With so many different workouts circulating online and in magazines, such as Emom, the PHUL workout could easily get lost in the shuffle.
However, while most will claim to be able to produce incredible results with little evidence, the PHUL workout routine can back up its claims.
With the ability to train both the lower and upper body for a variety of disciplines, the PHUL workout routine can be an incredible tool for a variety of people.
For anyone who is still unsure, let’s take a closer look at the PHUL workout and give you all the facts, so you can see for yourself.
What Is The PHUL Routine?
The word PHUL in PHUL routine is an acronym that stands for Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower.
Created in 2013 by fitness expert Brandon Campbell, the PHUL routine is designed to stimulate maximum increases in both strength and muscle size throughout your entire body.
A PHUL workout routine is broken up into 4 days of training per week. These will include a power day and a hypertrophy day for the upper body and then the same again for the lower body. This ensures each muscle is worked twice per week and goes through both strength and size training.
What Does A Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower Split Consist Of?
On the upper body days, you will target the chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps.
On the lower body days, you will train the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and a certain amount of lower back.
Eagle-eyed readers may notice the absence of abs on either of these days. This is because the PHUL workout consists primarily of large compound exercises, although a small number of isolation exercises are often included as well.
How Does A PHUL Workout Work?
The reason compound exercises make up the bulk of a PHUL workout routine is because they are great for building both strength and size, the primary goals of the program.
In addition, they force you to work at a high intensity throughout a session, keeping your muscles in an anabolic state, which helps them to grow.
When performing compound exercises, the abs are constantly used to stabilise the body. This means they will be being trained as a secondary muscle on all 4 days of a PHUL workout routine, so won’t need any dedicated time of their own.
Is A Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower Split Effective?
This all leads to a PHUL workout program being an incredibly effective tool for those looking to increase size and strength.
The compound exercises also add the bonus of improving functional strength, which will help make day to day activities easier.
The PHUL workout program is also incredibly convenient for those with limited time. Workouts are generally shorter and achieve multiple goals, limiting the amount of time you need to spend in the gym.
This is furthered by the 3 rest days included each week, meaning you won’t have to carve time out of your busy schedule on as many days as you otherwise may have.
PHUL vs PPL
The PHUL workout is frequently compared to the PPL workout. While the former is all about power hypertrophy upper lower, the PPL splits your training into push, pull and lower body movements, as opposed to individual muscle groups.
This is a commonly used method, as it is a very simple way to dissect your routine. Despite its popularity, several factors make the power hypertrophy upper lower PHUL workout more beneficial.
For starters, the PPL trains the whole body over 3 days, as opposed to 2. This means to train each muscle twice per week would see you training 6 days in a row, before only having a single day of rest before beginning again.
This lack of rest dramatically increases the chance of injury, as your body never has the opportunity to fully recover. Even if you do manage to avoid injury, you are likely to suffer from exhaustion, leading to less effective workouts and diminished results.
Then there is the fact that muscles can sometimes be used on consecutive days in a PPL workout.
For example, the deltoids are used when training both chest (push) and back (pull). This means they will be getting worked up to four times per week, on consecutive days, which again leads to a greater risk of injury.
While there are many similarities between the two workouts, PHUL is more beneficial in several areas, while the only advantage the PPL workout seems to have is its simplicity.
PHUL Template Example
When setting out your PHUL workout, you will have a reasonable amount of freedom. That said, there are two rules that you will need to follow: don’t train more than two days in a row and never train the same body part on consecutive days.
Once you have your days and exercises set out, you can then follow your program for between 6 – 12 weeks, making sure to change it as your progress begins to plateau.
Planning Your Days
The optimal split for a PHUL workout will look like this:
- Monday – Upper Body (Power)
- Tuesday – Lower Body (Power)
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – Upper Body (Hypertrophy)
- Friday – Lower Body (Hypertrophy)
- Saturday & Sunday – Rest
Scheduling it this way allows you to get the power days done at the start of the week, when you are fresh, as these will be the most tiring. You then have a day off to recover before moving on to the hypertrophy days.
2 consecutive days rest days at the end will then allow you to fully recover before you begin the next week. Much like how you split the days, a PHUL workout routine offers a great deal of choice in terms of exercise, reps, sets, and rest as well.
Upper Body Power
On the upper body power days, you’ll look to perform 7-10 exercises, which include 2 exercises each for both chest and back, and at least one for each other upper body muscle group.
You will complete 2-4 sets of each exercise, with 3-10 reps per set, both determined by the difficulty of the exercise.
A good example of the exercises performed on this day would be:
- Bench Press – 3 – 4 sets x 3 – 6 reps
- Incline Bench Press – 3 – 4 sets x 6 – 10 reps
- Bent-Over Barbell Row – 3 – 4 sets x 3 – 6 reps
- Lat Pulldown – 3 – 4 sets x 6 – 10 reps
- Military Press – 3 – 4 sets x 3 – 6 reps
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 – 4 sets x 6 – 10 reps
- Close-Grip Bench Press – 2 – 3 sets x 6 – 10 reps
- Barbell Skull Crushers – 2 – 3 sets x 6 – 10 reps
- Barbell Curls – 2 – 3 sets x 6 – 10 reps
- Dumbbell Curls – 2 – 3 sets x 6 – 10 reps
While the last two exercises are certainly the best option for biceps in terms of power, some people prefer to hit the muscle from different angles.
