Today I’d like to introduce a new type of “hybrid” split routine designed for building both muscle and strength at the same time. You’ll get a lot stronger on this schedule, but because you don’t train heavy every day of the week, it’s fairly easy on your joints. It also rotates some of the exercises through the week so you don’t get bored, and it uses triple progression so you can keep making gains on the same routine for 12 weeks straight. This split routine can also be done with nothing but free weights – no gym machines are required.
In this blog post, I also want to show you some of the other popular options for training split routines so you can see how they compare to this new hybrid split routine.
The new program is called 2/3 Hybrid M.A.S.S. (Muscle and strength split).
Here’s the schedule:
Day 1 (Monday): Upper body strength
Day 2 (Tuesday) : Lower body, abs strength
Day 3 (Thursday): Chest and back hypertrophy
Day 4 (Friday): Shoulders, biceps, triceps hypertrophy
Day 5: (Saturday): Lower body, abs hypertrophy
The “2/3 Hybrid” part of the name comes from the way this program combines two different splits – a 2-day split and a 3-day split – into one calendar week. You train 5 days a week and each muscle is worked 2 times a week.
In the first part of the week, you do two strength workouts divided into an upper body day on Monday and a lower body plus abs day on Tuesday. On the strength days, low to medium reps are used.
Then in the second part of the week, you do three hypertrophy workouts, divided into the classic 3-day split. On the hypertrophy days, medium to high reps are used, with correspondingly lighter weights. Lighter days are not necessarily easier – the higher rep hypertrophy workouts can be quite fatiguing.
Because the classic 3-day muscle split used is not push-pull, that allows you to do antagonist supersets if you choose. This means that while these can normally be fairly long workouts, you can superset opposing muscle groups (or do staggered supersets for abs and calves), and get done with each workout much quicker.
By definition, a “split” routine is a weight training program where you do not train your entire body in one session. Instead, you break up your exercises into more than one workout.
Traditionally, only a single split is used. For example, if your program is based on a 2-day upper-lower split, you use only that split for the duration of the entire training block. Or if your program is based on a 3-day split with day one chest and back, day two shoulders and arms and day three legs, again you stick with that 3-day split for the entire training block.
What makes 2/3 Hybrid MASS unique is that it combines both of these splits in the same week.
Why arrange the split this way (a hybrid split routine?)
First, it allows you to accumulate more upper body work than if you only used a 2-day split and only trained 4 days a week.
On a 2-day split, unless you really prolong the workouts, you mainly focus on basic compound exercises. With the 2/3 hybrid split since you have a chest and back plus a shoulders and arms day, that gives you time to do more exercises, including assistance and isolation exercises and detail work that most people don’t have time for on a 2-day split (especially more arm work). That makes this 2/3 split arguably even better for physique-oriented hypertrophy training than a 2-day split, without switching entirely to a body part split routine.
Second, the 2/3 Hybrid split allows you to hit each muscle with a frequency of twice per week, which is a target many trainees are after and might be an optimal frequency. At the very least, as mentioned above, it allows you to more easily increase your weekly training volume above and beyond a 2-day split, which may be ideal for more advanced trainees (more training days per week, more exercises or sets per week).
Third, many trainees have a strong preference for schedules where the workouts do not rotate but instead you train on the same days every week and you also train the same muscles on those days. For example, you always train every Thursday, and it’s always chest and back hypertrophy day.
But you don’t do exactly the same workout every day. You change some of the exercises on hypertrophy days so they are different than the strength days. This is the exercise rotation technique. It helps prevent you from getting bored and also lets you hit your muscles from more angles for more complete muscle development.
It’s an interesting and unique schedule, isn’t it?
So let’s compare this new split to some of the other weight training schedules that Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle followers are using for the resistance training element of the program.
The 2-Day Upper-Lower Split (4 Workouts Per Week)
The program almost everyone around here is familiar with is the 2-day upper-lower split.
