Recently we talked a lot about self-weight exercises and programs such as CrossFit and Calisthenics and their benefits. However, if you are interested in something else entirely, something that is closer to bodybuilding, something that combines strength and size, you might find the P.H.U.L. program more convenient.
The acronym P.H.U.L. stands for Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower and it is a 4-day fitness program that combines the standard principles of size and strength and is especially designed to maximize these areas over the short term training.
But don’t be alarmed by the fancy name or its acronym. This type of training program is actually quite simple. Since the goal here is to increase one size & strength, which is the goal of most body-builders, it follows rather simple principles.
Four P.H.U.L. Principles
The four principles that are routinely included in the P.H.U.L training program are frequency, power, compounds and hypertrophy. Let’s talk about them more specifically.
This particular program aims to hit each muscle group twice within the same week. Now you might ask: “Isn’t that a bit much”? Well, actually, it isn’t.
Most people who exercise 2-3 times a week usually hit one specific muscle group just once a week. While this might look safer, there have been several studies that there is no need to wait that long to push the same muscle group in the gym again. Actually, it is safe to push it after 48 hours again. If you are doing full-body training program and push a specific muscle group with just one exercise, you can hit the same group after 24 hours again.
If we want to increase our size and strength, it is only logical to include strength exercises as well. 2 full days (of the 4-day program) focus solely on strength training.
Compound movements play a huge rule in the P.H.U.L. training. Now you might be wondering if isolation exercises are not better for strength and size. Well, in some cases, they are, that’s actually one of the reasons they are included in this training program as well, but in comparison to compound movements, they are the minority here. Big compound movements’ purpose is to increase one’s muscle size and also to increase performance on the main lifts.
Hypertrophy training makes another 50% (2 remaining days) of this particular program, which is basically body-building training. The main focus here is to force muscle growth through various exercises designed especially for that.
Typical P.H.U.L. schedule looks like this:
- 1st day: Upper Power
- 2nd day: Lower Power
- 3rd day: Off
- 4th day: Upper Hypertrophy
- 5th day: Lower Hypertrophy
- 6th day: Off
- 7th day: Off
Specific exercises vary a bit based on your trainer, but generally, it can look like this:
But as I have mentioned, every trainer has a different opinion in regard to sets and reps and it ultimately depends on your current condition.
Can I Lose Fat with P.H.U.L. Workout?
Technically, yes, although the program is not specifically designed for fat burning. However, with the combination of the right diet, several of the exercises in the program will definitely help you lose some fat, for example front squats, leg presses, squats, etc. – where you burn a lot of energy through compound movements.
With that being said, however, you can’t expect to burn as much fat as you would with for example HIIT (High intensity interval training), LIIT, CrossFit, or cardio.
Okay, I get it. What About Dieting?
As with every training program, exercise itself does not make the desired ground-breaking change. Eating properly and using quality food is essential for maximum results. Experts argue that eating properly makes 70% of the desired results and the rest 30% is exercise.
But what does it even mean, to eat properly? Now we will not be going into a lot of details in regard to dieting, since this article is not about that. We will just talk about several basic principles.
Not Enough Protein
People often do not count the protein intake during their exercise time. While you do not need to have exact number every day (2 grams above or below your desired intake do not mean the end of the world), it is good to have at least rough idea how much protein are you getting.
You can find a lot of quality articles about protein intake, but generally, trainers agree that if you train at least 4 times a week, you should get at least 2 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of your weight, or 1 gram per 1 lb. of your current weight. Example:
My current weight is 71 kilograms (156.5 lbs) and I work-out 4-5 times a week, which means I should get at 140-160 grams of protein per day.
But every person is different, so I would suggest to consult this with a professional.
I bet that you’ve heard the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Once again, a lot of people argue whether this is true or not, but several studies show that skipping breakfast has far more negatives than positives, one of those negatives is a greater risk of a heart attack.
But as I have mentioned, this article is not really about dieting. You can find plenty of great sources online.
I hope that you are now far more familiar with the P.H.U.L. training program and that you can decide if it’s the right system for you.