What is it? And how does it work?

Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) is perhaps one of the oldest formats of training, which has been performed in so many different guises. It is something that we will all have done at some point in our training. PHA is deemed to be effective because it allows for the shunting of blood flow between limbs and prevents localised fatigue in the same muscle groups. It is fantastic method of training for fat loss and all round fitness gains.

PHA is one of the most versatile ways of arranging a workout and from the examples below you can see it involves alternating upper body and lower body dominant exercises for a designated number of exercises and/or rounds.

A BEGINNER CLIENT in the gym may be prescribed a resistance PHA workout e.g.:

Lunge > single arm row > supported ball squat > chest press > leg press.

A METABOLIC CONDITIONING SESSION may use PHA at its heart for a high-yielding energy burn e.g.:

Box jumps > spider-man press-ups > hang cleans > med ball slams > burpees

This is something that the highly popular Crossfit style of training is built around.

AN AEROBIC FITNESS CONDITIONING SESSION may use PHA where light movement is used for active recovery in between intervals e.g.:

6 min run > overhead band stretch > 3 min run > dynamic pec stretch > 6 min run > t-spine foam roll stretch > 3 min run > dynamic lats stretch.

PHA can be very time efficient and can also integrate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) principles by alternating very high intensity periods of work with rest. This could mean that the allocated rest between moves is complete rest, or it could mean that the next exercise is performed immediately with no real rest, but is performed at a lower intensity – there are endless possibilities.

To help best understand this principle, try the following PHA Challenge’ (Be warned, this not for the faint-hearted!)

DAY 1: perform 60 sec jump lunges and 60 sec press-ups back to back, with no rest, for two rounds (4 min of total work) – count the total number of reps.

DAY2: perform 20 sec jump lunges and 20 sec press-ups back to back, with no rest, for six rounds (4 min of total work) – count the total number of reps.

Besides feeling pretty rough after each of these, you hopefully discovered that you could crank out more total reps using the day 2 PHA workout- the cycling back and forward between moves helps ‘share the workload’ more effectively and sustains work output for longer. This makes this type of training a must for those looking to lose weight, build and keep lean muscle and gain a great level of all round fitness.

When it comes to YOUR training have a plan and an aim for each session. Train hard, make every session count, you will reach your goal.