Fit for Everything – Fitness Volt

Have you ever noticed how gym bros often give themselves labels? Some call themselves bodybuilders, even though they never intend to step on stage and pose for the judges. Instead, they want to develop a muscular, aesthetic physique that looks good on the beach.

And then there are the powerlifters who want to get massively strong and hoist the biggest squat, bench press, and deadlift weights possible. Again, they might not actually be a competitive powerlifter, but they enjoy training like one.

Finally, there are the athletes. These guys don’t care how they look and train only for improved performance in their chosen sport or activity. Athletes value improved function over pure size and strength, often focusing on explosive power exercises, such as the Olympic lifts and their variations.

But what if you want to look like a bodybuilder, be strong like a powerlifter, and perform like an athlete? Is this even possible?

Conventional wisdom says you can only effectively train for one goal at a time, but we think differently. After all, there are plenty of athletic and strong bodybuilders and athletes who could easily turn heads on the bodybuilding stage.

In this article, we share a Hybrid Athlete Program for the lifter who wants it all.

Periodization vs. The Hybrid Approach

Working Out In Gym

Anyone who’s been training for a while should be familiar with the concept of periodization. It’s a training method with ancient origins that came to the fore in the early 1960s. Founders of this training system include Romanian-Canadian sports scientist Tudor Bompa and Russian physiologist Leo Matveyev.

In simple terms, periodization involves changing your training variables over time to elicit improvements in fitness and strength, usually working toward a peak, e.g., a sporting event. The training year is divided into numerous phases, each building on the last.

These phases are:

  • Microcycles – a training week
  • Mesocycles – a block of microcycles
  • Macrocycle – a block of mesocycles

It’s beyond the scope of this article to explain the ins and outs of periodization, and entire books have been written about this fascinating topic. However, to give you the broad strokes, here is an overview of a general periodized plan for 12 months of training.

Macrocycle: One Year

Objective: To improve muscle size, strength, and athletic performance, leading to a sporting event at the end of the year.


Hypertrophy Phase (3 months)

Objective: Increase muscle size

Microcycles: 4-week cycles

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2-3: Progressive overload
  • Week 4: Deload

Strength Phase (3 months)

Objective: Increase maximal strength

Microcycles: 4-week cycles

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2-3: Progressive overload
  • Week 4: Deload

Power and Performance Phase (3 months)

Objective: Improve athletic performance and power

Microcycles: 4-week cycles

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2-3: Progressive overload
  • Week 4: Deload

Peaking and Competition Phase (2 months)

Objective: Peak performance for competition or personal bests

Microcycles: 3-week cycles

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Peak intensity
  • Week 3: Taper and competition

Active Recovery Phase (1 month)

Objective: Recover and prepare for the next macrocycle

Microcycles: 4-week cycle

  • Week 1-4: Reduced intensity and volume

Studies suggest that periodization works and creates a higher fitness peak than conventional forms of training, where workload and workout type remain unchanged (1). However, there are downsides to periodization, too (2).

These include:

  1. Peaks in fitness and strength are relatively short-lived
  2. Fitness components in one phase are often lost in the next
  3. Requires careful planning
  4. Athletes may be underprepared if an unexpected event comes up
  5. Some people respond to periodization better than others
  6. Not ideal for athletes who must stay in shape for long competitive seasons
  7. Slow progress – it can take many months and even years to achieve your training goals

Personally, I’ve used periodization to train for powerlifting meets. However, I must confess I found it hard to maintain strength and muscle mass after the event. In fact, just a couple of months after peaking, my training weights were significantly lower, and so too was muscle size.

For many, this idea of gaining three steps but losing two is off-putting. The good news is that there is an alternative to periodization – hybrid training. With hybrid training, you work on several fitness components at the same time. As a result, you don’t achieve such a high peak, but then, nor do you lose your gains as you move from one training phase to the next.

Hybrid training is gaining traction in sports and is the ideal solution for people who don’t want to specialize but, instead, want to be muscular, strong, and athletic.

