely to enjoy it, and if you enjoy it, you’ll stick to it. 


Pros and cons of hybrid training

Hybrid training, blending multiple fitness modalities into one comprehensive regimen, offers several advantages. It promotes holistic fitness by integrating various elements like strength, cardio, flexibility, and skill-based exercises, resulting in well-rounded athleticism. This approach also reduces the risk of overuse injuries compared to repetitive training, as it emphasises mobility, stability, and varied movements.

Hybrid training allows for personalised workouts tailored to individual goals, preferences, and fitness levels, enhancing motivation and adherence. The mental stimulation derived from diverse and challenging workouts helps prevent boredom and plateaus, keeping individuals engaged. Hybrid training fosters cross-training benefits, equipping individuals with a versatile skill set applicable across different sports and activities.

However, hybrid training also presents certain challenges. Its complexity may be overwhelming, especially for beginners, requiring a solid understanding of multiple training modalities. Designing and executing hybrid workouts may demand more time and planning compared to traditional training methods.

Without proper programming and recovery, there’s a risk of overtraining and burnout when combining different modalities. Moreover, access to specialised equipment or larger training spaces may be necessary for some hybrid workouts, which could be limiting.

Financially, investing in equipment, gym memberships, or coaching for various modalities can be costly. While hybrid training promotes overall fitness, it may lack the specialisation offered by dedicated training programs tailored to specific goals or sports, which could be a drawback for those seeking highly targeted training regimens and why this approach is less suitable for high level athletes in a given field and more catered towards a good, jack of all trades in multiple disciplines.

Nutrition for hybrid athletes

When looking at nutrition requirements for a hybrid athlete it is important to look at the overarching goal and what training constitutes of namely;

  • Athletic performance
  • Recovery capabilities

Structuring a diet for a hybrid athlete needs to take into account exactly this. 

For this reason, calorie requirements for a hybrid athlete would sit at close to maintenance levels or in a surplus at all times due to the increased expenditure requirements of the training style.

Hybrid training nutrition

Macronutrient wise, you’d be looking to assist with recovery capabilities (as with any diet) by structuring your calorie intake around proteins first with 0.8-1g per lb of bodyweight per day with this making up around 25-30% of your total calorie intake.

When looking at athletic performance (what your body uses for energy when training), this comes from carbs primarily, as such, the lions share (40-50%) of your calorie intake on a daily basis, will be from carbs. Yes, pasta is your friend and we’re not cutting down on carbs by any means, we need energy and lots of it, and this (which converts most readily into ATP) is what we’re building our diet around. 

The rest from fats made up of good fat mix from natural sources and drinking a solid volume of water and you’re good to go. Supplement wise, to aid recovery and sleep, you’re looking at general multi vits, vit C, glutamine, zinc, magnesium and fish oils, but we don’t need to go ham on supplements here. 

Really easy diet, if you’re gaining weight and it’s hindering performance, drop your cals a bit, if you’re low on energy and need more, up your cals a bit, really simple. 

Hybrid athlete training programme

Hybrid training programmes will vary COMPLETELY dependent on the individual and their goals, this is the beauty of it as a training methodology. 

What you’re going to do is look to structure your training based around your goals, meaning the goal will dictate the way you train and this will be variable over time. 

There’s also different ways to structure sessions dependent upon that goal and add in variety to make it specific to that goal. For example, someone from an MMA background will structure around intense bursts mimicking their sport specific action with active rest periods, a footballer in sprint intervals, a powerlifter in explosive power etc and this will define the core of their training, with their other goals being incorporated alongside that.

Here’s a couple of examples of what a split might look like for different principles;

Bodybuilder looking to get into running

  1. Day one – Upper Body
  2. Day two – Lower Body
  3. Day three – Long Slow Cardio
  4. Day four – Rest 
  5. Day five – Upper Body
  6. Day six – Lower Body
  7. Day seven – Interval training
  8. Day eight- Rest

This is an example of splitting work across different days but still incorporating core training work and providing ample recovery periods with varied intensity of training output.

A powerlifter may do SBD sessions with one light, one heavy, one accessory per week. A boxer may do circuits and then incorporate some strength based movements into their gym sessions. It really does vary massively depending upon the individual.

You can also split sessions through the day, doing both weights and cardio or functional on a given day, essentially it’s just a measure of what works for you and towards your goal.

What is key is allowing adequate time for recovery, making sure that you’re training across disciplines, weighting in favour of the goals for yourself and structuring your training effectively in a manner that works around you and your lifestyle. If it doesn’t work for you, you won’t stick to it and without consistency, you won’t get results!

Need some help programming for hybrid training? Head over and check out my online coaching page and I can look to create a completely custom training programme that hits your hybrid goals.



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