Peripheral Heart Action Training (PHA)

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Peripheral heart action training (PHA) for weight loss

Peripheral heart action training (pha training)– One of the key things when your trying to lose weight is not just to work hard but to work smart. You can do this by finding new and challenging ways to take your body to the next level.

Peripheral heart action training is a way that you can do this as you will shock the body, build muscle and improve your stamina.

If you haven’t heard of peripheral heart action training, it is an innovative training system that torches fat and builds muscle.

It is one of the most challenging training systems that you will come across, and if you stick with it you will see massive changes as your body fat will go down and your muscle mass will go up.

You will look amazing!


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PHA is an old training system that has become new again. It has slowly been making a comeback, but it isn’t mainstream yet.

Currently people are still using HIIT, but I promise you this is a more effective way to burn calories and change your body shape.

Peripheral heart action training was created by Arthur Steinhaus, PHD in the 1940’s.

In the 1960’s this method of training was made popular by Bob Gadja, who designed a training and conditioning system that used barbells and dumbbells to lose weight and build muscle.

Bob Gadja was a body builder who wanted to not just put on lean muscle, but he wanted to improve his cardiovascular conditioning and his muscle definition.

He started doing a type of weight training workout that used a circuit training system.

You might think to yourself that circuit training is nothing new and combining circuit training with weight training is nothing special.

However, what separates PHA from traditional circuit training is the order that the exercises are performed in and the heaviness of the weight that is used.

With PHA you alternate exercises between upper body and the lower body.

The idea is that while you are alternating between the upper body and lower body you are overloading the heart because while the upper body is recovering from your last bout of exercise your heart is still working.

The rest period is minimal and due the lactic acid production of lifting such heavy weights the heart rate will be constantly elevated throughout the workout.


How to design a PHA workout

  • Use 4-6 sets of 5-8 exercises
  • Do 10-12 repetitions (with a heavy load as this builds muscle)
  • The only rest you have is the time it takes to change exercise (although some people recommend a maximum of 30 seconds)
  • Intensity should be 60-80% of your 1 repetition maximum
  • Once you have completed one exercise move on to the next
  • Once you have completed the circuit rest for 90 seconds
  • Complete 3-4 circuits of that sequence
  • Complete 3-4 sequences

Here is an example of a PHA training sequence

  • Back squat
  • Shoulder press
  • Wide grip pull ups
  • Walking lunges
  • Barbell curls
  • Hamstring curls

Peripheral heart action training vs HIIT

Even though this is a weight training session it is recommended that you keep your heart rate at 80% of your maximum heart rate.

This is a higher heart rate training zone then what most people doing long steady state cardio workouts achieve.

However, it is not as high as a HIIT workout, so it is somewhere in between.

A 12-week study with untrained volunteers with low fitness levels found that there was a greater increase of strength, VO2 max (lung capacity and efficiency of the heart), after 12 weeks of exercise compared to a group that did 12 weeks of HIIT workouts.

Other studies have contradicted these results and showed that HIIT is a better way to improve cardiovascular conditioning.

HIIT is a very effective way to burn fat but you wont build muscle to doing HIIT, which is why PHA is more effective.


The metabolic effect of peripheral heart action training (PHA)

Let’s not forget that is we get older we start to lose muscle mass. As we lose muscle our bodies metabolism is affected, and it slows down.

Having a higher muscle mass means that you are going to burn more calories throughout the day.

For example, if you have two people that are 100 kgs:

  • One person has 70 kg of muscle and the rest is water and fat.
  • The other person has 90 kg of muscle and the rest is water and fat

The second person will have a higher metabolism as he or she has more muscle being used throughout the day.

Each kilo of muscle will require a certain number of calories to be burned in order to function.

Muscle mass and metabolism

As this system builds muscle you will start to burn more calories, you will feel stronger, look leaner and have less body fat.

You will get a cardiovascular workout as your heart rate will remain at 80% of your max heart rate

You will have a high excessive post exercise consumption (EPOC), and means that after the workout you will experience an afterburn.

An afterburn means that your body will still be burning calories for up to 24 hours after your workout.


The fitness industry comes out with many gimmicks and new workouts, but the best things are when we go back to the old school. Pilates and kettlebells are old styles of training that have become popular again and I genuinely think more people should be trying this type of training method. You will lose body fat, increase muscle mass and improve your conditioning with one training system


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Gerald has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise, Nutrition & Health. He is an ASA qualified swimming teacher, and a qualified personal trainer. Gerald has developed his own exclusion diet, which he uses to help his clients lose weight.