The PHUL Workout Guide: Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower Workout, Explained

One of the best strength training programs for those looking to maximize both strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth) is the PHUL strength program.

If you are looking for impressive gains in strength and mass, this workout could be just the thing for you!

But, what exactly does the PHUL workout routine entail, and what are the best PHUL exercises you can perform for great results?

In this workout guide, we will discuss what the P.H.U.L. workout program entails, how to follow the PHUL strength routine, the best exercise for the PHUL workout program, and its top benefits.

We will cover: 

  • What Is the PHUL Workout Routine?
  • Who Is the PHUL Routine Good For, and What Are the PHUL Benefits?
  • How Do You Do the PHUL Workout Routine?
  • Sample PHUL Workout Routine

Let’s jump in!

A person grabbing a barbel in a bench press.

What Is the PHUL Workout Routine?

The PHUL workout routine is a strength training program designed to increase strength and muscle mass.

PHUL stands for power hypertrophy upper lower, so the PHUL routine addresses power, hypertrophy, and upper body splits and lower body splits.

The PHUL Strength program is a 4-day per week training plan using body parts splits and different types of workouts to address power training versus hypertrophy training.

Who Is the PHUL Routine Good For, and What Are the PHUL Benefits?

Generally, the PHUL workout routine is best for intermediate lifters with some experience.

This is not a great beginner strength training program because the power exercises are particularly demanding and require a higher level of technique, familiarity with foundational strength training movements, and a greater level of fitness and strength.

A bicep curl.

Consider starting with something like Starting Strength as a good beginner strength training plan before progressing to the PHUL workout program.

As a 4 day a week strength training program, the first two workouts on the PHUL routine each week are power-based workouts, whereas the third and fourth workouts each week are hypertrophy or muscle growth workouts.

As such, the PHUL routine power workouts use explosive compound exercises to increase overall strength and power.

The hypertrophy PHUL Workouts have more volume to support muscle growth.

Given the variety in the movements, reps, and sets, and overall PHUL strength routine structure, the PHUL plan can be a great, balanced, comprehensive approach to improving overall athletic ability, physique, and strength.

Therefore, bodybuilders, strength athletes, and recreational weightlifters looking to see impressive gains in strength and mass can benefit from the PHUL strength program.

A lat pulldown.

The PHUL program focuses on the big compound exercises, but there are also isolation exercises in the program, particularly in the PHUL hypertrophy workouts. 

Studies have found that compound exercises tend to be more effective at building muscle than isolation exercises.

However, isolation exercises have also been shown to contribute to muscle growth, so these types of exercises can have their place when finishing off the upper and lower body hypertrophy workouts. 

Another PHUL program benefit is that you work each major muscle group twice a week.

Most studies suggest that this training frequency for a muscle group is the most effective approach to muscle hypertrophy, which points to one of the inherent benefits of the PHUL workout routine.

Plus, ample recovery time between training the same muscle group (at least 48 hours) is built in as long as you structure your PHUL routine schedule as laid out by the plan, with a rest day separating the first two workouts of the week from the second to workouts of the week.

An overhead press.

How Do You Do the PHUL Workout Routine?

Learning how to do the PHUL workout routine is a little more challenging than some of the basic beginner strength training programs, given the variety in the power vs. hypertrophy training days and the complexity of some of the PHUL power workouts themselves. 

As mentioned, the PHUL workout split is a 4-day routine, with each weightlifting day addressing either different muscle groups or different aspects of building power and strength vs. hypertrophy.

  • The first workout of the week is your PHUL lower body power workout.
  • The second workout is the PHUL upper body power workout.
  • The third workout is the PHUL upper body hypertrophy workout.
  • Your fourth workout of the week is the PHUL lower body hypertrophy workout.

You are supposed to take a rest day between workouts two and three, so you might do the PHUL workout split with a Monday and Tuesday training days, then a rest day Wednesday, and then train Thursday and Friday.

A backsquat.

Therefore, a typical P.H.U.L. workout split schedule looks something like the following:

  • Monday: Upper Body Power
  • Tuesday: Lower Body Power
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Upper Body Hypertrophy
  • Friday: Lower Body Hypertrophy
  • Saturday: Rest 
  • Sunday: Rest

You can also shift one day forward to do Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Here is what to expect for each PHUL workout:

PHUL Power Workouts

The PHUL power workouts are designed to increase strength and power, so you will use heavy weights for fewer reps with the goal of maximizing the intensity of each exercise.

