The Ultimate PHUL Workout Guide for Bodybuilding

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Feb 11,2024|12 min| 5457

The Ultimate PHUL Workout Guide for Bodybuilding

Size and strength all in one workout program

When it comes to bodybuilding, the main goal is putting on muscle mass and getting shredded rather than focusing on getting stronger. Many times you see bodybuilders utilizing high volume training, following programs that focus on sets in the 8-12 range, or even higher, rather than focusing on strength and power, in lower rep ranges. However, it is argued that getting stronger will help to put on quality, dense muscle mass, and it is best to follow a workout program that incorporates both strength and hypertrophy days, such as hypertrophy workouts. One of the most popular programs for this is the Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower program, “PHUL” for short, which is a great PHUL workout program to achieve both strength and hypertrophy goals.

Strength training is an essential part of the PHUL workout routine for building a strong and toned physique, especially in the lower body. The program focuses on bigger compound lifts accompanied by some accessory exercises. The workout schedule consists of four training days split into two power training days and two strength training days. This upper/lower split program utilizes progressive overload and time under tension to get both bigger and stronger muscles. It's important to challenge yourself with hard workouts that take you close to failure, as this is where true growth occurs in strength training. Now the question is, is the PHUL routine an optimal program to follow when you are bodybuilding? Or is it just a waste of time?

Let’s break down the PHUL workout routine and see if it is a good option to hit your bodybuilding goals.

PHUL Program Overview

Many programs that you will find available tend to focus on size or strength, not both, but the PHUL program is different. To put it simply, the PHUL program is a “powerbuilding” program, meaning that it focuses on making gains with both strength and size, including power workout routines. A big advocate of powerbuilding is Mike O’Hearn, who can be seen looking massive but still shredded, and also moving heavy weights. The goal with the PHUL program is to look as big and muscular as the Incredible Hulk, but also be as strong as him. Having massive amounts of muscle without being strong is useless, and being strong without looking muscular is honestly quite defeating.

So as stated above, PHUL is short for Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower, which follows a four day split workout that focuses on those two things, known as the day split. With the PHUL program, the body is divided into two different parts, upper and lower, and each part is hit twice a week. Two days of the workout being focused on strength and two days on hypertrophy. On the days that focus on strength, the sets consist of lower reps, and on the hypertrophy days, the sets consist of higher reps.

In terms of exercises, the PHUL program utilizes a lot of compound movements, such as the squat, the bench press, and deadlift, to make sure that you are getting proper strength gains and building dense, quality muscle with compound exercises. However, despite relying a lot on compounds, there are also a lot of isolation movements used to fine tune the muscles and make them really pop with definition and striations. It is important to target all major muscle groups to achieve a well-rounded physique.

Regarding the frequency of your workouts, during the PHUL program, you will have two days of training with one day to rest and recovery, which is followed by lower body day, two more days of training with two days of rest and recovery before starting over again.

What exactly should a proper PHUL training program look like?

PHUL Broken Down

Below is an example of the PHUL program pulled directly from the Boostcamp App!

Day 1 (Upper Power) 

Barbell Bench Press

3 sets of 3-5 reps

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets of 6-10 reps

Bent Over Barbell Row

Lat Pulldown

Overhead Barbell Press

2 sets of 5-8 reps

Barbell Bicep Curl

2 sets of 6-10 reps

Skull Crushers

2 Sets of 6-10 reps

Day 2 (Lower Power)

Barbell Squat

3 sets of 3-5 reps

Barbell Deadlift

3 sets of 6-10 reps

Leg Press

3 sets of 10-15 reps

Leg Curl

3 sets of 6-10 reps

Seated Calf Raise

4 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 3 (Upper Hypertrophy)

Incline Barbell Bench Press

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Dumbbell Chest Fly

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Seated Cable Row

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Cable Tricep Extension

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Day 4 (Lower Hypertrophy)

Barbell Front Squat

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Leg Extension

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 8-12 reps

Benefits of the PHUL Program

There are multiple benefits that the PHUL program brings to the table, making it stand out from your standard workout programs. One of the biggest benefits this program offers is variety. The PHUL program does not focus on one specific goal, and it incorporates a large variety of exercises to hit the muscles from different angles, promoting muscle size and strength gains while also allowing for proper recovery through managing training volume.

This leads to the next point of shocking the muscle and building muscle. Your body eventually adapts to the work that you put it through. By following the PHUL program, there is a perfect balance of barbell, dumbbell, and cable machine work that guarantees your muscles will be broken down in every way imaginable, forcing your body to grow and adapt to the array of movements, weights, and rep ranges that you throw at it. This process is essential for muscle growth and is known as muscle protein synthesis.

Although it offers variety in many aspects, the PHUL program is also a simple program to follow, even for beginners. You are in the gym just four days a week, leaving you with a long time of 3 days to rest and recover and grow back bigger. Not only that, but the program has you utilizing simple exercises that do not require a lot of setup.

Low Risk of Burnout

Many workout programs have the lifters going too heavy, or training with too much volume and frequency. They continue to push progressive overload, but lack recovery days or deload weeks. On the other hand, with the PHUL program, there is enough time in between each muscle group to recover and be fresh for the next workout. For example, you are hitting a heavy upper body day on Monday, but then not doing upper body again until Thursday, so there are three days in between training sessions to allow for proper progression and recovery.

Sure, training every day of the week is a lot of fun, but in terms of growth it is not the best, and you are putting yourself at a higher risk of injury.

Where to Find a Good PHUL Program

When it comes to finding some great PHUL workout programs to help with your fitness journey, you would want to find a program that caters to your needs and guides you in the right direction, making sure that you are making the most gains. If you are looking to stay on track and continue with linear progression, then finding a good workout program is the key. Where do you look for a good bodybuilding workout program? Check out the Boostcamp App for some great programs. 

Boostcamp is home to over 50 FREE workout programs that consist of strength, hypertrophy, or functional fitness, or both, from the push pull legs program all the way to upper lower. However, with Boostcamp, you don’t have to just follow a pre-written program, you also can create your own program as well, and track your progress to make sure you are on the right track. That being said, when you are looking to incorporate some arm training to further your powerlifting progress, then check out Boostcamp.

Wrap Up

Overall, when it comes to the PHUL program, in our opinion this is a great option for bodybuilding. The program incorporates a good amount of volume and strength work with a great amount of recovery time, so you will be putting on muscle mass and promoting muscle hypertrophy for muscle growth, but also getting stronger. What good is putting on muscle without being strong? And what good is getting strong without looking muscular? The PHUL split gives you the best of both worlds.

Will you be giving it a try?

Check out the Boostcamp App for some great day programs. Also be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!