Hybrid Training Explained | Running and Lifting Science

Jan 22, 2024

Edited by: Danielle Abel

If you've landed here, it's probably because you're curious about hybrid training. As someone who's either into endurance or lifting but also sees the value in doing the opposite, you might wonder how to combine both goals without compromising either. 

Hybrid athletes do just that; they're big and strong, but they also have great endurance. The 2 key principles to know if you're interested in combining running and lifting are:

  • Undulating periodization for your lifting days 
  • Polarized training for your running days

Undulating Periodization vs. Linear Periodization

The beauty of undulating periodization is that you're able to train multiple resistance training adaptations at the same time. This means that some days during the week, you'll lift with more of a power focus, whereas other days during the week, you might lift with a greater focus on strength and hypertrophy. 

  • Power Day: Improve strength and speed by moving relatively heavy loads quickly with intensity between 75-85% of 1RM and repetitions ranging from 1-5 per set
  • Strength Day: Improve maximal strength by lifting heavy loads with an intensity of >80% of 1RM and repetitions ranging from 1-6 per set
  • Hypertrophy Day: Build larger muscles by maximizing time under tension with an intensity of 67-85% of 1RM and repetitions ranging from 6-12 per set

By alternating the intensity and volume levels throughout the week, you can ensure you're not creating too much central nervous system fatigue that can leave you underrecovered and not feeling your best for your runs. 

Linear periodization is the exact opposite of undulating. Linear periodization consists of training the same resistance training principle throughout the week. For example, training hypertrophy all week and then repeating the training for 4-5 weeks to make up a training program. So, during the course of the program, you aren't varying your focus. 

It is possible to set up a hybrid training program with linear periodization but keep in mind that in some months, you'll be focusing more on one goal than others (hypertrophy over strength, for example). 

Is Hybrid Training the Same Thing as Concurrent Training? 

If you've heard of concurrent training, you may wonder if it's different from hybrid training. The answer is that hybrid training is a form of concurrent training. However, it's a form more suited for intermediate to advanced athletes. Hybrid athletes are accustomed, or can train, to be accustomed to higher overall training volumes. These volumes of training come from both resistance training and endurance training. 

True concurrent training simply means that the person's weekly training program includes resistance training for muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones along with aerobic training for the heart and lungs.

Concurrent training is typically set up with primary and secondary goals, allowing the individual to prioritize what's important to them for a given period. 

  • Strength/Performance Goals - more volume to resistance training, less volume to aerobic training 
  • Endurance Performance Goals - more volume to aerobic training, less volume to resistance training
  • Muscle Gain/Physique Goalsmore volume to resistance training, less volume to aerobic training
  • Fat Loss/Physique Goals - more volume to aerobic training, less volume to resistance training 
  • Hybrid Performance Goals - moderate to resistance training, moderate volume to aerobic training

It might be helpful to think about hybrid as the style of training where you truly work on 2 goals simultaneously. In contrast, traditional concurrent training divides resistance training and aerobic training into larger and smaller volumes (primary and secondary goals). 

If you're looking for a hybrid training program to follow, you can learn about The Movement System Hybrid Athlete Team program here. 

Polarized Training vs. Threshold Training 

If you're looking to get more serious with your running, it's important to understand the difference between a polarized vs. threshold approach to running. In our experience, there are usually two different categories of runners:

  • Method #1: Those who go out and run kind of hard at a moderate intensity for 30, 40, or more minutes each time they run
  • Method #2: Those who run most of their runs at an easy, low-intensity pace and a few of their runs at a hard, high-intensity pace

So, maybe you're thinking, "Yeah, well, which one is better?" Each one can definitely work, but if you're looking to increase the amount of running you're doing or compete in a longer-distance endurance race, you'll probably struggle following method #1. 

Method #1 is referred to as threshold training. This means the run's level of intensity occurs near the lactate threshold, which is around Zone 3 - a mixed aerobic & anaerobic training zone. The problem with running in this zone most of the time is that due to the somewhat anaerobic nature, fatigue will build from the body's stress response, which can leave you feeling under-recovered and burnt out. 

There is a time and place for Method #1, however. Training in Zone 3, close to your race pace, can be really helpful as you approach the date of your race. However, if you run near your threshold all the time, it will be very difficult to add on more and more running volume (minutes) over time. 

Method #2 is the complete opposite and has you set up most of your training in aerobic zones 1 & 2 and a smaller portion of your training in higher intensity zones like 3, 4, & 5. The beauty of polarized training is that it is much more scalable than threshold since aerobic training does not produce as much lactate, so it's easier to recover from. 

If you're wondering what percentage of your training should occur in the high-intensity zone compared to the low-intensity zone, we recommend between 10-20% depending on how far out you are from your next race. 

Training Programs Available

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned athlete, our Hybrid Athlete Team program adapts to your fitness level. Progressive training ensures constant growth, and complimentary expert guidance and coaching from us guarantees you're on the right track to hitting your running and lifting goals. Click here to check out our Hybrid Athlete Team program on Train Heroic today. 

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