P.H.A.T. (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training)

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Layne Norton PHAT
When it comes to a person’s physique, everyone has a unique set of goals and their own interpretation of what is aesthetically pleasing. Take a look around the gym and you’ll no doubt see a variety of training methods and physiques to match. For instance, you may observe the stereotypical muscle-head, who loves nothing more than entering a room and having everyone’s jaws drop at the sight of their imposing and masculine physique, blasting out some heavy deadlifts. Then, at the other end of the room, you see a slim and well “toned” person on the treadmill, running for what seems to be a long time.

No matter what your end goal is, the most efficient way to get there will be, more often than not, through the use of a well structured training/sport-specific program that is built upon experience and scientific rationale.

In this Issue of Gym Magazine we will explore one training program in particular that is designed to increase strength, pile on muscle and, most likely, leave you feeling physically exhausted at the end of every workout – P.H.A.T.

What is P.H.A.T.?

Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training, otherwise known as ‘P.H.A.T.’, is a training program developed by natural bodybuilder and powerlifter Dr. Layne Norton that encompasses elements of both bodybuilding and powerlifting training protocols. With P.H.A.T. the idea is that, instead of focusing on specific training adaptations (hypertrophy, maximal strength, power etc.) individually for weeks at a time like with linear forms of periodization, you will perform exercises in both the lower rep ranges (3-5 reps) and higher rep rages (12-20 reps) within the same given week. This is achieved by splitting the workouts into “Power” days and “Hypertrophy” days which, subsequently, means you will be training each muscle group twice a week.
Now to many this way of training may seem somewhat counter intuitive as it appears to go against their long held beliefs of overtraining and how training a body part any more than once a week will supposedly cause you to crash and burn out. It is, after all, in contrast to the more traditional bodybuilding split style programs that have become so popular within the fitness community over the past five or so decades.

But fear not – within a few short weeks your body will adapt to this added training frequency and you will soon begin to make gains in both strength and muscle mass at a much faster rate than you ever experienced previously.

Layne Norton PHAT

What does a typical P.H.A.T. routine look like?

As you will be performing exercises in both the lower and higher rep ranges, it has been designed so that the workouts are separated into “power” days and “hypertrophy” days respectively. The rationale behind this is that you will get more ‘bang for your buck’ so to speak if you focus on lifting for either maximal strength or to induce muscular hypertrophy within a given training session. Listed below is the basic format of the P.H.A.T. program:

Day 1: Upper Body Power
Day 2: Lower Body Power
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy
Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy
Day 6: Chest and Arms
Day 7: Rest

Power Days

Day one and day two are your “power” days. During these workouts you will be doing heavy compound movements in the 3-5 rep range for 3-5 working sets in order to elicit more strength orientated gains – this would include exercises like the deadlift, squat, bench press, bent-over rows, overhead press or any variation of the above.
Since you are lifting predominantly for an increase in strength, your rest intervals between sets will be much longer than that of the “hypertrophy” days. Here you can rest anywhere from 3-6 minutes between sets; the goal here is to lift as heavy a weight as possible for these 3-5 reps, so make sure you are getting enough rest before attacking that barbell again for your next set!

Following each of your main lifts with assistance exercises is a great idea and should be included where possible; these are essentially supplementary exercises used as a means to improve or benefit your main compound lifts. For example, following your heavy sets of bent-over rows you could do weighted pull-ups for 2 sets of 6-10 reps, and after your back squats you could do 2 sets on the leg press for 6-10 reps. Auxiliary exercises may also be included at the end of the workout to target the smaller muscles (calves and arms for instance) although the assistance exercises on the upper body power day will often be enough to stimulate bicep and tricep growth just fine.

Hypertrophy Days

You’ve just had a day’s rest and it’s now time to get back in the gym and crank that intensity up a notch – you are now training like a traditional bodybuilder. Your reps will be higher, rests will be shorter and you will most likely be feeling more of a ‘pump’ at the end of your workout.
Before you jump straight into your “hypertrophy” portion of the routine, you should begin the workout by doing 6-8 sets of speed work for 3 quick reps with the main compound exercise you lifted at the start of the week. So if you did bent-over rows on Monday for your back power exercise, you will do bent-over rows at the beginning of your back and shoulders workout on the hypertrophy day. Since the goal here is to improve rate of force production, you will use a weight 65-70% of that of your 3-5 rep max.
Once you have finished your speed work you will go ahead and focus on inducing muscle hypertrophy.