Training for Power, Strength, and Hypertrophy

Strength Workout

There are several principles of effective strength training, including progressive overload, reversibility, and recovery. However, the one that rules them all is arguably specificity. This principle dictates that your training should be specific to your goals, whether they are related to a particular sport, a specific muscle group, or a type of lift. The adaptations your body makes will be determined by the kind of training you do.

So, if you want to improve a specific aspect of your fitness, your workouts must match that goal. This explains why bodybuilders and powerlifters train somewhat differently – they have different objectives.

With that in mind, if you want to improve your power, strength, or hypertrophy, you need to train in such a way that you trigger the right adaptations. This is how training for those goals breaks down.

Training for Power

Power is force generated quickly. Examples of power include jumping, throwing, punching, sprinting, kicking, and rapid changes of direction. Also known as athleticism, power is all about being able to move hard and fast. Power is an integral part of most sports.

Because of the specificity principle, the best way to develop power is with explosive movements such as plyometrics and variations of the Olympic lifts (3). The aim of all power exercises should always be to move the load as fast as possible. Power exercises are best done using moderate to heavy weights and low to medium reps, typically 1-5, but maybe as high as ten.

This prescription raises the somewhat controversial topic of high-rep Olympic lifts, as often performed during CrossFit workouts.

High reps of exercises like power cleans and box jumps are highly fatiguing as they use lots of muscles and vast amounts of energy. As such, they are an effective conditioning exercise. However, doing high reps means you won’t be able to use heavy loads, and you’ll need to pace yourself to ensure you are able to continue for the allotted time.

Submaximal efforts such as these are not the best way to train for muscle power. After all, if you want to be able to throw a knockout punch, hundreds of light punches probably won’t help.

True power training emphasizes quality over quantity. If you aren’t generating maximum force, you are missing out on some of the benefits of this type of workout. In fact, if you notice that your movements are beginning to slow, then you should end your set, save your energy, and try again when you are rested and able to put forth maximum effort.

Training for Strength

Strength is your ability to generate maximum force and is often measured and expressed as your one-repetition maximum, or 1RM for short. If this sounds a little like the definition for power, that’s because power and strength are closely related.

However, where power is force developed quickly, strength is force generated irrespective of speed. In fact, most feats of strength are actually pretty slow, e.g., a 1RM back squat vs. a squat jump.

Common strength-building exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and weighted pull-ups. However, almost any exercise can be used to build strength, so long as it can be safely loaded with enough weight.

Strength is determined by several factors, including muscle coordination, the ability to recruit multiple muscle motor units simultaneously, and muscle size. While almost any training parameter will build at least a small amount of strength, the most effective way to get really strong is by lifting heavy weights for low reps, typically in the 1-5 range (4).

Training for Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy Shoulder Press

Hypertrophy means making a muscle bigger without necessarily making it stronger. That’s not to say that bodybuilders aren’t strong – of course, they are – but that’s not the goal of hypertrophy training. That said, strength is partially determined by the cross-sectional size of a muscle. In other words, bigger muscles have the potential to be stronger muscles.

Hypertrophy is the result of the following mechanisms (5). Therefore, an effective bodybuilding workout must achieve:

Mechanical Tension: This is the most well-understood mechanism. Lifting heavy weights places tension on muscle fibers, leading to cellular changes that cause muscle growth.

Muscle Damage (Microtrauma): The tiny tears in muscle fibers that occur during resistance training stimulate the body’s repair processes, leading to an increase in protein synthesis and, ultimately, muscle growth.

Metabolic Stress: This occurs during resistance training when muscles are deprived of oxygen, leading to the accumulation of metabolites like lactate. This can stimulate muscle cell signaling and growth.

Cellular Swelling: Also known as “the pump,” this is the temporary increase in muscle size that occurs when a muscle is filled with blood during high-repetition, low-rest training. This swelling can activate pathways that lead to long-term growth.

