Peripheral Heart Action Training

Check out today’s workout involving Peripheral Heart Action Training!

One of my favorite things when I was studying for my NASM certification was learning about the different types of workouts. For so long, I had been doing various types of workouts without really knowing what the real name was (if there was even one) or why the heck they were designed the way they were.

Here are some previous workouts/resistance training systems I’ve shared:

Today, I want to share another resistance training system known as PHA, or Peripheral Heart Action. This type of system requires you to move through upper and lower body exercises in a circuit fashion, moving from one exercise to the next with minimal rest.

It is actually designed to avoid the “pump” effect you get when doing multiple sets of same-muscle exercises, and instead, attempt to keep blood flowing through your entire body. This helps avoid lactic acid buildup, which will allow you to push yourself harder and have a very metabolically challenging training session. Sounds good, right?

So I’ve put together a little “cheat sheet” on PHA, with four different workout options to choose from…

PHA workout

You can choose to create a workout using one group or two, depending on how much time you have. But no matter how many groups you choose, here are some specific guidelines of PHA training:

  • Use 5-6 exercises per circuit
  • Perform 12-15 repetitions per exercise
  • Repeat the circuit 5 times during each workout
  • Rest as little as possible between exercises (you can start with one-minute rest periods, but try to decrease gradually)
  • You can choose to perform 3-4 workouts each week (one from each group above)
  • When doing the same workout, increase the weight you use each time you move through the circuit. Start with a weight you can easily lift for 12-15 repetitions your first time through, but gradually increase it so you are using a very challenging weight by the end of your workout. You want to feel the burn, but you don’t want to work yourself to muscle failure.

**Edited to include – Below are the descriptions/pictures for the moves shown above:

Group #1

Group #2

Group #3

Group #4

So there ya have it! Perhaps a new workout for some of you to try soon?

Question for the Afternoon:

Have you ever tried (or heard of) PHA Training? Do you think it’d be something for you?


  1. Karen says

    This sounds great, you may have posted this before and if so, let me know where…but do you have the description of all of these workouts????

    • Courtney says

      Oh no, LOL! I guess great minds really do think alike?!?

      Looks like we’re going to have to do a run through of our upcoming posts in our next gchat session. 😉

  2. says

    This is the first time hearing about it, but it seems like something I can do for a quick hit-every-body-part workout. I’m sure if I move quickly enough through the moves, it will be like cardio, too
    michelle kim recently posted..BodyPump

    • Courtney says

      Yes! It definitely will – there should be VERY minimal rest so your heart rate will definitely be up!

  3. says

    So if you’re supposed to increase weight with each circuit, and using hand weights, wouldn’t this mean you’d have to have 5 different sets of hand weights? I’d think if I was progressing the weight, by the 5th circuit I wouldn’t be able to do as many reps (maybe 6 or 8) and it would more likely than not be to failure. Thoughts?

    • Courtney says

      Hey Janae, that’s a great question!
      For someone like me, and possibly you, my weight isn’t very heavy so it may be difficult to have that many sets of dumbbells. I’d say try increasing the weight once, maybe twice, within the circuit. That way you’re still keeping the workout more challenging, but more attainable too. Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. says

    No, I’ve never heard of PHA training, but I’ve heard of lactic acid formation and what it does to your muscles, etc. I always feel so proud when you bring up the biology parts of your job. I feel so smart because I have covered the majority of it this year in Science.

    Maybe I’d like this type of workout, it’s fast paced, but the only thing I wouldn’t like is the minimal rest factor, especially if I got exhausted in the middle of the group of workouts. :(
    Shannon recently posted..St. Patrick’s Day clarification, a new feature, and Lady Gaga becoming a mom?


  1. […] PHA training is a version of circuit training exercise done in 30 minutes or less that has the same benefit. However, unlike regular circuit training, PHA is done in a certain order & that order is to alternate the lower body, with the upper body. By doing this, you can improve your blood circulation, get your cardio in and alter body composition. An example of PHA training could include: ball squats followed by cable rows followed by DB lunges followed by ball chest press. The advantage of this form or exercise done in 30 minutes or less over the normal one is that it is more specific to one’s desired goals. For example, if your goal is to add muscle size & definition, then you would do 3-4 sets, of 8-12 reps with a 60 second rest after you have completed your first round of exercises. You would do this kind of workout 3-4x/week. Try this version of the circuit training workout! […]

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