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Laynes concept of Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training has been hugely successful, breaking through the ‘normal’ barriers that constrict those who train to working each muscle group once a week. This system of training incorporates two working days for each muscle, one focusing on larger weights with fewer reps and the other using higher reps alongside the notion of hypertrophy. Part twoĀ of Dr Layne Norton’s interview also looks at steroid use, his love for power-lifting and what’s next for Layne and his wife Isabel.
Toonari Post (TP): When did you come up with the concept of PHAT training?
Layne Norton (LN):Ā Well, when I was in College, I played Rugby for a few years for my school and I herniated two discs in my neck making a tackle, so I had to go light for a few months in terms of training. As I was doing that, I was thinking about how to reorganize my training and I was talking to a guy, Doctor Eugene Sanik, to give credit where credit is due, we were posting on the same message boards and he asked if Iād ever considered training everything twice a week. I said, well thatās surely overtraining [laughs] but he said, how actually, research shows this, this and this, he sent me all this interesting stuff and we discussed non-linear periodization and how you should use different rep schemes and rep ranges. So I decided to give it a shot, starting with a four day week program, with two upper body days and two lower body days, one day focusing on lower rep, heavier weight and the other day was higher rep stuff. That kind of formed the basis of what would become Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training.
I saw more gains doing that routine for a year than I had in the previous four years. I remember the next time I competed and people said that in comparison to the last time I competed, it was a difference between a boy and a man, my physique completely changed. I donāt claim to be a creator of something that has never been done before; itās just basically non-linear periodization system thatās easier to understand. Most people donāt do periodized training because when they read about how to program it, it becomes complicated and convoluted. At the end of the day, non-linear periodization works, itās been shown to be one of the most effective ways to train.
I never put it out there as, āthis is my routine that I have come up with and itās the end all, be all of everythingā [laughs]. I just wrote down what I was doing, In my journals and the first time we filmed the video series [for Bodybuilding.com], the guy who was filming asked me what routine I followed. So I knew I had to come up with a name and I wanted to come up with something unique, Power Hypertrophy Training, which you have to Adapt ā P.H.A.T.
TP: Some people online accuse you of being unnatural and a steroid user. They continue to do so, despite the fact that you have openly admitted to never gaining more than 10lbs of muscle in a calendar year; do you consider the accusations to be offensive or even a compliment?
LN:Ā I guess itās kind of a compliment, but I want to help people, I genuinely do; Iām not so much offended by people accusing me, Iām more offended by people thinking that way. Iām more offended by that fact that some people are so weak minded. Itās not just Bodybuilding; anybody whoās ever had success or made any money or done anything, they must have cheated to get there, or had help. They think that anybody whoās ever been successful must have had everything handed to them and the reality is, thatās not true; the majority of successful people have a lot of integrity and just work really hard. So I guess itās the mentality that bothers me more than anything else.
I just want to help people, but they can be so ignorant. I used to argue with people a lot more about it, I used to put a lot more effort in to trying to convince them but I realized, you canāt convince somebody who already has their mind made up and is ignorant about certain things, itās just not going to happen. I donāt waste too much time on those people anymore.
Iāve had people say āI buy steroids from the same dealer that supplies Layneā, but Iām not going to allow those people to make up lies about me. I mean, if someone wants to say āI think Layne Norton is on steroidsā or āItās my opinion heās on steroidsā, then theyāre welcome to their opinion, theyāre wrong, but their welcome to it [Laughs].Ā When I was younger and had more energy, I used to get more riled up about that kind of stuff, I guess now that Iām older, I realize itās just words. Thatās all jealous, ignorant people have, theyāre never going to meet me on stage, theyāre never going to get to a power lift meet, theyāre going to sit behind a computer and yap and talk, before eventually going away. Itās been 13 years and those people who used to say hateful things, I donāt hear anything from them anymore and theyāre gone. Iām still here though and Iām going to be here in another 13 years.
TP: Whatās your view on those people who use steroids and go down the unnatural route?
