Training for strength, size, power, speed and agility all at one time can be overwhelming. Most of us aren’t elite athletes who get paid to train and recover seven days a week. However, this workout program introduces you to a new way to incorporate weightlifting with other sport-specific movements to enhance your athletic performance.
This plan is not about training for strength and endurance concurrently. Athletic movements require more than running in a straight line and picking up heavy objects. They require the ability to change direction quickly, stop, start and create large amounts of force in small amounts of time. Often, this can be the difference between winning and losing. Hybrid muscle training (HMT) can help you become a true athlete.
HMT was created using experience and scientific evidence. The weightlifting portion has nonlinear periodization with full-body workouts multiple times per week. Studies have shown that nonlinear periodization can improve overall strength more than other types of periodization. Furthermore, this study shows that full-body workouts provide a greater increase in muscle hypertrophy than split-body workouts. Although athletes aren’t usually trying to be the biggest or the strongest, both of these attributes make for a good foundation.
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The conditioning and sports skills portions of these mesocycles are designed to keep you in the mindset of whatever sport you play. Too often, athletes come into the weight room with a focus on getting ripped when this may not be beneficial to their overall sport performance. In this program, you focus on curing your weak points while practicing some common movements to help transfer your newfound strength and speed into game situations.
You’ll notice the workouts aren’t assigned to specific days of the week. This is to give you flexibility to work around your schedule. I recommend taking one full recovery day, but feel free to do your conditioning work after your weightlifting/metcon for the day. The reason to do it post-workout is to ensure you have enough glycogen to complete the workout. However, make sure to do separate sports skills sessions to mimic competition. Whether that is technique or general movements, you want to replicate what you’re required to do when it counts.
The 12-week plan
HMT has three distinct mesocycles, each four weeks long. The program may work best in the off-season, but if you play sports as a weekend warrior, or if your games are relatively easy, it can be done any time. I don’t recommend trying to complete the program during a high school or collegiate sports season, but it can be done if you are committed.
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The first mesocycle focuses on muscle hypertrophy to increase muscle size. The second focuses on strength and incorporates conditioning and sport-specific skills. And the third combines your new increased muscle size and strength with metabolic conditioning so it can transfer over to your sport.
This is one of the most important parts of your workout. If you don’t have 6-8 minutes to spend warming up, you shouldn’t be working out. The key to warming up is to engage the muscles you plan to use that day. Your goal is to end with a light sweat and a slightly elevated heart rate.
- Warm-up for all workouts: 6-8 minutes
- Bodyweight Squats – x25
- Push-Ups – x10
- Banded Rows – x20
- Vertical Jumps – x10
- Hip Rotations – x10 each side
- Leg Swings – x10 each side
- Foam roll: 2-3 minutes, focusing on your back, hamstrings and quads
- Rowing machine – 300 meters at a moderate pace
You should also add a warm-up set before each exercise to further prepare your muscles for the work set.
Mesocycle 1 – Hypertrophy
This cycle helps you adjust to the specific weightlifting movements in the program and establish your focus on increasing muscle size as much as [possible.
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Weeks 1 and 3
Perform 3×15 per exercise with 90- to 120-second rests between sets.
Workout 1: Front Squat, Barbell Row, Incline Bench, Romanian Deadlift
Workout 2: Back Squat, Pull-Ups, Military Press, Decline Bench
Workout 3: Deadlift, DB Row, DB Bench, Reverse DB Flys
Workout 4: Barbell Bench, DB Row, DB Shoulder Press, Lunges
Sport skills: Pick an area you are weak in and use drills to improve it. For example, if you’re a soccer player who cannot shoot well with your left foot, take 30-40 minutes and focus on technique while shooting. Use this as active recovery day with minimal stress/effort.
Conditioning skills: Tempo, tempo, tempo. Perform conditioning drills that emphasize game speed. You could even play a pickup game, but keep your energy up. For example, if you’re a football or basketball player, perform 10- to 15-second shuttle-style sprints.
