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Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training

Oct 11, 2022

Eric Evans

Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) training is a circuit training method (resistance training) that promotes whole-body blood flow throughout an entire workout.

Peripheral Heart Action training has several great benefits

  • Decreases body fat / increases muscle tone = improved body composition
  • Increased caloric expenditure
  • Increased strength
  • Enhance your aerobic base while challenging and increasing local muscular endurance

One of the best benefits of running a PHA cycle is it sets the table for more specific training outcomes. A PHA cycle is where you start!

PHA training is a variation of circuit training. They are similar in the sense that they progress from one exercise to the next with minimal-to-no break in between sets. In a traditional circuit training workout, however, you are moving from one muscle group to another; sometimes consider one big ‘superset’ with a higher frequency of exercises. PHA training specifically moves from an upper body exercise to a lower body exercise.

This is accomplished by performing an upper-body exercise followed immediately by a lower-body exercise with no breaks in between other than the time it takes to begin the next exercise. Exercises should be completed with sets of 15 repetitions at a moderate intensity, such as 60% of a 1-repetition maximum (or a load that elicits 60% to 80% maximal heart rate) to maintain consistent blood flow. A PHA workout may be structured as a circuit with (at least) a recommended three upper body and three lower body exercises (minimum of 6 total exercises). A 3-month PHA study that included six exercises (completed in this order bench press, leg extensions, pull downs, leg curl, shoulder press, and seated heel raise) performed in four circuits, with one minute rest between each circuit, showed a 40+ % increase in upper body strength, a 23+ % increase in lower body strength, and an 8% increase in VO2 Max. These are huge gains – the participants were stronger and burned fuel more efficiently – a great recipe for success! Body fat was not measured for this study; however, these training adaptations show an increase in quality of life through greater whole-body strength and improved fitness that may contribute to enhanced use of fat as a fuel source.

Whether you want to lose body fat or work on your muscle tone, PHA training will work for you. Increased movement = more caloric burn; you will get more training bang for your training buck. Fat loss is a numbers game – energy in vs. energy out. A PHA training cycle moves the numbers in your favor. As an added bonus, since recovery intervals are reduced (if not non-existent), requirements for hypertrophy training are met. So that means this training cycle can help build lean muscle mass. That is precisely why we have PHA training cycles built into our annual training cycles. Come check them out and see for yourself!