Alex Viada’s book, Hybrid Athlete is one of my two favourite training books on training. The second is Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. The main takeaways from the book included:
- Great explanation of physiology of exercise
- explaining challenges of pursuing other sports concurrently
- providing workout templates as a reference point
Alex’s story behind the book is exciting as he outlines his failures and the lessons learned from chasing aerobic endurance and absolute strength. And he knows what he’s talking about, having totalled very advanced lifts in powerlifting (a 700 lbs squat and a 465 lbs bench press, in the 220 lbs weight class) while also pursuing competitive running (4:15 mile time; triathlons, marathons, ultra-marathons).
Regardless, he made the point of the great benefits of building general aerobic endurance of the strength athlete, as well as strength for the endurance person. Although this was his personal experience in combining the two goals, he brings out the importance of building multiple skills to become a complete athlete.
It’s no wonder, that his company is called, Complete Human Performance.
I’d say that this alone is the biggest take away from Hybrid Athlete, having personally experienced better performance in my strength training (the biggest being feeling less fatigued between lifting sets) via adding endurance work.
The book also goes into understanding the major components of both strength and endurance training, where you learn to prioritize your time and energy to make progress in separate goals while trying to avoid burnout.
This was a moment for me to reflect on how much junk training I’ve done in my workouts.
How much is really working to improve my total?
Am I doing too many accessories?
Am I doing more volume than is necessary?
Did I ever think to question how much overlap was actually happening in my training?
Am I spending too much time in the gym?
And on the flipside, where I realized made just as much sense, “was I doing too much running?”
While training for last year’s half-marathon, I followed a running program where I ran 4-5 times a week, slowly working up to a half-marathon distance. I didn’t want to quit my powerlifting training so I just added the two together.
After the second week, I was dead.
I didn’t realize how easy it was to burn out from running. You try and ramp up the volume just a little bit too aggressively…..and your toast.
This was really foreign to me, considering that with weightlifting (especially if I was getting a lot of volume from accessory, single-joint exercises) that it required WORK to feel “burnt out”. With running it was completely different.
Now, this leads to another great point from Hybrid Athlete: you learn to do the minimal amount of work necessary to progress.
Following the parameters that Alex outlined in the book, I was able to cut back my running volume and manage lifting and running while still progressing in both.
Like I said earlier, the book even goes on to provide template examples. Alex explains the pitfalls and nuances of progressing with certain sports and skills in strength and conditioning. By doing so, he gives you a base from which you can customize your program through your own experimentation and experiences.
Alex’s book gives the principles and values behind the goal of concurrent performance. And especially if you’re just competing for fun, like myself, it gives you an opportunity to have fun and not feel limited in doing one sport.