The rest of the workout typically looks like that of a bodybuilder: 3-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions per exercise with a rest time of 1-2 minutes between sets.

PHAT

Is P.H.A.T. for everybody?

The P.H.A.T. program will be a tough routine for anyone. In its totality, it’s a hardcore 5 day a week program with a tremendous amount of volume in every workout.
It is best suited for the advanced trainee; someone who has built up an impressive and solid foundation of strength. The undulating rep scheme involved will help this type of athlete to continue making gains in both muscle mass and strength, whereas a linear form of periodization, or typical 5 day split, will often not be the most efficient, let alone optimal, way of making progress for the advanced lifter.

This program may also benefit the intermediate lifter provided they too have built up a good foundation of strength. However for an intermediate to get the most out of this routine it is advisable to cut back the volume of each workout to avoid burning themselves out, and also to perhaps cut back on training frequency to 4 days a week as opposed to the full 5 day training week.
If you are a beginner that is just getting into lifting weights then there are other full-body routines out there that will be much more optimal for increasing strength and muscle mass than P.H.A.T.

P.H.A.T. Template

Day 1: Upper Body Power Day

Pulling Power Movement: Bent over or Pendlay rows 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Assistance Pulling movement: Weighted Pull ups 2 sets of 6-10 reps
Auxiliary Pulling movement: Rack chins 2 sets of 6-10 reps
Pressing Power Movement: Flat dumbbell presses 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Assistance pressing movement: Weighted dips 2 sets of 6-10 reps
Assistance pressing movement: Seated dumbbell shoulder presses 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Auxiliary curling movement: Cambered bar curls 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Auxiliary extension movement: Skull crushers 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 2: Lower Body Power Day

Pressing Power Movement: Squats 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Assistance pressing movement: Hack Squats 2 sets of 6-10 reps
Assistance extension movement: Leg extensions 2 sets of 6-10 reps
Assistance pulling movement: Stiff legged deadlifts 3 sets of 5-8 reps
Assistance pulling/curling movement: Glute ham raises or lying leg curls 2 sets of 6-10 reps
Auxiliary calf movement: Standing calf raise 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Auxiliary calf movement: Seated calf raise 2 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy Day

Pulling Power Exercise speed work: Bent over or Pendlay rows 6 sets of 3 reps with 65-70% of normal 3-5 rep max
Hypertrophy pulling movement: Rack chins 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy pulling movement: Seated cable row 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy pulling movement: Dumbbell rows or shrugs bracing upper body against an incline bench 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy pulling movement: Close grip pulldowns 2 sets of 15-20 reps
Hypertrophy shoulder movement: Seated dumbbell presses 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy shoulder movement: Upright rows 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy shoulder movement: Side lateral raises with dumbbells or cables 3 sets of 12-20 reps

Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy Day

Lower Body Power Exercise speed work: Squats 6 sets of 3 reps with 65-70% of normal 3-5 rep max
Hypertrophy pressing movement: Hack squats 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy pressing movement: Leg presses 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy extension movement: Leg extensions 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Hypertrophy pulling movement: Romanian deadlifts 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy curling movement: Lying leg curls 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy curling movement: Seated leg curls 2 sets of 15-20 reps
Hypertrophy calf movement: Donkey calf raises 4 sets of 10-15 reps
Hypertrophy calf movement: Seated calf raises 3 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 6: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy Day

Pressing Power Exercise speed work: Flat dumbbell presses 6 sets of 3 reps with 65-70% of normal 3-5 rep max
Hypertrophy pressing movement: Incline dumbbell presses 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy pressing movement: Hammer strength chest press 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy fly movement: Incline cable flyes 2 sets of 15-20 reps
Hypertrophy curling exercise: Cambered bar preacher curls 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy curling exercise: Dumbbell concentration curls 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy curling exercise: Spider curls bracing upper body against an incline bench 2 sets of 15-20 reps
Hypertrophy extension exercise: Seated tricep extension with cambered bar 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Hypertrophy extension exercise: Cable pressdowns with rope attachment 2 sets of 12-15 reps
Hypertrophy extension exercise: Cable kickbacks 2 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 7: Rest

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  • andrew mcguire

    I’m struggling to find a way to cut the volume slightly and get this down to 4 days a week, any advice? Thank you

  • Gavin Kraft

    For the speed work on the chest, back and leg hypertrophy days, do I do 65-70% of my actual 3-5 rep max? Or 65-70% of the weight that I work with on upper and lower strength?

  • Lou

    Do you keep the same weight for each set, or change weights to hit the rep range?