“How much is your total, bro?”, “Man, you pull sumo?!” – these are some common phrases that you’ll hear around the powerlifters, and they make sense – once you know what’s going on.
Squat, bench, and deadlift are the base measures of strength, and Layne Norton has developed a plan (Ph3) to make your strength skyrocket – apparently.
Let’s see if the science man can lift, too.
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About the Creator – Layne Norton
Layne Norton should not actually need an introduction because he is really one of the most famous exercise scientists around. Regardless, Layne is a leading expert in the world of sports, fitness, and nutrition.
Layne has a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, and if you spend some time on Instagram, you’ll soon discover videos of Layne breaking down common misinformation we consume. He is also a prolific powerlifter, with numerous records and achievements to his name.
Layne has been on the journey of helping people – scientifically – for years. His approach is certainly not as flashy or as exhilarating as other influencers on the web, but you will certainly learn more this way.
Layne has also published books and has had an amazing career, which includes being the:
- Author of Fat Loss Forever: How to Lose Fat and KEEP it Off and The Complete Contest Prep Guide
- Founder of Biolayne
- Co-founder of the Carbon Diet app
Layne currently helps everyone from normal individuals to high-level athletes get on with their lives and reach new career heights, respectively. He has, of course, designed one-off programs, like the Ph3.
Let’s see if it is any good.
Layne Norton’s Ph3 Overview
If you are unaware, powerlifters and bodybuilders train vastly differently. Where bodybuilders try to make any movement as hard as possible, a powerlifter might want to make any movement as easy as possible.
The best way to make a move easier is by simply getting stronger, which is the goal of Layne Norton’s Ph3 Program. This plan is solely focused on getting stronger. This is why the workouts are all centered around the three big lifts – squat, bench, and deadlift.
- Fitness level: Advanced
- Duration: 13 Weeks
- Workouts per week: 5 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 60 – 90 minutes per workout
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Gain strength
This plan is also not geared towards beginners.
Powerlifting is a very particular sport and requires a massive amount of form, concentration, and strength. Thus, in order to reap the most rewards from any plan, it would be better to choose one that is centered around your current level of progress.
As you might expect from a Doctor in Nutrition, this plan isn’t just a few 3×3 workouts. You get plenty of additional information, nutrition, and supplementation guides as well.
Now, let’s take a closer look at Layne Norton’s Ph3 program.
Train Like a Norse God
Did Thor do powerlifting? Maybe. Regardless, you can expect some serious training coming from this plan.
All powerlifting training is focused on splitting lifts into two areas:
- Big Lifts: This includes your squat, bench, and deadlift. These are the ones you will be measured for at the contest, and they’re typically the hardest lifts to get better on.
- Accessories: The big lifts are great, but the recovery needed for those is immense. To train particular (and smaller) muscles, you might make use of accessories to improve those as well.
Your training with Layne will be very similar, with the big lifts making up most of each session. You will be building strength across four phases that eventually end up with a testing week, where you will test how far you have come.
While the sessions will largely be based around the three big lifts, you will still be doing some “hypertrophy” sessions as well. While hypertrophy is definitely not the sole goal of this plan, it does serve some purpose.
Layne Norton’s PH3 vs PHAT
The PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) program is one that Layne designed some time ago, and you’ll actually struggle to find it online anymore.
The PHAT program is, of course, also focused on strength-building. However, it takes more of a “power-building” approach that PH3 does not take. What this means is that it will combine bodybuilding and powerlifting training to create something entirely new.
The PH3 is solely focused on strength, which means Layne only draws from hypertrophy training when needed – admittedly, not often.
So, where the PHAT program might actually get you slightly bigger and slightly stronger, PH3 will make you a lot stronger, but not much bigger.
Is PH3 Good for Hypertrophy?
Hypertrophy is the general term used to describe muscle growth by increasing the amount of muscle there is. This is actually relatively easy to achieve – provide a novel stimulus. Essentially, you have to increase your resistance over time to force the body to create new muscle tissue.
Any resistance plan has the potential to cause hypertrophy. However, the PH3 program is more focused on muscle strength. While training for strength could lead to some hypertrophy, the two training styles are completely different.
Training for hypertrophy typically means training with slightly higher reps and closer to failure, whereas strength training can utilize lower reps, higher loads, and “further” from failure.
Could you achieve hypertrophy with the PH3 program? Sure, but there are much better programs for that – like Blueprint to Mass, from bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This is also what makes this plan great. This plan is specifically designed to only increase strength at the expense of other metrics. To be the best at something, you need to focus on that thing only – which is exactly what you will be doing with this plan.
Layne is a Doctor in Nutrition, so the plan is bound to have some amazing nutrition tips. And it does. Included in the plan are:
- Various calculators for you to calculate calories and macros
- Dietary examples
- Meal timing guidelines
There is really no excuse not to have a perfect diet with these guides. It is seamlessly provided to you. All you need to do is fill in the foods that would fit your macros and get to squatting.
A supplement guide is also included, which should be small because your diet is supposed to be the bulk of your diet. There are only a few guidelines for you to follow (the same as most of the other BodyFit supplement guidelines).
Layne recommends the following supplements on Ph3:
2 Power Hypertrophy Workout Pros
- As advertised: The program is not trying to be anything it’s not. It doesn’t claim to be both for strength and hypertrophy, and it even has guidelines for “if you are good enough to do this plan.” I can respect this because it means the consumer is getting the best possible program – and not some hybrid thing.
- Near-perfect nutrition: As you might expect from a Doctor in Nutritional Sciences, the nutrition guides are literally the best I’ve ever seen from an online program. The science-based approach is what makes programs like Ph3 and BodyFit’s Built by Science extremely popular for those who take their training seriously.
The Biggest Con of Layne Norton’s Ph3
It’s really hard.
The program doesn’t shy from telling you just how strong you need to be to follow this plan – and for a good reason. By week 7, you will have various squat sessions per week that are pretty high on the RPE scale, so you better be prepared for some heavy metal music to psych you up.
(If you listen to anything but heavy metal, you are not a powerlifter. That is the law.)
Layne Norton’s Ph3 – Final Thoughts
It is very easy to want to dislike Layne. He is confident, adamant, and – almost always – he is right. This plan is no different. The plan is thought out well and beautifully constructed, and he is extremely clear about who this plan is for.
The greatest points of this plan are:
- Clear on its goal of increasing your strength at the expense of other goals
- Practically perfect nutrition and supplement guide
- Included testing week at week 13 to see how far you’ve progressed
This makes Layne Norton’s Ph3 virtually perfect. The only “drawback” it has is the fact that it is what it is. It is a high-performance plan that simply is not ideal for everyone to follow.
Before you decide to follow this plan, it would be very wise to read through it carefully and see if you would even be able to do it. Remember, the stress of life also plays a role, and if you have too much load outside of the gym – it won’t work.
Overall, this plan is almost flawless.
(Just like my squat depth.)
Rating: 4.9 out of 5