Layne Norton PHAT Workout: Gain Size & Strength At The Same Time

The Layne Norton PHAT workout, which has become quite a famous workout routine is called “PHAT”.

The routine was designed by Dr. Layne Norton, physique coach and professional bodybuilder.

Layne designed his program for increasing strength and size at the same time – and he did a great job.

Layne Norton’s workout routine consists of 2 strength training days where you’ll be training with heavy weight and 3 hypertrophy days for stimulating muscle growth.

On the hypertrophy days you’ll be using lighter weight, but higher of reps.

The idea is simple, you build up your strength by lifting heavy for low reps, and then you build your muscles up by using higher reps.

As you get stronger you’ll be able to use heavier weights for higher reps on your hypertrophy days.

I’ve used Layne Norton’s workout many times over the years and I highly recommend it.

Layne has  done a good job of programming all rep ranges into his workout routine, which is great because each workout you’ll be hitting different types of muscle fibers and stimulating muscle growth every way possible.

Another great thing about the PHAT workout is that it calls for each muscle to be trained twice per week.

In my opinion, too many people follow the traditional bro split workout routines where you only train each muscle once per week.

If you want to build something, you don’t work on it once per week.

Layne Norton Workout, What You Need To Know:

  • It’s only a template – You can and should make changes.
  • Layne’s original routine has ‘speed sets’ programmed into the hypertrophy days. They didn’t do much for me, I noticed better progress swapping them out for 4 regular sets of 8-12 reps.
  • I swapped out ‘Rack Chins’ for more sets of pull ups.
  • Ditch hack squats for more regular squats or front squats.
  • Rotate bicep and triceps exercises to your liking.
  • Rotate between barbell press and dumbbell press on upper body and shoulder days
  • Swap out squats for dead-lifts every 2-3 weeks on your lower body days.
  • Keep a journal, it’s the easiest way to make sure you’re making progress. I turned this post into a printable workout log. Download it below and take it to the gym with you.
  • Click Here To Download Layne Norton PHAT Workout Log

Now that you’ve got a few rules and guidelines down, check out the workout routine below…

The Layne Norton PHAT Workout:

Day 1: Upper Body Strength Day

  • 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: Lower Body Strength Day

  • 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 Dead-lifts 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: Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy Day

  • 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 or Shrugs 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
  • Upright rows 2 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Side lateral raises with dumbbells or cables 3 sets of 12-20 reps

Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy Day

  • Squats 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 dead lifts 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: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy Day

  • 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 cable 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 (Don’t forget to rest!)

63 thoughts on “Layne Norton PHAT Workout: Gain Size & Strength At The Same Time”

  1. Hi I’m thinking about moving on to this workout but wanted to know if you can swap stiff leg deadlifts with normal ones. Or is it better to do how you’ve said and swap squats every 2weeks

  2. Great stuff, i like the modifications (hack-squats and rackchins out).

    In General, would you say that this System is one that you can do “forever” so that you dont have to think every 8 weeks what program to do next?

  3. Anthony, I would like to fit my workouts into 45-60 minute sessions if possible. What exercises can i exclude to be able to do that? It’s not ideal but i have to find a compromise between time at the gym and my work outside of it.

    • I have a 4 month old, I wake up at 5:30am to workout, I can only workout 1 hour, and I manage 🙂

      You just have to hustle through the work, Omair.

      I take short rests, I superset when neccessary, and just do as much as I can in that 1 hour.
      45-60 minutes is plenty of time for a workout, you might have to do cardio and weights on different days, though.

  4. Is this workout good for women? I was lifting rhen switched to classes and felt a muscle loss. I still need to lose 40 or so lbs. Just heard about PHAT

  5. Could you possibly offer an alternative exercise to weighted dips? I don’t have access to a gym, but I’ve got dumbbells ranging from 5 to 50lbs, an incline, decline, flat bench, and pull up bar. I want to try this program but will have to modify a few of these if possible. Thanks!

  6. I’ve been doing crossfit for about 2 years but gonna switch over to a contemporary gym and start working on making size gains. I was recommended PHAT by a friend that does some personal training. You said in your post that you don’t recommend this for beginners. Does 2 years of crossfit take the beginner out of my equation or should i start with something else in my new endeavor??

  7. Can I do this template on a cut as well? Did this a year ago on my bulk and then switched to another regimen.

    • I can’t speak for Layne, but my experience is that dumbbells are better for building a chest. Barbell is very over-rated in my opinion. I use dumbbells, making sure to touch the dumbbells together at the top of the rep – I first learned this from Vince Gironda, I ditched barbell and haven’t looked back since.

