Hybrid Athlete Fergus Crawley Does These 6 Things Every Day to Optimize Recovery

Fergus Crawley has been carrying the banner for “hybrid” mixed-modality training for years now. For those unaware, hybrid training has gained momentum recently for its well-rounded, diverse approach to athleticism — think several strength training workouts each week alongside several sessions of conditioning or cardio.

All that hard work takes a toll, though. On Jan. 15, 2024, Crawley took to his YouTube channel to discuss six of his daily habits for managing recovery as a hybrid athlete. Below are Crawley’s science-based tips for preparing for anything your workouts throw your way: 

[Related: Everything You Need To Know About Refeed Days

Editor’s Note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, it is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.

1. Prioritize Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is paramount to recovery and is the bottom of the pyramid of considerations,” Crawley says. (Remember, in the pyramid analogy, the bottom is the most important part). “Ultimately, we should try to get as much [sleep] as we can.”

While getting more sleep certainly isn’t groundbreaking, Crawley furthers this notion with actionable advice for a more consistent sleep schedule.

Keep your phone or alarm clock out of the bedroom.

Use multiple alarms to set consistent bed and wake times.

For example, Crawley has two alarms set on his phone. One rings at 9:00 p.m. to remind him it’s time to get ready for bed. The second wakes him up at around 5 a.m.

Once your schedule is dialed in, consider optimizing sleep hygiene by cooling the temperature in the room, reducing ambient light via blackout curtains, or trying a holistic sleep supplement like magnesium or zinc. Studies repeatedly show that these behaviors can positively influence the quality and regularity of your sleep. (1)

2. Manage Your MRV

If unsure, MRV stands for “maximum recoverable volume,” a term coined by exercise science experts like Dr. Mike Israetel to denote work capacity. Crawley remarks that “MRV is entirely specific to the individual. Mine is high because I’ve been training for 15 years, but a newcomer’s MRV would be much lower.” To that end, Crawley suggests the following:

Set specific training goals first and work backward from there to design a workout routine.

Limit “randomization” in hybrid training and continue to rely on specificity

“More isn’t always better, especially across disciplines,” Crawley says of the demands of different styles of physical training. He’s right — scientific studies document what’s called the “interference effect,” where too much cardio training can dampen the efficacy of resistance training workouts, even though they don’t challenge the same parts of your body. (2

3. Limit Regular Alcohol Intake

“There’s a rugby player within me that just won’t die,” Crawley jokes, acknowledging that it’s perfectly normal for an active social lifestyle to occasionally call for a few drinks from time to time. However, he stresses that it shouldn’t become the norm: “My approach is generally ‘minimize; don’t demonize.’”

Try to limit alcohol consumption to occasional social gatherings rather a part of your daily or weekly routine.

Crawley believes that regular drinking has a “huge cumulative effect” on your ability to adapt to hybrid training, which is true. One study had participants drink a mixed vodka beverage after a lifting session and found that “even moderate amounts of alcohol magnify the observed losses in strength.” (3)

4. View Food as Fuel

“One of the biggest mistakes I see hybrid athletes make with their nutrition is inadvertently putting themselves into a calorie deficit,” Crawley says, taking a quantitative approach to nutrition. Hybrid athletes often incrementally increase their overall workload — and thus their energy expenditure — without bumping their caloric intake accordingly. 

Crawley mentions food quality, stating, “To perform well…look at your green vegetable consumption and the overall quality of food.” To that end, hit these two benchmarks:

Identify your caloric maintenance level and ensure that hybrid workouts don’t accidentally put you into a caloric deficit.

Adhere to the “80/20” rule; 80 percent of the time, strive to consume fresh whole foods and stay away from junk food. Twenty percent of the time, it’s okay to be lenient and indulge. 

Studies have shown that performance can suffer dramatically in cases of prolonged energy restriction. Competitive bodybuilders often undergo months-long phases of low calories as they cut weight for pro shows, which often significantly diminishes their performance, cognition, and mood. (4)

If you’re unsure of your caloric maintenance and want to avoid losing weight fast (or gaining too much), take BarBend’s own in-house calculator for a spin: 

Calorie Calculator





Activity Level

BMR estimation formula


Your daily calorie needs: Calories Per Day

Daily calorie needs based on goal

Calories Per Day


Fat Loss

Extreme Fat Loss

Exercise: 15-30 minutes of elevated heart rate activity.
Intense exercise: 45-120 minutes of elevated heart rate activity.
Very intense exercise: 2+ hours of elevated heart rate activity.

[Related: How To Count Macros for Muscle Gain or Fat Loss]

5. Set a Caffeine Cut-Off

“You should have a caffeine curfew,” Crawley says. Caffeine is an undeniably potent stimulant with plenty of positive effects, but it can also be tremendously disruptive to recovery in some cases.

“Hybrid athletes should try to break the cycle of waking up and immediately reaching for a coffee,” Crawley continues, noting that he prefers consuming caffeine only for especially difficult workouts.

Crawley recommends stopping all caffeine intake after midday

While caffeine affects everyone differently, Crawley is on the mark regarding its harmful effects on sleep hygiene. Studies measuring caffeine intake at different time intervals prior to bedtime have shown that ingesting caffeine “significantly disrupts sleep” even if taken as early as six hours prior to bedtime. (5)

6. Check Your Ego

Crawley concludes his recovery prescriptions with something a bit more abstract: the harmful effects of ego as it pertains to exercise. Some athletes may feel compelled to train at all times, thinking that taking a rest day is a form of laziness or low willpower. Crawley disagrees — “If you feel uncomfortable at the thought of taking a rest day, that may indicate a dependency on training,” he says.

Crawley suggests having at least one day per week dedicated to complete rest

“Training should be fruitful and fulfilling, not something you punish yourself with,” Crawley concludes. The data shows that so-called “compulsive exercise behaviors” can worsen mental health, disrupt daily habits, and facilitate conditions like depression or low self-esteem. (6)

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Alanazi EM, Alanazi AMM, Albuhairy AH, Alanazi AAA. Sleep Hygiene Practices and Its Impact on Mental Health and Functional Performance Among Adults in Tabuk City: A Cross-Sectional Study. Cureus. 2023 Mar 16;15(3):e36221. doi: 10.7759/cureus.36221. PMID: 37069886; PMCID: PMC10105495.

Coffey VG, Hawley JA. Concurrent exercise training: do opposites distract? J Physiol. 2017 May 1;595(9):2883-2896. doi: 10.1113/JP272270. Epub 2016 Oct 9. PMID: 27506998; PMCID: PMC5407958.

Barnes, M. J., Mündel, T., & Stannard, S. R. (2010). Acute alcohol consumption aggravates the decline in muscle performance following strenuous eccentric exercise. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 13(1), 189–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2008.12.627

Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 May 12;11:20. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-11-20. PMID: 24864135; PMCID: PMC4033492.

Drake C, Roehrs T, Shambroom J, Roth T. Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013 Nov 15;9(11):1195-200. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.3170. PMID: 24235903; PMCID: PMC3805807.

Lichtenstein MB, Hinze CJ, Emborg B, Thomsen F, Hemmingsen SD. Compulsive exercise: links, risks and challenges faced. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2017 Mar 30;10:85-95. doi: 10.2147/PRBM.S113093. PMID: 28435339; PMCID: PMC5386595.

Featured Image: Fergus Crawley on YouTube

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