Are you sick and tired of trying endless workout routines designed to build muscle, only to find that your muscles just do not want to play ball?
No matter how hard we train, it seems as if we just can’t seem to grow, and that’s the last thing we want.
As bodybuilders, we want to see our physiques looking better by the week.
Building lean, dense, solid, quality muscle mass is one of the toughest processes in the world.
But if you follow the right program, and put the hard work in, you’ll find that the gains come around much quicker and more effectively than if you were simply doing things your own way.
The problem is finding the right training program to follow.
The majority of training programs out there are designed by personal trainers, who, to be frank, just want your money.
They’ll jump online, create a generic training program that anybody could find on Google in seconds, and charge you hundreds of dollars for your trouble.
Occasionally, just occasionally, along with will come a program that is worth the money and that is worth the hype.
That’s where the PHAT workout program comes into the mix.
Here’s everything you need to know about this awesome workout program.
Table Of Contents
The PHAT workout is a revolutionary training program by renowned natural bodybuilder and powerlifter Layne Norton, or rather DR. Layne Norton.
PHAT stands for Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training, so as you can probably guess, it is a program that is very much designed for people looking to get big, jacked, and strong.
Layne Norton holds a Ph.D. in nutritional science.
He is also a powerlifting national champion, a natural bodybuilder, a sponsored athlete, and one of the most respected men in the fitness industry.
Needless to say, with Layne Norton at the helm, the PHAT training program must be something pretty special, and special it most certainly is.
The PHAT program places an emphasis on muscle growth and strength increases through progressive overloading training techniques.
It is a program designed for people that are serious about transforming their physiques and taking their training up a gear.
What’s interesting is that it is a hybrid training protocol utilizing a combination of traditional bodybuilding techniques, and strength-boosting techniques.
The program is designed to target each major muscle group twice per week.
It is designed for people looking to add muscle, rather than bulk in the form of fat, muscle, and water.
This is achieved via a combination of high and low rep ranges, and heavy and light working sets whilst training.
When you walk into your typical ‘meathead’ gym, you’ll see guys throwing around heavyweights, training heavy, and making noticeable gains on a weekly basis.
Each time you see them they’ll look bigger, leaner, and more defined than ever.
Then there are guys who clearly work out, but who look decidedly average when training.
These dudes are bigger than Joe Public, but compared to bodybuilders and athletes who take their training seriously, they certainly don’t look anything special.
If you pay attention to them when training, you’ll see that they use modest weights, and they’ll often stick with the same weights for weeks at a time.
Then there’s the huge dudes who lift heavy weights, hit a new PR (Personal Record) and then the following week they’ll go even heavier soon.
Training heavy via progressive overloading is essential for muscle growth, and strength increases, which is why Layne Norton created the PHAT program in the first place.
The workout program itself is a 5-day split, but it isn’t your typical 5-day split.
Here, followers of this program will train in the style of a bodybuilder and a powerlifter.
2 of the 5 days are based around strength and power, whereas the other 3 are based around muscle hypertrophy where the aim is to build muscle mass.
There are heaps of science behind what makes this workout program so effective, but to cut a long story short.
It works by helping you to get stronger so that you can lift heavier weights and build more muscle.
As mentioned, each major muscle group will be targeted twice per week when following the PHAT program.
Basically, as we just mentioned, if you get stronger you can lift heavier weights, and training heavy will help to break down more muscle fibers when training, resulting in greater levels of muscle growth.
To expand upon this slightly, numerous studies conducted over the years have found that heavy training principles have yielded far greater muscle hypertrophy results than when individuals followed a more generic bodybuilding-style workout utilizing moderate weights for moderate amounts of reps.
Remember, the body has a great way of adapting to stress you place it under, and if you are lifting the same weights and performing the same number of reps week in and week out.
Your body will soon be complacent and your gains will come grinding to a halt.
Studies have found that when individuals use heavy weights and perform fewer reps, I.E 1 rep maxes, this carries over to greater levels of lean muscle growth.
Again, to cut through the BS, many studies conducted over the years have found that heavyweights performed with lower rep ranges may help to promote greater increases in muscle growth than moderate weights with moderate rep ranges.
Now, we’ve mentioned the strength training associated with the PHAT training program, and we’ll look at some of the different exercises and rep ranges a little later on.
For now, though, let’s just focus on hypertrophy in general.
Hypertrophy is referring to the act of building muscle.
Now, according to Layne’s program, the optimal amount of training in order to stimulate the greatest amounts of muscle growth is 10 sets or more per muscle group.
So, if you want to build muscle in your chest and build up your pecs, you’ll want to perform at least 10 sets per week, to begin with.
Once you begin to make progress however and adapt to the training you’re performing, you’ll want to increase this from 10 sets to 20.
Again, this is all part of progressive overload training.
You might like to try PHUL workout if you're looking for another workout routine.
Also, you can learn more about leg press vs squat and which one is good for legs muscles.
There is a lot to get your head around when it comes to the PHAT program, and in order to get the most from it, we, of course, recommend that you follow the program yourself.
To help you get a better idea of whether or not the program is right for you however, we’re now going to take a look at some basic fundamentals associated with the PHAT training.
Check them out and see what you think:
Before you begin any workouts, you should always take the time to stretch your muscles and warm up.
