The PHUL Workout: A Great Routine for Power and Hypertrophy!

The PHUL Workout: Power, Hypertrophy, Upper, Lower

This post may contain affiliate links. It costs you nothing and helps keep the lights on and weights racked here at Students Fitness. Read our affiliate disclosure if you're having trouble sleeping.

When you’re a fitness beginner it’s okay to go to the gym and do a circuit where you hit every muscle in one trip.

Once you’re more experienced, then you’ll want to start into a split routine.

Split routines focus on certain parts of your body every time you visit the gym.

For example, the PPL routine is one of the most famous split routines. One day is focused on pushing moves, the next day is for pulling, and the last day is leg day.

One of the more recent, and more effective, split routines is the PHUL workout.

Is it right for you?

And what does the PHUL workout look like in the gym?

What is the PHUL Workout?

What is PHUL workout focus strength hypertrophy is it effective

Not just big muscles but effective muscles, too!

As mentioned before, PHUL is a split routine.

But it’s not just split into body sections. You also split your days based on two goals:

  1. Power
  2. Hypertrophy

You see, PHUL means “Power, Hypertrophy, Upper, Lower.

One day focuses on upper body power. Another focuses on upper body hypertrophy.

Repeat with the lower body.

The primary goal of the PHUL routine is strength, along with muscle growth.

The PHUL routine takes four days a week.

There’s some modularity so you can fit it around your class schedule.

The Difference Between Power and Hypertrophy

Strength is a combination of many factors.

At its core, strength is when you use your muscle fibers to create force which you enact upon an external object[1].

Bigger muscles increase strength of course, but that’s not the only factor. You’ll also need to be able to activate those muscles through neural adaptations and those muscles need to be adequately fueled.

Difference between strength and hypertrophy exercise goals neuroadaptation

Hypertrophy is when your muscles grow large[2].

Neurological adaptations occur when you’re learning the movement, and are a big part of why newbies make gains at a higher rate than veteran powerlifters[3].

The power phase of PHUL focuses on training your body and muscles to push out as much power from your existing muscles as possible.

This is done through exercises which target as many muscles as possible under lots of load.

The hypertrophy phase of PHUL focuses on encouraging raw muscle growth, increasing base muscular capacity.

This is done through more targeted exercises with more volume.

Combine the two and you have an optimum route for increased strength!

The PHUL Workout vs Push, Pull, Legs Split

I’ve talked about the PPL split before.

PHUL workout versus push pull leg PPL split routine differences similarities

It’s still one of my favorite workouts but it’s not the be-all and end-all of exercise routines.

PHUL doesn’t differentiate between pushing and pulling. The “Upper” day combines both into one.

Overall, I’d rate a PHUL split as more advanced than a PPL split.

It’s more efficient, but also more difficult.

I wouldn’t jump into PHUL if you’re new to the gym.

If you know your way around the gym but aren’t an expert then try out the PPL split.

If you can stick with PPL and your gains have started to level off then proceed onto the PHUL workout!

How to Do the PHUL Workout

As mentioned before, the PHUL routine is a week-long routine where you work out four times a week.

Your “Power” days will focus on more weight and fewer reps.

The “Hypertrophy” days will involve more varied exercises with more reps.

Each gym visit should take an hour and a half to two hours.

Every Day: Warm Up

Every gym day should start with some warm-up exercises.

These should involve the muscles you’re going to target that day without stressing them out.

You want to get the blood flowing!

PHUL exercise strength day push dumbbell bench press

These exercises are not set in stone so you can mix and match to fit your fitness level

Day One: Upper Power

Barbell bench presses, overhead presses, (weighted) pull-ups, rows, and (weighted) dips should be the prime movements for your Upper Power day.

Start with three sets of three reps for each move.

Put on enough weight for you to finish each set, but only just barely.

Rest for a minute and a half between each set.

Day Two: Lower Power

Your Lower Power move will involve barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, weighted calf raises, and deadlifts.

Again, start with three sets of three reps each and rest for 90 seconds between each set.

Day Three: Rest

Congratulations, you don’t need to go to the gym today!

Don’t spend it lazing around your dorm room, though. Go for walk, spend some time with a foam roller, and take in dat protein powder.

Day Four: Upper HypertrophyPHUL exercise unweighted dips hypertrophy day for muscle size not strength

It’s upper body day again, except with some more complex moves.

Grab those dumbbells and do some incline and decline dumbbell presses, lateral raises, flat bench flyes, and unweighted pull-ups and dips.

Aim for three sets but start at eight reps.

You’ll also rest for two full minutes between each set.

Day Five: Lower Hypertrophy

Your Lower Hypertrophy day should include bodyweight squats, leg curls, unweighted calf raises, bodyweight lunges, and hamstring curls.

Again, let’s do three sets with eight reps with 120 seconds in between each set.

Day Six and Seven: Rest

These rest days should be just like the first rest day.

For me, they fall on Saturday and Sunday. But you can move these around to wherever fits best in your schedule.

Progressing and Increasing Weight

You should be lifting enough weight for the workouts to be difficult but not too much for you to be unable to finish all the sets.

