- Main GoalBuild Muscle
- Workout TypeSplit
- Training LevelIntermediate
- Program Duration12 weeks
- Days Per Week4
- Time Per Workout45-90 minutes
- Equipment RequiredBarbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines, Other
- Target Gender Male & Female
- Recommended Supps
- Workout PDF Download Workout
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.
love that program and generaly the upper/lower split.
Due to lack of spare time, I've modified the program in a way that i hit each muscle 3 times on every training and i do that by adding the arms exercise to the leg days. whats your thoyghts about that?
thanks in advance
Sorry for my delay in responding, Assaf. If it's working for you, go with it. I see no problem with that.
What can i substitute leg extension with?
What do you have access to, and why do you want to sub it, Tommy? I want to make a recommendation you can use.
What's the biceps workout in the upper strength? I don't see one or did I just missed it? Thanks!
Hey Bryan - there is not a specific bicep exercise in the 'Upper Strength' workout.
The inverted row targets different muscles than the barbell upright row. It's best to follow the program as written.
I see, can I add a bicep workout? Or should I stick with the program? Thanks!
How about inverted row? Can I substitute it with barbell upright row? Thanks!
It's best to follow the program as written.
This program via amazing but I only have access to a very small gym so farmer's carry is nearly impossible.
I have read that a static hold is almost as good, but I wanted to see if there were any recommendations for substitutes?
Thanks heaps for putting this one together
Hey Tim - you can do static holds as a replacement.
Excited to try this. Looking for recomposition reasons, but primarily building- noticed i’ve started to lose muscle since i just turned 50. I got the squats, deadlifts and bp ok.. My gym is at home.
Can you recommend dumbbell or bb versions for some of the exercises pls. Hopefully it’ll have similar effects? Thnk you!!
Hey Cynthia - check out these articles on alternatives to common gym machines:
- Lower Body: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/lower-body-alternatives-your-...
- Upper Body: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/upper-body-gym-machine-altern...
My gym doesn't have a machine for the glute ham raise on strength day for legs. What could i substitute it with?
Hey stephen - you could do seated or lying hamstring curls.
Hi there, is it ok if I swap front squat with bb squat then trap bar deadlift with conventional deadlift on lower strength days!
And why DB bench press instead of bb on upper strength day?
That's perfectly fine to make those substitutions. DB bench was chosen to isolate both sides, that way you can work out any muscular imbalances that could be masked with BB bench.
Curious - if I can squat a certain weight for 8 reps x 4 sets easily. Do i move straight up to a heavier weight - even if it means i can only manage 6 reps for 4 sets? Then is the goal to hit 8 reps for 4 sets before moving up in weights again?
Odd questions I know!
Stay at your 8 rep weight and make sure your form is perfect. Once you can get 10 reps and have maybe 1 in the tank then move up.
Really looking forward to staring this program! Quick question regarding the lower strength day, assuming it’s perfectly safe to SQUAT and DEADLIFT in the same workout, how would you recommend going about training both for strength the same day? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!
Thanks for reaching out Kerry.
For the exercises listed, the front squat is very quad focused while the trap-bar deadlift is more hamstring focused. This should allow you to appropriately focus on strength for each lift.
Hi! Thanks for the programme. I have been using it for 7 weeks. The measurements after this period of time showed that I lost 1.2% fat(1.1 kgr) and I gained 100gr muscles. The strange thing is that I gained 200gr on each leg but I lost 300gr on the body and no change was seen in the arms, while I lift much more that before(for example in the overhead press I lift 4×5 30kgr+ barbbell while I lifted 15kgr + barbbell. That is true for every other exercise except for pull ups, triceps dips and inverted row where you use yoir bodyweight and I perform the same or so repetitions as before...) I also eat very well, the nutritionist gave me an excellent programme. Visually I think I am much better (people have been commending on my gains and progress a lot lately).. Is there a chance that the exercises on each muscle group are not enough for its growth? Or the fact that I also play boxing may affect the muscles(we there do intense cardio). Please shed some light on my problem, because I am really sad with the result and I was really surprised, when I saw the measurements. Thanks for the support!