The reason this one is so popular is because it’s the workout right in the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle book, called TNB-28. The 2 day upper-lower split is also immensely popular throughout the rest of the fitness and physique world as well.
The TNB-28 version of the 2-day split looks like this:
Day 1 (Monday): Upper body strength
Day 2 (Tuesday) : Lower body, abs strength
Day 3 (Thursday): Upper body hypertrophy
Day 4 (Friday): Lower body, abs hypertrophy
You can see what the two splits have in common: They are both muscle AND strength programs because they both have heavier strength days and more moderate hypertrophy days. This is arguably superior for muscle gains than doing the same rep range at every workout. (Easier on the joints too)
The main difference is TNB-28 (upper-lower split) only requires 4 days a week of training while 2/3 Hybrid split requires 5 days.
We could say that the new 2/3 hybrid split is more advanced. People who were doing 4 days a week of lifting on an upper-lower split, who are looking to advance to the next level, could consider a 2/3 hybrid split a possible good choice.
With more days of training and more volume, especially for the upper body, there is more work done and therefore potential for more muscle gains.
Upper- Lower (3 workouts a week)
For someone with less time and who might be satisfied with simply maintaining muscle and strength, not gunning for maximum gains, the three day option is another choice:
Day 1 (Monday): Upper body strength
Day 2 (Wednesday) : Lower body, abs strength
Day 3 (Friday): Upper body hypertrophy
You simply pick up in week 2 on Monday with the next workout – lower body hypertrophy, and then repeat.
Here’s some good news: It takes very little weight training to maintain the muscle you have. (Surprising to many, even 2 days a week of lifting is enough to maintain). So if there are times in your life when you’re super busy, this could be a good split to fall back on. Also, if you’re a relative beginner or intermediate, there is no reason you can’t see good solid gains in this program.
Upper- Lower (6 workouts a week: “Advanced-elite” upper-lower schedule)
Now, for an advanced trainee who loves to train (almost every day), who has lots of time to train and has good recovery ability, going in the opposite direction and training 6 days in a row, hitting each muscle 3 times per week is an option for advancing to a higher level.
Day 1 (Monday): Upper body strength
Day 2 (Tuesday): Lower body, abs strength
Day 3 (Wednesday): Upper body hypertrophy
Day 4 (Thursday): Lower body, abs hypertrophy
Day 5 (Friday) : Upper body strength
Day 6 (Saturday): Lower body, abs strength
Sunday is off and then on Monday you would pick up with the next workout which would be Upper body hypertrophy.
This schedule is too much for a lot of people to handle, but one secret to making it work without overtraining is to only do a little more weekly volume than you’d do in the 4 days a week schedule, you simply spread it out across the week more. That makes the workouts fairly brief, and simply done more often.
For any experienced trainee who has the time, and who has never tried working each muscle 3 times a week, the novel stimulus can sometimes produce brand new gains.
Even if you can’t stick with this kind of demanding schedule for long due to recovery or time constraints, running one block of this training is always a worthy experiment to try.
Let’s now talk about the 3-day splits
Right now, probably the most popular and most frequently used muscle building split by advanced trainees including bodybuilders and physique athletes is the 3-day split. The most popular are 3-day classic muscle and 3-day push-pull-legs.
For anyone who has been on a 2-day upper-lower split, training 4 days a week, who wants to move to something more advanced, a 3-day split with 5 days a week of training is another great option.
3 Day Classic Muscle
There are different ways you can schedule this split across the week, but the fixed schedule is probably most popular because you train the same 5 days a week:
Day 1 (Monday): Chest, Back, Abs
Day 2 (Tuesday) : Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
Day 3 (Thursday): Quads, Hams, Calves
Day 4 (Friday): Chest, Back, Abs
Day 5: (Saturday): Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
Repeat, picking up on the next Monday where you left off (It would be quads, hams, calves).
