Are you seeking a workout program combining strength and hypertrophy training to maximize your gains? Look no further than the PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) workout.
This workout program has gained popularity among fitness enthusiasts for its unique structure and ability to promote muscle growth and strength gains. But is the hype justified?
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of the PHAT workout, exploring its pros and cons and providing personal insights and recommendations.
So grab your protein shake, sit back, and take a closer look at the PHAT workout.
What is the PHAT Workout (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training)?
The PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) workout is a popular and effective workout program that combines strength and hypertrophy training. It’s a 5-day program involving two different workout phases, power, and hypertrophy, alternating throughout the week. It’s what most people would call a hybrid program: meant to build muscle size and strength rather than just focusing on one.
The power phase focuses on heavy compound lifts with lower reps. It focuses on barbell movements, like the squat and deadlift. In contrast, the hypertrophy phase incorporates higher rep ranges and more isolation exercises to promote muscle growth.
The program emphasizes progressive overload, meaning you gradually increase the weight and/or reps over time to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains.
The popularity of the PHAT workout can be attributed to its unique structure and effectiveness in promoting both strength and hypertrophy gains. The program provides a variety of exercises and rep ranges, helping to prevent boredom and plateaus.
Additionally, the emphasis on progressive overload and alternating power and hypertrophy phases can lead to significant muscle growth and strength gains over time.
However, it’s important to note that the program may not be suitable for beginners or those with specific sport-related goals.
About Layne Norton – The Creator of the PHAT Workout Program
Layne Norton is a prominent figure in the fitness world, known for his achievements as a bodybuilder, powerlifter, coach, and scientist. With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois, Norton is highly regarded for blending his scientific knowledge with practical fitness expertise. He is most famous for creating this workout program. Norton’s evidence-based approach and coaching have made a significant impact on fitness enthusiasts worldwide, inspiring them to lead healthier and stronger lives.
Why Review PHAT?
With all the different available training plans constantly popping up, I think it is valuable to hear from those who have tried them. PHAT has been around for some time and is still one of the best workouts I have tried that wasn’t built specifically for me. If you have yet to try it, I highly recommend it.
Overview of the PHAT Workout Routine
Although it was mentioned above, here is some more information about the workout structure and phases:
The PHAT workout is a 5-day program that incorporates two different workout phases: power and hypertrophy. The workout structure alternates between these two phases throughout the week, providing variety and promoting muscle growth and strength gains.
The power phase focuses on heavy compound lifts with lower reps and higher weight. This phase aims to build strength by challenging the body with heavy weights. The power phase consists of two training days, typically Monday and Thursday. The workouts include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and rows.
Conversely, the hypertrophy phase emphasizes muscle growth through higher rep ranges and more isolation exercises. This phase aims to stimulate muscle growth and create more definition. The hypertrophy phase consists of three training days, typically on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The workouts include exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg curls, calf raises, lateral raises, and flyes.
Training Principles and Goals
The PHAT workout is based on several training principles and goals to promote muscle growth and strength gains. In fact, there are several different versions of the program. But, the basic premise stays the same. Each muscle gets hit two times per week. The first two days are power days, then a rest day, and the last three are hypertrophy days.
One of the primary goals of the PHAT workout is to emphasize both power and hypertrophy training. The program challenges the body with heavy weights and high volume by alternating between the two phases, promoting muscle growth and strength gains.
Another fundamental principle of the PHAT training routine is progressive overload. This involves gradually increasing the weight and/or reps to challenge the muscles and stimulate growth.
The program also emphasizes the importance of variety in exercises and rep ranges. The PHAT workout ensures that all muscle groups are targeted and challenged by incorporating a mix of compound and isolation exercises.
Finally, the program places a strong emphasis on proper nutrition and recovery. Adequate rest and recovery are essential for muscle growth and strength gains. Therefore, the program encourages individuals to prioritize sleep, hydration, and nutrition to support their fitness goals.
How often you train can affect your results. If you train a body part more frequently, like two or more times a week, it leads to better improvements in strength and growth. Higher training frequently helps keep your muscles active and engaged, allowing them to adapt and get stronger over time. Of course, this also requires proper recovery!
On the other hand, if you train too infrequently, say only once a week, you might not see as much progress because your muscles don’t get enough stimulus to grow.
This program provides a great balance that is best showcased with Layne’s own results. By switching to this style of non-linear periodization program, he was able to jump from a 21″ thigh to a 25″ thigh in 2 years as a natural lifter. Now they measure over 28″!
How often do you see skinny people who can lift heavy weights? You might be able to think of one or two, but could they compete in a powerlifting setting? It turns out it’s pretty difficult to have tiny legs and a 500 lb squat.
This is why power training is such an integral piece of the PHAT training program. The combination of powerlifting and bodybuilding (powerbuilding) has the ability to massively increase training loads in ways that most traditional programs just don’t. By incorporating tools and movements that most bodybuilding programs don’t have, you are increasing strength faster. Then to top it off, you are increasing your hypertrophy more than most powerlifting programs would dream of with high-volume accessory work.
The Importance of the Deload
If you have been following any high training volume for a while and you aren’t seeing results anymore, you most likely need to have a deload period. This program doesn’t have them built in, but every 6 to 12 weeks is a good place to start. Your deload should last as long as it takes for you to feel physically and mentally refreshed.
If you’re following this program, try following the normal set and rep scheme but only use about 60-70% of the normal weight. It’s light enough to allow some recovery but heavy enough to maintain what you have already built.
How to Add Cardio to The PHAT Training Program
When you first get started with this powerbuilding program, take it slow. In fact, it’s probably best to not do all of the accessory work for the first 5 days or so. But you’ll be surprised how quickly you will adapt!
