PHAT stands for Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training. PHAT workout program is designed by the famous powerlifter and bodybuilder Layne Norton. He is a renowned pro natural bodybuilder, 2x USA Powerlifting 93kg national champion and 2015 IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) silver medallist. He also has a PhD in nutritional sciences with thesis emphasis in muscle protein synthesis and a BS in biochemistry.
PHAT workout program is a combination of power lifting and bodybuilding. Powerlifters use lower reps of high weight whereas bodybuilders aim for muscle hypertrophy using higher reps of less weight. Layne Norton combined these two different types of training methodologies into one. The advantage of PHAT workout over other workouts is that instead of following on a specific training regimen (hypertrophy/strength) individually for weeks at a time, you will perform workouts in both power lifting style (lower rep ranges) and bodybuilding style (higher rep ranges) within the same given week.
Basically power hypertrophy adaptive training is a 5 day workout program. PHAT utilizes 2 of its workout days for strength training where you will be training with heavy weight and the remaining 3 days are for hypertrophy training. The technique of PHAT program is very simple you gain strength by lifting heavy weights and then you maximize muscle size by following muscle hypertrophy training. With PHAT program you will train each muscle groups twice per week.
Why PHAT Training?
When a powerlifter is training for strength, he definitely need to gain more muscle once he hits a training plateau. At some point of his career he probably reach a training plateau where he can no longer increase the lifting load without putting more muscle mass. This is same for bodybuilder, every bodybuilder will eventually need to gain more strength to add more muscle mass.
- PHAT program designed in such a way that you will hit each muscle groups twice per week in both traditional strength training and bodybuilding rep schemes. This combination of high and low rep schemes will help you to maximize strength and muscle growth, while still enabling enough recovery period.
Science Behind PHAT Workout Program
Why Separate Strength Training in PHAT Workout?
Why Separate Muscle Hypertrophy Training in PHAT Program?
Fundamentals of PHAT Program
Power DaysThe first two days of PHAT program is used for strength training. These days are called power days. During these days you will train heavy compound exercises aiming for 3-5 working sets of 3-5 reps. Core compound exercises like squat, deadlift, military press, barbell row, bench press etc. are performed in these days. Since the focus of power day training is in absolute strength gain the rest time between sets are little bit longer than hypertrophy days. Here you can rest anywhere from 3-6 minutes. The goal of power training is to lift maximum weight as possible, so optimum rest is very essential. Make sure you are getting enough rest between working sets to completely recover and be ready for your next big power movement.
Traditional Bodybuilder Style Training
- After the speed work pick a weight 50-70% of your 3-5 rep max and do 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps.
High frequency training keeps anabolic effect throughout the week and which increases muscle protein synthesis to help you build more muscle.
How To Use Train To Failure In PHAT Workout?
A research study demonstrated that, sets taken near, but not to failure are almost effective as training to failure on inducing muscle growth. Also they do not burnout your nervous system to the point where it reduces your strength and performance.
Deloading in PHAT Program
Deloading is a planned workout period for recovery. It is the reduction in training intensity and volume for the better recovery, to prevent injury before another weight training period of high intensity training with heavier loading and volume. A typical deloading phase lasts for 1-3 weeks. Our recommendation is to plan a deload week every 6 to 12 weeks.
- The deloading period in the PHAT program consist of training with 60-70% of your normal weights for 1-3 weeks.
How to Incorporate Cardio into PHAT Routine?
In the beginning limit your cardio workout to 1x/week. After you get adapted to the intensity and training volume of PHAT program you can incorporate more cardio into workout regimen. But it will take some time. Once you get adapted to the PHAT regimen you can incorporate 1-2 days of high intensity cardio/week. You can include sled dragging, car pushes, sprint with a sprint parachute, elliptical intervals, HIIT spinning workout, rowing etc. for cardio. If you find your muscles overly sore you can use moderate slow intensity cardio to pump more blood to muscles or perhaps you can skip cardio for that week.
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How to Incorporate Deadlifts into PHAT Program?
Dr Norton recommends putting deadlifts on lower power day. But the probability for overtraining and burnout is higher if you do heavy conventional deadlift and squat both on lower power day along with all the other higher intensity accessory exercises. He recommends to switch between the two exercises after a few weeks of training. After few weeks of training replace heavy squats with heavy deadlifts.
- Switch between squats and deadlifts every 2-3 weeks on your lower power days. On squat day, do RDLs or stiff leg deadlifts, on deadlift day, do hack squats or front squats. It is better to avoid squats and deadlifts on same day.
PHAT workout program is very intense, training volume is high. So you will have to push all your past experienced limits. For the first few weeks muscle soreness will be higher, you may feel tired for whole day. It is totally fine, your body needs time to adapt. After 4-6 weeks of training your body will adapt to the increased frequency and volume. After that everything will be fine and you will see the exponential rise in your strength. If you feel yourself taking it too extreme, take a rest for a day or two. You know your body, so be smart. Remember an injury can set you back months to years.
