How To Train Like a HYBRID ATHLETE
The Best Dang Free Program on the Internet
by Alec Enkiri | 11/30/21
A few weeks ago I discussed the concept of the hybrid athlete a few weeks ago in my article titled Why You Should Avoid Specialization. Here I laid out my vision of exactly what a hybrid athlete is and explained why I believe that the vast majority of people would be better off training this way. Today I want to illustrate exactly how to do so by providing a free hybrid athlete training program. This is essentially a template to demonstrate how I think this sort of protocol is best designed. You could run it completely as is if it suits your goals that way or you could make modifications here and there to make the overall program ore in line with your general goals or the primary lifts/movements/exercises/etc. that you care about improving the most. None of it set in stone, but the parameters can be used to create an endless degree of permutations that could work for just about anybody who isn't training to be an elite level athlete in a super specific endeavor. If your goal is to train for life then this is the program for you!
The plan here will focus on building up general strength; there will also be aspects of it that focus on muscular hypertrophy as well as power; and then in terms of movement based activity that's where things diverge a little bit and the path forward is left up to the user. So for example, if you wanted to work on your overall speed or your general explosiveness then there is an option to perform speed based sprint work, but if you're more concerned about general conditioning or speed endurance then there is the option of performing interval style sprint work which could then be paired with a small amount of LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio on some of the other training days. So it can be split up multiple ways at that point and how you proceed really just depends on what goals you want to to train for at that time. Another option of course would be to alternate from training block to training block. Anyway, enough of the boring stuff. Let's just take a look at the damn program man!
The Weekly Microcycle
Here's the layout of the program itself. Now, as a quick preface I do feel obligated to say that this is not really a beginner program. There's a fair amount of stuff going on here and somebody who lacks experience is going to be better off focusing on just one or two things at a time rather than the entire conglomeration that's present here. If you're already somewhat strong and you're trying to segue into other endeavors then this would be a good way to do it. You would just have to modulate the intensity of the activities your body is unaccustomed to performing, such as the sprints and jumps and throws. Don't just jump in (ba-dum-CH!) 100% in week 1 because you'll probably pull something. Instead work your way up slowly over the course of a few weeks or months even. There's really no rush. Power is built with maximal intent, but it's not built when you're babying muscle pulls and joint pain, so gradually build up the intensity levels, please. Conversely, if you're already athletically inclined but you need to build up your strength levels and build some muscle then it's the same deal but in reverse. Go HAM on the jumps and the sprints since your body is already accustomed to those activities, and then start nice and easy on the strength/hypertrophy work and build your way up gradually.
So here we have 4 main sessions per week in an upper/lower split, with a 5th day sandwiched in between the main sessions that focuses on either speed or anaerobic conditioning, depending on your current goal.
The lower body sessions are designed to build strength and muscle in the quads, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and calves, while also covering the major bases in terms of different segments across the force-velocity curve. So for example, moving your own body weight as explosively as possible (as in unloaded jump variation), moving an implement as explosively as possible (as in an Olympic lift variation), and also moving your own body weight plus extra resistance as explosively as possible (as in the case of a resisted sprint or a loaded jump). The upper body sessions are primarily designed to build strength and muscle in the chest, shoulders, and across the entire back. They also provide for a little bit of explosive medicine ball work to build some power in the upper body, as well as a small amount of isolated work to build up the delts, biceps, and triceps.
The Force-Velocity Curve
The training schedule here would look something like this. That way you would get a day of rest in between each of the lower body intensive training sessions, as well as plenty of rest in between the two upper body days.
Lets take a closer look at the individual sessions now.
Session 1 (Lower Body 1)
Zooming in on Session 1, Lower Body 1. It kicks off with either a weighted jump or an Olympic lift variation. For weighted jumps I like holding a pair of dumbbells at my sides, dipping down into the bottom of the jump, pausing for 2-3 seconds, and then exploding up into the air as high as possible. If you choose an Olympic lift variation you'll probably want to keep it simple. My favorites in this regard are snatch grip high pulls from the high hang position as well as power snatches from the high hang position. Hang power cleans are also a good choice here, as well as power cleans from the floor if you're comfortable with them.
This explosive movement should be paired with either a light plyometric jump or a medicine ball toss/slam. For the plyos, I would keep it simple and just use some variation of low/moderate intensity rhythmic style jump. The floor is lava and the goal is to treat the ground like a trampoline and bounce off the ball of your feet using the spring from your Achilles, with minimal knee bend and minimal hip bend. It should relatively effortless because it relies almost entirely on elastic energy. If it doesn't feel effortless then your drop height is too high for your current reactive capabilities. If you choose the medicine ball I would either go with an overhead slam here or a side toss to get that rotational involvement. These slams should be max effort on every rep.
