How to make gains in running and strenHgeoth training How to strength train and

An The age-old question in the fitness world is whether you should separate running and strength training or do them together. Running advocates say that strength training adds extra muscle mass that hinders your running, while for strength training they argue that endurance cardio kills your gains in the gym. Although strength training and high-intensity cardio (such as running, HIIT and plyometrics) are actually different types of exercise, the truth is that combining them to create a hybrid training program is a powerful recipe for success in achieving your health and fitness goals.

A 2019 study published in Peer-Reviewed PLoS One A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training has been shown to result in lower blood pressure, increased lean muscle mass, and increased strength and cardiovascular fitness. What’s more, these results suggest that combining running with strength-building activities is better than any 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,” says 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 will probably get monotonous after putting in the mileage day after day. The same goes for strength training—doing the same exercises over and over again can get boring. Hybrid training will help keep you mentally fresh and make workouts more fun while helping to prevent burnout and plateaus in your fitness.

What is hybrid training?

Regardless of your age or fitness level, hybrid training is ideal for those who want to burn fat faster in the fat-burning zone and build lean muscle and strength. Here, it is important to mention that fat is just the way your body stores unused energy obtained from the food you eat. So hybrid training is a way to tap into that reserve and make it work for you to maintain a body fat percentage in a healthy range. This training method combines cardiovascular exercise—such as running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—with resistance training, such as weightlifting and calisthenics (aka bodyweight exercises). The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity plus two or more days of strength training per week.

“Running is a muscular endurance activity. A lot of people think it’s just cardio,” says certified trainer Holly Perkins, CSCS. It’s actually a muscular phenomenon.” And the same is true for HIIT and plyometrics, or jump training.

Advantages of hybrid training

If you only focus on strength training, you’ll neglect your cardiovascular health and miss out on the many benefits of endurance training, such as 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 won’t reap many of the health benefits of building muscle.

Cardio works synergistically with strength training. Such combinations improve body composition (the ratio of body fat to muscle mass), speed up metabolism, improve blood sugar control, and protect your heart health. Additionally, regular cardio workouts can help build muscle. When your cardiovascular system works more efficiently, it helps increase blood flow to the muscles and improve circulation.

Building muscle does more than just make you stronger. Strength training has many health-promoting 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 such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Changing your weekly focus from strength training to cardio can be an effective strategy for making gains in both areas. “Flip your focus and your priorities each week. The most important goal is two to three dedicated, high-quality strength training sessions per week,” says Perkins, who recommends alternating your 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 is not the same as a donut. For optimal strength and performance, your best bet is to eat a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fiber from whole plant foods to provide enough calories to fuel your increased workout volume.

Whether your goal is to run a marathon or set a deadlift PR at the gym, your body relies on carbohydrates for physical activity. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), an hour of moderate exercise 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 as well as preserving protein stores so they can be used effectively for strength training and muscle building, thereby supporting overall endurance performance.” says Katie Cavuto, RD, registered dietitian and executive chef at SaladWorks

“Many studies show that consuming protein in anabolic [i.e. building] The window—30 minutes to two hours after a workout—either alone or paired with carbohydrates, boosts muscle repair and growth. However, several studies show that regular protein intake throughout the day can equally support muscle growth,” says Cavuto. For example, a recent study published in Journal of Nutrition concluded that muscle protein synthesis was 25-percent higher when protein was distributed evenly over breakfast, lunch, and dinner rather than a single meal.

Here’s a sample day of fuel consumption in a hybrid training program; However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. Calorie needs are highly individualized based on age, gender, height, weight and activity level. Use this example for reference only.

Sample feed for hybrid training


Rolled oats: 1/2 cup
Banana: 1 whole, sliced
Blueberries: 1/2 cup
Pumpkin seeds: 1 tbsp
Flaxseed: 2 tbsp
Natural peanut butter: 1 tbsp
Unsweetened dairy milk: 1/2 cup
Cinnamon: 1 tsp

Post-workout protein shake

Unsweetened non-dairy milk: 1 cup
Frozen strawberries: 1 cup
Banana: 1 whole
Vegetables of choice (spinach, kale, etc.): 1 cup
Chia seeds: 2 tbsp
Medjull date, pitted: 1 whole
Protein powder: 1 tsp


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 1 tbsp
Salsa, organic: 1/4 cup


Apple: 1 whole
Nuts: 12 whole
Yogurt (oat-based or coconut-based): 1/2 cup


Brown basmati rice, dry: 1/2 cup
Tofu, organic: 100 grams
Cauliflower, chopped: 1 cup
Sweet potato, raw: 100 grams
Chopped onion: 1/4 cup
Pepper, chopped: 1/2 cup
Red cabbage, chopped: 1/2 cup
Chickpeas: 1/2 cup
Buck Choy: 1 cup
Lemon Tahini Dressing: 1 tbsp

How to get started with hybrid training

1. Find exercise that you enjoy

The key to the success and sustainability of any fitness program is to love what you’re doing. If you’re doing the workouts you love, you’re more likely to stick with hybrid training. If you’re not sure where to start, try different workouts in different locations. For example, do a strength training session outside, run around a track, lift weights at a gym or do bodyweight exercises at home. Try what works best for you and make it your own.

2. Fuel your body with the right nutrients

As discussed above, nutrition is essential to reaching your health and fitness goals. You will likely burn more calories starting a hybrid training program, so you must make sure you are consuming enough calories. Fueling your body with calories from whole food sources of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats will make all the difference in your energy, performance and recovery. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to a registered dietitian who can help you create a personalized plan to help you achieve your goals.

3. Prioritize rest and recovery

Overtraining is a common mistake that fitness enthusiasts of all levels are guilty of from time to time (myself included). There is even a name for this condition – overtraining syndrome (OTS). OTS can happen if you do too much physical activity too soon. Avoid OTS by building your fitness gradually.

After a hard workout, take time to rest and recover. During the recovery phase, your muscles rebuild and you get stronger. Do active recovery one or two days a week (eg, walking, hiking, cycling, swimming) or take one day off from exercise altogether. This will help give your body and brain a well-deserved break from training.

4. Be flexible with your workout routine

Combining strength training with cardio can work in a few different ways. Some prefer to keep the two separate, while others prefer to incorporate both types of exercise into a single HIIT or circuit-style workout. For example, you might run for 30 to 45 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with a strength training workout 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 slowly and increase the amount of workouts over time

When starting any new workout program, it’s wise to pace yourself and allow your body time to adapt to avoid injury, burnout, and fatigue. This time varies significantly based on your fitness level, but the adaptation phase can be expected to last from a few weeks to a few months. Start with two or three workouts a week and gradually increase until you can do four or five a week without reaching the point of exhaustion.

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