Generally, the number of PHUL reps for power days is 3 to 5 reps for 3 to 5 sets.

The PHUL power exercises are compound exercises that target either lower-body muscles, upper-body muscles, or full-body power exercises.

Common PHUL exercises for lower body power workouts include squats, deadlifts, and leg presses.

PHUL upper body power days focus on exercises like bench presses, rows, and overhead presses.

A person grabbing into a barbell.

PHUL Hypertrophy Workouts

The hypertrophy PHUL workouts are all about stimulating muscle growth by increasing volume.

This means that you will do more reps per set on your PHUL hypertrophy workouts in order to cause some degree of microscopic tearing of the muscles through overload to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (which is the process that leads to muscle repair and growth).

However, the loads you use, or the weights for each PHUL hypertrophy workout exercise, will be lighter than for the power PHUL workouts, which means that you will be using a lower percentage of your 1RM.

In accordance with the mid-range of the general strength training programming for muscle growth, PHUL hypertrophy workouts generally involve 3 to 4 sets of each exercise, aiming for 10 to 12 reps with 70 to 75% of your 1RM load for each exercise.

Although the PHUL hypertrophy upper body workouts and PHUL hypertrophy lower body workouts use similar compound exercises as the PHUL power routines, you might do unilateral exercises or dumbbell exercises versus the “big lifts“ with barbells.

For example, a PHUL lower body hypertrophy workout might have dumbbell lunges or Bulgarian split squats, hamstring curls, and hex bar deadlifts.

A PHUL upper body hypertrophy workout may include bent-over dumbbell rows, incline dumbbell chest presses, and skull crushers or lateral raises with dumbbells.

A cable machine fly.

PHUL Upper Body Isolation Workouts

The upper body PHUL workouts focus on isolating the chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles.

Both the PHUL upper and lower body isolation workouts for power or hypertrophy start with compound exercises for the body part split and then end with isolation exercises.

For example, for the PHUL upper body exercises, you might do military press, decline bench press, lat pull-downs, and various rows.

Then, you will do some upper body isolation exercises like biceps curls, triceps extensions, lateral raises, chest flyes, etc.

PHUL Lower Body Workouts

Using the same principles as the PHUL upper routines, the lower body PHUL workouts start with compound exercises that target all of the major muscles of the lower body, including the lower back extensors, core muscles, glutes, hip muscles, quads, hamstrings, calves, and shin muscles.

Examples of PHUL lower body exercises include squats, deadlifts, hamstring curls, leg extensions, leg presses, calf raises, lunges and split squats, hip thrusts, bridges, etc.

Tricep dips.

Sample PHUL Workout Routine

There are different PHUL workouts you can do for any of the given days, but here is a sample PHUL routine:

Day 1: Upper Body Power Workout

  • Barbell bench press: 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps
  • Bent over barbell row: 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps
  • Incline dumbbell chest press: 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 8 reps
  • Lat pulldown: 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 8 reps
  • Overhead press: 2 to 3 sets of 4 to 8 reps

Day 2: Lower Body Power Workout

  • Barbell back squats: 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps
  • Barbell deadlifts: 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps
  • Bulgarian split squats: 2 to 3 sets of 4 to 8 reps per leg
  • Leg press: 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps
  • Leg curls: 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps
  • Donkey calf raises: 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps
A deadlift.

Day 3: Upper Body Hypertrophy

  • Dumbbell chest press: 3-4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
  • Single-arm dumbbell row: 3-4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
  • Standing cable chest fly: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
  • Standing cable reverse fly: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
  • Preacher curls: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
  • EZ bar skull crushers 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
  • Pull-ups: 3-4 sets of AMRAP
  • Dips: 3-4 sets of AMRAP
  • Dumbbell alternating forward and lateral raises: 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Day 4: Lower Body Hypertrophy

  • Cossack squats: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps per leg
  • Kettlebell sumo squats: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 reps
  • Barbell reverse lunges: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps per leg
  • Single-leg Romanian deadlifts: 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps per leg
  • Seated calf raises: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 reps
  • Barbell hip thrusts: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps

For another strength training program option, check out our guide to the Texas Method workout program here.

A hip thruster.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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