If you feel that’s something that would suit you a little better, you can find some suggestions for suitable substitutes here.
Lower Body Power
On the lower body power day, you will be aiming to perform 6 exercises, this time completing 3-5 sets of 3-15 reps.
Your workout should look something like this:
- Back Squats – 3 – 5 sets x 3 – 6 reps
- Deadlift – 3 – 5 sets x 3 – 6 reps
- Leg Press – 3 – 5 sets x 3 – 10 reps
- Hack Squat – 3 – 5 sets x 3 – 10 reps
- Barbell Calf Raises – 5 sets x 10 – 15 reps
- Toe Press – 5 sets x 10 – 15 reps
Despite a difference in the exercise, sets, reps etc, the rest periods for both of the power days will be 90-150 seconds between each set.
Upper Body Hypertrophy
As we move to the hypertrophy side of our upper lower PHUL workout, both days will feature rest periods of 45-60 seconds between each set.
On your upper body days, you will be performing 10 exercises, with 2 for each body part. Each exercise will feature 3 – 4 sets, consisting of 8-12 reps.
A good example of a workout for your upper body hypertrophy day would be:
- Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Dumbbell Fly – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Row – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Wide Grip Barbell Pullovers – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Arnold Press – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Lateral Dumbbell Raise – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Barbell Preacher Curls – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curls – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Cable Tricep Press – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Overhead Dumbbell Extensions – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
Lower Body Hypertrophy
On your lower body hypertrophy days, you will be performing 6 exercises. You will again be completing 3 – 4 sets of each, only this time, each set will feature 8 – 15 reps.
An example of a good lower body hypertrophy day would be:
- Front Barbell Squat – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Barbell Lunges – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Leg Extensions – 3 – 4 sets x 10 – 15 reps
- Hamstring Curls – 3 – 4 sets x 10 – 15 reps
- Seated Calf Raise – 3 – 4 sets x 8 – 12 reps
- Single-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise – 3 – 4 sets x 10 – 15 reps
While staples like squats and leg presses are the core of the power day, you will enjoy a little more freedom when it comes to hypertrophy.
For anyone looking for a little inspiration, we have a great list of leg exercises you can check out here to try and mix things up.
PHUL Workout Results
If the convenience and flexibility of the PHUL workout haven’t swayed you already, the results you can achieve speak for themselves.
For starters, training each muscle twice per week has been proven to produce greater hypertrophy than is achieved when only training them once.
You then have the fact that the PHUL routine incorporates both strength and hypertrophy training.
While hypertrophy utilises a greater number of reps, it is still important to train with sufficient weight. By increasing your strength, you can add additional weight on your hypertrophy days as well, producing a level of synchronicity across the entire program.
Regularly putting your entire body through rigorous resistance training also has several health and anti-ageing benefits.
This means performing PHUL workouts will not only make you stronger and physically fitter looking, but they will also enable you to have a longer, healthier, more mobile life.
PHUL Workout App
Many lifters of the current generation often rely on their phones to keep track of their workouts and help gauge the progress they are making.
While there are plenty of options out there, the following 3 are great choices for anyone planning to use an app for a PHUL workout.
Jefit is a great free app available for both Apple and Android.
You can pre-program your workouts, including everything from exercises to sets and reps, so you don’t have to think about anything while you are training.
It then tracks your rest period, ensuring you get exactly the right amount of downtime between sets.
It also has a library of 1400 exercises broken up by muscle group, so you will never be short of options when you want to mix things up.
Fitnotes is another free app available for both platforms.
It sells itself as the modern alternative to pen and paper, allowing you to plan every session to the last detail, as well as quickly and easily make notes or adjustments during your session.
It will then analyse your session after you are done and show you how you have improved or performed compared to previous sessions, while also keeping a comprehensive calendar of all your workouts to date.
Our third option is again free and available on both platforms.
It also allows you to plan out workouts and have full control over what you are doing. However, it has two distinct selling points.
Firstly, it has a feature that allows you to calculate the weight you should use to perform things like a 1 rep max or warm-up, based on your previous performance in the same or similar exercises.
This is incredibly handy when switching exercises to something similar or moving one between the power and hypertrophy days.
The other selling point is the hundreds of video guides for different exercises it contains. While the sheer quantity is lower than that of Jefit, the clear instruction is an invaluable tool for less experienced lifters.
The PHUL workout is a tremendous option, whether you are just getting into fitness or are already an experienced lifter.
It will help you build muscle and increase your strength, with a significantly reduced time commitment than you would usually expect.
Combined with its other health benefits, there’s simply no reason why you can’t give it a go yourself today and start discovering its incredible potential first-hand.