Hormonal Responses: Anabolic hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) play roles in muscle hypertrophy. Resistance training can increase the levels of these hormones, which can contribute to muscle growth.

Nutrient Sensing: Amino acids and other nutrients activate mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), a key regulator of muscle growth.

Time Under Tension (TUT): The amount of time a muscle is under strain during a set. Increased TUT can lead to greater muscle damage and metabolic stress, contributing to hypertrophy.

Satellite Cell Activation: These are cells that contribute to the repair and growth of damaged muscle tissue. Training can activate satellite cells, which then donate additional nuclei to muscle cells, facilitating growth.

Fiber Type Transitions: Some muscle fibers can change their characteristics with consistent training, potentially contributing to muscle growth. For example, type IIB fibers can take on the attributes of type IIA fibers, which have greater growth potential.

Effective hypertrophy training invariably involves moderate to high reps, typically 6 to 30+, using medium to heavy weights. Sets are taken to failure to overload the muscles and cause the effects outlined above.

In summary:

Training for power, strength, and hypertrophy involves different workout methods. If you want to get really good at any of these things, then that is what you should concentrate on. However, you can also develop multiple fitness components simultaneously, although your “performance peak” probably won’t be as high. This multi-disciplined approach is known as hybrid training, hybrid meaning an amalgamation or mixture.

Training Goal Rep Range Weight Load Key Exercises
Power Low to medium (1-5) Moderate to heavy
  • Plyometrics
  • Olympic lifts
Strength Low (1-5) Heavy
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench presses
Hypertrophy Moderate to high (6-30+) Light to moderate
  • Any safely loaded exercise
  • Any isolation exercises

Hybrid Athlete Program – Overview

Now we’ve explained the theory of building power, strength, and muscle size simultaneously, it’s time to put all that information into action. This is NOT a bodybuilding program, nor is it a powerlifting or functional performance program. Instead, it combines elements from all these types of workouts to create a hybrid training plan designed to develop all of these characteristics at once.

So, don’t be surprised that it looks a little unusual compared to the workouts you are used to seeing. After all, it has a very specific goal – developing all types of muscular performance at once.

This program consists of two workouts done twice a week. We’ve divided your body into upper and lower, so you’ll have plenty of energy for each workout and have adequate time to recover between each one. Therefore, your training week looks like this:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Lower Body Upper Body Rest/Cardio Lower Body Rest/Cardio Upper Body Rest

Workout One – Upper Body

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery P/S/H
1 Plyometric Push-Up 3 6-8 2 minutes P
2 Bench Press 3 3-5 3 minutes S
3 Chest Press Machine 2 8-12* 60 seconds H
4 McGill Pull-Up 3 6-8 2 minutes P
5 Weighted Chin-Up 3 3-5 3 minutes S
6 Seated Cable Row 2 8-12* 60 seconds H
7 Push-Press 3 6-8 2 minutes P
8 Shoulder Press  3 3-5 3 minutes S
9 Lateral Raise 2 8-12* 60 seconds H

* = Drop Sets: Rep out to failure, reduce the weight by 10-15%, and rep out to failure again. Lower the weight by another 10-15% and do one more set to failure. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat the entire sequence one more time.

Read more about drop sets here.

P/S/H = power/strength/hypertrophy

Workout Two – Upper Body

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery P/S/H
1 Squat Jump 3 6-8 2 minutes P
2 Back Squat 3 3-5 3 minutes S
3 Leg Press 2 8-12* 60 seconds H
4 Power Clean 3 6-8 2 minutes P
5 Deadlift 3 3-5 3 minutes S
6 Leg Curl 2 8-12* 60 seconds H
7 Split Squat Jump 3 6-8 2 minutes P
8 Bulgarian Split Squat 3 3-5 3 minutes S
9 Walking Lunge 2 8-12* 60 seconds H

* = Drop Sets: Rep out to failure, reduce the weight by 10-15%, and rep out to failure again. Lower the weight by another 10-15% and do one more set to failure. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat the entire sequence one more time.

