Strength of Powerlifter, Endurance of Spartan Elite. #TheHybridAthlete

There is numerous debate between developing strength and endurance for an athlete simultaneously. Strength athletes like powerlifter believe endurance work weakens them and strips them of their precious muscle mass. Endurance athletes like marathoner believe strength work will add unnecessary weight from increased muscle and slow them down. It is indeed a challenge to manage between those two elements of fitness and of course there are some truths in that.


Powerlifting Meet

Until I get to know Alex Viada. He is an ultra-marathoner with a 700lb (317kg) squat. He is a different breed of athlete of tremendous strength and exceptional endurance. His PR of Squat/Bench Press/ Deadlift are 700lb/465lb/705lb which include a mile time of 4:15. He is an absolute beast and I am inspired by his capacity of delivering strength and endurance. He has proven it is possible to do both of strength and endurance.

Spartan Race Beast

Spartan Race Malaysia

My fitness goal to build the strength of powerlifter and endurance of Spartan elite.

One of Alex’s pieces of advice is “Hybrid training is all about understanding and managing recovery, and learning when systems are “fresh” enough to hit again, or when they can handle being hit differently.  A good strength training program or good endurance training program should be pushing the body to its limits- giving sufficient stimulus for adaptation, then just given enough recovery to allow some level of super compensation before hitting that same system again.”  I got his e-book, titled The Hybrid Athlete. Book with great content to program your hybrid workout program. 

The_Hybrid_Athlete e-book by Alex Viada

Here are the key points to remember when I am embarking on the journey of Powerlifter and Spartan Elite. I hope it adds values to you.

1. Plan your workout program.

Planning workout program is the crucial key. The training that was made covers two main components which are strength training and endurance training. The main point of developing a hybrid program is to think about the day to day impact of each kind of training. It would be mainly a split between upper body and lower body workout. When I am not preparing for Spartan Race or Powerlifting Meet. My typical routine is 3 days strength training and 2 days endurance training. Sometimes on my rest day, I will do obstacles training like the monkey bar to shapen the technique. The high-level workout program is the following.

Sample Training.PNG

Of course, the micro level planning is also important to manage the level of body adaption in order to prepare for the next day workout. There is where the breakdown of the exercises done is important. What I usually do is to focus on fixing the weakness of your body. If your quad is weak, it time to work on your leg press or front squat.

If it is close to a Spartan Race, I usually switch my program from 3 days of endurance training and 2 days of strength training. Typically, I will do squat and bench press on the same day.  About three weeks before the race day, the work capacity of strength training decreases and endurance training will increase. What I would do is focus on three bigs lifts, then I will go for a run and obstacles training.

Same goes when the time is close to a Powerlifting Meet. About three weeks before the Powerlifting meet, the work capacity of strength training will increase and the endurance training will decrease.  During my rest day, sometimes I do a 5km run with medium to a low pace intensity. I treat this as my active recovery. Rest is the very important element of the training program as well. Allow some time for you to recover and avoid overtraining as it could lead to injury. This is the last thing that you want to happen to you.

“It is about analyzing the different stressors involved in various forms of strength and endurance training, and designing programs based around consolidating these stressors to minimize interference and maximize recovery.” Source: The Hybrid Athlete by Alex Viada.

2. Endurance Training will benefit strength athlete.

Endurance Training for strength athlete can be very challenging at first. However, it is something worth doing as has its benefits. We understand that strength training has significant impacts on muscle, connective tissue, and bone. Whereas, endurance training has a major impact on the heart, lungs, vascular system, and inside the muscle cells as well. The significant benefits will be on the heart performance. When you run, you will work the heart. A stronger heart with good endurance, better blood flow, more efficient muscles, better capacity to use fat and glucose for fuel. It may speed recovery between workouts. It helps a strength athlete handle a longer, more intense workout with a lesser decrease in performance.

How did I start? In one block week, I planned 2 days of endurance training day which focuses on running. I begin with 5 km and every block week I gradually increase 2 to 3 km. The pace of the run would be low to medium. Take your time when you run. To be honest, it running at a distance requires mental fortitude. Be patient and learn to love the process. This allows your system to adapt the endurance experience.

“In essence, with weight training, though the heart rate is increasing, it’s not necessarily pumping more blood. With cardiovascular training, it is.”  Source: The Hybrid Athlete by Alex Viada.

3. More food!!

Performing strength and endurance requires a high amount of energy.  Hybrid athletes need more macro of protein, carbohydrate, and fats. When comes to protein requirements, I usually go beyond the recommended 1.5-2g/kg of body weight. This is to promote body recovery. They need it to repair and promote adaption from resistance training. The amount of macro typically higher than the baseline. The energy requirements are simply too high, which translate to calories. Hybrid athletes are typically heavier, more powerful, and inherently less structurally efficient when doing endurance sports compared to dedicated endurance athletes. Larger and more muscular athletes burn tremendous amounts of energy when engaged in endurance activities. I usually take 2500 to 3000 calories of food. I am very sure you do not want to starve your body when you are doing endurance training which potentially leads to high muscle loss.

On top of that, it is recommended to focus on micronutrients. Basically, your mineral in particular. I take the supplement like zinc, magnesium, fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate to help me to deliver well.  Juicing will help to get all your micronutrients. Simply put, a hybrid athlete requires more macro, more micro, and more food. However, remember to keep it clean.

4. Manage your recovery well.

Recovery is directly related to your fatigue management. Jogging is one of the aerobic exercises that can be used for your active recovery. Aerobic form of recovery can help the muscles in a contraction and relaxation cycles under light load. It increases the blood flow to your muscles and pumps up the heart. Of course, this should be done at a slow pace. For examples, if your 5km run PR is 30 minutes. You can work with 50% of your timing PR. Which means, 5km run within the duration of 45 minutes.

Deload week is a must! After a long periodization work, let’s say 6 to 9 weeks and depending on your capacity. Deload week allows your body to tone down your workout intensity. This will give room for you to recover further. I will still do the big three lifts, but at a range of 40%, 50%, and 60% of 90% 1RM with the rep range of 8 to 10 reps. Please do not push hard on your secondary workout as well. The objective to workout during your deload week is to allow your system to remember the movement. Hence, focus on keeping your squat, bench press and deadlift in top form.

The king of recovery is sleeping. It is the number one mechanism of recovery. Your muscle does not grow in the gym. Your muscles are torn in the gym, then grow in your sleep. Take at least 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every single day. Not enough sleep for days will lead to sleep deprivation. This condition will inhibit the key hormone that promotes muscle growth and recovery which includes Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone. Not enough sleep promote cortisol. It is very catabolic which will break down muscles tissue. In addition to breaking down muscle, cortisol also increases the amount of fat that your body stores. So, get enough sleep and plan two days for the rest day. Keep in mind doing endurance and strength within one block training will be exhausting. Listen to your body!

5. Self-discipline.  

You’re doing both strength and endurance. Be disciplined to focus on both trainings. Be disciplined to follow your workout program so that the type of stressor impact on your body is being managed. Be disciplined to have enough sleep so that your body has enough time to recover and come back stronger. Be disciplined to have enough nutrients so that your body has the right fuel to recover. Be disciplined to eat clean food, great fuel great body performance. Be disciplined to listen to your body when it is painful, you need to stop. It is not worth to be injured and leads to downtime of your body.

Self-discipline is the key to make it right for in your journey of being a hybrid athlete. All it takes are consistency, dedication, and discipline.


One of my obstacles training day.

There is no limit in growth. I am still working to be the hybrid athlete with the strength of Powerlifter and endurance of Spartan Elite.


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