A 2019 study published in peer-reviewed Plus one found that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training resulted in lower blood pressure, increased muscle mass, and improved strength and cardiorespiratory fitness. Additionally, these results suggest that combining running with strength-building activities is better than doing both types in isolation — and may even reduce your risk of heart disease.
“Strength training strengthens the muscles involved in running, which improves running performance and reduces the risk of running-related injuries,” said Antoine Hamelin, CPT, personal trainer and CEO of First Step Fitness.
Hybrid workouts are a great way to change up your fitness routine. If you’re a runner, your workouts are likely to become monotonous after consistently putting in miles day in and day out. The same goes for strength training—doing the same exercises over and over again can get boring. Hybrid training helps you stay mentally fresh and make your workouts more fun while preventing burnout and plateaus in your fitness.
What is hybrid training?
Regardless of your age or fitness level, hybrid training is ideal for those looking to get into the fat burning zone quickly while building lean muscle and strength. It’s important to note here that fat is your body’s way of storing unused energy it gets from the food you eat. So hybrid training is a way to tap into that reserve and use it to keep your body fat percentage in a healthy range for you. This training method combines cardiovascular exercise like running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with resistance training like weightlifting and calisthenics (also called bodyweight exercises). The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, plus strength training two or more days per week.
“Running is a muscular endurance sport. A lot of people think it’s just cardio,” says certified trainer Holly Perkins, CSCS. “While it’s taxing on your cardiovascular system, it’s your muscles that carry your body around the room in a repetitive motion for a while. So it’s actually a muscular event.” And the same goes for HIIT and plyometrics or jump training.
Advantages of hybrid training
If you only focus on strength training, you are neglecting your cardiovascular health and missing out on the many benefits of cardio training, such as: B. a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, improved mood and fat loss. Conversely, the same concept applies to cardio. If you prioritize aerobic exercise and avoid strength training, you will miss out on the many health benefits of building muscle.
Cardio works synergistically with strength training. The combination of these species improves body composition (the ratio of muscle mass to body fat), speeds up metabolism, improves blood sugar control, and protects your heart health. In addition, regular cardio training can help build muscle. When your cardiovascular system works more efficiently, it helps increase blood flow to the muscles and improve blood flow.
Building muscle does a lot more than just make you stronger. Strength training has many health benefits, such as improved bone density, better body composition, reduced risk of injury and a more efficient metabolism. Strength training has also been shown to improve digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Alternating your weekly focus from strength training to cardio can be an effective strategy for making progress in both areas. “Shift your focus and priorities each week. The most important goal is two to three committed, quality strength-training sessions per week,” says Perkins, who recommends alternating strength-training and cardio days.
Nutrition for hybrid training
Not all calories are created equal. For example, the energy you get from a bowl of fresh fruit isn’t the same as the energy contained in a donut. For optimal energy and performance, it’s best to eat a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fiber from whole plant-based foods that provide enough calories to support your increased exercise volume.
Whether your goal is to run a marathon or pull off a deadlift PR at the gym, your body relies on carbohydrates to fuel it for physical activity. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), moderate exercise for one hour per day requires 5 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day.
“For hybrid athletes, glycogen (blood sugar stored in the liver) is optimal for maintaining energy levels during endurance exercise and protecting protein stores so they can be used effectively for strength training and muscle building, which in turn supports overall endurance performance,” says Katie Cavuto, RD, Registered Nutritionist and Executive Chef for Saladworks.
“A lot of research shows that consuming protein is anabolic [i.e. building] Window – 30 minutes to two hours after exercise – either alone or in combination with a carbohydrate, promotes muscle repair and muscle growth. However, multiple studies also show that maintaining a consistent protein intake throughout the day can equally support muscle growth,” says Cavuto. For example, a study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition concluded that muscle protein synthesis was 25 percent higher when protein was evenly distributed across breakfast, lunch, and dinner, rather than a single meal.
Here’s a sample day of eating to bolster a hybrid training program; However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition. Calorie requirements are highly individualized based on age, gender, height, weight and activity level. Use this example for reference only.
Example meal day for hybrid training
Oatmeal: 1/2 cup
Banana: 1 whole, sliced
Blueberries: 1/2 cup
Pumpkin seeds: 1 tablespoon
Ground flaxseed: 2 tablespoons
Natural Peanut Butter: 1 tbsp
Unsweetened plant-based milk: 1/2 cup
Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon
Post workout protein shake
Unsweetened Plant Milk: 1 cup
Frozen strawberries: 1 cup
Banana: 1 whole
Leafy greens of your choice (spinach, kale, etc.): 1 cup
Chia seeds: 2 tablespoons
Medjool dates, pitted: 1 whole
Protein powder: 1 scoop
Lentils, dry: 1/2 cup
Black beans: 1/2 cup
Broccoli, steamed: 1 cup
Cherry Tomatoes: 1/2 cup
Avocado: 1/2 whole
Spinach: 2 cups
Lemon: juice of 1 whole
Salsa, organic: 1/4 cup
Apple: 1 whole
Almonds: 12 whole
Yogurt (oat or coconut based): 1/2 cup
Brown basmati rice, dry: 1/2 cup
Tofu, organic: 100g
Cauliflower, chopped: 1 cup
Sweet potato, raw: 100g
Onion, diced: 1/4 cup
Paprika, diced: 1/2 cup
Red cabbage, chopped: 1/2 cup
Chickpeas: 1/2 cup
Bok choy: 1 cup
Lemon Tahini Dressing: 1 tbsp
How to start with the hybrid training
1. Find exercises that you enjoy
The key to the success and sustainability of any fitness program is liking what you’re doing. You’re more likely to stick with hybrid training if you’re doing workouts you enjoy. If you’re not sure where to start, try different workouts in different places. For example, strength train outdoors, run on a track, lift weights at a gym, or do bodyweight exercises at home. See what works best for you and make it your own.
2. Fuel your body with proper nutrition
As previously mentioned, nutrition is essential to achieving your health and fitness goals. You’re likely to burn more calories when you start a hybrid training program, so you need to make sure you’re consuming enough calories. Fueling your body with calories from whole food sources rich in protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats will make all the difference in your energy, performance and recovery. If you’re not sure where to start, speak to a registered dietitian who can help you create a personalized plan to help you meet your goals.
3. Prioritize rest and recovery
Overtraining is a common mistake that fitness enthusiasts of all skill levels (including myself) make from time to time. There’s even a name for this condition – Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). OTS can occur if you engage in too much physical activity too soon. Avoid OTS by gradually building your fitness.
After a hard workout, take a break to rest and recover. During the recovery period, your muscles will rebuild and you will get stronger. Get active (e.g., walk, hike, bike, swim) one or two days a week or take one day off from exercise altogether. Give your body and brain a well-deserved break from training.
4. Be flexible in your exercise routine
Combining strength training with cardio can work in a number of ways. Some prefer to keep the two separate, while others prefer to incorporate both types of exercise into a single HIIT or circuit workout. For example, you could run 30-45 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and do strength training on Tuesday and Thursday. Alternatively, you can do high-intensity hybrid workouts that combine calisthenics, weightlifting, and running three or four days a week.
5. Start slow and increase the volume of training over time
When starting a new exercise program, it’s wise to adjust your pace and give your body time to adjust to prevent injury, burnout, and fatigue. This time is highly dependent on your fitness level, but expect the adjustment period to take several weeks to months. Start with two or three workouts per week and gradually increase until you can do four or five per week without reaching the point of exhaustion.