Thousands of people this year got big on the big three. Men and women, competitive powerlifters and casual lifters, across ages and borders, they all put two hands on the barbell, two feet on the floor, and took their training to a whole new level.

Their program of choice: Layne Norton's PH3 13-week Power and Hypertrophy Trainer.

This innovative three-phase approach combines old-school strength building with the latest in exercise and nutritional science, and it flat-out works. Men who completed the program saw their combined total in the squat, bench, and deadlift go up by an average of 12 percent, or well over 100 pounds. Women saw their totals go up by 15%, or over 80 pounds.

That means a lot of people joined the 1000-pound club, the 700 club, or just the "I can't believe I did that" club. Many PH3 graduates liked their results so much that they turned around and completed it again.

Want to know more? Check out the program for yourself. But before you dive in, read Layne Norton's answers to the most common questions he has fielded about PH3. If your goal is to get stronger in 2017, you owe it to yourself to try PH3!

General Questions

How would you compare this to your PHAT training program on your website? Is one more preferable for gaining mass?

One program isn't "better" than the other. They're just different and are best used in different contexts. PH3 is a bit more main-lift-centered and higher volume. PHAT, while still high-volume, contains more accessory work. But either can help you put on muscle, provided you're eating correctly.

Can I use the program to drop body fat?

Certainly. You just may not get as strong as you would if you were in a caloric surplus. And you may have to reduce the weights on some days.

Conventional or sumo?

I've used both types of squats in the past and really don't have a preference. But while completing this program, you should stick to one or the other, so you can see your numbers go up. Choose whichever you feel most safe in.

Do I have to max out all three lifts on Day 90? Or can I just do them on different days that week?

You could do them on different days. But there's no reason it should tax you that much, since you'll be used to much higher volume.

Can I combine the powerlifting exercises from PH3 with another program?

I don't think that's a good idea.

I'm a long-femured squatter like you. What can I do to stay as upright as possible coming out of the hole?

Shave your femurs down? In all seriousness, you will only be able to be so upright. Push your knees out, and widen your stance slightly. That's about all you can do.

If I miss a day on this program, should I just pick up where I left off, or should I work on a rest day?

I see no reason why you couldn't just do it on a scheduled rest day, since you already "rested" on the day you didn't lift.

What should I do in an instance when I just can't hit the prescribed reps of a set?

Lower the weight.

Altering the Program

If I'm not well-versed in blood-flow restriction training, can I change the program or do the same moves without BFR?

You could do that. Or you could just learn to do BFR, since I have an entire video on it.

At the end of Phase 1, I'm repping more weight than what's prescribed on the rep-test day. Can I increase the weight for the rep-test days?

I suppose so, but I wouldn't go over 90% of your one-rep max.

Do you recommend altering stance with deads across workouts or doing different variations of squat?


Is it OK to add abdominal training to the program?

Certainly, if you like.

What if I don't have bands for BFR? Can I still do the workouts without them?

I recommend buying the bands if possible, so you can do the program as written. The bands are $15 for both, which is relatively inexpensive.

Can I do box squats instead of regular squats?

You can, but you won't get the maximum benefits for the squat.

Can I add more volume on the accessories days?

You can, but it might not be the best idea.

For the lower-body hypertrophy, is it OK to replace movements like the leg press with front squats?

I would say stick with machine movements as written. You'll be pretty beat up from so much squatting as it is.

How can I incorporate the overhead press into PH3 as a primary lift?

You can program it similar to the benching structure.

How can I program a little more shoulder work into the program?

Try adding more laterals. I wouldn't add much more volume on pressing, though.

Repeating the Program

When completing the entire routine, should I do another deload week, then repeat back to Day 1, or should I just restart immediately?

I would probably do another taper week. You've earned it.

Can I keep repeating PH3 with my new numbers at the end of each cycle?


Diet and Supplementation

Is the diet much different for powerlifting versus bodybuilding/competing in bodybuilding shows?

Absolutely. In bodybuilding, you have to get much leaner, so that diet is far more restrictive in calories.

I'm usingĀ Avatar Nutrition. What would be the optimal setting to maximize PH3 if I want to keep fat gain moderate?

Choose either "moderate reverse diet" or "slow muscle gain."

ZMA while on this program: Yay or nay?

Nay. Research on the use of ZMA shows no difference in strength, muscle, or any metric that lifters undertaking PH3 care about.

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Cardio and Warm-up

I want to include cardio workouts. Which days on the program would be best for this?

Perform your cardio on your rest days while on PH3.

What type of warm-ups and mobility drills do you do?

My mobility work is very specific to me and my injuries. I would suggest checking out Quinn Hennoch's mobility videos on YouTube.


Is the program fine as written for competition peaking?

It can work for peaking, though I'd probably get the intensity block closer to 90% for heavy-day working weights.

Any additional advice for using this program in preparation for a meet?

Make sure your weight is on point for the meet, that you know the commands, and that you're comfortable executing the lifts up to competition standards. If you've got those three essentials down, the rest is just you showing how much stronger you've become.

About the Author

Layne Norton, PhD


Competitive Bodybuilder Layne Norton teaches bodybuilding tips and tricks for success

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