P/S/H = power/strength/hypertrophy

Warming Up

Don’t even think about touching a weight until you have warmed up. This is critical because your first couple of exercises are for power and strength, which are very demanding and stressful for your muscles and joints.

So, begin with 5-10 minutes of easy cardio to get your blood pumping. This is the part of the warm-up that gets you warm. Next, move on to some dynamic mobility and flexibility exercises for the joints and muscles you are about to use; get loose! Finally, do a couple of easy sets of the first couple of exercises from your coming workout. Use these to dial in your technique and get your head in the game. Then, when you are warm, load up and let ‘er rip!

Read more about warming up for strength training here.

Hybrid Athlete Program – Exercise Descriptions

There are two ways to do any workout – the right way and the wrong way. The right way is safe and effective, whereas the wrong way is usually more dangerous and won’t produce such good results. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure you do each exercise correctly and get the best gains possible from your workouts.

1. Plyometric Push-Up

Muscles Targeted: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.

Your first exercise is designed to increase upper body pushing power. Don’t let the simplicity of plyo push-ups fool you; this is an excellent exercise for increasing chest, shoulders, and triceps explosivity.


  1. Adopt the push-up position with your body and arms straight. Your hands should be roughly shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Bend your arms and lower your chest toward the floor.
  3. Extend your arms as powerfully as possible so your hands leave the floor.
  4. Land on slightly bent elbows, descend again and repeat.


  • Feel free to clap your hands while you are in mid-air, but this is not compulsory.
  • Do this exercise on a gym mat for comfort.
  • Stop your set when you are unable to generate maximum speed/height.

2. Bench Press

Muscles Targeted: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.

Upper body strength exercises don’t come much better than the mighty bench press. Working all your major pushing muscles, the bench press is a traditional measure of chest, shoulders, and triceps strength.


  1. Lie on the bench with your eyes beneath the barbell. Grip the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, brace your core, and pull your shoulders back and down.
  2. Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
  3. Bend your arms and lower the barbell to your sternum. Allow it to touch your chest lightly.
  4. Drive the bar back up, reset your core, and repeat.


  • Never bench press alone; always use a spotter or a power rack.
  • Avoid bouncing the bar off your chest, as doing so can lead to injury.
  • Feel free to do incline or decline bench presses if you prefer.

3. Chest Press Machine

Muscles Targeted: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.

Machines often get a bad rap, especially from the functional fitness crowd. However, for hypertrophy, machines are hard to beat because a) they’re ideal for time-saving, muscle-building, pump-inducing drop sets, and b) they allow you to train to failure in complete safety. So, pump up your pecs with machine chest presses!


  1. Adjust the machine so that the handle is level with your mid-chest. Sit on the seat and grip the handles with your preferred hand spacing.
  2. Press the handles out and away, stopping just short of locking your elbows to keep the tension on your pecs.
  3. Lower the weight and repeat.


  • Adjust your grip width to determine the most comfortable and effective position for you.
  • Chest press machine designs can vary, so ask for guidance if you are unfamiliar with the model at your gym.
  • Use as large a range of motion as you can; getting a good mid-rep stretch makes this exercise more effective for hypertrophy.

4. McGill Pull-Up

Muscles Targeted: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, biceps.

The McGill pull-up, also known as the Pavel pull-up, is an explosive back exercise that will build power in your arms and lats. Done in single reps rather than one continuous set, McGill pull-ups are very unusual but darned effective for firing up your entire back like a Christmas tree!


  1. Hang from an overhead bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Pull your shoulders back and down and brace your core.
  2. As powerfully as possible, pull your chest up to the bar. See how high you can rise above your hands.
  3. Descend under control and then drop from the bar to rest for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Remount the bar and repeat.
  5. Continue until you are unable to pull your chest as high.


  • Start each rep from a dead hang – no kicking or kipping.
  • Drive your elbows down and back to maximize lat and trap engagement.
  • Use a thumbless grip to take emphasis away from your biceps.

