Time to Get PHAT: Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training

Layne Norton

The PHAT program was developed by Layne Norton, a professional natural bodybuilder, powerlifter, PHD and writer.

What is PHAT? Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training Principles

PHAT programs come in all shapes and sizes, but there is one constant, basic premise which is the same amongst all of each flavor of PHAT programs – each muscle gets worked twice per week. The first two days of the week are split routines which are split by upper body and lower body power days. The third day would be a rest day while days 4-6 are more of your traditional hypertrophy orientated bodybuilding training days.

A Typical PHAT Split:

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 Hypertrophy
Day 7: Rest

Heavy Lifting

PHAT Power Days

Your first 2 power days will have you focusing on power movements for the upper and lower body. Deadlifts, squats, presses and pull-ups are exercises that you will work with a lot of these days. When performing on the first two days, you want to go heavy. Your goal is to stay in the 3-5 rep range for 3-5 working sets with each compound movement. Your rest periods should be long enough to completely recover from the last set. I normally rest for about 2-3 minutes between sets, but I have seen people go as long as 5+ minutes between sets. The point is to fully recover. You will return to shorted rest periods during the hypertrophy training days.

The main struggle that you have with the heavy days with PHAT training is the mental struggle. You need to be fully prepared mentally in order to make this work. It is too easy to not be mentally ready for a set and fail at it. Your focus is on moving the weight at all costs for the required reps.

PHAT Hypertrophy Days

Hypertrophy days work a little different in PHAT programs. Moving the weight explosively is a must. If you are slowing down during the concentric phase of the lift, you are going too heavy. A common workout on hypertrophy days are 6-8 sets of 3 reps per set with 70% of your max from the workout prior (from your power training days). I.E. if you performed squats with 500 lbs. for 5 reps, you want to use 70% of 500, so you would do squats for 6 sets with 350 lbs. for 3 explosive reps. On hypertrophy days, you want explosive speed not big weight. Your rest periods should be around 60 seconds between these speed sets.

After your speed sets, train like you normally would. For me, that would be in the 8-10 rep range for most upper body exercises and 12-15 for most lower body exercises. I still like the 60 second rest periods though. The main difference is that you should only go to failure on your last sets of each exercise and not the initial sets. This aids with burning out quickly.

This is actually my largest beef with PHAT programs as well as I like to train to failure. The thinking behind not training to failure is to help you maintain a greater overall power during your workout. For the first 2-4 weeks of your PHAT training program, you should always stop 1-2 reps before failure until your body becomes accustomed to this new program. At that point, you can begin to incorporate going to failure for the last 1-2 sets.

PHAT Review

PHAT programs are not for the faint of heart and you will challenge yourself physically and mentally. The mental aspect of it is the hardest portion as you need 100% focus for every rep. This is not a program where you can go through the motions and expect results. For someone who is losing focus during training, PHAT could be a way to get them back on track.

While I am no expert on PHAT by any means, I have tried a few different PHAT programs and enjoyed them. More importantly, you will see results and results are what matter.

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