After your body is used to the full volume of Layne Norton’s program, you can start adding cardio one or two days per week. He has stated that in the last bit of show prep, he does cardio almost every day.
Try to do cardio that doesn’t involve the legs as much, like rowing or boxing.
Pros of the PHAT Program
The PHAT workout is a fitness powerhouse boasting several pros for those looking to make significant gains in strength and muscle mass. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Maximizes Muscle Growth
By incorporating both power and hypertrophy training, the PHAT workout challenges the muscles in various ways, promoting significant muscle growth.
Promotes Strength Gains
The heavy lifting in the power phase of the program is designed to build strength, making the PHAT workout an excellent option for individuals looking to improve their overall strength.
The program’s alternating power and hypertrophy phases and its mix of compound and isolation exercises provide variety that helps prevent boredom and plateauing.
The program’s flexible exercise selection allows individuals to tailor the workouts to their specific bodies and goals.
The emphasis on progressive overload helps individuals continue to challenge their muscles and make gains over time.
Overall, the PHAT workout is an excellent option for trained individuals looking to make significant gains in both strength and muscle mass. With its variety, flexibility, and emphasis on progressive overload, the PHAT workout will surely challenge and push you to achieve your fitness goals.
Cons of the PHAT Workout
While the PHAT workout has many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Here are a few cons of the program:
Not for Beginners
The PHAT workout is a more advanced program that may not be suitable for beginners. It involves heavy lifting and requires a solid understanding of proper form and technique. If you are just getting into the gym, get some training experience under your belt with a program like Stronglifts before trying to dive into this style of training.
With five days of training per week, the PHAT workout can be time-consuming for individuals with busy schedules.
While the PHAT workout is excellent for overall strength and muscle growth, there may be better options for individuals with specific sport-related goals, as it doesn’t focus on sport-specific movements.
Potential for Overtraining
With its high volume and emphasis on progressive overload, there is a potential for individuals to overtrain and not allow their muscles enough time to recover.
Ultimately, the program’s suitability depends on an individual’s goals, fitness level, and personal preferences.
Looking for a high-volume training plan? Try German Volume Training!
Personal Experience and Recommendations
As I mentioned before, I have followed Layne Norton’s PHAT program myself. It is one of the most well-rounded programs I have seen for strength and size gains that was not built for me specifically.
I made significant strength and size gains while following the program, although it has been a couple years, so I couldn’t tell you exactly how much of an increase I saw.
The one thing I would say about the program is that it heavily relies on free-weight work. I prefer machines, especially as I have gotten older. If you prefer machines, don’t hesitate to swap out the movements in the workout for similar machine movements. You most likely won’t see the same strength and power increases as you would training with heavy barbells, but it will still work.
The people who could benefit the most from the PHAT bodybuilding program would be intermediate lifters still focused on increasing strength while including some fine-tuning exercises for aesthetics.
Day 1: Upper Body Power Day
- Bent over or Pendlay rows – Three sets of 3-5 reps
- Weighted Pull-ups – Two sets of 6-10 reps
- Auxiliary Pulling movement: Rack chins – Two sets of 6-10 reps
- Flat dumbbell presses – Three sets of 3-5 reps
- Weighted dips – Two sets of 6-10 reps
- Seated dumbbell shoulder presses – Three sets of 6-10 reps
- Cambered bar curls – Three sets of 6-10 reps
- Skull crushers – Three sets of 6-10 reps
Day 2: Lower Body Power Day
- Squats – Three sets of 3-5 reps
- Hack Squats – Two sets of 6-10 reps
- Leg extensions – Two sets of 6-10 reps
- Stiff-legged deadlifts – Three sets of 5-8 reps
- Glute ham raises or lying leg curls – Two sets of 6-10 reps
- Standing calf raise – Three sets of 6-10 reps
- Seated calf raise – Two sets of 6-10 reps
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy Day
- Bent over or Pendlay rows – Six sets of 3 reps with 65-70% of standard 3-5 rep max
- Rack chins – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Seated cable row – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell rows or shrugs bracing upper body against an incline bench – Two sets of 12-15 reps
- Close grip pulldowns – Two sets of 15-20 reps
- Seated dumbbell presses – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Upright rows – Two sets of 12-15 reps
- Side lateral raises with dumbbells or cables – Three sets of 12-20 reps
Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy Day
- Squats – Six sets of 3 reps with 65-70% of standard 3-5 rep max
- Hack squats – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Leg presses – Two sets of 12-15 reps
- Leg extensions – Three sets of 15-20 reps
- Romanian deadlifts – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Lying leg curls – Two sets of 12-15 reps
- Seated leg curls – Two sets of 15-20 reps
- Donkey calf raises – Four sets of 10-15 reps
- Seated calf raises – Three sets of 15-20 reps
Day 6: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy Day
- Flat dumbbell presses – Six sets of 3 reps with 65-70% of normal 3-5 rep max
- Incline dumbbell presses – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Hammer strength chest press – Three sets of 12-15 reps
- Incline cable flyes – Two sets of 15-20 reps
- Cambered bar preacher curls – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell concentration curls – Two sets of 12-15 reps
- Spider curls bracing upper body against an incline bench – Two sets of 15-20 reps
- Seated tricep extension with cambered bar – Three sets of 8-12 reps
- Cable pressdowns with rope attachment – Two sets of 12-15 reps
- Cable kickbacks – Two sets of 15-20 reps
Day 7: Rest
Final Thoughts About the PHAT Routine
If you are an intermediate lifter trying to get the most out of a free workout program for strength and muscle mass, try the PHAT program.
You may be surprised by the results you can get!
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