5. Weighted Chin-Up

Muscles Targeted: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, biceps.

While pull-ups and lat pulldowns are very effective hypertrophy exercises, using just your body weight for resistance means neither is optimal for building strength. Weighted chin-ups are much more challenging and provide the overload you need to build serious strength in your arms and back.


  1. Put on your weighted vest or hang a dumbbell or weight plate around your waist. Use enough load to keep you in the prescribed repetition range.
  2. Hold an overhead bar with an underhand, slightly less than shoulder-width grip.
  3. Without kicking or swinging, bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar.
  4. Descend under control and repeat.


  • Use chalk or lifting straps to reinforce your grip if required.
  • Do not relax between reps, as doing so could hurt your shoulders.
  • Drive your elbows down and back to maximize lat engagement.

6. Seated Cable Row

Muscles Targeted: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, biceps.

After all that vertical pulling, you are probably ready for a change of pace, so here is a horizontal pulling exercise. Seated cable rows also work your lats, but the difference in angle means you’ll be tapping into a new set of motor units. Plus, this exercise is a little more upper-back dominant, which is good for posture and shoulder health.


  1. Attach a parallel grip handle to a low pulley machine. Sit on the bench with your feet planted firmly on the footrest, knees slightly bent, and torso upright. Hold the handle with your arms extended in front of you. Pull your shoulders back and down and brace your core.
  2. Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the handle into your abdomen. Keep your upper arms close to your sides.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.


  • Use a thumbless grip to emphasize your upper back muscles.
  • You can also do this exercise with a straight bar and an overhand or underhand grip if preferred.
  • Lean forward slightly from your hips to get a stretch in your lats. However, take care not to round your lower back, as doing so increases your risk of injury.

7. Push-Press

Muscles Targeted: Deltoids, triceps.

Before the bench press was the world’s favorite upper-body exercise, lifting weights overhead was the most common test of strength and athletic prowess. The push-press is a simplified version of the Olympic jerk and is a safe and effective way to develop upper body overhead pushing power.


  1. Using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, rest and hold a barbell across the fronts of your shoulders. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Brace your core and lift your chest.
  2. Bend your legs and descend into a quarter-depth squat.
  3. Explode with your legs and use this momentum to help you press the weight up and overhead to arm’s length.
  4. Lower the bar back to your shoulders and repeat.


8. Shoulder Press 

Muscles Targeted: Deltoids, triceps.

Seated or standing, the barbell shoulder press is one of the best ways to strengthen your shoulders and triceps. Despite being less popular than the bench press, the shoulder press is arguably the better exercise as it’s more functional. While that won’t matter to bodybuilders, it’s an important consideration for athletes.


  1. Rack and hold a barbell across the front of your deltoids. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Smoothly press the bar up and overhead to arm’s length.
  3. Return the weight to the starting position and repeat.


  • Experiment with the width of your hands to determine what is more comfortable and effective.
  • Do this exercise seated or standing as preferred.
  • You can also do overhead presses with dumbbells.

9. Lateral Raise

Muscles Targeted: Deltoids.

Isolation exercises are ideal for targeting specific muscles with a laser-like focus. Lateral raises are the best movement for hitting the medial deltoid, which is the muscle that gives your shoulders their width. They’re also the perfect follow-up to all that overhead pressing you have just done.


  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides, and palms facing inward. Bend your elbows slightly, but then keep them rigid.
  2. Raise your arms up and out to your sides until they’re roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Lower your arms back to your sides and repeat.


  • Do this exercise seated or standing as preferred.
  • You can also do lateral raises with cables instead of dumbbells.
  • Pause at the top of each rep to maximize muscle engagement.

10. Squat Jump

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors.

There are lots of lower body power exercises to choose from, most of which involve jumping or hopping. However, of all the exercises you can do to boost leg power, the humble squat jump is arguably the most accessible and easy to learn. But don’t let this simplicity put you off; the squat jump is still a tremendous exercise for all hybrid athletes.