  8. Going to give this program a try and was just wondering why some of the exercises are only two sets instead of the typical 3 or 4 sets?

    • Hey Zack,

      It’s just the way that Layne Norton set his workout up.

      Not everything needs to be 3 or 4 sets to be effective, some of the smaller muscles do just fine with 2 or even 1 sets.

    • Good question, I will try to include that in there, but in general I need more rest on my strength days. I’d rest for 60-90 seconds on strength days, at least the big exercises. I would rest no more than 60 seconds on hypertrophy days.

  9. Hi..

    Can you tell me more about hypertrophy. I am confuse on these hypertrophy days.. Should i lift mymaximum weight on these days? Or should i lift light weight.. Because light weight by doing 12 rep does not really work.. Please help..

  10. What kind of rest do you take? I’m thinking 3-5 minutes for the sets of 3-5 and 60-90 seconds for the higher sets? What about the 6-10 and 5-8 sets on days 1 and 2?

  11. Workout looks great and I’m keen to try this.
    Only thing is I am unable to workout on weekends so do you foresee any problems with me doing all 5 workouts on consecutive days Mon-Fri and then resting weekends?

    • If it’s the only way you can do it, then go for it. If you start to feel overtrained then back off a bit.

      You could also perhaps ditch one of the leg days so that you don’t get too overwhelmed.

      I personally skip the second leg day sometimes, but my legs are my strongest muscle so I can afford to do it.

  12. When we are talking about sets & repetitions, what type of sets should be used in this PHAT routine? Straight sets? Or Pyramid sets?

    • I used to do pyramid sets, but have recently started doing more reverse pyramid.

      It makes sense to me because I have the most energy early on in my workout, so I start with the heaviest weight I can possibly lift and strip the weight off as needed.

      It seems to be working quite well for me. Give it a shot.

    • I actually don’t think the reps are that high.

      The rep range is 6 to 10, meaning if you hit 10 reps, you need to increase the weight.

      But, to answer your question – You should be going very heavy on the chest exercise, which can put a lot of stress on your shoulders. So to go from super heavy on chest to super heavy on shoulders could potentially cause shoulder issues.

      Shoulders are one of the most common injuries and I personally never go too heavy on shoulder exercises. I might go as heavy as 185lb for military press, but I can rep that out 12-15 times on my first set.

  13. Perhaps I’m looking at this incorrectly, but Day 1 includes chest, biceps, etc. then it’s a whole 5 days (Day 6) until you work them out again. But then when you go from Day 6 back to Day 1, that’s only 2 days before you work them out again. Seems like it’s not very even when it comes to the amount of rest (5 days then 2 days) and only giving those muscles 2 days rest (going from Day 6 back to Day 1) wouldn’t be enough. Can you explain the thought behind this routine? Thanks.

    • You’re just over thinking it 🙂

      You’re probably never going to be able to work everything out in a perfectly even timing schedule.

      Most people are hitting their muscles once every 7 days, so just the fact you’re hitting something more frequently than that is great.

      PHAT is one of the most effective workout routines around.

      But to clarify, you’re actually using a lot of those muscles within 3 days. On Day 1 you’re body your hitting upper body heavy and hard, then within 3 days you’re hitting your back and biceps which you just absolutely smoked on the first day.

  14. Hey thanks for the information, I shared the article on twitter but nothing seemed to unlock the log?

    Please can you email it to me or whatever 😛


  15. Nice article with the variation. What’s the recommended weight increase for the power workout? I usually go up 5-10 lbs, depending on compound or isolated movement for hypertrophy workout. But unsure about the power days.

    • Hey Jag,

      On power days I simply go as heavy as I can for the prescribed rep range.

      For example on my power upper body day, for bench press – I have some idea how much weight I can use to hit 5 reps, so I’ll load 275lb on the bar, I’ll rep it out. If I hit 5 reps, I will increase it slightly for my next set. If I can only hit 2 reps, well I know I need to drop the weight a bit.

      So I basically just stick to the simple rule – did I hit 5 or more reps? If so so increase weight. Did I get less than 3 reps? If so it’s too heavy, take a few lbs off.

  16. Thanks for the great post and downloadable workout log. Up to this point I’ve kept a long of all my PRs as they happen from workout to workout. I’m curious whether it’s worth the added effort of tracking what you lift for each set. What is the added benefit of putting in the extra work every set. Then again, this will be my first time trying PHAT, so I could easily be missing something.

