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Mixing Sports with Hypertrophy Training

So how do you guys do it?

I play soccer with friends 2-3 times per week and I plan on doing some kick boxing 1-2 times per. In total 3-4 workouts per week will be intensive cardio workouts. I have been doing so, because I got so fat I cant stand myself and I enjoy soccer and fight sports. Been playing amateur leagues my whole life and doing white collar hobist boxing/kick boxing the past decade.

How do I add hypertrophy work to that? I really feel beaten out and doing heavy back or leg work kills me. I have been skipping leg day and back days for 2 weeks now. I cant even bother to do heavier core work such as leg rises or wood chops.

Any advise on how to add hypertrophy work so I am not losing muscle or better adding some muscle, while trying to remove the fat?

I wouldn’t skip leg and back day for a start.

Hypertrophy is going to need you to push hard but consider less stressful movements like a single leg leg press or a dumbbell row with a pause at the top. Consider lower volume and dropping some of your cardio.


Find the minimum volume of training at which you can still get hypertrophy.

Lifting 2-3 x per week will probably be sufficient

Have a look at the In-Season and Strength & Speed templates of Westside for Skinny Bastards III for ideas


How’s your sleep and nutrition?

What is your training history? What are your current goals?

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I wouldnt skip them too. I am just finding it difficult to motivate myself when it is time for them. I have skipped 1 leg day and 1 back day the past week.

I was thinking movement change as well.

First I dropped DL on a back day and it was all nice. But I think I will have to drop some barbel rows as well.

My back work was
4 sets chins
3 sets Dl
3 sets barbel row
4 sets pullover
Rotating reverse flies, face pulls, or other rowing or pulling exersies for 2-3 sets

I think I should move to more machine work or dumbbell rows as you suggested. I would love some advise.

I have some difficulties with the sleep every summer, due to longer days. While at winters I sleep 8-9 hours. Anyways current schedule I can sleep 3 days for very long, while 4 days it is a bit random at best case scenario 7 hours at worst 5 hours for these 4 days.

Nutrition … the day after a soccer night I am damn hungry. Fridays usually I am so hungry I eat a lot of junk. Other than that diet is on point.

Banana + protein pre and peri. I train in the mornings.Bulgarian yogurt + cottage for breakfast 200g each. Huge salad + chicken fillet for lunch. 50 g nuts/walnuts/ cashew/ almonds as an afrernoon snack. White bean or lentis soup for dinner and I do put lots beans. If I d play soccer in the evening I have a protein shake and another banana.

Soccer whole life, but 5 years when I was abroad. Lifting serious from 4 years whit some small breaks. I am 34 and I ve becoming fat since November last year. I was in a pretty okay shape 83-84 kg at 175 cm. But now I am like 96-97 kg. And with that pandemic …

Ok let me try to summarise, what I think you have told us.

You have been playing soccer your whole life

You have been lifting weights seriously for 4 years

You also do kick boxing 2 times a week

You haven’t actually done any training for a while and put on lots of weight

You are struggling to do all of these things together so miss important weight training sessions.

You want to add muscle while losing fat whilst still playing soccer and kick boxing.

So it looks like your goal is to play soccer, do kick boxing, lose some fat and gain some muscle ?

When I asked for training history I was referring to what you have done in the gym i the last 4 yeas. What programs have you used? What progression method did you use? What progress did you make? What Worked what didn’t?

It’s very hard to recommend a program if we don’t have a true training history.

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5/3/1 is never the wrong answer.


No more back or leg days. With that amount of activity outside the gym, you just need days in the gym and they need to be efficient. Try the below routine 1-3 times a week depending on your recovery and how strong you feel. Try to tease weight and volume up as you can.

Bench 1-2 sets 6-8 reps RPE 8
Squat 1-2 sets 6-8 reps RPE 8
Weighted pull-ups 1-2 sets 6-8 reps RPE 8 or BW to failure
Weighted carries, sled drag, prowler pushes, or yoke walk for varying distances and weights each session.