For the squat you can choose whatever you like: a box squat, high bar squat , front squat, SSB squat, whatever. It just needs to be a big primary variation, and then you would cycle through the variations once the current one becomes stale. The goal here is to autoregulate - so you work your way up to a heavy set of 5 reps (confident you left one rep in reserve each session), and then you build your way up from there. Try to best it each week if you can, and take what's there if you can't. Just don't be greedy.
Moving on the final exercise you can either do a loaded carry variation or, if you're going for more of a conditioning mindset at the moment, then you can finish up with some easy-ish low intensity steady state cardio instead. For the loaded carry, this could be a farmer's walk (any implement or variety), a zercher carry, an overhead carry, a front rack carry, or even a sled push or pull. So you have a lot of options there and that's going to provide a unique strength effect that the traditional weight room work doesn't give you, and along with that it will provide a small conditioning effect as well within these parameters (but nothing spectacular in that regard due to the short carry distances).
Session 2 (Upper Body 1)
Moving on to Session 2, Upper body 1. Here we lead off with the medicine ball push press. So basically you hold the medicine ball in front of your face, dip and drive with the legs, and heave the ball straight up overhead as high as possible. This gets the shoulders involved for some power work along with the legs, so that's fun stuff. For the bench press, choose whatever the hell you want man. It can be a regular bench, a close grip bench, a floor press, a swiss bar bench press, a buffalo bar bench press, or whatever variation you want to start with. Lower the bar under control, pause every rep on the chest for 1-2 seconds and then explode back to the starting position. The bench press should be paired with a chest supported rowing variation, so that can be a seal row with any number of different bars that may be available, it can be a weighted inverted row, or it can even be a chest supported rowing machine (but that's kind of the bottom of the totem pole here). There are plenty of choices here though! Focus on quality over loading when you do these rows or they lose a lot of their benefit.
Now for the overhead press this can be whatever type you like, but it should a strict press (as in no leg drive). We are working pure upper body strength with these presses and we there will be an opportunity to incorporate a push press style movement later in the training week, so keep these strict. You'll pair this with either a pulldown variation or a rack chin-up, both of which are great options for getting in some low cost, high quality volume for the lats. And then finally you'll choose either an upper back exercise or a biceps isolation exercise to finish things up here. Upper back exercises would include things like band pull-aparts, rear delt flyes, etc. For the biceps it can be any curl variation - strict curl, EZ bar curl, straight bar curl, hammer curl, reverse curl, etc. etc.
Session 3 (Sprint)
Now for session 3! Here you either need to choose to pursue speed or to purse anaerobic conditioning. For speed you can either focus on acceleration (starting from stationary and building speed from 0-40yds) or maximum velocity (the fastest MPH you can possibly propel your body to for a single instance in time). If you primarily want to improve your first few steps then go with acceleration training and do the short sprints. If you do shorter sprints you can do more reps, if you do longer sprints then you'll need to do less reps.
If you want to improve max velocity then you should choose flying sprints instead. For these you gradually work up to top speed over a period of about 30-50yds and then you hold that top speed for a 10-20yard flying zone that should be marked out with cones ahead of time. These are incredibly taxing so don't let the short distance prescription fool you. Every rep consists of approximately 50-70 total yards sprinted when you include the acceleration phase, and then there is the actual act of holding top speed which is also incredibly taxing. So the reps need to be kept pretty low here overall and the focus should be on quality. These flying sprints give you much more total stimulus spent at top speed compared to the acceleration based training though, which is pretty minimal, and will allow you to make improvements to your actual top end running speed.
Either way, you should rest about 1 minute for every 10 yards sprinted, so for short sprints you'll be resting 2-4 minutes between reps and for flyes it'll be something like 5-7 minutes.
Session 4 (Lower Body 2)
Onto Session 4, Lower Body 2 now! Here we lead off with either a resisted sprint or - if no sled is available - then a medicine ball toss or slam instead. Now, if you're training at a gym that doesn't have a sled....come on man! Its 2021, sleds are everywhere. Find a gym that doesn't suck. If you refuse to do that however then just go with the medicine ball here instead. Same protocol as Session 1, but this time do the other variation. So if you did an overhead slam in Session 1 then do a side toss in Session 4.