    • Hey Phil,

      I appreciate the kind words – I’m glad you liked it.

      The added benefit is simply more work for your muscle, just more volume. If it’s too tough you can work your way up to the full workout, maybe do half of the workout for the first week, then do a little more for the second week, etc. It doesn’t have to be followed EXACTLY as written.

  17. I am soon to turn 16 years old and I am very skinny and have no muscle what so ever and this to me doesn’t look nice. I would like a workout which is not to complex and will help with bulking out and gaining muscle also I don’t want to have to take anything apart from protian shakes.
    Can you help.

    • Increase your calories, so multiply your weight by 18 or so, and whatever that number is… eat 500 more calories then that.

      Also it might be beneficial for you to take creatine as well – I would.

  18. Hi there, what are the rest times for assistant and auxiliary exercises on the power days? is it same as the power movements (3-5 min rest)?

    • Good question, I should probably update this and address that.

      I actually don’t really need 3-5min rest anymore, 2 and I’m back where I need to be. As for auxiliar, no more than 1-2 min rest for those.

  19. hey how should I modify the program to see gains in shoulders.. my shoulders are very small and I would like them winder and broader

  20. Sorry if this is answered elsewhere but…I plan on starting this routine today. Any final thoughts on PHAT and how long did you eventually stay on it? Strength/mass gains? Also – I like the changes you made here (ie. more pull-ups, lose the hack squats…)

    • Hey RBK,

      My final thoughts – Layne Norton’s PHAT is a really great routine. Layne Norton is a “love him or hate him” kind of guy.
      One thing that can’t be argued, though, is that Layne knows his shit. This program in my opinion is best for building muscle, and I believe the intensity of the program kept nearly all fat gain away.

      I put on a lot of size, especially in my chest which is my most lagging area, so it helped. As far as strength, I inevitably got much stronger, but that wasn’t my overall goal. The Layne Norton workout is my “go to” workout now, though. When I get bored with a routine I always fall back on the PHAT workout. I stayed on it for a solid few months, and have used it many times since I originally wrote this article.

      Thanks for the compliment, the layne norton workout had a few exercises I just didn’t like so I made a couple of edits. Glad you liked them.

      I wouldn’t recommend it for cutting, but it can definitely be done. It just takes a lot out of you, training muscle groups heavy and multiple times a week. When I’m cutting I prefer to do just enough weight training to maintain what I have and let the fat melt off me.

    • There’s no cardio programmed into the routine. I suggest doing cardio on your off days, in the morning, or immediately after the workout.
      I prefer stair stepper, jump rope, or HIIT on the treadmill

  21. Hey, I have an issue with this workout, the fact is I can’t workout on saturday and sunday, because I work during the day and my gym closes too early so should I try and compound the program in 4days on just take out the rest day on wenesday? I was thinking on doing

    upper body day1, lower body day2, chest arms day3, but nows the problem my legs are still sore on day4 to do them again and I don’t think i’ll be able to workout my shoulders and back efficiantly after an arms day

    • Hey Simon,

      No doubt this is a demanding workout.

      I love it because it fits my schedule, but I realize it may not fit everybody’s.

      Here is what I would personally do if I were you, get rid of the 2nd leg day and compress the routine to 4 days.
      If you hit your legs hard enough once a week you’re already doing something the majority of guys aren’t doing
      at all.

      I personally would do:
      Monday – Upper Strength Day
      Tuesday – Hybrid Of the 2 leg days, with low rep and high rep work.
      Wednesday – complete rest day
      Thursday – Back and Shoulders
      Friday – Chest and Arms.


    • Hey Will,

      Thanks for the comment!

      That means a lot. I do my best to give great advice on here, so I’m happy to hear you appreciate the hard work I put into my site.
      Comments like yours really make me happy and keep me motivated to continue writing articles.

      About the hypertrophy day – You don’t necessarily need to lift fast. Lift with intensity and rest for a shorter amount of time than you
      would on a strength day. On a strength day I rest sometimes for over 1 minute betweet sets. On Hypertrophy days I try to rest for less
      than a minute between sets.

    • Glad to hear you liked my changes!

      Since this post is getting 100+ visitors/day I’m actually considering adding a downloadable, printable workout log.

      • That’d be great, I always have this page up on my phone to keep track of sets/reps during my workout.

        What kind of progression do you use for the big compounds? I’ve always done ramping sets for bench/ohp/bent row going up about 5lbs per working set and 10-25 lbs on squat/dl. What would you recommend?

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