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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 two 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): 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 I’d ever considered training everything twice a week. I said, well that’s 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 don’t claim to be a creator of something that has never been done before; it’s just basically non-linear periodization system that’s easier to understand. Most people don’t 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, it’s been shown to be one of the most effective ways to train.
I never put it out there as, ‘this is my routine that I have come up with and it’s the end all, be all of everything’ [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 – 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: I guess it’s kind of a compliment, but I want to help people, I genuinely do; I’m not so much offended by people accusing me, I’m more offended by people thinking that way. I’m more offended by that fact that some people are so weak minded. It’s not just Bodybuilding; anybody who’s ever had success or made any money or done anything, they must have cheated to get there, or had help. They think that anybody who’s ever been successful must have had everything handed to them and the reality is, that’s not true; the majority of successful people have a lot of integrity and just work really hard. So I guess it’s 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 can’t convince somebody who already has their mind made up and is ignorant about certain things, it’s just not going to happen. I don’t waste too much time on those people anymore.
I’ve had people say “I buy steroids from the same dealer that supplies Layne”, but I’m not going to allow those people to make up lies about me. I mean, if someone wants to say “I think Layne Norton is on steroids” or “It’s my opinion he’s on steroids”, then they’re welcome to their opinion, they’re wrong, but their welcome to it [Laughs]. When I was younger and had more energy, I used to get more riled up about that kind of stuff, I guess now that I’m older, I realize it’s just words. That’s all jealous, ignorant people have, they’re never going to meet me on stage, they’re never going to get to a power lift meet, they’re going to sit behind a computer and yap and talk, before eventually going away. It’s been 13 years and those people who used to say hateful things, I don’t hear anything from them anymore and they’re gone. I’m still here though and I’m going to be here in another 13 years.
TP: What’s your view on those people who use steroids and go down the unnatural route?
LN: I have friends who use steroids, one of my closest friends does actually. It’s one of those things that I look at it like cigarettes; if somebody wants to smoke, that’s their business, as long as they’re not forcing me to endure it. I’m one of these people that, my belief is that you should be allowed to do what you want as long as you’re not hurting somebody else. My biggest thing is that if you’re going to use steroids, be educated and understand the risks.
Another thing, don’t 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 you’re taking steroids, then you really are a piece of ****. I say that without hesitation about anybody. Their excuse is that everybody’s doing it, no, in your mind everybody’s doing it, because you’re weak. But in my opinion, those people are going to need those steroids, they’re going to need to cheat because of their weak mentality, which is the same reason that they’re going to cheat on their diet, their training and I’m going to beat them anyway. If someone takes steroids and competes in the NPC or the IFBB, that’s their decision and I don’t 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 isn’t illegal, yet we let people kill themselves with cigarettes, so if they’re educated, they know the risks and decide to that that that’s their business.
TP: Does the unnatural IFBB scene, which attracts a lot more popularity than the natural circuit bother you in any way?
LN: It’s a media thing, I mean, they’re more interesting to look at, a natural bodybuilder looks like a regular person with clothes on. It’s 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 it’s the same sort of thing in Bodybuilding; people want to see the big massive dudes, it’s more impressive to them and that’s fine but there is also a certain amount of people that want to see natural physiques and that’s fine too.
I’m not one of these guys who is like “we’ve got to get the IFBB out of the media and we’ve got to take over”; I think there’s 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 it’s us or them, it’s us and them and it should be.
TP: You’re 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: Over the past 12 months I’ve definitely been more power-lifting orientated because I haven’t done any Bodybuilding shows and I’ve done two power-lifting meets. During my off-season I really like power-lifting, because it gives me a goal to shoot for that’s 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. I’ll 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: Each is rewarding in their own way. I’d 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 I’m done. Bodybuilding on the other hand is in your training, it’s in your eating, and it follows you around every single day. For me, Bodybuilding is probably a little bit more rewarding, just because it’s more challenging. Power-lifting though is extremely rewarding, I love the fact that it isn’t as subjective as Bodybuilding, it’s just me and this weight, no judges with split opinions, there’s no aesthetics. It’s either I lift it or I don’t and I love that black and white outcome, it’s like I control my own destiny in that sense.
TP: What does the future hold for Layne Norton?
LN: 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. I’m sure with that, everything will change but other than that I’ve really enjoyed coaching people and I’m 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 don’t understand some of the e-mails I get thanking me for changing their lives, I don’t get it. But If I can have a positive effect on someone’s life, I live for that. I’ve put myself out there, I want to show people that you don’t have to be born with this, you can work hard and make things happen for yourself and I guess that’s the biggest thing.