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Exercise & Fitness

Hybrid exercise training

September 1, 2022

Workouts that combine aerobic and strength training in the same session are an efficient way to boost heart health.

illustration of a woman performing a thruster exercise, which is a squat plus an overhead press with hand weights

Looking to shake up your workout routine? You might want to consider hybrid exercise training, which combines heart-pumping aerobic action with muscle-strengthening moves in the same exercise session. The strategy has the advantage of meeting two key goals of the federal Physical Activity Guidelines in one fell swoop. And it also appears to be one of the best — and most time-efficient — ways for people who are overweight to lower their risk of cardiovascular-related risk factors, according to a new study (see "A comparison of 5 workout strategies").

"Like many fitness trends, hybrid training likely started in the athletic community and then moved into the mainstream," says Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies the role of physical activity in disease prevention. It’s not exactly a novel concept, since people have been informally combining types of exercise (such as carrying small weights to do biceps curls while walking) for a while, she points out. And fitness classes often feature combination moves, such as a squat plus an overhead press, known as a thruster (see illustration). A hybrid workout would consist entirely of these kinds of moves, which work several major muscle groups while simultaneously boosting your heart rate.

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