This should be paired with an unloaded jump variation. This jump variation can be vertical, it can be horizontal, it can be unilateral, it can be a single response jump, it can be a multi-response jump, etc. In fact, I would encourage you to rotate between all these different sorts of variations in time. The main thing is to just be explosive man. Crank the nervous system up to maximum levels of activation, rev that shit a few times, and do it in a variety of different ways and you'll be good to go. Again, however, if you aren't used to jumping just yet then start off nice and easy, and then slowly work your way up until you are able to safely exert maximal effort on every single jump. Once you get to that point though, go nuts man. Maximal effort and maximal intent is where power is built, so really put your all into these.
Next up is the hinge. This can be a Romanian deadlift variation, a good morning, a hyperextension, whatever you want to start with. The main points here are going to be keeping a neutral spine and focusing on hinging at the hips while getting a nice big stretch in the hamstrings, and then explode back to the starting position. This is going to make your hammies very sore, and in the long run it is going to make them very strong as well. After that you should move on to the hip thrust. I've discussed this exercise in depth in the past so I won't go into too much detail here, but the main points are going to be to control the eccentric phase, keep the tension on the glutes at the bottom of each rep (try to really dig into hip flexion to get a big stretch on the glute muscles), and then explode into full hip extension while squeezing the glutes as hard as possible in the fully contracted position.
For the suitcase hold this is really just core work. So the main point here is to brace the abs, brace the lats and back, and flex the glutes and quads as well. You want to hold perfect posture, keep the torso perfectly upright, and NOT lean to the side in order to compensate for the offset weight. And then to wrap things up here you finish up with either loaded carries again or with more LISS cardio. If you choose to do the loaded carries in this session you should choose a different modality from earlier in the week and this time the relative load should be a good bit lighter because you'll be carrying it a lot farther in each set (which will provide more of a conditioning effect this time). If you choose to the LISS cardio instead then you should go with a different modality form earlier in the week. So if you ran earlier in the week then this time you should either row, or use the elliptical or Stairmaster, or hit the stationary bike instead.
Session 5 (Upper Body 2)
And finally we're onto Session 5, Upper body 2, the last session of the microcycle! Here you'll lead off with a plyometric push up. The goal here is simply to push your torso as high off the floor as possible. Don't worry about clapping in the air or any other parlor tricks. Just push yourself off the ground with maximal power and then focus on seamlessly absorbing the landing impact and moving into the next rep. This is basically just a vertical jump for the upper body. 4 sets of 8-10 reps should do the trick here.
After that you'll move onto your second OHP variation of the week and this time you can go ahead and train the push press if you'd like. If not then you can keep it to a strict press and just go a bit heavier this time instead. This OHP variation should be paired with a chin-up. I don't care what grip you use, personally I'm partial to supinated and neutral grips myself, but go with whatever your preference is initially and then swap to something different down the road. Regardless, perform every rep from a dead hang in the bottom - control the eccentric phase, tap your feet onto the floor to stabilize yourself, then hang from the bar again and perform the next rep.
Next up is the weighted dip paired with the face pull. For the weighted dip just start with something that you can knock out for 12-15 clean reps and take it from there. Makes sure to get to depth on every rep and don't bounce too hard out of the bottom. For the face pull, it doesn't matter man. The weight is inconsequential so just focus on the quality of the reps instead. Get a good contraction of the upper back and rear delts, hold that for 1-2 seconds, and then control the eccentric phase. Quality is much more important than load here.
Finally, you should finish up the training week either with some shoulder work or some isolated triceps work. For the shoulders, I think you guys all know at this point that I'm partial to the Lu raise. That's the best isolated deltoid movement in existence, in my opinion. If you want to go with triceps instead then I recommend the lying triceps extension performed with a little bit of shoulder flexion during the eccentric (Mark Rippetoe explains this technique nicely) to get hit the long head of the triceps involved in the party.
And that pretty much wraps it up guys! It's quite a doozy here, but this is how the hybrid athlete is made. Like I said earlier, the concept in and of itself is not really for beginners, but I have a feeling that most of my audience isn't beginners so I think this should apply to a great many of you. And if you've been doing the same thing for a while and you're kind of bored of your training or you've just realized that it's time to branch and become as well rounded as possible then give this program a try and let me know what you think!
Now, if you want something even more in depth than this that's broken into different blocks, alternating between accumulation phases and intensity phases, as well as conditioning phases and power phases - with everything laid out and clearly explained for you - then be sure to check out my Ultimate Performance Manual. That's my pride and joy right there, my magnum opus. It's literally the conglomeration of my 15 years of training experience. So if you enjoy this type of free content then be sure to check that out and grab a copy to help support my YouTube channel/website, and help support the production of more free content like this. I look forward to hearing about all the MONSTER GAINZ everybody will be making from this program. Keep training hard and I will catch you guys next time!
This article in video format on my YouTube channel!