  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Brace your core.
  2. Squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Explode upward, using your arms for extra momentum. Leap as high as possible.
  4. Land on slightly bent knees to absorb the shock of landing and quickly transition into another jump.


  • Do this exercise on a gym mat or spring floor to minimize impact.
  • Make it more challenging by holding dumbbells in your hands.
  • Stop your set when you see that your jumps are getting lower.

11. Back Squat

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors.

The squat is the king of lower body exercises. No exercise has the potential to build as much strength and muscle mass as squats. Entire workouts have been written around squats, including the famous milk and squats program of the golden era of bodybuilding. Heavy squats build real-world strength, so go heavy and deep, or go home!


  1. Rest and hold a barbell across your upper back. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward. Brace your core and lift your chest.
  2. Bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up.
  4. Reset your core and repeat.


  • Make sure the bar rests on your upper traps and not your neck.
  • Do heavy squats in a power rack for safety.
  • Raise your heels on small weight plates to increase squat depth.

12. Leg Press

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors.

Like many exercises, the leg press is often maligned for being non-functional. After all, unlike squats, your back is fully supported, and the load is guided in rods, which are things that never happen in nature. However, that lack of functionality is ideal for hypertrophy training, as it means there is nothing to stop you from pushing your legs to their limit, triggering maximal muscle growth.


  1. Enter the leg machine, sit on the seat, and place your feet on the footrest so they’re between shoulder and hip-width apart. Extend your legs and release the weight carriage.
  2. Bend your legs and lower your knees toward your chest, taking care not to round your lower back.
  3. Push the weight back up, ensuring you stop just short of locking your knees to keep the tension on your muscles and off your joints.
  4. Keep going until you are within a rep of failure.
  5. Reengage the weight catches and rest.


  • Keep your lower back and butt pressed into the seat and backrest.
  • Move your feet in or out to find your optimal stance.
  • Understand that leg machine designs vary, so seek guidance if you are unsure how to use the model in your gym.

13. Power Clean

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae.

The power clean is a stripped-back and simplified version of the Olympic squat clean. This means it’s easier to learn and more suitable for general exercisers. However, power cleans still require good technique and athleticism, so go light and perfect your technique before adding lots of weight. Focus on bar speed, as this is a power exercise


  1. Place your barbell on the floor. Ideally, it should be about mid-shin height.
  2. Stand behind it with your toes under the bar, feet about shoulder to hip-width apart.
  3. Squat down and grip the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Straighten your arms, drop your hips, lift your chest, pull your shoulders back and together, and brace your core.
  4. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up explosively. Imagine you are jumping upward.
  5. As the bar passes your knees, drive your hips forward and pull with your arms.
  6. Pull the bar up the front of your body, driving your elbows forward as it passes your chest.
  7. Catch the weight across your shoulders, bending your knees slightly to absorb any impact.
  8. Roll the bar down the front of your body and return it to the floor. Reset your core and grip, and repeat.


  • Start each rep with the bar held at knee height to increase glute and hamstring engagement. This is called the hang position.
  • Use a hook grip to create a stronger hold on the barbell.
  • While Olympic lifters and CrossFitters often drop the barbell, commercial gyms generally frown upon this. Only drop the bar if you are using a lifting platform, a suitable barbell, and proper bumper plates.


14. Deadlift

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae.

If the squat is the king of exercises, the deadlift deserves an equal rank. The deadlift builds strength all through the back of your body, from your heels to the nape of your neck. Heavy deadlifts will make you brutally strong while adding slabs of muscles to your posterior chain.


  1. Place your barbell on the floor. Ideally, it should be about mid-shin height.
  2. Stand behind it with your toes under the bar, feet about shoulder to hip-width apart.
  3. Squat down and grip the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Straighten your arms, drop your hips, lift your chest, pull your shoulders back and together, and brace your core.
  4. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight. Take care not to lean back at the top of your rep, as doing so puts unnecessary strain on your lower back.
  5. Lower the bar back to the floor, let it settle, reset your core and grip, and repeat.


  • Do not round your lower back, as doing so can cause severe injury.
  • Use a mixed grip (one hand forward, the other backward) to stop the bar slipping from your fingers.
  • Deadlift in flat shoes or barefoot to avoid falling forward and losing your balance.

Related: Deadlift Form 101 – How to Lift More Weight Safely

15. Leg Curl

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings

The leg curl is arguably the best way to isolate and grow your hamstrings. With no glute or lower back involvement, you are free to push your leg biceps to their limit in complete safety. Push this exercise hard – it’s your last direct hamstring movement.


  1. Adjust the leg pad so that it rests against your lower calf.
  2. Lie face down on the machine with your knees in line with the lever arm pivot point.
  3. Hold the handles and brace your core.
  4. Bend your legs and curl your feet into your butt.
  5. Pause for 1-2 seconds.
  6. Smoothly extend your legs, stopping just before the weights touch down.
  7. Continue to failure.


  • You can also do seated or standing leg curls, both of which are similarly effective.
  • Point your toes to relax your calves and force more work onto your hamstrings.
  • Do not lift your hips off the bench, as doing so makes the exercise less effective while putting unnecessary strain on your lower back.

16. Split Squat Jump

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors.

Most strength and power exercises are bilateral, meaning two-legged. However, most athletic activities happen one leg at a time, i.e., unilaterally. While bilateral exercises are undeniably effective, it pays to include some single-leg training in your lower-body hybrid workouts. Split squat jumps are our unilateral leg power exercise of choice.


  1. Take a large step forward and stop. Brace your core and stand in good posture.
  2. Bend your legs and lower your rear knee down toward the floor.
  3. Using your arms for added momentum, leap up into the air and swing your front leg backward and your back leg forward so you land with your feet reversed.
  4. Descend into another rep and repeat.


  • Try to load your front leg more than your back. Aim for a 60/40 split.
  • End your set when you start to lose height in your jumps.
  • Hold dumbbells to make this exercise more demanding.

17. Bulgarian Split Squat

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors.

Also known as the rear foot elevated split squats (or RFESS), this exercise is one of the most convenient ways to train for unilateral strength. It’s certainly more accessible than pistols, shrimp squats, and other true unilateral exercises. Work hard – your hybrid workout is nearly finished!


  1. Stand with your back to a knee-height bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides.
  2. Bend one leg and place the top of your foot on the bench behind you.
  3. Hop forward and into a split stance.
  4. Bend your legs and lower your rear knee down to the floor.
  5. Stand back up and repeat.
  6. Rest a moment, switch legs, and then do the same number of reps on the other side.


  • Lower your rear knee down to a folded exercise mat or foam pad for safety.
  • You can also do this exercise with a barbell on your back.
  • Lean forward slightly from the hips to increase hip engagement.

18. Walking Lunge

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors.

Walking lunges were a favorite of Ronnie Coleman, one of the most celebrated bodybuilders in history. A set of walking lunges, especially at the end of your lower body workout, will leave your legs burning, shaking, and pumped. Get outside and do this exercise in the fresh air – you’ll be able to do more reps that way.


  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Hold dumbbells in your hands.
  2. Take a large step forward, bend your legs, and lower your rear knee down to the ground.
  3. Push off your back leg and step through into another lunge.
  4. Keep going until you are unable to continue.
  5. Drop the weights and crank out a few more reps.


  • Do not allow your front knee to travel forward of your toes.
  • Take shorter steps to emphasize your quadriceps or longer steps to hit your glutes and hamstrings more.
  • Do not swing the weights to give you momentum; that’s cheating!

Hybrid Athlete Program – FAQs

Do you have a question about our Hybrid Athlete Program? No problem, because we’ve got the answers!

