PHAT Workout to Gain Size and Strength

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PHAT or Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training was created by physique coach and professional powerlifter Dr. Layne Norton.

The focus of the PHAT Workout is to increase muscle size and strength through hypertrophy and progressive overload.

Hypertrophy involves an increase in the size of tissues and organs due to the size increase of their component cells (1, 2, 3, 4).

The PHAT program is tailored to workout each muscle through regular strength exercises and bodybuilding hypertrophy training.

If you want to build muscles sans bulk weight, then you may want to try the PHAT workout.

The Layne Norton PHAT program concentrates on combining high and low rep counts in sets. This will lead to muscle hypertrophy with necessary recovery.

The PHAT Workout Routine is 5-day training.

You’ll do power workouts on the first two days followed by one day of rest.

Then, you’ll undergo hypertrophy training for three days. This will be followed by a rest day.

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Layne Norton PHAT Routine


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

Day 1 (Monday) – Upper Body Power Day

  • Three sets of Bent Over (four reps each set).
  • Two sets of Weighted Pull Up (eight reps).
  • Two sets of Rack Chin (eight reps).
  • Three sets of Flat Dumbbell Press (four reps).
  • Two sets of Weighted Dip (eight reps).
  • Three sets of Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (eight reps).
  • Three sets of Cambered Bar Curl (eight reps).
  • Three sets of Skull Crusher (eight reps).

Day 2 (Tuesday) – Lower Body Power Day

  • Three sets of Squat (four reps each set).
  • Two sets of Hack Squat (eight reps).
  • Two sets of Leg Extension (eight reps).
  • Three sets of Stiff-Legged Deadlift (seven reps).
  • Two sets of Glute Ham Raise (eight reps).
  • Three sets of Standing Calf Raise (eight reps).
  • Two sets of Seated Calf Raise (eight reps).

Day 3 (Wednesday): Rest

Day 4 (Thursday) – Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy Day

  • Six sets of Bent Over (four reps each set).
  • Three sets of Rack Chin (ten reps).
  • Three sets of Seated Cable Row (ten reps).
  • Two sets of Dumbbell Row (13 reps).
  • Two sets of Close-Grip Pulldown (18 reps).
  • Three sets of Seated Dumbbell Press (ten reps).
  • Two sets of Upright Row (13 reps).
  • Three sets of Side Lateral Raise with Dumbbell or Cables (16 reps).

Day 5 (Friday) – Lower Body Hypertrophy Day

  • Six sets of Squat (three reps each set).
  • Three sets of Hack Squat (ten reps).
  • Two sets of Leg Press (14 reps).
  • Three sets of Leg Extension (18 reps).
  • Three sets of Romanian Deadlift (ten reps).
  • Two sets of Lying Leg Curl (14 reps).
  • Two sets of Seated Leg Curl (18 reps).
  • Four sets of Donkey Calf Raise (13 reps).
  • Three sets of Seated Calf Raise (18 reps).

Day 6 (Saturday) – Chest and Arms Hypertrophy Day

  • Six sets of Flat Dumbbell Press (three reps each set).
  • Three sets of Incline Dumbbell Press (ten reps).
  • Three sets of Hammer Strength Chest Press (14 reps).
  • Two sets of Incline Cable Fly (18 reps).
  • Three sets of Cambered Bar Preacher Curl (ten reps).
  • Two sets of Dumbbell Concentration Curl (14 reps).
  • Two sets of Spider Curl Bracing Upper Body Against an Incline Bench (18 reps).
  • Three sets of Seated Tricep Extension with Cambered Bar (ten reps).
  • Two sets of Cable Pressdown with Rope Attachment (14 reps).
  • Two sets of Cable Kickbacks (18 reps).

Day 7 (Sunday): Rest

Workout Notes


Power Training

The goal for the first two days is to build power and strength.

This will enable you to work on heavier loads during hypertrophy days.

During PHAT workout’s power training days, you’ll do compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and box squats.

It is best to maintain the 3-5 rep range for 3-5 working sets.

According to researchers, the best strategy for strength-building is to do a lower rep with higher (5).

If you’re a beginner, it’s important to take things slow.

