Now that the new year is well underway, you may be noticing that some of your goals aren’t quite stacking up.
Maybe you are struggling to lose weight, or your training has not helped you put on any muscle.
There are a host of reasons why you could struggle to make your goals, yet above all – you need structure.
Without structure we lack the ability to adhere to our goals – whether that be weight loss or muscle gain.
I’ve talked about this many times before but next time you are in the gym take a look around at some of the biggest guys. Chances are you will notice that none of them mess around with the silly machines or complicated exercises.
The strongest guys in the gym will train with consistency on standard exercises with progressive overload. Not only will this provide a strong foundation to build on, but it locks your muscles into perfect form.
Where am I going with this? Well, workout structure is a big reason why many people fail. I see it all the time. People connect to the gym wifi, google any workout and do the first one that pops up in their search – over and over again, without any structure or progressive overload.
This puts a huge damper on your progress and can eventually be the reason why many people quit training altogether.
The solution? Start a new training program that’s complete.
My suggestion, the PHAT workout by Layne Norton.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is the PHAT Workout?
- 2 What are the Benefits of This Style of Training?
- 3 Workout Overview
- 4 Workout Notes
- 5 Overtraining
- 6 Warm Up, Cool Down, Stretch
- 7 PHAT Schedule and Workout Plan:
- 8 Workout Description and Purpose
- 9 The Science Behind the PHAT Workout
- 10 How To Progress With The PHAT Workout
- 11 Summary And Conclusion
What is the PHAT Workout?
Designed by Dr. Layne Norton, physique coach and professional bodybuilder the “phat” workout is a style of training that focuses on maximizing size and strength through the use of hypertrophy and progressive overload.
PHAT stands for “Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training”. The program was specifically designed to hit each muscle 2x a week in both traditional strength methods and bodybuilding hypertrophy rep schemes.
This workout was developed for the lifter who wants to put on muscle without the bulk weight. The combination of high and low rep counts in sets will help to stimulate muscle hypertrophy, while still enabling maximal recovery.
“Is this a Workout for Beginners?”
100%, yes. Here’s the thing about progressive strength workouts such as the phat workout – they’re progressive. The weight is not the most important aspect of the training.
We must remember that Dr. Layne Norton is a physique coach and bodybuilder – he developed this program to cater the needs of many athletes and bodybuilders.
This program is easily accessible – even for the beginner lifter.
The most important aspect of the phat workout is its workout day split. Each training session has a specific target group for muscular systems.
Day 1 and 2 of Training
Focus on Upper and Lower Body exercises that are compound and accessory. This builds strength through a deep range of motion – which in turn will stimulate greater muscle hypertrophy.
Day 4-6 of Training
The last three training sessions of the week you have your focus on muscle hypertrophy (stimulating the muscle cells to grow larger). These workouts focus on large, compound exercises for lower set counts and moderate rep counts.
The focus for these days should be to work hard in each set. Think about it, if you only have to do two sets – you can work really hard for those two sets, rather than 4-5 sets where you would need to save your energy.
What are the Benefits of This Style of Training?
Beyond the obvious increases in raw strength, this style of training will provide a solid foundation at which to consistently progress into the coming weeks.
Benefits of PHAT Workout
- Increase raw strength
- Stimulate hypertrophy
- Provide solid foundation of strength and conditioning
- Teach you principles of strength
My favorite aspect of any training program is gaining the knowledge from the programming. This style of programming is unique, and science-based. You know that Dr. Layne Norton would have tested these methods on countless bodybuilders and athletes of all kinds in order to develop the best training program available.
Use this guide as a way to learn about the various ways to improve strength and performance in the gym.
|Main Goal:||Build Muscle, Build Strength, Stimulate Hypertrophy|
|Program Duration:||12 Weeks – 4,3 Week Cycles (2 overload, 1 deload)|
|Days Per Week:||5 days/week|
|Time Per Workout:||90-120min|
|Equipment Required:||Barbell, Dumbbell, Machine|
|Author:||Gabriello Ianniruberto – Strength Expert, CSEP – CPT|
Before you jump into your workout lets break down some very important concepts to keep you strong and prevent injury.
Sets, Reps and Weight
As with any strength-based program, the sets and reps will tell you everything you need to know about the amount of weight to use for a particular exercise.
For example: If you were doing a squat for 2 sets, 12 reps you know that you can do a considerable amount of weight. You only need to complete two sets, which means you can virtually max out.
You should be pushing through the last 1-2 reps with a high level of difficulty.
In contrast, if you are given an exercise that is 4 sets of 6 reps you will need to expend your energy over the course of the extended sets – aka, You cannot work as hard.
Keep in mind that you always want to use a weight that challenges you. Especially on hypertrophy days, you should be using a weight that challenges you to the point of near failure each set.
Strength First, Physique Second
Many people avoid the use of strength training because they believe themselves to be bodybuilders. They focus on only the physique when strength should be the foundation of your training.
Even Dr. Layne Norton will agree that training for strength first will enable you to effectively make faster progressions.
Training with high weight and low reps will teach your body to handle the higher weight, improve gross strength and in turn, will assist you in creating more hypertrophy through your higher rep schemes (seen on your hypertrophy days).
As always, control the weight – leave your ego at home, this is no time for injury.
How will you know if you are overtraining? Your body will send you signals. A couple signals to look for.
- Pain at load-bearing joints (elbow, knee, shoulder, hip)
- Soreness on distal portion of muscle (biceps pain at elbow)
- Lack of sleep
I would recommend that you deload every 3rd week, depending on your skill level.
If you are an experienced lifter you might be able to get away with a deload on every 6th week, but considering the amount of overload and weight you will be suing you are probably best off deloading every 3rd week.
