Using Hybrid Training for More Balanced and Enhanced Fitness

Hybrid training is the concept that sports and activities demand a peak emphasis of both strength and endurance, and that training one will also enhance the other.

This is something many athletes (and coaches) either ignore or forget, creating a loss of performance and momentum to reach training goals. Instead, many athletes (and coaches) think that training one will create a loss to the other.

This simply isn’t true. In fact, the exact opposite happens.

Strength and conditioning involves training the obvious elements of strength and elements of conditioning. Some sports and activities demand more strength while other sports and activities demand more endurance.

In other words, you need to emphasize both at an equally high level which makes the training approach a more hybrid type of protocol because the training is blending both of these elements in a more equal manner.

If you’re a fighter, why would you want to also include sessions of power lifting, and if you’re a power lifter, why would you want to add in training sessions involving HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)?

You’d think that the power lifter would want to focus mainly/only on strength and the fighter mainly/only on conditioning, right?

Both focuses demand peak muscular strength and endurance training. Looking at the diagram below, you can begin to see what the benefit would be.

What some athletes forget is that in order to be a stronger power lifter, you need endurance (cardiovascular stamina), and to be a better fighter you need strength (which aids in a better precision and execution of punches and kicks).

Knowing this, you can understand where many sport and physical activities fit along this line in terms of the emphasis of demanding more endurance, or the demand for more strength.

Now, this is not to say the fighter should have an equal number of sessions of power lifting, and the power lifter should do so with endurance training

Instead, hybrid training means finding a balanced combination of both approaches so that the main focus becomes enhanced.

This is what allowed Muhammad Ali to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Andy why Usain Bolt holds world records in sprinting and has won Gold in the Olympics. Hybrid training is what generates elite performances in athletes.

For example, when I begin having runners introduce sessions of weight lifting into their training, they discover that their fears of the muscle weight gain holding them back are unfounded.

Instead, they discover they have more power, more speed and better endurance. They begin hitting speed, distance and endurance goals that felt completely out of reach.

When I have my students who have focused solely on lifting do sessions of HIIT (which can include battle ropes, kettlebell swings, etc.) they discover they more easily and more frequently generate not only higher lifting PRs, but faster.

Why is this?

Because you’re forcing your body to continually adapt and change. If you’re only focusing on one thing, then your body merely adapts.

That’s why my students who have focused solely on running or can’t seem to get past a certain distance or time, and my lifting students can’t break past a plateau of how much they can lift.

The same goes for fighters: If the fighter focuses only on perfecting kicks and punches (and the speed at which they execute them), then they can’t gain stamina and strength to outperform their opponents.

This is the concept known as the S.A.I.D principle—Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.

It can go both ways: You can adapt specifically to only a narrow band of imposed demands, which leads to a permanent sense of plateau and lack of increased skill.

Or you can continually switch things around, allowing your body to adapt specifically to a set of physical demands, then forcing it to start over with a new set stimuli.

The first example is fine if you want to stay where you are and not move past your current skill level.

The second is what you want if continual building of skills and performance abilities. (Think CrossFit).

Now, like I said above, this isn’t about fully balancing out your training so there’s an equal amount of conditioning and strength.

To get better at hitting a baseball you would practice hitting a baseball. A fighter would want to practice punches and kicks to perfect the movement. This is also specific adaptation to imposed demands.

But what might happen if the baseball player and the fighter only focused on those singular aspects of their sport?

And what might happen if they broadened their training to include activities that may not necessarily be part of their sport?

Understanding the S.A.I.D. principle will help you develop your training program and how to apply physical training tactics that are more athletically specific to the needs of your sport but also emphasizes necessary aspects of strength and endurance.

Doing so allows you to continually move forward with your training and not remain stuck in a plateau.

The S.A.I.D principle will be applied to your situation before you start your day’s training. It’s the element of planning that you will use and factor into your day’s training in order to ensure that you are getting out of your training what you need in order to perform at your best.

To step up your training game, you’ve got to be effective in creating a training program that helps you develop a healthy dose of both strength and endurance.

This keeps you focused on improving needed skills for your chosen sport, but allows you to have a much better foundation of fitness to support you.

The S.A.I.D. principle is going to be the beginning of your physical readiness and demands a hybrid training approach. It works for anyone—whether you’re an amateur MMA fighter, or someone with a closet of fitness tools for training at home.

If you want more ideas for how to create a hybrid training program, check out my 120-Day Functional Fitness Program advertised above, or visit my website, Brandon Richey Fitness.




SEALgrinderPT coach Brandon Richey is a certified strength and conditioning coach, author, and founder of Brandon Richey Fitness.

He has worked with thousands of athletes over his 17 years of experience, developing fitness training programs for beginners to professional and D-1 level collegiate athletes at the University of Georgia.

He also trains MMA and Muay Thai athletes, both professional and amateur.


QUESTION: Coach, I am stuck in a plateau and I can’t seem to break out of it. What can I do?

ANSWER: Check out this article—10 Tips for Breaking Through Training Plateaus.

QUESTION: Can you please explain why how I think about things an my goal is so important to training goals?

ANSWER: Here’s an article that I wrote for another student who asked me the same thing: The Power of the Mind.



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