Sure, that’s good to start, but your strength gains will plateau quickly if you don’t increase the difficulty.

There are many philosophies on how you should do this but I prefer this style, a form of progressive overload[4]:

How to advance in PHUL workout progressive overload overcome training plateau

Increase your number of reps, then the number of sets, then weight.

So, on week one, do 3 sets of 3 reps.

Week two, 3×4. Week three, 4×3. Week four, 4×4.

Then, on week five, up the weight by 5 pounds and start over at 3×3.

For hypertrophy, increase the number of reps per week by 2 instead of 1 and up the number of sets at 12. Go up to 5 sets, not 4, before you cycle over.

Feel free to speed up or slow down the weight increase to suit your body.

However, remember that the most dangerous part of going to the gym is your ego.

Don’t progress too fast and injure yourself!

Deload Weeks

Some people recommend doing the PHUL routine on a six-week cycle.

Weeks one through four should be done as above.PHUL deload week lift light weighs allow muscles recover improve performance

Weeks five and six, however, should be deload weeks to give your body adequate time to recover.

Drop the sets and reps back to the minimum and don’t worry about increasing weight for these deload weeks.

Personally, I’m ambivalent about deload weeks.

The science is, too[5].

Both continuous exercise and deloading seem to have the same result, so you may want to choose whether or not to deload based on other factors.

Such as finals.

Example PHUL Routine

If you look at five PHUL workouts online you’ll find six examples.

The following is not the be-all and end-all of PHUL routines.

However, it should be a good start to make your own. Feel free to modify it, though keep in mind you want to hit every muscle in your upper or lower body on the appropriate day.

Your Workout Week

Day 1: Upper Power

ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Bench Presses3 x 3
Overhead Dumbbell Presses3 x 3
Weighted Pull-Ups or Cable Pull-Downs3 x 3
Seated Dumbbell Rows3 x 3
Weighted Dips3 x 3

Day 2: Lower Power

ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Squats3 x 3
Dumbbell Lunges3 x 3
Weighted Calf Raises3 x 8
Deadlifts3 x 3

Day 3: Rest

ExerciseSets x Reps
Luxurious Walks1 x 30 minutes
Naps1 x 30 minutes
Protein Powder1 x 2 scoops

Day 4: Upper Hypertrophy

ExerciseSets x Reps
Decline Dumbbell Presses3 x 8
Incline Dumbbell Presses3 x 8
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises3 x 8
Flat Bench Flyes3 x 8
Unweighted Pull-Ups or Cable Pull-Downs3 x 3
Unweighted Dips3 x 3

Day 5: Lower Hypertrophy

ExerciseSets x Reps
Bodyweight Squats3 x 8
Bodyweight Lunges3 x 8
Leg Curls3 x 8
Unweighted Calf Raises3 x 8
Hamstring Curls3 x 8

Day 6: Rest

ExerciseSets x Reps
Hanging Out with Friends1 x 2 hours
Foam Roller1 x 10 minutes
Protein Powder1 x 2 scoops

Day 7: Rest

ExerciseSets x Reps
Sleeping In Late1 x 3 hours
Protein Powder1 x 2 scoops
Frantic Last-Minute Studying3 x Too Long


The PHUL workout program is a modular program.

It’s a simple idea but is effective and sometimes exhausting in practice.

College student sleeping napping adequate rest for maximum muscle strength gain recovery

I know it’s hard but try to get adequate rest in your bed. Otherwise, you may fall asleep in the lecture hall!

One day is for upper body power. Another is for upper body hypertrophy. Same thing with the lower body.

The individual exercises don’t matter as much as workout out your entire body with each day. Feel free to mix and match to fit your gym experiences best.

By the way, the weekly schedule isn’t set in stone.

Do you want a rest day in between each exercise day?

That’s fine!

As long as you’re mixing power and hypertrophy goals and are working out your upper then lower body, you’re doing the PHUL workout!


Is the PHUL Workout Good for Weight Loss?

The PHUL routine involves plenty of physical exercise, which does burn many calories.

But that doesn’t make it good for losing weight.

PHUL aims at increasing strength and growing muscles so you’ll want to try something else, like HIIT, in order to lose weight more effectively.

After you’ve lost the weight you want to lose then you can start PHUL to git swole.

Should I Combine the PHUL Workout with HIIT?

A properly-performed PHUL routine doesn’t leave much extra energy for something as intensive as HIIT.

You can do HIIT alongside PHUL but don’t do them on the same day!

Instead, I would stick a single HIIT day in between the day 6 and 7 rest days, creating an 8-day “week.”

Is the PHUL Workout Good for Beginners?

A PHUL routine is pretty advanced.

It involves a variety of exercises as well as the knowledge to modify the exercises on the list to match what will work best for you.

I would not recommend trying PHUL if you’re still new to the gym. It’s demanding, which can lead to injury if you’re not careful.

Try out a beginner’s Push Pull Leg split routine instead, please.


  2. Kraemer, William J., Zatiorsky, Vladimir M. Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006. Google Books. Web. 29 September 2019.