How to train like a hybrid athlete? Part 1: The basics

Some people love a particular sport or form of exercise and invest their time and energy in it. Some people love to move in general, they are interested in many things at once and find it hard to choose. And some people do almost nothing, but some of them would like to change that.

For the latter two groups, the hybrid athlete, handyman or generalist training method could be an exciting idea! Then, over time, they can decide which is their favourite form of exercise or stick with the versatility. Of course, if you’re a handyman, there are thousands of ways to do it. In this article I’ll give you some ideas on how I think you should practice this genre!

Hybrid athlete training: The future of fitness?

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Pros and Cons

Hybrid athlete training is, in short, about practicing a wide variety of exercise forms and feeling comfortable in almost any movement situation. Whether it’s long distance running, sprinting, water sports, lifting heavy weights, calisthenics, gymnastics, or movement skill and agility exercises. I think this approach has more advantages than disadvantages. The musculature of the human body allows us to move in a wide variety of different ways.

Why not take advantage of this and keep it well-oiled?

If we are comfortable with many different forms of movement, being strong-skillful-enduring-quick can be good in any situation. Not just in sport, but in life too. There’s almost never a risk of burnout, or injury from overtraining, because it’s a variety of movement for the muscles and the nervous system.

The downside of scattered training is that there is never enough time or energy to get the best out of a specific movement. For example, if you want to become a world-class or even nationally excellent marathon runner, sprinter, powerlifter, gymnast or whatever, you have to specialise! Today the bar is set high in all sports, talent and training is not enough, champions work for years to achieve success.

The good news is that, starting from a strong handyman, hybrid athlete base, it is possible to reach a pretty good (but not world-class) level in any sport with a few months of special training, once a performance goal “clicks” in your head.

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran
hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran
hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Build strong, balanced foundations

If you’re a hybrid athlete, there are of course thousands of ways to do it. However, no one will have the time/energy to squeeze every useful exercise into every workout or not even in a training week.

I think it’s worth bringing the various forms of movement together, what are the basic components that can be developed and which can be useful for other movements. That way, whatever you do, with a strong foundation, all movement forms will be easier and more enjoyable.

Perhaps no one would complain if they could add a little extra strength, endurance, speed, flexibility and dexterity to the house. It would also be good to bring one’s natural movement skills to a high level.

What are natural movements? I wrote an article about that HERE!

If you don’t have specific competition or performance goals, I think it’s a super idea to do foundational training for most of the year and 80-90% of your workouts, and develop the above in a smart, gradual, parallel way.

There’s really no way around it, professional athletes and specialists also do a lot of the above in the off-season, just more selectively.

It also matters where you come from, what your sporting background is, with or without injury. If you have been doing endurance dominated sports all your life, it is good to shift your training towards strength, muscle mass and speed.

If someone is very muscular but has difficulty running 5-10 km and/or is sluggish compared to their bulk, then I guess you have an idea of the directions to develop in for balanced musculature.

If someone is a complete beginner and a bit behind in everything, then it makes sense to develop each of these traits equally in parallel or successive training cycles.

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran
hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran
hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Fundamental sports

The aforementioned natural movements can take years to develop and can be quite varied, including almost everything you need for hybrid athlete and handyman skills. In addition, I think it is a good idea to do bodyweight strengthening (gymnastics, calisthenics, street workout), weight training (bodybuilding), Olympic weightlifting exercises, some components of athletics, gymnastics, acrobatics (running, sprinting, jumping, throwing, etc.). Then there are the more light but also very useful forms of movement such as yoga, pilates, dance.

In the last few years, I’ve also taken up OCR (obstacle course racing). I like it because it requires almost all of the above! Mostly endurance for running, but for the harder obstacles you need a serious level of body weight strength, explosiveness and coordination. So it’s also a versatile sport!

Now, let’s try to put all these together into a weekly/monthly training plan so that the grand average is only 1-4 times a week to train and make some progress in each.

Not an easy task, but not impossible!

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran
hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Weekly-monthly training schedule

If it’s hard to squeeze everything into a week, you can think in terms of 10-day or 2-week or even monthly cycles instead of 1 week! Where each cycle brings back the elements to be improved, always with a slightly more difficult variation (increase in volume, intensity or complexity).

In 10-14 days, what you have previously worked for is not yet disappeared and you don’t have to start almost always over again. In fact, there are some workouts after which the body requires so much rest and other types of exercise. For example, after a really hard deadlift workout, it’s worth waiting 7-10 days until the next one, that’s how long it can take to recover!

Strength, endurance and speed can also be lost, but in different times. It also depends on how much you put in the bag before. Your losses will be minimal if you put in a lot before. In my experience, endurance that has been brought up to a higher level will deteriorate the fastest if you don’t give it a stimulus, 1-2 weeks off is quite noticeable. Strength and speed can be maintained for quite a long time with minimal loss (even weeks or months).

Waves of easy and hard workouts

If you train hard every day, sooner or later you will burn out. If every day are just chill workouts, there will be no progress. It’s worth finding a golden medium in every workout, or 1-2 hard workouts followed by 1-2 easier, different workouts, or even a complete rest.

Occasionally you can have 1-1 rest week, a more relaxed week. It is entirely up to each individual to decide when fatigue sets in, or when there is a lack of progress that cannot be explained by other factors, or a life situation where a planned training session would be just too much extra stress.

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Movement snacks for everyday life

A super, time-efficient way to exercise natural movements is to “eat” some movement snacks. In this case, they’re just improvised, incorporated in a few minutes at some point during the day as a nice refreshing mini workout. This keeps the movement patterns fresh in the nervous system, but doesn’t tire you out before a harder workout. E.g. hanging from a tree branch, squatting, sitting on the floor in a variety of positions, carrying, a few jumps, dancing, etc.

For an extended article on movement snacks, click HERE

The art and science of hybrid athlete training

There are many variations and so many combinations can work. Have a plan and improvise too. However, it’s easy to trump the development of one skill with another by combining them in unwise ways.

For example, if someone is doing 3-6 long runs a week and also wants to build up maximum strength or put on serious muscle mass, it’s almost impossible to pair. One could think in terms of 3-4 (or even 6-8) week cycles, where one is dominant and the other is there, but only in smaller, level-maintaining amounts that don’t come at the expense of the main goal. Then the tables are turned in the next phase.

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran
hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

More specifically

In the second part of this article, I will outline some simplified examples of training schedules for hybrid athletes! Where there will be strength, endurance, speed, agility, natural movements training too. On a weekly schedule or in 2-week cycles. With 2-3-4 training sessions per week. For general fitness or for endurance, strength-muscle mass dominant goals as priorities.

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Go to Part 2 of the article for the Training Plans! (Coming soon!)

hybrid training sunnyfitness mihalysafran

Contact me, if you would like a personalised, time efficient training plan or advices on how to train: CLICK HERE!

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