One of the biggest advantages of this split is that you can do antagonist superset training. This is a split suitable for the most advanced trainee, even competitive bodybuilders, yet using the superset method, the workouts can be condensed into very brief workouts. We call the superset variation of this split “3-Day Classic Muscle Speed (“speed” because supersets help you get finished so much faster).
Despite the fact that the push-pull-legs split is not set up for antagonistic supersetting, this split is incredibly popular today. One of the reasons is because the push-pull body part groupings are said to optimize recovery time. (That’s because secondary muscles like the arms are not getting hit two days in a row, as is the case if you do biceps the day after back).
This split can also be scheduled across the week more than one way, but the 5 day schedule with fixed workout days is most popular:
Day 1 (Monday): Back, Biceps, Abs (pull)
Day 2 (Tuesday) : Chest, Shoulders Triceps (push)
Day 3 (Thursday): Quads, Hams, Calves (legs)
Day 4 (Friday): Back, Biceps, Abs (pull)
Day 5: (Saturday): Chest, Shoulders Triceps (push)
Again, you repeat the cycle, picking up on the next Monday where you left off (legs in this case).
Experimenting With Split Routines And Training Frequencies
The split routine variations I’ve shared here are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many different options for split routines and training frequencies, that if you started experimenting with them all, that project could keep you busy for a couple years without repeating the same schedule.
Since I’ve said so much already about 2-day and 3-day splits, in upcoming articles and newsletters, I’ll talk more about the advanced body part split routines including the 4-day advanced muscle split and even the 5-day split (which some people call the “bro split” because it hits each muscle only once a week).
Some people are constantly trying new split routines. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as each block of training is done long enough to really assess how effective (and enjoyable) it is.
What happens to many people is they try a new split and either adopt it and stick to it as their favorite, or they learn that a split they previously used is still their “go-to” favorite program and they go back to it. Either way, they end up sticking with one training schedule and split most of the time.
There’s nothing wrong with using the same weekly training schedule and training frequency for the long haul once you learn it fits your preferences and goals and you know it’s working for you. All you need to do is use different types of variation from one training block to the next. Usually that involves sticking with the same schedule and split, but changing the exercises and some of the techniques or rep ranges on a regular basis (usually every 4 to 12 weeks).
But if you never even experimented with different training schedules, including different frequencies, you’ll never know what the results could have been. Trying different split routines is almost always worthwhile, as long as the programs follow best practice guidelines.
I’ll probably go back to a 3-day or even a 4-day advanced bodybuilding split after I finish running a second block of 2/3 Hybrid muscle which I’m doing right now. But having now tried this hybrid variation of the 2X per week training frequency, I know I’ll come back to this one in the future. Changing splits and training frequencies is part of my annual periodization plan.
You may find (or already have) a favorite split, but I’m not sold on the idea that there is only one “best” training split. Each split may have advantages and disadvantages and there may be advantages to using different splits throughout the year, combined with different weekly frequencies and volumes.
So if you’ve settled into a routine where you never change your schedule, and if you find yourself getting bored or stale or not getting the muscle and strength results you want, consider trying a new split. It could be this novel 2/3 Hybrid split that we just released. It might be a classic 3-day split or it could be a completely different one. You have endless choices of programs that may all work.
Inner Circle members have access to a wide variety of training programs with different splits. This year we are diving head first into updating all our existing programs as well as adding new training programs. The 2/3 hybrid program is the latest.
If you’re a current member then you can check out the complete program on this webpage in the members-only area: 2/3 Hybrid M.A.S.S.
The 2/3 Hybrid Mass program will also be available for sale to the public separately (for non members) before the end of June.
Train hard and expect success,
-Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle – The Bible Of Fat Loss
Founder, Burn the Fat Inner Circle
PS. If you’re a member, you can also check out all of our 2 day and 3-day splits in the weight training workout index here: www.burnthefatinnercircle.com/members/Weight-Training-Workouts.cfm
About Tom Venuto, The No-BS Fat Loss Coach
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details