What is PHA training?

Smart PHA training with fewer workouts

Pushed for time and struggling to squeeze in a lengthy workout? Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) training could be the answer so read on the find out what PHA is and how it could help your fitness when you are pushed for time.

If you are struggling to commit to three cardiovascular (CV) and two resistance training sessions every week, well, so are a great many other people. However, limited training time doesn’t mean that your fitness has to take a back seat. We have the solution; a training system that tones up muscles all around the body AND gives you a great CV workout — all in one session.

Interested? Then check out PHA training, short for Peripheral Heart Action. PHA workouts bring a whole host of benefits to your exercise sessions which including: saving time, all over conditioning, CV training and fun.

So how does PHA training work?

The theory behind a PHA workout is simple. By alternating upper and lower body resistance exercises, interspersed with short bursts of CV activity, your heart rate remains elevated throughout the session; which conditions the heart whilst the resistance exercises tone and strengthen all around the body.

By alternating between upper and lower body exercises, the heart has to work harder to shunt blood from one end of the body to the other, which is enhanced further with bursts of CV training. Combine that with a warm-up, cool-down and some light stretching and you have a formidable training package, compressed into less than 60 minutes. Two PHA sessions a week can make significant improvements to your all-round conditioning, whatever your current level of fitness.

Where can I try PHA training?

A PHA workout can be completed almost anywhere and frequently with minimal equipment. Space limitations can be accommodated and effectively.

Options include:

The gym. With a wide range of both resistance training and CV equipment, PHA sessions are easy to plan and execute, with plenty of variety.

Exercise studio. Light weights and some basic equipment, interspersed with jogging will make for a challenging PHA workout.

Outdoors. Similar to using the exercise studio, with a few simple items of equipment or even park benches for some exercises. Outdoor sessions bring a whole new dimension to your training.

Your own home. Creativity is the key for a home PHA session, which can be a great time saver, avoiding traveling time to and from the gym.

Sample PHA workout

If you fancy trying a PHA workout, simply follow the realbuzz.com step-by-step sample session below:

Warm-up (5 minutes). Begin with a minimum of 5 minutes light CV exercise to get your body warm, elevate your heart rate and prepare it for the main session.

Mobility (3 minutes). Carry out a few mobility exercises to lubricate the joints and extend muscles to their full range of movement, which further prepares the body for PHA training. Good movements to use include:

  • Shoulder circles: circling the arms backwards and forwards.
  • Chest expanders: holding the arms wide and opening up the chest.
  • Torso twists: twisting from side to side.
  • Side bends: reaching down towards the ankle on alternate sides.
  • Half squats: bending at the knees and hip.

PHA workout (40 minutes). Aim for 15 repetitions of each exercise, following the sequence below:

For full descriptions and images of all the exercises mentioned here check out the 'Glossary of resistance training exercises' in the Resistance training section.

U = upper body, L = lower body

Resistance exercises

  • Press-up (full or from the knees) U
  • Lunge (walking) L
  • Lat pull-down U
  • Step-ups (30 seconds) L
  • Lateral raise U

CV exercise

5 to 10 minutes brisk walking, jogging or running 

Resistance exercises

  • Biceps curl U
  • Squat L
  • Triceps press U
  • Weighted lunge L
  • Shoulder press U

CV exercise
5 to 10 minutes indoor rowing

Resistance exercises

  • Sit-ups U
  • Leg press L
  • Back extension U
  • Step-ups (30 seconds) L
  • Dumbbell row U

Cool-down (5 minutes). Very light CV exercise to return your heart rate to pre-exercise levels.  

Stretching (5 to 10 minutes). Relaxed flexibility exercises, held for 30 seconds each, working all over the body.

PHA training variety

This sample session alternates between resistance and CV exercises with the resistance exercises further alternating between the upper and lower body. To keep your workout fresh, experiment with different exercises, which will keep your PHA sessions fun and challenging and also ensure that your training doesn't stagnate. The key to making your PHA session work for you is to continually swap exercises from the upper to the lower body.

PHA training — a world beater

After you've experienced a couple of PHA sessions, you’ll realise how effective they are in giving you a total body workout. Challenging ... yes, fun ... yes, excellent training ... yes. They are great for time-starved exercisers because by training smart with fewer workouts, you can still keep your body fit, both inside and out.

A typical PHA workout can be completed in 60 minutes or less, yet exercises your heart and lungs, all the key muscles around the body, includes a warm-up and cool-down for correct exercise protocols, and improved flexibility too. Completed twice a week, that’s a formidable package of benefits for less than 2 per cent of your time!

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