They say nothing in the fitness world that actually works is ever truly new and novel.
Most programs are just recycled based on proven principles we know for a fact work.
This program is no different. (Who say’s remakes can’t be as good as the original?)
For years, Muscle & Strength’s PHUL workout has been one of the most downloaded and used programs on the website.
And for good reason – it works.
It’s based on sound principles that maximize training frequency, exercise selection, while building strength and hypertrophy simultaneously.
The best of every imaginable outcome one could hope for.
Today, I’m bringing you a modified alternative to PHUL.
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Strength Hypertrophy Upper Lower (SHUL) Workout
The first change I’ve made to modify PHUL is the name.
Power, to me, means we’re utilizing lightly loaded explosive movements as well as strength based lifts, or incorporating plyometric work. That simply isn’t outlined in the original PHUL program – nor will it be in SHUL.
The focus here is to build strength on strength days. And we’ll do that similarly to the original program by performing heavy compound lifts for the optimal rep and set ranges.
Other than that, the program will be rather similar in design. Two days per week will be focused on strength training. And two days will be dedicated to hypertrophy (or pump) training for both segments of the body.
What will be different is the exercise selection. The exercise selection chosen in this modified version will focus more so on variations that put the lifter in a more favorable position.
An example of this will be substituting conventional deadlift with trap bar deadlift. The trap bar deadlift will not only provide a unique challenge for those who typically pull conventionally, but will put most in a more favorable pulling position.
Lastly, the training day schedule has been altered so that you train legs first (on Monday). This may need to be altered to fit your individual schedule; however, training legs first in an Upper/Lower split workout makes more sense for most as you’ll be freshly recovered and fueled coming off the weekend.
SHUL Workout Schedule
- Day 1: Lower Strength
- Day 2: Upper Strength
- Day 3: Off (or Active Recovery, Mobility Work, and Abs/Glutes)
- Day 4: Lower Hypertrophy
- Day 5: Upper Hypertrophy
- Day 6: Off (or Active Recovery, Mobility Work, and Abs/Glutes)
- Day 7: Off (or Active Recovery and Mobility Work)
Day 1: Lower Strength
|Safety Bar or Front Squat||3-4||3-5|
|Trap Bar Deadlift||3-4||3-5|
|Hack Squat Machine||3-5||10-15|
|Glute Ham Raise||3-4||6-10|
|Seated Calf Raise||4||6-10|
Day 2: Upper Strength
|Dumbbell Bench Press||3-4||3-5|
|One Arm Dumbbell Row||3-4||3-5 Each|
|Incline Bench Press||3-4||6-10|
|Farmer's Carry||2-4||40-80 Yards|
Day 4: Lower Hypertrophy
|Front Squat or Goblet Squat||3-4||8-12|
|Dumbbell Reverse Lunge||3-4||8-12|
|Barbell Hip Thrust||3-4||8-12|
|Standing Machine Calf Raise||3-4||8-12|
Day 5: Upper Hypertrophy
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3-4||8-12|
|Decline Bench Press||3-4||8-12|
|Lat Pull Down||3-4||8-12|
|Cable Face Pull||3-4||8-12|
Strength Hypertrophy Upper Lower (SHUL) FAQs
Instead of making a notes section for this particular workout, I thought it’d be more helpful to address some of the more frequently asked questions in general.
While doing so, I’ll keep in mind a lot of the questions we’ve received on the original PHUL workout over the years.
If your question isn’t addressed, please feel free to ask it in the comments section below.
1. How Long Should I Rest During Exercises and Sets During SHUL?
Rest can be highly individualized based on goal, but assuming that your goal is to build strength and/or muscle, I’d recommend the following rest periods.
On strength days, you’ll want to take longer rest periods to completely maximize recovery before performing your next set. On the bigger lifts (deadlifts, squats, presses, heavy rows) rest for between 3-5 minutes in between sets.
On accessory lifts (higher rep compound exercises and isolation exercises) during your strength days you’ll want to take a slightly lower rest period. For these sets, rest for 90-120 seconds between each lift. This same rest period can be used while transitioning from one exercise to the next.
