Phat Workout to Build Mass and Strength – Review of The Layne Norton Program
October 11, 2021
Are you trying to bulk up and build bigger muscles? Do you want to increase your strength or the amount of weight you can lift during the big lifts such as squatting and bench pressing? The PHAT workout is an exercise routine created by Dr. Layne Norton. Focusing on the best principles from bodybuilding and powerlifting, the PHAT workout program may be what you need to get huge.
- What is the PHAT Workout Program?
- Who is Dr. Layne Norton, the creator of the PHAT Workout?
- The Science Behind Muscle Building with PHAT Workout
- Who is the PHAT Workout Program For?
- Benefits of this Style of Training
- 7-Day PHAT Workout Routine
- What is a PHAT Workout Schedule and Routine?
When you try to look for a workout program for muscle building online, you’ll be presented with countless articles, most of which are written by people who aren’t even certified trainers. When your goal is to pack on size while improving your personal bests, you need a tried-and-true workout program.
The PHAT Workout from Dr. Layne Norton is a comprehensive hybrid workout that combines the best principles from bodybuilding and powerlifting. When used in combination with a muscle-focused diet and dietary supplements, the PHAT workout can help you reach new levels of size and strength.
Let’s take a look at what the PHAT workout program is, the man behind the workout, Layne Norton, and the complete schedule for the PHAT program.
The PHAT workout is for any guy or girl who has chased after muscle size and found themselves coming up short. It rotates days of the hypertrophic lifting style with the aesthetic goal of bodybuilding – bigger and more defined muscles – with the lifting techniques from powerlifting.
Let’s talk about the power days, which kick off the training cycle. The focus on lifting heavy weights at lower repetitions may seem counterintuitive to the traditional bodybuilding school of thought of using moderate repetitions and weight, but Layne Norton thinks otherwise. The creator of the PHAT workout says that by incorporating heavy powerlifting-based exercises into his workout routine, he was able to bulk up his weakest feature: his legs.
The other half of the PHAT program foundation is hypertrophic, pump-focused movements that bring the muscle to complete failure. Not only are you increasing how much weight you can push, but you’re also tapping into an increased anabolic state.
Layne Norton has quite the resume under his weightlifting belt. He is a professional powerlifter, earning his place as champion in his weight class on several occasions. He is also a bodybuilder and physique-focused coach, helping others achieve their goals of size and shred.
As a researcher, Dr. Layne Norton is published in several nutritional science journals with his most famous study focusing on the anabolic benefits of the amino acid, leucine. As a fitness writer, he is featured on a number of health and fitness websites, primarily focusing on muscle building and powerlifting. Norton also has his own supplement line.
Norton was inspired to create the PHAT workout routine after he saw the dramatic changes in his own physique by blending bodybuilding with powerlifting.
Since you’ll be using two different lifting methodologies during the Layne Norton PHAT workout, it’s important to review the science behind both to see if they are effective in building muscle mass and strength.
When it comes to powerlifting, the NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training suggests using more sets with fewer repetitions and a greater percentage of your one-repetition maximum or the greatest amount of weight that you can safely lift one time.
Studies show that using a greater percentage of your one-rep max – usually around 80% to 95% – activates myogenesis, which promote muscle tissue growth.
What’s more, powerlifting is going to increase your overall strength. After all, this is the goal of competitive powerlifting: to increase your personal bests. By boosting the amount of weight you can lift, the increase in strength can support your bodybuilding goals by helping to bring the muscle to complete failure and triggering hypertrophic growth.
The NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training recommends performing a moderate amount of sets and more repetitions at 60% to 75% of your one-repetition maximum. Another key factor to bodybuilding acute variables is tempo or how quickly you move the weight through the lowering, pausing, and lifting phases. In general, experts recommend the following:
- 2 seconds spent lifting the weight
- 0 seconds spent pausing
- 2 seconds spent lowering the weight
Studies show that the slower lifting speed ensures that you’re completely fatiguing the muscle, which will promote lean tissue development. By the time you reach the last few reps, you should be struggling to get the weight up.