1. What are the benefits of hybrid training vs. traditional periodization?

While both hybrid training and traditional periodization work, there are obvious differences. One of the main benefits of hybrid over periodized training is that the former allows you to develop multiple fitness components at the same time. This generally results in a broader, if somewhat lower fitness peak.

In contrast, traditional periodization is ideal for working toward a specific goal, such as a weightlifting meet. However, some of the fitness you developed earlier in your macrocycle will be lost along the way.

Ultimately, the best method is the one that meets your needs and goals. Weigh up the pros and cons of each one, and then choose your program.

2. Can I change the order of the exercises in the Hybrid Athlete Training Program?

You are free to make any changes you wish to our program. However, make sure you swap like for like. In other words, don’t replace a power exercise with another strength or hypertrophy movement. That would unbalance the entire plan.

That said, avoid making changes for the sake of it or because you find a particular exercise hard. Remember, it’s only by challenging your body that you’ll make it stronger, more muscular, and more athletic.

3. Why are there no arm or core exercises in the workouts?

These workouts are already pretty long, and adding arm and core exercises would make matters worse. Also, it’s worth remembering that your arms and core are trained indirectly in multiple exercises, so they may not need additional training. For example, if you can’t feel your biceps working after McGill pull-ups and weighted chin-ups, you must be doing something wrong!

That said, if you feel your core and arms deserve some extra attention, by all means add exercises for them at the end of your hybrid workout or train them on a separate day.

4. Will this plan help me build muscle?

While this plan does include hypertrophy-specific exercises, and strength and power training can contribute to muscle building, it’s not a pure bodybuilding program. So, while you will build muscle, a bodybuilding workout will probably produce better results if that is your primary goal.

That’s one of the drawbacks of hybrid training – you have to accept that specialization produces better results, and trying to have it all means more breadth but a lower peak.

5. Will this plan help me get ripped?

Getting ripped is more about your diet than your workout. You need to eat less to create a calorie deficit, which forces your body to burn more fat for fuel. This workout plan will contribute to your calorie expenditure, potentially deepening your caloric deficit. Still, it’s no better for that than any other kind of workout.

So, yes, this plan could help you get ripped, but only if you’ve got your diet dialed in.

6. What should I do on the cardio days?

Cardio serves several purposes, including:

  • Sports-specific conditioning
  • Improved cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Fat burning and weight management
  • More rapid recovery between workouts
  • Stress management and relaxation

Whether you do cardio during this program is up to you and depends on what you are training for. Your options include interval training, HIIT, low-intensity steady-state cardio, Fartlek, and threshold training.

If you do decide to add cardio to the program, avoid doing so much that it detracts from your strength training. 20-40 minutes should be sufficient for most people.

Check out this program to learn how to combine cardio with strength training for best results.

7. Is the Hybrid Athlete Program suitable for beginners?

Hybrid training is not suitable for beginners. It combines technically advanced exercises with intense training methods and lengthy workouts. It’s way too much for the average beginner. Build a foundation with some basic training, and then, after a couple of years of consistent workouts, you’ll probably be ready to take this plan for a spin.

Still have questions? Please post them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Closing Thoughts

While there is nothing wrong with specializing in bodybuilding, powerlifting, or athletic training, many exercisers don’t want to be one-trick ponies and only be good at one thing. Instead, they want to be good all-rounders who are strong, athletic, and capable.

A periodized plan, especially one that utilizes undulating periodization, could help you reach your goals. Still, the hybrid approach is typically more flexible and, dare we say it, more fun and enjoyable, too. Periodized plans often last many months and even years, requiring a long-term commitment. Not everyone is happy to be locked into such a lengthy program.

With hybrid training, your workouts involve power, strength, and hypertrophy training, providing you with the best of all worlds. And while it won’t produce the same high fitness peak of periodization, hybrid training will develop an impressively broad level of fitness, so you are fit for anything.

Is hybrid training for you? The only way to find out is to try it for yourself! So, take our Hybrid Athlete for a test drive – it could be the all-around training solution you’ve been waiting for.


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