This will help to prevent injury and will improve your athletic performance.
At the end of the session, don’t forget to cool down either.
Perform very light stretches and very light cardio to bring your heart rate down.
This should come as no surprise to any of you, but one of the most important fundamentals associated with the PHAT workout is the strength days.
Now, this workout is a 5-day split, but you need to rest for one full day after your two heavy training days.
The first two days of this program will be Monday and Tuesday, and on these days you’ll be performing your strength and power-based workouts.
On these days you will emphasize heavy compound lifts that work for multiple muscle groups at once.
Here you will perform 3 – 5 heavy working sets per exercise.
On these days, you are training for strength and power, so aim for 3 – 5 minutes of rest between sets.
Exercises such as deadlifts, squats, military presses, and bench presses will be performed on your power days.
Do not worry about getting a pump or anything else here, other than lifting as much weight as possible, with the safe and perfect form of course.
You may wish to train with a spotter, or for safety, in a power cage or squat rack.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday you will perform your hypertrophy workouts.
Wednesday will be a rest day to recover from the heavy training.
On these days, you will still perform typical compound exercises, as well as isolation movements.
You will lighten the weight slightly and increase the reps.
Please note, by higher reps, we don’t mean lightweights where you perform, say, 15 reps.
Typical rep ranges here will be around 8 – 10.
You should also rest for less time between sets.
Here, you should aim for no more than 90 seconds of rest between working sets.
All major muscle groups will be trained, and you will still need to ensure that you are training intensely.
On your strength and power days, it is recommended that you utilize assistance exercises for smaller muscle groups.
This isn’t to help build muscle because that’s taken care of for the final 3 days of the training program.
The idea behind assistance exercises is that you perform exercises to target muscle groups that will assist you with big lifts.
When bench pressing, for example, the triceps play a key role, so you could include some triceps exercises to assist you with benching more weight.
Basically, when you perform assistance exercises, the idea here is to build up strength in the smaller muscle groups that assist with big lifts.
Another important fundamental of PHAT training is speed.
The idea behind speed work is to recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibers and to work on your intensity.
Speedwork is only performed at the beginning of your hypertrophy workouts.
Here, you will start your workout after warming up and will lift around 65% of your 5-rep max.
Without sacrificing form, you’ll lift the weight quickly and explosively and will perform 6 – 8 working sets of 3 – 5 reps.
Bands and chains can also be utilized to add resistance without putting you in danger or sacrificing form.
Once the speed training has been performed on your hypertrophy days, the next part of your workout will be much more of a traditional bodybuilder type workout.
This portion of the workout places an emphasis on volume.
Now you should look for a weight which is around 50% - 75% of your 3 – 5 rep max and perform 3 – 4 sets of 12 – 20 reps.
Remember, you trained heavy earlier in the week, so now it’s all about volume.
Keep rest periods short and look to rest roughly 60 – 90 seconds between sets.
|Pendlay rows or Bent Over||3||3-5|
|Flat Dumbell Presses||3||3-5|
|Seated Dumbell Shoulder Presses||3||6-10|
|Cambered Bar Curls||3||6-10|
|Stiff Legged Deadlifts||3||5-8|
|Lying Leg Curls||2||6-10|
|Standing Calf Raise||3||6-10|
|Seated Calf Raise||2||6-10|
|Seated Cable Row||3||8-12|
|Dumbell Rows Against an Incline Bench press||2||12-15|
|Close Grip Pulldowns||2||15-20|
|Seated Dumbell Presses||3||8-12|
|Up Rights Rows||2||12-15|
|Side Lateral raises with dumbells or cables||3||12-20|
|Lying Leg Curls||2||12-15|
|Seated Leg Curls||2||15-20|
|Donkey Calf Raises||4||10-15|
|Seated Calf Raises||3||15-20|
|Flat Dumbell Presses||6||3-5|
|Incline Dumbell Presses||3||8-12|
|Hammer Strenght Chest Press||3||12-15|
|Incline Cable Flyes||2||15-20|
|Cambered Bar Preacher Curls||3||8-12|
|Dumbell Concentration Curls||2||12-15|
|Spider Curls Bracing Upper Body against an Incline Bench||2||15-20|
|Seated Tricep Extension With Cambered Bar||3||8-12|
|Cable pressdowns with Rope Attachment||2||12-15|
As you can see, the PHAT workout program is quite intense, and it is certainly not to be taken lightly.
It features heavyweights, high volume training, and progressive overload techniques.
The risk is always there that you could be overtraining.
If you are overtraining, you’ll find that you don’t make any progress at all.
This defeats the purpose of following the workout in the first place, so what can you do?
Well, the first thing to do is to be aware of the signs of overtraining in the first place.
If you experience any/all of the signs listed above, you could be overtraining.
When this happens, it’s time for you to de-load.
Though it sounds complex, basically, when you de-load, every three weeks on this workout program, use less weight than you would ordinarily use for each exercise.
Layne recommends using 60% - 70% less.
If this still doesn’t help, you may simply need to take a week off from training completely.
Reda is an ACE Certified Nutritionist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and bodybuilder with 11 years of experience. He's been published on many influential websites such as lifehack.org, Wealthy Gorilla, Good Men Project and more.