PHAT Workout Routine
PHAT Workout Schedule
- Monday: Upper Power Day
- Tuesday: Lower Power Day
- Wednesday: Rest day
- Thursday: Back and Shoulder Hypertrophy
- Friday: Lower Body Hypertrophy
- Saturday: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy
- Sunday: Rest day
- First of all let me clear one thing PHAT program is not for beginners. If you are a novice lifter stay away from this training program, you can try 3 day beginner programs or upper/lower splits etc. Don’t injure yourself.
- PHAT program is very dynamic it is not a strict program. Basically it is a template so you can modify it. If you don’t like one exercise replace it with another. If you find one exercise less effective, replace it with more effective one. But follow the sets and rep scheme of PHAT program. For example it is totally fine to replace bent over rows with any other compound exercise, but you still need to be doing a pulling movement in your hypertrophy workout.
- Abs workouts can be done on rest days
Warming Up for PHAT
Warm up very well before you begin workout. Warming up before you begin workout can actually prevent injury. Also it prepares your muscle for intense training by pumping more blood to your muscle. Warming up loosen the stiffness of muscles and it makes them more flexible.
- Include warm up sets before each heavy movement. It is always beneficial to warm up before every heavy exercises; get the blood flowing and prevent injuries.
PHAT Workout Plan
- Power days: 3-6 minutes
- Muscle hypertrophy days: 1-2 minutes
|Monday: Upper Power Day|
|1||Pulling power movement||Bent over or Pendlay rows||3||3-5|
|2||Assistance pulling movement||Weighted Pull ups||2||6-10|
|3||Auxiliary pulling movement||Rack chins||2||6-10|
|4||Pressing power movement||Flat dumbbell presses||3||3-5|
|5||Assistance pressing movement||Weighted dips||2||6-10|
|6||Assistance pressing movement||Seated dumbbell shoulder presses||3||6-10|
|7||Auxiliary curling movement||Cambered bar curls||3||6-10|
|8||Auxiliary extension movement||Skull crushers||3||6-10|
|Tuesday: Lower Power Day|
|1||Pressing Power Movement||Squats||3||3-5|
|2||Assistance pressing movement||Hack Squats||2||6-10|
|3||Assistance extension movement||Leg extensions||2||6-10|
|4||Assistance pulling movement||Stiff legged deadlifts||3||5-8|
|5||Assistance pulling/curling movement||Glute ham raises or lying leg curls||2||6-10|
|6||Auxiliary calf movement||Standing calf raise||3||6-10|
|7||Auxiliary calf movement||Seated calf raise||2||6-10|
|Wednesday: Rest Day|
|Thursday: Back and Shoulder Hypertrophy|
|1||Pulling power exercise |
|Bent over or Pendlay rows|
3-5 rep max)
|2||Hypertrophy pulling movement||Rack chins||3||8-12|
|3||Hypertrophy pulling movement||Seated cable row||3||8-12|
|4||Hypertrophy pulling movement||Dumbbell rows or shrugs bracing |
upper body against an incline bench
|5||Hypertrophy pulling movement||Close grip pull downs||2||15-20|
|6||Hypertrophy shoulder movement||Seated dumbbell presses||3||8-12|
|7||Hypertrophy shoulder movement||Upright rows||2||12-15|
|8||Hypertrophy shoulder movement||Side lateral raises with dumbbells |
|Friday: Lower Body Hypertrophy|
|1||Lower body power exercise|
(65-70% of normal
3-5 rep max)
|2||Hypertrophy pressing movement||Hack squats||3||8-12|
|3||Hypertrophy pressing movement||Leg presses||2||12-15|
|4||Hypertrophy extension movement||Leg extensions||3||15-20|
|5||Hypertrophy pulling movement||Romanian deadlifts||3||8-12|
|6||Hypertrophy curling movement||Lying leg curls||2||12-15|
|7||Hypertrophy curling movement||Seated leg curls||2||15-20|
|8||Hypertrophy calf movement||Donkey calf raises||4||10-15|
|9||Hypertrophy calf movement||Seated calf raises||3||15-20|
|Saturday: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy|
|1||Pressing power exercise |
|Flat dumbbell presses|
3-5 rep max)
|2||Hypertrophy pressing movement||Incline dumbbell presses||3||8-12|
|3||Hypertrophy pressing movement||Hammer strength chest press||3||12-15|
|4||Hypertrophy fly movement||Incline cable flyes||2||15-20|
|5||Hypertrophy curling exercise||Cambered bar preacher curls||3||8-12|
|6||Hypertrophy curling exercise||Dumbbell concentration curls||2||12-15|
|7||Hypertrophy curling exercise||Spider curls bracing |
upper body against
an incline bench
|8||Hypertrophy extension exercise||Seated tricep |
with cambered bar
|9||Hypertrophy extension exercise||Cable press downs with rope attachment||2||12-15|
|10||Hypertrophy extension exercise||Cable kickbacks||2||15-20|
|Sunday: Rest Day|
PHAT Workout Spreadsheet
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PHAT Workout PDF
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