The muscles you’re working on may not be used to the stress you’ll put on them. It is best to start with light weights and do slow movements.


During power training, it is recommended to take 3 minutes of rest or even longer between sets.

The goal is to be able to move a maximum weight. You can do shorter rest during hypertrophy exercises.

Hypertrophy Training

The aim of the Layne Norton PHAT workout during hypertrophy training days is to induce stress on the muscles.

This will result in improved strength and muscle mass.

This can be done through some speed work or by doing 6-8 sets of 3 reps.

The idea of doing speed work is to move the weight as quickly as possible while maintaining proper form.

Make sure that the weight is not too heavy during hypertrophy training.

The recommended rest between sets is a maximum of 90 seconds.


It is recommended to use failure on the last 1 or 2 sets of each exercise once you’re already accustomed to the routine.

But, it is not advisable to take sets to failure during the first three weeks of PHAT workout.

Doing so will lead to quick burnout.

An option would be to stop 1-2 reps shy of failure.

Once you are used to the routine, you can add failure to your power/accessory movements.

Layne Norton PHAT program recommends avoiding the use of failure for more than six weeks in a row without a break.

Training to failure quite often will result in a decrease in strength, performance and hypertrophic capacity.

Also, it will reduce the volume that your body can endure.

Overtraining Factor

It’s normal to feel sore for the first few weeks, but after 4-6 weeks, your body will be used to the increase in frequency.

To help you adapt better to the PHAT workout routine, it is best for you to deload once every 6 to 12 weeks.

This would mean lifting at 60-70% of your normal weights for 1-3 weeks.

This will allow for sustained strength and better recovery.

Some factors to consider when deloading are your age, level of training and how fast your body can recuperate.

Deloading will enable you to push through with your training while giving your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles a rest from heavy lifting.

PHAT Workout Progression

The key to seeing progress under the PHAT program is progressive overload.

This is done when you increase the overall resistance on the muscle without changing the number of repetitions.

Simply put, to progress, you’ll need to work on heavier weights but do lower reps. This will allow you to increase your strength.

Eventually, you’ll be able to work on heavier weights with an increased rep.

To make your progress consistent, you can also alternate your power movements every two to three weeks.

If you modify your exercises every week, it will be difficult for you to monitor your progress.

Changing movements every two to three week will give you a sufficient reference point.

You can do assistance exercises for smaller parts of the body such as the hamstrings, shoulders, calves, and arms.

Bear in mind that your muscles will only increase in size when put under stress.

If the stress factor is not increased, your muscles will have no reason to adapt or grow further.

Make sure to list down your changes. It will help you keep track of your PHAT workout progression.

Also, provide enough time for your body to adjust when you apply progressive overload to your training.

Here are some things you can do to ensure positive Layne Norton PHAT results:

  • Set realistic goals of what you want to accomplish in doing the program.
  • Start with low-volume training until you’re used to the PHAT workout progression. Choose a weight that will allow you to do 10-12 repetitions. If you’re having difficulty with the weight you’re currently using, it means it’s too heavy for you. Gradually increase the load as your progress through the program.
  • Do the routines with full concentration. Some do the lifts while concentrating on the number of reps. Experts say that concentrating on how your body feels during the workout will allow you to exercise effectively and avoid injuries.
  • The Layne Norton PHAT program requires training in proper form. If you’re not sure, ask an expert on how to do a specific correctly. It would be best if you can find a knowledgeable training buddy or if you can hire a trainer. They’ll help teach you how to do your routine the right way at least during the start of your training until you get familiar. Otherwise, you can purchase available resource materials such as DVDs or online videos to get more information on your routine.
  • Safety is a priority. You won’t be able to enjoy your PHAT workout results if you’re injured. So, make sure you have the lifting accessories that you’ll need such as gloves and straps and harness. Also, have a workout buddy who can help you in case you’ll have difficulty in lifting heavier loads.
  • Ensure you’re well-rested and get at least 7 hours of sleep to help your body recuperate well.
  • Monitor your PHAT workout transformation by looking at the mirror and taking some selfies. Doing so will also help you identify where you need to do more workout.
  • List down your Layne Norton PHAT routine and commit to accomplishing it.
  • Seek medical attention if you’re injured. Some people dismiss the impact of even a slight injury. While the body can recuperate on its own, make sure to listen to your body. If you’re unable to perform your routine at your best form due to an injury, consult your doctor.
  • Fill your diet with protein-rich food to help your muscles recover better. The recommended protein consumption is 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. Red meat, eggs, fish, cheese and chicken are good protein sources. Vegetables such as spinach, beans, and lentils are excellent sources of protein too.
  • Drink plenty of water. Any bodybuilding or strength workout can lead to water loss. Water loss can be due to the length and intensity of the workout or even the clothes you wear. A study shows that even 2% loss of body fluids can affect how you do your workout by 15-20%. Make sure to drink lots of fluids to get maximum gains during training.

