Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training


Less calories in… more calories out… this is one way of playing the weight loss and body fat reduction game. Being more active with a regular exercise program also helps in achieving body-changing results.


A great way to get the most out of your workouts is to combine cardiovascular work with resistance training using a method called Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training. It’s a form of circuit training that moves from one exercise to the next with minimal to no rest in between exercises by alternating muscles worked.


Ultimately, cardiovascular and resistance training both have benefits to help obtain the best physique and fitness level one desires. If you are a cardio addict and only do countless hours of cardio, why not supplement it with resistance training. Or, if you are a muscle-building maniac who views a bike as if it was an electric chair, you will survive by adding some cardio or other types of dynamic moments into your workout. By combining cardio and resistance training, you’re getting the best of both fitness worlds and you can do this simply by using Peripheral Heat Action (PHA) Training.



Peripheral Heart Action Training is similar to ‘circuit training’ by moving from one exercise to the next with minimal or no rest in between exercises. The difference is the workouts are designed precisely to alternate upper and lower body, as well as core exercises, throughout the circuit. This allows a full recovery of each body part before it is worked again. For example, an example workout would consist of squats, followed promptly by shoulder presses, followed again by step-ups, followed by rows, and so forth.


In general, circuit training has shown to increase caloric output by enhancing a combination of aerobic, anaerobic, and muscular endurance exercises in a series. Although circuit-training workouts can involve basically any exercise sequence, choosing a group of exercises that are not designed for your specific goals may be ineffective or even harmful. For instance, your goal may be to slim down and tone up. If you choose 3-5 exercises that target the same muscle group and perform them back-to-back, the workout will fatigue your muscles quickly, causing lactic acid build up, tearing up your muscle fibers, and making you vulnerable to injury. Therefore, it may not produce the results you’re after.


Instead, circuit training using the PHA method involves exercises designed to target different areas of the body in a continual series to better integrate resistance training while maintaining a high level of intensity throughout the circuit! This is accomplished by alternating muscles groups from each set. It allows you to transition to a new exercise while the muscles previously used have a chance to rest. Your strength exercises are constantly changing while your body maintains the high level of cardio it needs to maximize caloric output! And no worries, the resistance exercises will still build muscle (toning), which helps decrease body fat and increases lean mass. It’s a win-win!



Anyone can perform this type of training. The workout can be as easy or as difficult as one desires by choosing exercises that are challenging for their appropriate fitness level. Whether the goal is to lose body fat, increase muscle definition, or raise your fitness level, PHA training can accomplish these goals.



During a PHA style workout, you will perform a circuit of 4-6 exercises (or more) in a row (no rest) for 30-45 seconds, either repeat those exercises for a second or third set OR move on to a new sequence of different exercises and continue the pattern. Be sure to alternate muscle groups of different extremities to avoid too much lactic acid build up while still allowing yourself to train hard. You can do as many or as few rounds as you’d like! That’s the beauty of this training style.


This method is specifically designed to keep the blood circulated throughout the body during the entire workout. While one muscle group is worked, the opposite recovers. Therefore, you will alternate upper/lower body or core movements in a circuit format making sure to vary the exercises to ensure every muscle group is challenged.



The workout I designed for you consists of a strength circuit of 6 exercises and 2 core movements to complete the series. You will perform 30-45 seconds of each exercise, followed by 15 seconds of rest, which is just enough time to transition to the next exercise.


I’ve included a dynamic warm-up to ensure every muscle group is limber prior to beginning the workout. It is also important to conclude the session with a proper cool-down and stretch for muscular recovery.


The workout video is demonstrated by using hand weights, however, the same exercises can be performed on your Total Gym. Understanding the concept of PHA Training will allow you to create your own routines utilizing any and all equipment you desire!


Let’s learn the workout…



*Check out the video to see how these exercises are performed.

PHA is an effective circuit training style for anyone to create and perform. It’s an effective way to build strength and lose fat, without feeling muscular fatigue in one area. The PHA training style is fun, effective, and works wonders for all fitness levels!

Give it a try! It may be your next favorite workout style.

Best Always,


Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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