The PHAT workout program is ideal for beginners who are currently learning compound movements such as the back squat. But it’s also great for veteran weightlifters who are looking for a change in their workout program and lifting style.
The PHAT routine focuses on foundational compound movements such as the squat, row, bench press, and deadlift, which means the beginning lifter will be learning the most important concepts of traditional weightlifting. For the veteran lifter, this return to the classics will be a nice review.
Since the program focuses on progression at the pace of the lifter, every experience level can benefit from the PHAT workout. What’s more, the PHAT workout routine incorporates different lifting speeds and a rotating focus on important muscle groups. In other words, it presents a consistent challenge for the bodybuilder, the athlete, and the average Joe.
Muscle Building: By tapping into the benefits of powerlifting and bodybuilding, the PHAT workout program pretty much guarantees some increase in muscle mass, assuming you are consistent and pair it with a healthy diet. As the studies above illustrate, both powerlifting and bodybuilding can trigger muscle growth.
Fat Loss: Studies show that training five days a week is enough to kickstart your metabolic rate, but when you combine this many training days with a variety of lifting styles, you push your fat burning ability into overdrive. The PHAT workout routine is capable of promoting an increase in caloric expenditure during and for hours after your workout thanks to the afterburn effect known as EPOC (excess post-oxygen consumption).
Strength Gains: The power-driven days of the PHAT program can help to increase strength levels by forcing you to use up to 95% of your one-repetition maximum and constantly demanding that you increase the weight you use from week to week. For example, if you squatted 200 pounds on Week One, you should push yourself to use at least 5 more pounds during Week Two.
Below, you’ll find the PHAT workout routine including rest days and suggested cardio days.
Day 1: Upper Body Power
- Bench Press: 3 sets of 3-5
- Weighted Pull Ups: 2 sets of 6-10
- Horizontal Row: 2 sets of 6-10
- Weighted Dips: 2 sets of 6-10
- Pendlay Rows: 3 sets of 3-5
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 6-10
- Cambered Bar Curls: 3 sets of 6-10
- Dumbbell Skull Crushers: 3 sets of 6-10
Day 2: Lower Body Power
- Squats: 3 sets of 3-5
- Hack Squats: 2 sets of 6-10
- Leg Extensions: 2 sets of 6-10
- Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 3 sets of 5-8
- Leg Curls: 2 sets of 6-10
- Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets of 6-10
- Seated Calf Raise: 2 sets of 6-10
Day 3: Rest or Light Cardio Day
Day 4: Back & Shoulders Hypertrophy
- Pendlay Rows: 6 sets of 3
- Horizontal Row: 3 sets of 8-12
- Seated Cable Row: 3 sets of 8-12
- Braced Dumbbell Rows: 2 sets of 12-15
- Close Grip Pulldowns: 2 sets of 15-20
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8-12
- Upright Rows: 2 sets of 12-15
- DB Side Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12-20
Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy
- Squats: 6 sets of 3
- Hack Squats: 3 sets of 8-12
- Leg Press: 2 sets of 12-15
- Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 15-20
- Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-12
- Lying Leg Curls: 2 sets of 12-15
- Seated Leg Curls: 2 sets of 15-20
- Donkey Calf Raises: 4 sets of 10-15
- Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets of 15-20
Day 6: Chest & Arms Hypertrophy
- Dumbbell Press: 6 sets of 3
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 8-12
- Incline Chest Press: 3 sets of 12-15
- Incline Cable Flys: 2 sets of 15-20
- Preacher Curls: 3 sets of 8-12
- DB Concentration Curls: 2 sets of 12-15
- Spider Curls: 2 sets of 15-20
- Cambered Bar Tricep Extension: 3 sets of 8-12
- Cable Pressdowns w/ Rope: 2 sets of 12-15
- Cable Kickbacks: 2 sets of 15-20
Day 7: Rest or Light Cardio Day
The PHAT workout schedule is an effective upper and lower split program that rotates two different lifting styles or sets of acute variables. By safely and appropriately progressing the amount of weight that you lift from week to week, you can significantly increase muscle mass and strength while reducing fat mass. But none of this will be possible if you’re skipping on rest. Be sure to eat a healthy diet that focuses on quality protein sources to support muscle building.