Deloading can be done by utilizing the same reps and sets as normal training weeks, but decreasing the volume on the muscle to 60-70% of the weight you would traditionally use.
This will still allow your muscles to “work” yet they will be able to actively recover.
Warm Up, Cool Down, Stretch
Please don’t get into the habit of walking into the gym and jumping into a workout right away. This will not only dampen your success but could lead to injury.
Low-impact cardio and specific exercises are the best way to warm up for strength training.
Start with incline walking, slow stair climber or elliptical – followed by specific exercises to your workout.
If you’re benching, do some light pushing exercises to warm up the muscles and ligaments involved in the movement.
Keep your cool downs simple. Utilize low-impact cardio machines to slow down your heart rate and move into a stretching routine.
Avoided by many bodybuilders, yet stretching is one of the most important aspects of a well-rounded strength program. Research shows that when muscles are optimally stretched during an exercise they can generate more power and stimulate more muscle hypertrophy.
Take time after each workout to run through a simple stretching routine to open up muscle tissue and optimize recovery.
Now that we have a concrete understanding of the workout program in all its features let’s take a look at the training program.
PHAT Schedule and Workout Plan:
- Day 1: Power Upper
- Day 2: Power Lower
- Day 3: Off
- Day 4: Back and Shoulder Hypertrophy
- Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy
- Day 6: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy
- Day 7: Off
|Day 1: Power Upper|
|Bent Over Row||3-5||3|
|Flat dumbbell presses||3-5||3|
|Seated DB Shoulder Press||6-10||3|
|Cambered Bar Curls||6-10||3|
|Day 2: Power Lower|
|Lying Leg Curls||6-10||2|
|Standing Calf Raises||6-10||3|
|Seated Calf Raise||6-10||2|
|Day 4: Back and Shoulder Hypertrophy|
|Bent Over Row||8-12||4|
|Seated Cable Row||8-12||3|
|Close Grip Pulldown||15-20||2|
|Seated DB Press||8-12||3|
|Lateral DB Raise||12-20||3|
|Day 5: Lower Hypertrophy|
|Lying Leg Curls||12-15||2|
|Seated Leg Curls||12-15||2|
|Standing Calf Raise||10-15||4|
|Seated Calf Raise||15-20||3|
|Day 6: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy|
|Flat DB Press||8-12||4|
|Incline DB Press||8-12||3|
|Hammer Strength Chest Press||12-15||3|
|Incline Cable Fly||15-20||2|
|Cambered Bar Preacher Curls||8-12||3|
|DB Concentration Curls||12-15||2|
|Seated Triceps Extension||8-12||3|
Workout Description and Purpose
The overview of the program should have given you a decent understanding of the structure and benefits of this program for both muscle growth and total physique.
The PHAT program is structured as a 5/day per week split.
You will train the first two days of the week, rest, train another three days, followed by one day of rest. It is crucially important that you take your rest days seriously. Not only is rest an essential component to actual recovery, but also to performance.
Take care to sleep well, utilize recovery formulas and stretch and mobilize the muscles and joints when needed.
The Science Behind the PHAT Workout
Dr. Layne Norton has created what he believes to be a great program to stimulate muscle growth and overall bodybuilding physique, but what does the science say?
The first two days of your training week are developed for building power and strength. This will enable you to push more weight during your hypertrophy days, building your total force and muscle mass.
Research shows that training with lower rep schemes and higher weights are in fact the best ways to optimally build strength – especially in larger compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench.
Keep in mind in order for you to optimally lift heavy each power workout you should take longer rest times between sets. A rest time of more than 2 minutes is needed in order to reload glycogen synthesis – the power for your muscles.
I would recommend taking up to 3 minutes rest between sets, especially for your compound lifts like bench and squats.
After a rest day, you will have three days in a row of hypertrophy style training.
Dr. Layne Norton has combined some of the best exercises for building muscle and strength together to force hypertrophy in your muscle.
Although some research will show that low reps, high weight is the best way to stimulate hypertrophy – emerging science is now showing that frequency of training muscles is also very important in overall lean muscle mass.
The hypertrophy days are essential in creating adaptive stress on the muscle 2-3x each week in order to boost strength and overall muscle mass.
How To Progress With The PHAT Workout
Since this workout split is only one week in duration you will need to understand simple methods for progression. The most basic utilizes a method called progressive overload.
Progressive overload works by increasing the overall resistance on the muscle without increasing the total amount of repetitions. Let’s use your first exercise for example.
|Bent Over Row||3-5||3|
After 1-2 weeks of performing this exercise with the same reps and sets progression will come with increasing the weight and cycling the set scheme. For this example you have a maximum of 15 total repetitions. To increase the weight you can switch to 6 sets of 2 reps with higher weight.
Your workout would then look like this.
|Bent Over Row||2-3||6|
NOTE: Only utilize this method on overload weeks, never during a deload.
Utilizing this simple set cycle for progressive overload will not increase the total repetitions, yet will enable you to build strength and increase weight over time.
Following this workout, you will then switch back to a 3×5 from your original week.
Summary And Conclusion
If you’ve been struggling to make consistent progress in the gym you need to check out Dr. Layne Norton’s, PHAT workout program. Not only will this program enable you to properly regulate your training progressions, but the science proves its effectiveness.
Be smart, take recovery and listen to your body. The first 3-4 weeks of this program will be very difficult. If you feel it is challenging you too much – take longer rest times between sets and multiple rest days between workouts.
Be patient and persistent – challenge yourself, but don’t break your body.
Enjoy the gains.
What next? You might also be interested to check out our Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower (P.H.U.L.) Workout routine to build strength.