I haven’t written a training article in a long time, mainly because there’s already so much information out there. Do we really need another article? Despite this, yes, we do. Why? The progressive development of new ideas as applied to training, that’s why. What does that mean? In this case it means the hybrid strength training program! Over my decades of training time, I’ve done it all. I’ve always believed in compound exercises. I have used training to failure, extended set training, and power building, to name a few. Also, I’ve trained using lots of volume and not much volume at all. Finally, I have taken what I liked from whatever routines I came across and combined them into my approach. One thing I have never done is follow a pre-written routine to a “T”.
Something else I’ve always done is use a split routine. I’ve only used a full-body routine sparingly. Fast-forward to right now, August 2020, and my, how things have changed. Not just with the outside world but also here in my home gym. I’m not a naturally strong guy and my genetics are horrible. I can get very conditioned, but I’m a natural guy so I’m not huge. Since I’m getting older, I am choosing to use a strength training program one more time. I want to get as strong as I can for my size and age. This is where a full-body routine comes in. I’m using a variation of Stronglifts 5×5, which is a 3 days a week full-body strength routine.
The Hybrid Strength Training Program & Recovery
What I like about Stronglifts is it’s not a lot of exercises. If you know my articles, you know I do not advocate marathon full-body workouts done 3 days a week. The concept of a full-body makes sense, you use your entire body functionally, why not train it that way? However, there are full-body routines out there that use 15 sets a body-part. That works out to be 60 or so sets per session. That’s insane, and it’s not a good choice for effective strength training.
When I came up with the Hybrid Strength Training Program, I designed it to use 3 sets per exercise with 1 major exercise per muscle group. The only exception to that is back. Since the back is a big area and you have to consider both thickness and width, I use 3 exercises for 5 total sets. I know, it’s not much work. As a point of reference, Stronglifts 5X5 is, you guessed it, 5 sets of 5 reps of about 3 exercises. This is also not a lot of work.
One important point to clear up right now is that I am not a follower of HIT or Heavy-Duty. I am a follower of working within your means based on your recovery ability. Recovery is affected by several things. This includes age, how active your life is, diet, and how aggressive your supplement program is. If you use steroids or have a lot of time, then you can do more work. If you’re younger, you can do more work. None of those things work for me, so I use low volume, and I train quickly. Additionally, I have always believed in including strength training in some capacity.
I am using an M-W-F approach, and I also walk 2-4 miles per day, so I am giving myself plenty of time for recovery. You grow when you recover, not because of how much time you spend in the gym. I know frequency and volume is the new name of the game. Still, you have to get out of the gym and recover if you want to grow, period.
Progression Is The Key To The Hybrid Strength Training Program
The key to the Hybrid Strength Training Program is consistent progression. Once I warm up, I do the same weight across all 3 sets. I rest for about 30-60 seconds between sets. Each set calls for 5 reps without hitting failure. Therefore, the last rep of each set are near impossible to complete. I add weight to the bar every week, sometimes every other week. My guideline here is that I want to be able to hit my set and rep goal 2 workouts in a row, then I will add 2.5 to 5 lbs. Only on deadlifts will I add more weight. The idea is to gradually move up in weight. So, if I add 2.5lbs to the bench press, which is not my best exercise, every week for 12 weeks, I will have increased my bench by 30lbs. That’s the idea across the board.
I called this the Hybrid Strength Training Program because, unlike Stronglifts, I include arm work. On some of the smaller muscles, I also do occasional rest-pause/tri-sets. Here is the routine, I will list sets and reps with performance points.
The Hybrid Strength Training Program
Monday/Wednesday/Friday (or any 3 days that work)
Ab Work – 2-3 sets
Resistance Band Warm Ups:
Standing Band Press 1 x 10-15 reps
Lat Pulls 1 x 10-15 reps
Warmup set 1 x 15 reps
Work Sets 3 x 5 reps, same weight each set
Wide Grip Chins 1 x to failure
Warmup set 1 X 10 reps
Work sets 2 x 5
Deadlifts 1 x 5 (I had lumbar fusion surgery and have to do a modified version. Still, I go as heavy as I can)
Warmup sets 1 x 15
Work set – 1 x 5 (Because of the lumbar fusion surgery, I can’t squat like I used to, so it’s not a heavy weight)
Standing Overhead Press 3 x 5
Close Grip Chins 1 x 5
EZ Curls into EZ Drag Curls 1 x 5, rest-pause to 10-12 reps
Triceps Dips 1 x 5-8
EZ Extensions 1 x 5, rest-pause to 8-10 reps
- For resistance band warm ups, I wrap a band around a power rack post and do the exercises standing.
- Rest: 30-60 seconds on all sets, unless otherwise specified.
- I do overhead presses as a tri-set. I will alternate 1 set of Overhead presses with 1 set of Behind the Neck presses, then back to Overheads. Sometimes, I use a rest pause-style with an 8-10 count between sets and will do only Overhead presses.
- I do arm work as one giant set. I do not rest at all until the set is done.
- If you can squat heavy, do them first for 3 heavy sets after warmups.
- Your sets should be difficult. It’s just 5 reps, but they should never feel easy.
- Perform your reps explosive up, slow, and controlled down. Never let momentum do the work. Use a full range of motion.
- If you want to, use 5 sets per exercise, as long as it’s a tough 5 sets using the same weight for each.
For best results from the Hybrid Strength Training Program, you should follow a typical bodybuilding diet. High protein – 1g per lb of bodyweight at least, carbs can be 1-1.5g per lb of body weight, and healthy fats. My carb suggestion is more appropriate for lean gains. Therefore, I eat low carb, I try to maintain a lean midsection and good conditioning all the time. If I were to compete, I would never want to be too far away from contest shape. Of course, carbs can go higher if your goals are different, just be sure it’s clean carbs. Keep sugar to a minimum. Protein sources should be lean. As far as fat, beyond a couple of handfuls of nuts, it pretty much takes care of itself. I advocate avoiding high-fat products, especially trans-fats. If you don’t already, read the nutrient panel of anything you plan to eat.
As far as supplements, I suggest protein powder, creatine, and a good pre-workout. Your protein can be whey or a whey and casein blend. If you want to add more supplements, add a pump formula. I suggest a high stim, balanced pre, and I add creatine. When I buy a pre, I want to see lots of stims and good pump ingredients. I also want a full clinical dose of beta-alanine, and focus ingredients. Many pre’s also include BCAAs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mainly, it will be fully disclosed, and it will be clinically dosed. Sometimes I’ll add more pump ingredients, especially if I feel the pre’s pump complex lacks a little.
In conclusion, the Hybrid Strength Training Program is good for anyone that wants to focus on getting stronger. After all, it’s true that size follows strength. This program is a mild variation of Stronglifts with more direct arm work. It’s also adjustable, you can go from 3 sets per exercise to 5 sets. However, do not give in to temptation and add a bunch of sets. The max is 5 sets per exercise, do not add exercises. Give it a try and see what happens!