How To Be Fast And Strong At The Same Time

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Hybrid training specialist, Alex Viada can squat 320kg, deadlifts 335kg, and runs triathlons and ultramarathons and he'll teach you how to do the same. 

Let me make this simple: if you think you can’t be strong and fast at the same time, you’re not training properly. Either that or you’re giving up way too easily. You might not set records in either area but if you think you can only do one or the other you’re ignoring thousands of rugby players, American football players and people in the military who do both.

Pick and mix

The problem with most running and lifting programmes is that they’re very time-intensive. If you try simply to do both, it’ll end in absolute disaster. That’s what happened to me the first time I tried it. The trick is to keep the crucial core so you get about 80% of the benefit of each. You’ll have to run less than a marathon runner and lift less than a strength athlete – but, in the end, the two complement each other, so one doesn’t prevent you training successfully in the other.

The more you want to do, the more selective you have to be with your exercises. Look at what will improve you and what’s just work for the sake of work. If you want to train to be fast and strong, keep it simple – do two to three running workouts and two to three lifting workouts a week, each at varying intensity and volume. Stick to what you know will be useful. That won’t be the same for everyone, but a general rule is to do compound multi-joint movements such as squats, lunges and overhead presses for strength and a combination of short, fast intervals and long, slow runs for conditioning.

Head games

It’s also important to consider fatigue and to distinguish between mental and physical fatigue. High-intensity work and long-distance, low-intensity exercise produce different types of physical and mental fatigue, and managing this is vital. Perform all the activities that create the same kind of fatigue at the same time. For example, you should do your heavy upper body training session and heavy sprint interval session on the same day. The same goes for a long run that takes as much mental as physical endurance. Do your slow bodybuilding-type exercises on the same day as the long run because they require the same type of endurance.

I tell people that if you can run 5km without walking and squat 1.5 times your bodyweight, you’re a healthy, well-rounded individual. If you can’t do either, you need to address that – but never think you can’t do both.

Alex Viada’s new e-book, The Hybrid Athlete, is out now. 

The Hybrid Plan

Viada combines high-intensity (heavy weights, low reps) days with high-volume ones (lighter weights, higher reps) to manage fatigue and stay fresh for tough runs. Here’s how it’s done.

Monday Morning: High-intensity upper-body workout. Afternoon: 400-800m intervals, above race pace. Run 2.4km in total.

Tuesday High-intensity lower-body workout.

Wednesday ‘This is your mid-tempo run,’ says Viada. Aim for 20-40 minutes’ running, slightly slower than race pace.

Thursday High-volume upper-body day (lighter weights but more sets and reps than Monday).

Friday High-volume lower-body day.

Saturday/Sunday Do 60 minutes or more of easy cardio on one weekend day. Rest on the other.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.