Benefits of the Program

Strength training programs such as PHAT are essential in many ways.

PHAT slows down muscle loss that naturally occurs as people age.

It strengthens your muscles and connective tissues. It reduces the risk of injury and increases bone density. Also, it helps you manage arthritis pain.

Studies show that bodybuilding exercises also help improve balance and maintain blood-sugar control. Also, they help you sleep better and boost your mental health.


Some reviews from social media consider PHAT workout as one of the best.

They say that although the routine will leave you sore for the first few weeks, once you’re accustomed to the workout, you’ll feel less painful eventually.

Some reviewers say that they like how the program is flexible. You can customize it based on your skills and goals. They mentioned they make some changes to the routine every six weeks to continue to have strength gains.

Other say they modify an exercise or two every 4 to 6 weeks so they won’t feel stuck and to keep the workout interesting.

Some reviewers advise committing to the PHAT workout only when you can find a spare time of 5 days a week.

According to experts, you’ll be able to notice your PHAT workout transformation after four to eight weeks of a continuous workout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Okay for a Beginner to Do This Workout?

Yes. PHAT program emphasizes progressive strength training.

This means that you don’t need to start with heavy weights.

You can start with the weight that you’re comfortable to lift and work your way up.

How Does Layne Norton PHAT Program Work?

The PHAT workout is a bodybuilding and powerlifting combo.

It combines powerlifters’ strategy of using a lower rep with high weight and bodybuilders’ method of using higher reps of less weight.

What’s different in this workout – compared to other well-known training – is that it will allow you to do both powerlifting and body-lifting styles of training in the same week.

Usually, other training has a particular routine for specific muscles or muscle group for a week or even more.

How Can I Avoid Training Plateau?

Training plateau is when you stop seeing results in your workout (6).

As you lose weight, your metabolism will decline. This will cause you to burn fewer calories.

If you burn the same calories as you consume, you will reach a plateau.

You can increase your food intake and modify your power/accessory exercises to avoid training plateau.

The power exercises include squats and deadlifts. The accessory exercises are those performed with more reps. They include pull-ups and skull crushers.

Another option is working on Layne Norton PHAT routines that you’re having difficulty with.

You can strategize and find ways on how you can improve your performance in those routines.

Can I Include Cardio in the Routine?

It’s best to limit cardio to once a week at the start of the training until your body is accustomed to the PHAT workout.

You may opt for high-intensity cardio such as sprints, car pushes, sled dragging, and elliptical cardio.

What Warm-Up Exercises Can I Do?

Choose warm-up exercises that won’t stress your muscles. Low cardio warm-up exercises, foam rolling, and box jumps are good options.

Make sure to do a proper warm-up.

A proper warm-up is essential in stretching the parts of your body that will be worked during your routine.

Also, it opens up nerves and arteries so that blood can properly circulate in the target muscles.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll need to do more warm-up sets if you’ll be lifting heavier loads.


There are various strength training and bodybuilding programs available.

Whether PHAT will work for you or not depends on many factors such as genetics and nutrition.

The frequency, total volume and the intensity of your exercises will affect your PHAT workout transformation.

Finding positive PHAT workout results will depend on your commitment to the program and yourself.

Bear in mind that through this program, you’re training your muscle tissues to increase in size.

So, it’s essential that you listen to your body. Do the workout in your proper form and condition.

If you want to learn more, check out our Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower (PHUL) workout guide.