Photo credit: Zoe-lee
One form of training that's taking the bodybuilding world by storm is – PHAT training. In this article we'll be looking at:
- What PHAT training is exactly
- A typical PHAT routine
- Layne Norton's famous PHAT workout.
What is PHAT Training?
PHAT training stands for Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training and it was created by bodybuilder and powerlifter Layne Norton, who is a well respected PhD in the bodybuilding and fitness community.
PHAT training incorporates various elements of bodybuilding and powerlifting workouts, mixing both training methodologies together to give you the best of both worlds…AKA bigger/faster gains.
The basic premise behind PHAT training is to constantly mix things up and shock your body, helping you to Hulk-smash your way through plateaus. For example, during PHAT training you might perform various exercises in low rep ranges with heavy weights, but also perform exercises in high rep ranges with lighter weights.
What’s more, you don’t change this every few weeks, I.E low reps for 1 – 3 weeks, high reps for another 3 weeks…you mix things up in the SAME week – so one session will be a low rep session, whilst the next will be a high rep session.
Users accomplish this by dividing their training days into 2 types of days:
- Hypertrophy days
- Power days
Each muscle group will get trained twice per week, with one hypertrophy day and one power day.
Some people may be anxious about overtraining (hitting the same muscle group twice per week), especially if you’re lifting heavy on power days; however this is a tried and tested training regime. Rest assured, you won't overtrain by hitting a muscle group twice in a week (even if you're a beginner). That is unless you starve yourself throughout the program or refuse to sleep each night.
To begin with, PHAT training can be tough, especially if you’ve been following a traditional 5-day split and working one body part per week. You may experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), however your body will soon adapt and your muscles will grow stronger and bigger due to the extra training frequency and stimulus.
After a few weeks, your body's recovery levels will be far superior to what they were before, and you won't experience any more muscle soreness.
Taking this recovery principle to the extreme – just look at gymnasts, they train their muscles hard for hours every day, however they can avoid overtraining because their bodies have adapted overtime to this INSANE amount of volume.
You cannot become exceptionally strong or muscular without pushing your bodies physical boundaries.
What is a Typical PHAT Training Routine?
Now we know the basic principles behind PHAT training, let’s take a look at what a typical routine looks like.
As previously mentioned, a PHAT Workout is split into two categories: Power days, and hypertrophy days:
During the FIRST and SECOND day of your program, these will be your heavy power days.
You'll perform heavy compound exercises aiming for 3-5 working sets, of 3-5 repetitions.
Typical exercises include:
- Bench presses
- Military presses
- Bent over rows
- Pullups (weighted)
- Dips (weighted)
- Leg press
On these days you’re looking to increase your strength, thus you'll take a moderate amount of rest inbetween sets, usually being 3-5 minutes.
Remember, your objective is to lift as heavy as possible during power days, so more rest is needed after a working set.
Day 3 will be a rest day, and days 4 and 5 will be hypertrophy-focused.
Now you'll be training like a bodybuilder, lifting for size and getting a big pump from your workout. In order to do this you'll need to adopt higher reps and shorter rest periods inbetween working sets (1 – 2 minutes).
This added intensity will get your heart rate up and give you a BIGGER post-workout pump.
Before you begin your hypertrophy workout, you should warm up by performing 6-8 sets of the compound exercises you performed on your power days, but for 3 quick repetitions per set.
Thus, if you did flat bench on your chest power days, you'll begin your chest hypertrophy workout with a flat bench press of around 65-70% of the weight you lifted during your power workout.
After the “speed round” you can then focus on muscle hypertrophy.
Your exercises will be around 12 – 20 reps and 3 – 4 sets, with just 1 – 2 minutes of rest in between sets.
The Layne Norton PHAT Workout
Day 1 – Power – Upper body
- Bent-Over Rows (3 sets of 3-5 reps)
- Weighted Pull Ups (4 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Flat Dumbbell presses (3 sets of 3-5 reps)
- Weighted Dips (2 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Seated Dumbbell shoulder presses (3 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Cambered Bar curls (3 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Skull Crushers (3 sets of 6-10 reps)
Day 2 – Power – Lower Body
- Squats (3 sets of 3-5 reps)
- Leg Presses (2 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Leg Extensions (2 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Stiff Legged Deadlifts (3 sets of 5-8 reps)
- Lying Leg Curls (2 sets of 6-10 reps)
- Standing Calf Raise (3 sets Of 6-10 reps)
- Seated Calf Raise (2 sets of 6-10 reps)
Day 3 – Rest
Day 4 – Hypertrophy – Back and Shoulders
- Bent Over Rows (4 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Weighted Pull Ups (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Seated Cable Row (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Dumbbell Rows (2 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Close Grip Pull Downs (2 sets of 15-20 reps)
- Seated Dumbbell Presses (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Uprights Rows (2 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Side Lateral raises with dumbbells (3 sets of 12-20 reps)
Day 5 – Hypertrophy – Lower body
- Squats Exercises (4 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Lunges (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Leg presses (2 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Leg Extensions (3 sets of 15-20 reps)
- Stiff legged deadlifts (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Lying leg curls (2 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Seated Leg curls (2 sets of 15-20 reps)
- Standing Calf raises (4 sets of 10- 15 reps)
- Seated Calf Raises (3 sets of 15-20 reps)
Day 6 – Hypertrophy – Chest and Arms
- Flat Dumbbell presses (4 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Incline Dumbbell presses (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Hammer Strength chest press (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Incline Dumbbell Flies (2 sets of 15-20 reps)
- Cambered Bar Preacher Curls (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Dumbbell concentration Curls (2 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Spider Curls (2 sets of 15-20 reps)
- Seated Triceps Extensions (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
- Cable Press Downs with rope(2 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Cable Kickbacks (2 sets of 15-20 reps)
Day 7 – Rest
For more information on PHAT Training, here's an overview of the program from the man himself – Layne Norton: