What Is Peripheral Heart Action: Level 3 Resistance Training System Explained]

What is Peripheral Heart Action or PHA?

Peripheral Heart Action is an Advanced Resistance training System that you will probably be taught as part of your level 3 PT qualification.

And if you haven’t been taught it for your course, you are still gunna want to know about it for when you train clients

PHA, a proven workout system to improve cardiovascular conditioning, increase strength and muscular endurance, and help reduce bodyfat.

So, in other words… it does EVERYTHING that most clients are looking for, and it does it in a SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME.

What are the benefits of PHA?

  • The PHA system of training allows for a greater workload in a short amount of time
  • Overload is achieved on every set, and no rest, making it great for hypertrophy endurance when performed between 8-12 reps on each exercise. This means that muscle mass and size increases, and you get better at lifting the load over many reps before fatigue.
  • PHA improves recovery rate as a result of little-to-no rest in between exercises
  • This builds endurance because of the continuous circulation of the blood, which means you get all the benefits of doing moderate CV training but by doing Resistance Training, and avoiding repetitive action in one movement (i.e. running or cycling)
  •  It alleviates boredom due to the variation in exercises
  •  Blood shunting stimulates higher calorie burn during and after via EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise oxygen Consumption)
  • It is great for group training and for intermediate/ advanced clients

What Is Peripheral Heart Action Circuit Training?

A whole-body circuit, that uses only compound exercises and keeps the heart rate above 120bpm.

The client alternates between an upper body exercise and a lower body exercise, with limited rest in between.

Exercises are performed at the relevant rep max for the goal. I.e. 6RM for strength, 10RM for hypertrophy, 15RM for endurance.

What is the science behind PHA rules?

All of these PHA rules are here for a reason:

Compound exercises only:

A compound exercise is one that uses multiple joint actions in one exercise. This includes exercises like squats or lunges because the hip, knee, and ankle are moving in the exercise.

This means that maximal muscle activation is occurring in every rep when compared to an isolation exercise that is only moving one joint (like a leg extension machine). Maximal muscle activation means that more calories are used during and after the workout, and the workout will feel more demanding.

You may have noticed that you feel shattered after a session of squats and leg pressing, compared to one of bicep curls and tricep extensions. this is because you are using more muscles, more motor units and more calories.

Blood Shunting

A distinctive feature of PHA training is that you have to alternate between upper body ad lower body exercises which means blood is literally being shunted up and down the body throughout the workout. This has a few physiological effects:

  1. The demand is greater and the heart rate stays elevated, creating a cardiovascular response and more caloric burn
  2. It acts as a localized rest for the muscle even though the energy systems and nervous system don’t get to rest. For example, the chest muscles rest whilst you work the quadriceps.
  3. It creates a whole-body training session in a short time
  4. You burn more calories during and after the session due to excessive physiological stress on the body

An example of Peripheral Heart Action training

Example 1: Hypertrophy goal in a freeweight area

Complete 10 reps of each exercise at 100% 10RM a.k.a overload

rest for 90 seconds and then repeat.


Example 2: Endurance goal in the functional area

Complete 15 reps of each exercise at 100% 15RM a.k.a overload

rest for 60 seconds and then repeat.

When done properly, it’s a pretty fatiguing training system, so choose your exercises and load appropriate to your client.

Peripheral Heart Action Training TOP TIPS:

  • Before you start getting all of the exercises prepared and find out what the ideal weight will be for your client on each exercise.
  • Make sure you can move easily between exercises without monopolizing the entire gym
  • Ensure the client is happy with all exercise and they have good technique before you start

Give this to go ready for your portfolio and practical assessment and if you have any questions drop them below.

There’s not just one Resistance Training System

There are over 17 resistance training systems that are taught in the Level 3 PT syllabus which can be overwhelming to distinguish which system to use and when. to plan them. Our FIT-Progressions online programme breaks down each of these in detail with clear protocol to follow for each one.

Plus you learn how to periodise your planning of these systems to allow for logical progressive overload so your client can get their goal every time.

>>>> Join us for FIT-Progressions here

Become a knowledgeable and confident FITPRO, with a clear strategy to get results with your clients every time.

There’s no more self-doubt. There’s no more guessing what to plan or how to get client results. FIT-Progressions has 8 modules and 18 video tutorials that guide you through every stage of your Level 3 Personal Trainer case study, and how to work with clients effectively.

This is for you if you’re…

  • struggling to complete your coursework for PT, Yoga, or Pilates
  • a newly qualified FITPRO that feels stuck or overwhelmed
  • unsure where to start when planning a client session
  • worrying about applying your course knowledge with a real client
  • doubting you could get results and lack structure to client packages
  • anxious and confused about how to get found and get busy

Click the link to find out more and join us:

Test your knowledge with today’s planning mock questions:

[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd question]

Q1: Which of the following exercises would NOT be appropriate for a PHA circuit?

A. A squat
B. Press Up
C. Seated Biceps Curl
D. Chin Up

Q2: Which is an accurate PHA?

A. Press Up, Lat Pull Down, Shoulder Press, Biceps Curl…
B. Press Up, Squat, Lat Pull Down, Lunge, Shoulder Press…
C. Squat, Lunge, Squat Jump, KB Swing…
D. Squat, Lunge, Press Up, Ab Crunch, Bicep Curl…

Q3: What does EPOC stand for?
A. End Physical Origin Calories
B. Excessive Post Occular Calories
C. Exercise Partial Oxygen Consumption
D. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

Answers to the mock questions are :

Question 1= C, Question 2 = B, Question 3 = D

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Dedicated to More

Hayley “Peripheral Heart Action Training System” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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