3 Phase Foundation Training w/ Phil Heath

3 Phase Foundation Training w/ Phil Heath

This program consists of a 3 tier approach. In phase one, you'll focus on strength to lay a physical foundation.

In phase two, you'll transition into packing on as much muscle as possible with more of a hypotrophy based program, increased volume for all movements and exercises

Phase three gets more intricate with your nutrition and cardio applications so you can shed some excess weight. The details will be paramount during this phase.

Phase One Focus: 8 Weeks of Strength

While building a physique that is easy on the eyes is commonly pursued by banging out moderate weights in the 8-15 rep range, we're going to have you build a strength base which will ignite your Central Nervous System (CNS) and allow you to move more weight during your later training sessions.

Why is this important?

If you've had any experience in the gym, there comes a time when your body adapts to the stress you've put on it, the basic scientific laws of adaptation. The 3x5 incline press, the 4x12 leg extensions and the alternating dumbbell curls you've been doing for the past 19 months eventually stop working because your body has adapted to the stress.

By placing additional stress on your muscles that they aren't accustomed to handling, you force your body into a growth environment known as "hypertrophy."

There are two kinds of hypertrophy.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is induced from moving maximal loads in lower rep ranges. This medium improves your neural efficiency in moving big weight.

Powerlifters and strongman aren't strangers to this kind of muscle building. That's why they are built like brick-houses. When you train heavy you enhance your neurogenic muscle density. Meaning, you look a lot "harder" when you're training the muscle.

During phase one, we'll have you utilize a DUP (daily undulating periodization) training program, proven to create the proper strength stimulus. You'll be squatting, benching and deadlifting three times a week with a fourth day dedicated to accessory work.

You will run this program for 8 weeks. you'll train for three weeks, followed by a deload. Then you'll run another four week cycle; three on followed by a delaod. During your delaod weeks, you'll perform all movements at 50% of your training max.

Phase One Nutrition

During phase one, your main aim is to add strength. To do that, you need to eat like you give a damn.

First you need to find an average of what you currently take in every day. Track your food using an app on your phone. Myfitnesspal is easy to use. For three normal days, track everything you consume. Don't feel pressured to change your diet or alter anything.

After three days, average total calorie intake. For example if you're three days looked like this:
  • Day 1 = 2,700 calories
  • Day 2 = 2,600 calories
  • Day 3 = 3,400 calories
Your average would come out to be 2,900 total daily calories. This is your starting point of total energy take daily. Once you figure this out then we need to partition macronutrient ratios.

Then, once you've determined what your ratios will be, you'll then add 300 calories to your daily intake. Once you arrive at this number you'll apply your macro ratios to arrive at your daily targets. For example:
  • 2,900 total daily intake starting point
  • 3,200 total daily intake (added 300 calories)
If you're of a bigger build, your breakdown would look like this:
  • 40% Protein (There are 4 calories per gram of protein)
  • 25% Carbs (There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate)
  • 35% Fat (There are 9 calories per gram of fat)
  • 3,200 x 40% = 1,240 calories/4 = 320g protein
  • 3,200 x 25%=800 calories/4 = 200g carbs
  • 3,200 x 35%= 1,120 calories/9 = 125g
Your new total daily intake and macros would be:
  • 3,200 total daily calories
  • Protein 320g
  • Carbs 200g
  • Fat 125g

The sweet spot for muscle gain during this phase is about 1/2 pound to a one pound every two weeks. If you're trending this progress keep intake and ratios the same. If progress is slower, bump up your intake another 300 calories with the same ratios. Continue to monitor in this fashion until phase one is over.

Remember, this is a process and cannot be rushed.

Phase One Cardio

During phase one, you'll do 2-3 conditioning workouts per week. Even though our main goal here is to increase power and strength, augmenting you're training with a few cardio sessions during the week will keep you healthy and assist in recovery.

And, you don't want to be that person who can squat the house, but can't get up a flight of stairs without taking a few breaks.

Pick whatever medium you like; run, bike, swim, or row. Perform 20-25 minutes.

Phase Two Focus: 8 Weeks of Hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the second kind of muscle building medium. It's probably the one you're most familiar with. This type of hypertrophy is the result of a higher volume of training. It's also more utlized when it comes to individual body-parts.

When it comes to building your best body, utilizing both methods of hypertrophy is the golden ticket. Taking a holistic approach to developing your body across multiple methodologies is the time-tested way to making sure you're not all show and no go.