If you have extra days and motivation to lift after performing the above, add a light arm day or calves/abs day in here and there.


You are getting it right. I will correct where it is needed.

I will play soccer 2-3 times per week and kickboxing 1-2 times per week. Total sports workouts will be maximum 4, minimum 3.

Kickboxing is not that intensive unless sparing or doing too many heavy bag rounds once you get back some fighting conditioning. So it is fine. I can focus on partner drills, pad work to make it skill learning and more technical.

Soccer is very intensive once per week as it will be a competitive game.

I have not stopped working out lately, but only for 4 weeks once the gyms closed. Even then I went to run once per week and performed some push ups and chins.

Weight lifting history.
I have run 5x5 twice for 4-6 months.
I have run 5-3-1 for 2-3 months

I have run a few low weight, high rep full body and supper setted workouts as recovery to 5x5 and 5-3-1. For example after finishing a 5x5 for 4-6 months when my CNS is feeling exosted I will do a month of this kind of a recovery work, which is kind of methabolic work.

I have done push-pull-leg then for 6 months. And the past year it was nutty’s begginer workout.

2020 I have done dan browns 10000 kettlebell swings and after the lock down I have tried the True and Tried Body Building routine. First the 5 day split, then the 4 day split.

I am not strong, although working on strength.
Bench is 90 kg for 1 rep
OHP 60 kg
DL 130
Squat 115

The problem I am experiencing right now is that my body is giving up on me. I never had difficulties to go workout even twice per day. And despite having problems with weight, once active I had no problems to get back to a decent shape. Right now I am hungry all the time and gain weight even if I smell food.

If athletics are an emphasis, then I would focus on strength training rather than hypertrophy.

Adding muscle mass will not likely improve your performance on the pitch or in the ring as a kickboxer - at least not compared to making technical/skill-based adjustments

For athletes, strength training + improved diet can result in the same sort of appearance gains that hypertrophy training can provide - at least up to a point.

The tricky thing is being an athlete who just prefers to train like a bodybuilder (my problem). I tend to think that many athletes have more muscle than they need, but not as much muscle as they think they have.


Ask yourself what is different now to before? If you were able to do all this training only a few months ago but now you can’t what is different ?

Given the sports you are doing and the frequency you train. Working on hypertophy and gaining muscle will not be easy. Any weight sessions with suitable intensity are going to require you to recover through rest and good if you want to build muscle. This is going to be compromised by the other activity you are already doing.

It sounds like the soccer and kickboxing are your prime goals with adding some muscle or looking better secondary.

I think @burien_top_team advice regarding focusing on strength rather than muscle building is not a bad idea.

You said you did 531 previously how did you find it? Did you progress ? How was your recovery ?

I would not call them primary goals. I do them for fun. As I said I am 34 and I cant become suddenly a professional at this age.

Looking good should be the primary goal, however I wouldnt cut having fun with these sports in order to have a proper hyoertrophy work. There should be a way. And I am trying to figure it out.

Strength training and sports do mix well, until you are lifting closw to your maxes. Then the damage on CNS is too heavy to add 8-10 km runs mostly sprints with soccer. It is just too heavy for most. Sure with fight sports if you are not having a lot of sparring sessions it mixes well, but soccer is another animal.

I was thinking that replacing some exersises such as squats and dl will the job.

I’ve had similar challenges back when I was doing martial arts 4-5 days/week.

I would forget about splits when doing 4 sports sessions a week. go full body. this way you can strenght train without completely hammering a body part like you would in a split, e. g. leg days, which will heavily impact your sessions the next days… full body doesnt do this to the same effect, at least not localised.

and yes, machines are a thing. not everything has to be a heavy BB compound movement.

having said all this at your weight despite the volume of cardio you should have a deeper look at your diet if you want to simply look better as your key goal… 97kg is a lot for 175. diet includes what you eat/drink on weekends.


Right now you can’t handle the workload you’re used to, your “body is giving up on” you and your appetite and weight are behaving strangely.