LN:Ā I have friends who use steroids, one of my closest friends does actually. Itās one of those things that I look at it like cigarettes; if somebody wants to smoke, thatās their business, as long as theyāre not forcing me to endure it. Iām one of these people that, my belief is that you should be allowed to do what you want as long as youāre not hurting somebody else. My biggest thing is that if youāre going to use steroids, be educated and understand the risks.
Another thing, donāt compete in a tested organization. If you take steroids you have the option to compete in a non-tested organization, but if you compete in a natural organization and youāre taking steroids, then you really are a piece of ****. I say that without hesitation about anybody. Their excuse is that everybodyās doing it, no, in your mind everybodyās doing it, because youāre weak. But in my opinion, those people are going to need those steroids, theyāre going to need to cheat because of their weak mentality, which is the same reason that theyāre going to cheat on their diet, their training and Iām going to beat them anyway. If someone takes steroids and competes in the NPC or the IFBB, thatās their decision and I donāt look down on people who choose to do that, but I do think that there are health aspects that they should be conscious of. But at the same time, smoking isnāt illegal, yet we let people kill themselves with cigarettes, so if theyāre educated, they know the risks and decide to that that thatās their business.
TP: Does the unnatural IFBB scene, which attracts a lot more popularity than the natural circuit bother you in any way?
LN:Ā Itās a media thing, I mean, theyāre more interesting to look at, a natural bodybuilder looks like a regular person with clothes on. Itās like in Baseball; we want to watch the 500 ft home run, we want to see two football players run at blistering speeds and concuss the hell out of each other [laughs]. So, I think itās the same sort of thing in Bodybuilding; people want to see the big massive dudes, itās more impressive to them and thatās fine but there is also a certain amount of people that want to see natural physiques and thatās fine too.
Iām not one of these guys who is like āweāve got to get the IFBB out of the media and weāve got to take overā; I think thereās a market for both sports and they can and should co-exist, it gives people options. I watch both, natural bodybuilding is my first love but I go to the Olympia every year and enjoy watching. People have to get over the mentality that itās us or them, itās us and them and it should be.
TP: Youāre well known for your power-lifting prowess as well as your Bodybuilding work, which one have you been more focused on in recent months?
LN:Ā Over the past 12 months Iāve definitely been more power-lifting orientated because I havenāt done any Bodybuilding shows and Iāve done two power-lifting meets. During my off-season I really like power-lifting, because it gives me a goal to shoot for thatās more tangible. As opposed to just gaining muscle which is a slow, very arduous process; if I have something to shoot for in-between, such as specific weights, lifts and events it keeps me more motivated. Iāll probably do another power-lifting meet before I start competing again in Bodybuilding, because I still have goals I want to hit. I want to total 1,700lbs raw for my three lifts, I want too squat over 600lbs, bench over 400lbs and deadlift over 7oolbs in the same meet.
TP: Which of the two sports do you find more rewarding?
LN:Ā Each is rewarding in their own way. Iād say the sacrifice for Bodybuilding is more rewarding, it affects you every single day whereas for power-lifting, I head into the gym and lift hard for three hours and Iām done. Bodybuilding on the other hand is in your training, itās in your eating, and it follows you around every single day. For me, Bodybuilding is probably a little bit more rewarding, just because itās more challenging. Power-lifting though is extremely rewarding, I love the fact that it isnāt as subjective as Bodybuilding, itās just me and this weight, no judges with split opinions, thereās no aesthetics. Itās either I lift it or I donāt and I love that black and white outcome, itās like I control my own destiny in that sense.
TP: What does the future hold for Layne Norton?
LN:Ā I plan to go back to Bodybuilding in a year or so, but the biggest thing, my wife and I are going to start a family, so that will be a whole new challenge and a whole new area of my life. Iām sure with that, everything will change but other than that Iāve really enjoyed coaching people and Iām focused on becoming one of the best coaches in the industry. I already have plenty of clients, but I want people to walk away after working with me, with one of the best experiences they will receive.
Overall, I love to inspire people; I donāt understand some of the e-mails I get thanking me for changing their lives, I donāt get it. But If I can have a positive effect on someoneās life, I live for that. Iāve put myself out there, I want to show people that you donāt have to be born with this, you can work hard and make things happen for yourself and I guess thatās the biggest thing.