Fast reps, slow reps, low rep ranges, moderate rep range and high rep ranges; by maximizing every avenue of muscle building, you'll walk away with a body that most only wish they had.

During phase two, we'll bump up the volume and use some higher rep ranges to induce some serious gains.

You'll be training four times a week during phase two. This phase will run for 8 weeks.

Phase Two Nutrition

Continue the same diet plan you developed in phase one, monitoring in the same fashion.

Phase Two Cardio

Your cardio protocol stays on par with what you did in phase one.

Phase Three Focus: 4 Weeks of Shedding Body Fat

It's time to put emphasis on cleaning up your nutrition and being disciplined with the quality of your food and your caloric needs.

Phase Three Nutrition

Wherever you left off with your diet in phase two, you'll take that intake and reduce it by 300 calories.

You'll keep the same macronutrient ratios, but your overall intake will be lower. Use the same formulaic example we used above.

The sweet spot for fat loss during this phase is about 0.5 to 1% of body fat every two weeks. If you're trending this progress keep intake and ratios the same.

If progress is slower or nonexistent on your two week check in, reduce your intake another 300 calories with the same ratios. Continue to monitor in this fashion until you reach your desired level of leanness.

Keep in mind, there is a diminishing return effect on dropping your calories. For most men dropping below 1,800-2,000 can be counter-productive. For women, that number is between 1,400-1,700.

Phase Three Cardio

3 HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions per week is the optimal conditioning method to maintain lean muscle while still skyrocketing your heart rate.

An easy way to employ this is to do 30 seconds of work at about 80-85%, followed by 60-90 seconds of recovery. You can pick any medium you like. Sprints, rowing, airdyne bike, ski erg, kettlebell swing, sled pushing. Each session should last 15-20 minutes.

Phase One Training

Day 1
Phase One
Exercise Sets/Reps Load
Squat  6x3  70%
Deadlift  5x3  80%
Bench Press  4x8  70%

Day 2
Phase One
Exercise Sets/Reps Load
Deadlift  6x3  70%
Bench Press  5x5  80%
Squat  4x8  70%

Day 3
Phase One
Exercise Sets/Reps Load
Bench Press  6x3  70%
Squat  5x5  80%
Deadlift  4x5  70%

Phase Two Training

Phase 2: Hypertrophy (8 Weeks)
Day 1
Phase Two
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press  4  8-12
One-Arm Dumbbell Row  4  8-12
Wide Grip Lat Pull Down  4  8-12
Flat Bench DB Fly's  4  8-12

Day 2
Phase Two
Exercise Sets/Reps Load
Squat  4  8-12
Lying Leg Curl  4  8-12
Romanian Deadlift  4  8-12
Leg Extension  4  8-12

Day 3
Phase Two
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Overhead Press  4  8-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise  4  8-12
Rear Delt Fly (Machine)  4  8-12
Plate Front Raise  4  8-12

Day 4
Phase Two
Exercise Sets/Reps Load
Barbell Curl  4  8-12
Dips (Tricep Version)  4  8-12
Cable Hammer Curl  4  8-12
Tricep Push Down  4  8-12

Phase Three Training

Day 1
Phase three
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press Superset with Wide Grip Pull Ups  4  12-15
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Superset with Barbell Row  4  12-15
Push Ups Superset with Back Extensions  4  12-15
Ab Roll Out Superset with Leg Raises from Bench  4  15-20

Day 2
Phase Three
Exercise Sets Reps
Front Squats  4  12-15
Deadlifts  4  12-15
Jumping Lunges Superset with Kettlebell Swings  4  12-15
Leg Extension Superset with Seated Leg Curl  4  12-15

Day 3
Phase One
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curl Superset with Dumbbell Overhead Extension  4  12-15
Smith Machine Behind the Neck Press  4  12-15
DB Lateral Raise Superset with DB Rear Delt Raise  4  12-15
Ab Roll Out Superset with Leg Raises from Bench  4  15-20

  • Repeat Day 1 on Day 4
  • Repeat Day 2 on Day 5
1) Bryant, J. (2013). Built to the hilt: Creating a muscularly strong and superbly conditioned body that will last a lifetime.
2) Myogenic tone and reactivity: definitions based on muscle physiology. - PubMed - NCBI. (n.d.).
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