What is a hybrid athlete?
A hybrid athlete is an athlete that’s main goal is to be a generally well-rounded athlete with strong abilities in multiple areas. This has become a popular training methodology in the last few years as people have transitioned from a singular focus of very specific performance to a general focus aimed at health as well as performance.
So what can we learn from ‘Hybrid training’?
- Adaptability – We all know in sport to get better you have to expose the body to stress and from this stress the body adapts to deal with that dosage of stress. As we get better we increase the stress therefore increasing the adaptation hence performance increases. By following a ‘hybrid’ methodology these athletes expose themselves to a variety of different stresses. One day the focus may be speed, the next it may be strength and the day after it could be accuracy. What we tend to find is that these athletes will generally perform better under new and varied stresses because they expose themselves to such a broad variety of training methodologies.
- Transferable skills – Most of the athletes currently undertaking the tour de France don’t look like weightlifters that much is clear. They have honed their bodies down to the optimal weight in order to perform as well as a human can on a bike. However, we know that a weightlifter with a heavy back squat will have incredibly strong legs and power output. Sure their additional body mass will probably slow them down but if we trim a bit of weight of the lifter and train their cardiovascular system a bit they will probably make an above average cyclist. Rather than looking at sports in silo’s in which they cannot break out of, the hybrid athlete will look at picking elements from multiple sports to produce good performance across a range of disciplines.
- Mental resilience – As previously mentioned Hybrid athletes expose themselves to broad ranges of physical stress. This requires a huge amount of mental resilience because the stimulus is so often changing. We must also consider that a hybrid athlete has to accept certain limitations to their performance (we will cover this in the next point). They have to accept that whilst they may not be the best in a very specific sport they are ‘generally’ better prepared across most sports.
- Acceptance of limitations – We mentioned that weightlifters and professional cyclists have very different body compositions, they have different requirements for their sports but they do also have common ground. They need to have a strong lower body power output. The hybrid athlete will look to find a fine balance between performance in multiple sports often having to accept that they will most likely have to suboptimal in specific sports. They will carry more mass than someone who just cycles (but be able to lift more and run faster) they will also probably be weaker than the person who just lifts weights (but they can cycle and run further and faster). In CrossFit training they use an analogy of the hopper model. If we put 50 different fitness tests into a hopper and pulled them out one by one and tested these three athletes the hybrid athlete is likely to on average come out on top over time. The cyclist will probably win a few events which rely on speed and endurance whilst the weightlifter will probably win most events which rely on outright strength. The interesting thing is the hybrid athlete is unlikely to lose any events because they are generally prepared for most tests as they have a broad training base.
Hybrid training and being a hybrid athlete is also becoming increasingly popular in the bodybuilding community. Athletes who have sculpted themselves into impressive figures but then long for a new challenge or a feeling of fitness. I think we will continue to see the growth of hybrid training as more people focus on their overall health both physically and mentally over the next few years. There are already events out there in which these sort of training models are being put to the test such as: CrossFit, Hyrox, Athx Games, Spartan races and many more.
Maybe you want to try something different? Why not mix up your training just a bit and get a little more hybrid?