At it’s base, training can be broken down into 4 categories:
2. Cardiovascular Training
You could also add in training for athleticism, but that would be more of a hybrid of all of the above. When you’re training to improve your athleticism, you’re training for athletic power (Olympic Lifting), you’re training to improve your lung capacity and endurance (cardiovascular training), you’re training for strength (powerlifting), and you’re trying to build muscle (bodybuilding).
Each of the above categories help us improve one aspect of our physique, and overall physical fitness. But they are very limited. They’re very specific and have very specific purposes, but also very visible holes.
We all know what kind of body we want to build do we not?
We want muscle – usually 20-40 pounds of lean muscle. We want to be in great shape, we want to be strong, and we want to be lean. We want to have a body that will be attractive to the opposite sex, but also one that’s functional and can actually perform. The thing is, none of the above training methods will get you everything you want, and yet we’re stuck in our ways focusing on one method.
Let’s break this down a bit…
If you could have the physique of just one of those categories above, which would it be?
My answer: none of them.
Powerlifters are strong, yes. They’re the one’s doing 1,000 pound squats, and 600 and 700 pound bench presses. These guys train for one reason and one reason only: to lift a massive amount of weight. Their form in each exercise, their workout routines, their diets, everything they do is geared towards lifting the maximal amount of weight in one rep.
They aren’t concerned with how they look, and you can tell.
Don’t get me wrong, heavy lifting definitely has it’s place, but it needs to be a part of a more well-rounded training system. Lifting heavy set after set, day after day, takes it’s toll on our bodies. No matter how great our form is, we need a break from it. We need variation. And it won’t get us the lean muscle we’re looking for.
When combined with other training methods and ideologies, powerlifting helps us build dense muscle and strength. It’s necessary for building this ideal body that we want, and can achieve. But when on it’s own, it’s far from the ideal way of training.
2. Cardiovascular Training
When I was fighting I’d get up at 5 or 6 and go for a run. I’d run 5-6 times a week. I was in great shape and I loved it. In sparring I wouldn’t get tired, I could go for hours. It was a great feeling. But I was also burning muscle and storing fat.
I began to lack power in the ring. It was great to have this endurance, but I needed speed, power, and explosiveness for my sport – as we do with almost every sport. And I needed muscle to have the body I wanted, and the confidence I needed. Distance training just didn’t cut it.
We can build our lungs and our cardiovascular system but gain muscle – yes it’s possible. But again, you can’t just follow one of these training ideologies and get everything you want. There are reasons why distance runners look terrible – or at least look nothing like we want to look.
Finding that balance between building a healthy body, and a great looking body is the best feeling in the world.
3. Olympic Lifting
Olympic lifters are powerful, and powerful in a way that translates perfectly to other sports. If you haven’t incorporated any Olympic lifting into your routine, I’d suggest you start doing so. Many of these guys – especially in the lower weight classes – don’t have that bad bodies. They’re pretty lean and muscular. Here’s the thing, because the vast majority of our explosive power comes from our lower body, most of these guys are ‘bottom heavy’.
They have massive legs, and relatively smaller upper bodies. They have no need for bulk because they have weight classes in their sport. Olympic lifters actually often have pretty well-rounded training systems. But their still too one-dimensional for what we’re trying to accomplish.
We want that power, we want the broad shoulders and V-Shaped torso that these lifts help develop. But we also want abs, endurance, and balance is the way to achieve this.
This is what most guys follow when they start training – myself included – because it’s been around forever as the way to build muscle. We see these massive humans with insane amounts of muscle and we think “if they have that much, even I could build a little bit.” But that ain’t how it works.
Bodybuilder’s bulk in the off-season and then cut weight when it comes to competitions. By bulk, I mean the bulk. They eat crap loads of food, put on insane amounts of mass, as well as a ton of stress on their bodies that are trying to maintain this inhuman amount of muscle.
Do you want to get fat, just to have to lean out – then repeat this cycle every year?
Wouldn’t you want to build lean muscle, that you can then maintain without doing any dieting or cutting? It’s healthier, and it looks a lot better. Oh, and about bodybuilding, it’s great if you’re a mesomorph and find it easy to gain mass, or if you can dedicate every second of every day to building muscle and recovery. But if you can’t, the sheer amount of reps, sets, and length of their workouts will be more detrimental to your gains that they will be productive.
To us ectomorphs – naturally skinny guys – recovery is as important as breaking down muscle – which is what weightlifting does. We need to train in a pretty specific, focused, and intense way, then replenish our bodies and let them recover.
So how do you build the ideal, lean, muscular, and athletic body that so many of us want – but have yet to achieve?
Hybrid Training is a method that I’ve followed since I started making improvements in my physique. Before this, I was struggling to put on even a single pound of muscle. I was drained and worn-down daily. I’d get sick because the bodybuilding workouts I was doing were too much stress on my body. I’d even get fat because I was training to often and too long. In constantly be in a catabolic state (muscle-burning, not building).
Hybrid training is a combination of all four of the aforementioned methods. It’s the best of all worlds, not just one. It’s a strategic way to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It’s a unique system that will make you stronger and more powerful longer.
You can’t simply incorporate every single one of the 4 main training methods and create a training system. Your body will break down and you’ll literally see no gains. It has to be done the right way. You have to know what the strengths of each method are, and use them. The system has to complement itself in every way.
Two good friends of mine – Mike Westerdale (former powerlifter), and Elliot Hulse (pro-strongman) – are two of the best at developing a Hybrid Training System. I’ve done their workouts before and they KICK ASS. You literally burn fat and build muscle at the same time.
I have a ton of respect for these guys and the quality of their product. Click below to learn more about the “Lean Hybrid Muscle” training system.