That tells me that you’re doing too much stuff, or your work load is too high, or you’re training too intensely. You had a month off where you got fat and out of shape, then you tried to return to physical activity 100 miles an hour, busting ass to make up for the time you missed. I think you just pushed too hard and now your body is in Stress Mode trying to keep up.

I think you should drop your workload by like 50% for a week to of yourself recover. It sounds like Soccer is organized and everything else is voluntary, so go easy on everything but soccer. Then over the course of 2-3 maybe four weeks add the other stuff back in. You had month off, so give yourself time to build back up to that level of training volume and intensity instead of just diving right back in, balls to the wall.


Sounds like a plan and a place to start.

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From there, if Looking Good is your priority, I would reevaluate your lifting.

You’re trying to be a double athlete so you’ll need to be a half lifter. And if you want specific mucles to be bigger so you look good, you don’t need to tire yourself out chasing strength. There is no shame in it, everybody has different goals.

Pick 1-2 muscle groups that are most lacking or that would most improve your physique, like shoulders or upper chest or traps. Specialize in those and do less work for everything else.

Here’s some stuff from Thibadeau, in an article about getting actors to look muscluar.

"Now, we need to focus on developing the muscles that’ll give the illusion of power and size. I think that the most important area is the scapular belt, specifically the shoulders, clavicular portion of the pectorals, and traps. Arms come in a close second while upper back and the sternal portion of the chest are third in importance.

Shoulder width and thickness are the first thing we notice in a physique. When you first glance at someone who’s muscular, the shoulders are the first thing that jumps at you and thus gives an illusion of size and power…

…That having been said, I’d use my specialization approach. In 12 weeks we should focus on:

  • Weeks 1-4: Lateral head of the shoulders and traps
  • Weeks 5-8: Biceps and clavicular portion of the pectoral
  • Weeks 9-12: Shoulders

Of course, other muscle groups will be trained, but at a lowered volume of work."


This is info from @EyeDentist to another guy trying to improve his physique.

"Divide your upper-body workouts into a Push day and a Pull day. Start the Push day with the shoulder-pressing movement of your choice. Warm up, then do 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps (work in the ‘6’ range if you enjoy heavy/low-rep work, closer to 12 if you don’t). Take 2-3 minutes between work sets. This is a strength-focused day, so try to use progressively heavier weights over time.

The Pull day focuses on medial and rear delts, and is a pump-style workout–light weight, higher reps (12-20+), short rest breaks. Lateral raises, upright rows, Haney rows, and horizontal rows (performed with bands or a pulley in a manner that hits the rear delts) are the sorts of exercises to focus on. If you don’t have DBs/bands available, do 3-4 work sets of wide-grip upright rows and 3-4 sets of Haney rows. For both exercises, resist the urge to shrug, focusing instead on elevating the elbows with the delts.

The idea behind all this is, the Push day hits the front delts along with the anterior portion of the lateral delts, whereas the Pull day hits the rear delts and the posterior portion of the lateral delts. (Ideally, your form will preclude much overlap among the lateral-delt fibers hit in the two workouts.) Direct trapezius work is not needed, as it will get plenty of stimulation on both days.

As for the rest of the upper body: Next in importance (after Shoulders) is the upper chest. Add upper-chest work to the Push day if your preferred exercise is a pressing movement, or to the Pull day if your preferred exercise is a fly-type movement. (Don’t do both.) If you want to do some Back work, add 3-4 work sets of a row- or pullup-type exercise at the end of the Pull day.

No need to do direct Arm work IMO, but if you insist you can add a few sets of curls to the Pull day and a few sets of triceps to the Push.

As for frequency, try alternate-days first, ie Push/Pull/Push/Pull/etc, taking a day off whenever you need one. If that feels like too much, go Push/Pull/Off/Push/Pull/Off/etc. If even that feels excessive, go Push/Off/Pull/Off/etc.

If you lose a substantial amount of weight and work out like this consistently for a year –you must be patient, change takes time–you will be amazed by your appearance."