Here’s a Flexible Whole-Body Exercise Circuit With Just the Right Workout Guidance and Tracking. Best of All You Can Do It Right Now
It’s called a PHA Exercise Routine, or Peripheral Heart Action training. It’s ideal for when you’re traveling, vacationing, or working out at home. And, if you’re going to work out at a gym, you can use a PHA routine to take your training to a whole new level.
PHA isn’t a new WOD (Workout of the Day) or some new exercise theory. It was developed back in the ’60s, popularized by former AAU Mr. America and Mr. Universe Bob Gajda, and has withstood the test of time.
Research conducted in November 2014 by Alessandro Piras et al. and published in the April 2015 European Journal of Applied Physiology found that peripheral heart action (PHA) training was a valid substitute to high-intensity interval training. It improves and helps regulate things like heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, and digestion.
Today, many leading-edge exercise programs are based on the PHA protocol because it produces results and is simple.
There’s no better way to start exercising and build exercise momentum. But that doesn’t limit PHA to newbies or mean it’s a breeze to perform.
With a PHA routine, it’s entirely up to you how easy or hard you go. That’s why the protocol can work for anyone. Go easy and use PHA to energize and invigorate your day. Go hard and use it to improve cardio, build strength or lose weight.
PHA routines also make you more efficient with your time and workout. They can pack a lot in a short time, making them perform for anyone with a busy schedule. So, just like you control your intensity, you can also control the time. Go for as long or short as you want. I’ve used them for 10-minute workouts and 30-minute workouts. It’s up to you.
What is a PHA routine?
Peripheral Heart Action Training is like regular circuit training where you move from one exercise to another with minimal to no rest between exercises. However, with PHA training, alternate between upper and lower body exercises and mix in some cardio. In its simplest form, it looks like this:
- An upper body “push” exercise
- A lower-body exercise
- An upper body “pull” exercise
- A cardio exercise
Nothing fancy. Very straightforward. But don’t mistake simple for easy or ineffective.
Now, think about the flexibility you have with this sort of routine. First, you can do bodyweight, free weight, kettlebell, or any exercise type you want for your upper and lower body exercises.
You can also do any kind of cardio exercise you want, from machine-based to walking or running. This kind of flexibility eliminates just about every potential obstacle you might encounter and makes it easy to adapt your routine to the space you have available and the means you have at your disposal.
Lots of Exercise Options
Let’s look at some of the exercise options you might consider. Keep in mind; this isn’t an all-inclusive list. I’m sure you have plenty of your own exercise favorites. The key with a PHA circuit is using exercises that cover the major movements: an upper-body “push” exercise, a lower-body exercise, an upper-body “pull” exercise, and a cardio exercise.
Upper body “push”
|• Wall push-ups (bodyweight)
• Incline push-ups (bodyweight)
• Push-ups (bodyweight)
• Decline push-ups (bodyweight)
• TRX Chest press – high angle
• TRX Chest press – low angle
• TRX Chest press – lowest angle
• TRX Chest press – decline angle
• Chest press (dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell)
• Shoulder press (dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell)
|• Bodyweight squats
• Goblet squats
• TRX squats
• TRX pistol squats
• Supported pistol squats
• Pistol squats
• Split squats (bodyweight)
• Split squats (kettlebell)
• Squats (barbell)
• Kettlebell Swings
• Dumbbell Swings
• Alternating Forward lunges (bodyweight)
• Alternating Forward lunges (dumbbells)
• Alternating Forward lunges (kettlebell)
• Alternating Forward lunges (weighted plate or sandbag)
• TRX lunges
Upper Body “pull”
|• Inverted rows
• TRX Rows
• Bent over rows (sandbag)
• Bent over rows (barbell)
• Single arm rows (kettlebell, dumbbell, resistance band)
• Assisted Chin-ups (palms facing you)
• Chin-ups (palms facing you)
• Assisted pull-ups (palms facing out)
• Pull-ups (palms facing out)
• Sled pushing
• Jump rope
• Step ups
• Tire throw
• Farmer carry
• Pad work
• Shadow boxing
You get the idea. The variety is endless. Just adhere to the categories and choose an exercise level that fits your ability and equipment availability.
What’s the protocol?
So, you’ve selected the four exercises you want to perform. Now let’s looks at how to perform the routine.
- One set of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise (upper body “push,” lower-body, and upper body “pull”), without resting between exercises.
- After you complete the upper body “pull” exercise, immediately do 3-5 minutes of your cardio exercise.
- Rest 1 minute after your cardio, then repeat the circuit. I usually do 1 to 4 rounds. I’ve done as many as five rounds. It all depends on what I want to accomplish, how I feel, or my time constraints.
Here are some more insights and details.
- Warm-up first. Rushing is never good for anything, especially exercise. Spend an extra 3-5 minutes doing light cardio or do a warm-up circuit of your PHA routine using a lower progression exercise, fewer reps, lighter weights, much lower intensity, etc., to get your body primed and ready to respond.
- Perform all four exercises one after the other, with no rest between exercises. If you’re doing equipment-based exercises, try to have the equipment ready to go, so you don’t lose time changing weights or setting up the equipment.
- Perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise 1 to 3. Don’t go to failure; leave a rep or two in the tank, as they say. Use perfect form. Decrease or increase the progression or weight to dial into the required rep range.
- Cardio is meant to be intense. In other words, you shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation while doing it.
- Smartly increase your reps or weight (1/2-pound increments work great) each workout. BUT don’t force it. Avoid getting hurt or overly sore and missing a workout—consistency trumps intensity.
- Perform your PHA workouts 2 or 3 times a week with one full day rest between workouts.
- Log your workouts.
PHA is flexible in every way. You can do it anywhere and adapt it to meet your needs and circumstances. Start small with small goals. The key to fitness is acting, and that I know you can do. The PHA routine has no constraints. It works for any type of exercise, whether it's bodyweight, free weights, machines, you name it. Just pick what you enjoy and do it. Start by committing to doing one round of all four exercises. If you passionately hate cardio commitment to doing just 3 minutes. If that's too much, do a minute, and if that's too much, do thirty seconds. The point is to set yourself up for success.
Thinking About Trying a PHA Exercise Routine? Here's a Guided PHA Workout You Can Download and Start Doing in Just a Few Minutes
We put together a special FREE TriadXP audiovisual guided PHA program just for you. So go ahead and download it now and give it a try. You get 22 different exercises, including body weight, dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX, and barbell exercises. Build your own PHA exercise routine from five different upper-body "push' exercises, five lower-body exercises, five upper-body "pull" exercises, and seven cardio exercise choices. Track as much or as little of your routine as you want. We've removed all the barriers, so give it a try and let us know what you think!
Let’s Get Moving!