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 Pos-Exercise oxygen Consumption)
  • It is great for group training and for intermediate/ advanced clients
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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 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
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Give this to go ready for your portfolio and practical assessment and if you have any questions drop them below.

We teach this level of detail (and a whole lot deeper) as part of our Level 3 Personal Trainer Course. You learn over 14 Level 3 Resistance Training Systems, and most importantly know how to fit these into a clear periodized plan that will get your clients goal!

Dedicated To More

Hayley ‘time saver’ Bergman

PS – Oh AND whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways I can help you  

1. Check out my FREE online training  

3 Secrets Exposed To Decide What Personal Trainer Course Is Best For You [Webclass Replay]


2. Join us on our next Level 3 PT course and learn how to programme and instruct with absolute confidence 


3. Check out what learners are saying: https://revision.parallelcoaching.co.uk/what-learners-are-saying