On hypertrophy days, all rest periods will be significantly shorter. Keep rest between 45-60 seconds on these days. For isolation lifts stick closer to 45 seconds and on compound lifts rest for the full 60 seconds.
2. Will This Program Really Make Me Big and Strong?
It will provide the training stimulus needed to do so. However, you have to do the work both inside and outside of the gym.
If you want to get bigger, you have to eat in a calorie surplus. Start off by using a bmr calaculator to find your calorie needs, then add 250-500 calories to that number and make that your caloric goal each day.
And if you want to recover and perform to your maximum capacity, you have to sleep. Not only that, but you have to sleep well. Aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
Lastly, minimize stress. Stress can limit your muscle growth potential. So ensure you spend some of your days practicing mindfulness and performing activities (whatever that may be for you) outside of the gym that will help alleviate stress.
3. Can I Perform Cardio and Ab Work with This Program?
Yes, you can and an example of how you’d incorporate that into your program is listed in the training schedule.
Just make sure none of the activities you perform on off days are too strenuous. More doesn’t always equate to better results. Your ability to do all of the things listed in the previous answer will contribute more to your results than added in ab or cardio work will when performing this program.
4. Can This Workout Be Used By Both Men and Women?
Absolutely. For the most part, training principles are the same for both men and women. A few differences between the two sexes do pop up from time to time though.
For instance, hormones will be different between the two. Most men won’t need to worry about their hormones affecting their workouts, while a woman’s monthly cycle can affect her performance and results on any given week.
The two also likely have different goals. So their accessory work (and/or activities on their off days) might need to be altered to fit their goals.
For instance, a lot of women I’ve known and worked with prefer a little more glute training than men (let’s be real, men rarely train their glutes the way they should). This can be accounted for based on what exercises one chooses to perform during core work on off days and as accessory work on training days.
5. Can I Make Exercise Substitutions?
Yes, absolutely. As mentioned in the previous answer, a lot of times people have different goals from one another. They also have different exercise preferences.
Feel free to use this program as a template and sub in and out any exercises you wish. My only recommendations here are that you sub in variations of the big compound lifts for those strength based lifts.
Other than that, you know your own goals way better than any generic template I could come up with. If you feel something needs more work, add it. If you feel you need less work in a certain area, take it out and add something else in.
6. What Weight Should I Use to Start Out With?
This is a toughy. There’s really no way for me to know and be able to answer this question. Everyone will have a different starting point.
General recommendations for weight to use on a given exercise is 85-95% of your max for the particular rep range on strength lifts and 75-85% of your max for hypertrophy.
It’s not easy to find this out though, especially for every lift, so the guideline here is to pick a weight you know you can perform the prescribed rep range with. If it’s too easy, move up on the next set. If it’s too heavy, move down the following set.
You should feel as though you have 1 rep left in the tank after each set you perform during your workouts.
7. How Would You Recommend Progressing with SHUL?
Great question. Well, I’d recommend starting off by performing the lowest rep and set count.
From there, try to move up in weight by 5lbs each week when able to. As a beginner-intermediate, you’ll notice your numbers skyrocket for the first couple months.
Once you hit a plateau where you can’t increase weight without sacrificing proper form, begin to add reps instead of weight. Then, when you get to the max reps prescribed, add in an additional set.
Once you’ve maxed out on the prescribed sets, drop back down and test to see if you can begin adding weight to the bar once again.
8. What Should I Do After I’ve Finished This Program?
This will depend on a couple factors. Personally, I believe this program design to be perfect for most people, especially those looking to build both muscle and strength.
If this is still your goal, you’re enjoying the program and still seeing results, you can always stick with it for however long you like. Take a week to deload and carry on.
Alternatively, you can use the template listed and switch up the exercise selection every 6-12 weeks to keep things interesting and train other variations of the movement. Doing so will keep you injury free and building strength long-term.
An example of this would be switching between the program listed and the original PHUL workout.