Weeks 2 and 4
Repeat Weeks 1 and 3, performing 4×10 per exercise with 90- to 120-second rests between sets. For example, here’s a typical split for the first mesocycle:
- Monday – Workout 1
- Tuesday – Workout 2
- Wednesday – Sport Skills
- Thursday – Workout 3
- Friday – Workout 4
- Saturday – Conditioning
- Sunday – Recovery
Mesocycle 2 – Strength
This mesocycle focuses on full-body lifts using a medium rep range to develop power and strength. The idea is to improve your overall strength while staying agile. That’s why sprints and cycling are part of the conditioning skills. You need to learn how to use the muscle mass and strength you’ve gained so far. As for the skill, fundamentals are vital in all sports. They include throwing, catching, dribbling, punching, batting or any other big movement.
Weeks 1 and 3
Perform 5×5 per exercise with 120- to 180-second rests between sets.
Workout 1: Power Clean, Deadlift, Leg Press, Pallof Press
Workout 2: Squat, Push-Press, Lat Pulldown, Barbell Shrugs
Workout 3: Bench Press, Box Squat, T-Bar Row, Hang Clean
Sports skills: Practice the skill you use the most in your sport and focus on technique. You want to perfect whatever movement you are working on to ingrain it so you can do it even when you’re fatigued.
Conditioning skills: 10-15 Sprints – 40 yards with 30 seconds of rest. Agility ladder exercises.
Conditioning skills: HIIT cycling – 15 minutes total – 3 minutes at 75-percent effort, then 100-percent effort for the last 20 seconds of every minute for minutes 4-12. Start your cooldown at 12 minutes with 50-percent effort.
Weeks 2 and 4
Repeat Weeks 1 and 3, performing 3×8 per exercise with 120- to 180-second rests between sets.
Mesocycle 3 – Metabolic Conditioning
This is when you combine the size and the strength you’ve gained over the past two months. Don’t expect to lose any progress because you’re lifting differently. However, you might lose some body fat, since this is when the intensity gets kicked up a notch. Notice the alternating sports and conditioning days, unlike the first two cycles.
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Weeks 1 and 3
Circuit style – 3×10 with less than 90 seconds rest between sets.
Workout 1: Barbell Row, Push-Press, Barbell Bench, Sprints 4x100m.
Workout 2: Dumbbell Row, Dumbbell Floor Press, Box Jumps, 500m Row.
Workout 3: Cable Chest Press, Cable Row, Deadlift, Box Shuffle.
Sports skills: Either play a small-sided game of your sport or focus on two skills, one weak and one strong.
Conditioning skills: Plyometrics 3×10–Bounds, Skater Jumps, Lateral Bounds, Hops, Scissor Jumps. Keep intensity high with less than 60 seconds rest between sets.
Conditioning skills: Agility drills: 3-Cone Drill, Agility Ladder, Shuffle,
Weeks 2 and 4
Repeat weeks 1 and 3 with 2×20 and 3 minutes rest between sets.
Recovery is one of the most important parts of this program, since you are constantly overreaching. It is vital that you get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The importance of sleep has been shown in multiple studies. If you do not get enough sleep, your body will not have adequate time to repair itself and release specific growth factors. Scientific evidence has shown that sleep is vital to muscle growth. Furthermore, lack of sleep can cause decreases in IGF-1 and testosterone levels while causing an increase in cortisol levels. The amount you are training can be overwhelming, so give your body enough time to recover every night. If you find yourself absolutely beat, take an extra rest day. However, that doesn’t mean you can skip the workouts you don’t like.
There is no secret supplement or diet that will make you an elite athlete. You have to put in hard work and eat smart to make progress in this program. I highly discourage any type of diet or reduced food intake while doing hybrid muscle training. It’s also important to not overeat, as this isn’t a bulking program. You will ultimately need 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day to ensure that your protein intake is high enough to maximize protein synthesis.
This program is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication and determination to finish. Athletes should always look to push themselves, and HMT is a great way to increase your athletic performance.