I wouldn't be sad by your results, it sounds like you've accomplished a lot!
All programs are meant to target specific muscle groups for a period of time. After that, you move onto another program that emphasizes the next target muscle group. It'd be really difficult to promote growth in all areas at once.
You can add weight to the bodyweight exercises you have mentioned through weight belts and weighted vests.
Your future program can include additional arm work, which will assist in their growth but will likely take away from the development of another muscle group depending on your programming.
Hope this helps!
Look coach i get that each workout routine you post on the website is great but right now i have3 different Workout Routines of which i don't know which one to pick to perform for 12 weeks. and my goal is to build muscle and grow alot.... so any recommendations between those?
Im confused really :D
I've done Phul and the 4 day advanced. Both great. I like Phul a lot and would recommend it to most.
Hi there. Thanks for the plan. I was thinking about the biceps sets, there is only one biceps in 4 days of workout, dont you think you missed it? Or you are focusing on indirect biceps movements?
During this particular program, bicep isolation isn't the goal. It's about putting on strength and size. You'll be shocked by how much your biceps will grow simply by performing heavy compound movements that hit them indirectly. I'd recommend giving it a shot and, if after the 12 weeks you want something with more arm work, you can make that your next goal.
Yes on strength lifts. 2/0/2/0 on hypertrophy and accessory.
been looking for a workout to improve strength, i don't want to be a bull and i don't want to be skinny musculated.
i just want a beach body and want strength to play others sports.
Is this a good workout? i have 55-65 minutes to do that.
is it possible?
Yes, this would be a perfect option for someone with those goals.
Stick to the lower set recommendations and rest periods. You should have plenty of time there.
What do i have to change to do it in 45-55 minutes? Is it possible? Or there are better workouts like this in less tine? Thanks
Would you recommend carb cycling while doing this program? Regardless of yes or no, what kind of macro ratios should I use?
I personally don't recommend carb cycling. But yes, it can be done.
In terms of macros - give this a read: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-calculate-perfect-macros
Personally, I'd start smaller than that. Add 50 calories per week into what you're eating now. Keep doing so until you reach the point where you're gaining unwanted weight (i.e. unwanted body fat).
Thank you! That article was a big help for the macros, I only have one more question left. I’m coming off a big cut and going into some mass building so I’m trying to get this right as best I can. My bmr is about 1950 calories so I’m planning to eat 2250 calories plus whatever I burn during workouts. Should I do this, or would you recommend just eating the same number of calories each day?
I'd recommend reverse dieting. You can read more on that here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/reverse-dieting-long-term-fat...
Okay, that makes me feel really good about my goals moving forward. It means to add calories from what I’ve been eating right? So if it’s been 1950 or so make it 2100 this week and then keep adding every week from there? Or do I need to start at what my bmr is now
Is there an effective way to include weighted chin and pull up sets in this program? My purpose is to increase my strenght levels but also mass. Currently my PR in weighted pull up is 60kg plus belts weight. Thank you beforehand!
Absolutely! Feel free to sub in weighted pull ups for the standard pull up on the first upper day.
Hope this helps!
I understand that these exercises target several other muscles indirectly, but will they strengthen and build the shoulders?
Yes, there are plenty of exercises within this program to both strengthen and build the shoulders.
i would like to thank you first for your effort
can you tell me another exercise same too decline bench press and inverted row please
because i don't feel comfort with those exercises
thankyou a lot <3 :)
Any press and row variation you are comfortable with will do the trick,
Will this help with my endurance as well?
I want to increase strength, but at the same time keep up with my endurance.
This workout plan looks very good, should I go a head and start it or move onto something more for endurance.
Any help would be awesome, thanks.
The hypertrophy rep ranges should help with muscular endurance. If your goal is cardio endurance, there are probably better programs out there.
I just can’t get comfortable doing incline barbell bench presses. Am I missing out on some benefit if I do the dumbbell presses on both upper days as opposed to ever using the barbell?