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Instant KnockOut Blog : Get Shredded

Use PHA Training to Burn More Fat

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The key to burning fat isn’t just working hard – it’s finding new and progressively challenging workouts to force your body to the next level.

Peripheral Heart Action training is an innovative training method that shreds fat and builds muscle. It’s one of the most challenging training approaches you’ll ever use, but stick with it and you’ll take your body to fitness levels it’s never been before.


This advanced, take-no-prisoners training system uses an intense circuit approach to burn fat and build muscle.

What is PHA Training?

Peripheral heart action training (PHA) training was designed by American sports physiologist and fitness trainer Dr Arthur Steinhaus in the 1940’s. It was later made popular in the 1960’s by sports performance pioneer Bob Gadja.

It is an intense, fat scorching weight training circuit purposely designed to keep blood circulating around the whole body for the duration of the workout.

By their very nature, circuits are great fat burners as they force the heart rate and breathing rate to increase in order to meet the demands placed upon the body. This raises metabolism and increases fat burning. What puts PHA apart from traditional circuits though is the choice and order of exercises.

In order to maximize blood circulation you plan a circuit that alternates between upper and lower body exercises. Not only that, you’ll boost blood circulation and heart rate by using a rapid lifting tempo and minimal rest time. By not allowing lactic acid to build up in one area of the body you’ll be able to complete more work in a set period of time.



Studies have shown that PHA is superior to many similar types of training for a number of autonomic functions. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology [1] found that when 18 participants were asked to complete 12 weeks of either HIIT or PHA, strength, maximal cardio fitness and vascular performance were all higher in the PHA group.

As the intensity is so high you’ll burn loads of fat during the session. You’re excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption – the period of time after exercise when your metabolic rate is elevated – will also boost your fat loss.

What puts this system apart from other high-intensity cardio approaches is that you’re also using resistance training. This’ll help you to pack on muscle which’ll further boost your metabolic rate.


Whenever you rapidly increase heart rate there is an inherent risk of fainting. For that reason it is not advised that you try this workout if you have an existing autonomic illness, or if you are new to exercise. You’ll need a good base of fitness in order to get the most from this training system.

You’ll need to make sure you’ve got enough equipment and space available. You can use barbells, dumbbells or even body weight but you’ll have to plan your session carefully and make sure that all of the kit you need is available, particularly during busy periods in the gym.


How to Complete PHA Training

The beauty of this system is in its flexibility – you can make it as short or as long as you want. Typically you’ll chose two-three upper body exercises and two-three lower body exercises. Aim for big, multi-joint activities as these will require a higher blood volume, therefore stress the vascular system more.

Plan your exercises so that they alternate between upper and lower body. Once you’ve planned your session you need to choose weights that will allow 12-15 repetitions. Perform each exercise with only 30 seconds rest in-between. Once you’ve finished your circuit, rest 90 seconds then repeat – you’re aiming for 3-5 circuits in total. Overall you’re looking for the intensity to be at around 85-90% of your maximum.

Aim to complete 3-4 PHA sessions per week when looking to drop body fat. Alternate workouts so that each session in a given week is different – this will keep it interesting and reduce overuse injuries.

Follow the program for a 4-6 week period before having a rest week. Always look for good technique first – if you can’t complete the repetitions then drop the weight. However, bear in mind that the weight has to be challenging still, in order to push your body – it’s very much trial and error to find the right weights.

Example Workout

These workouts combine multi-joint, challenging exercises that shift from upper to lower body and back again in order to elevate heart rate and metabolic rate. These are just examples to get you started – you can change or modify as you see fit, but just make sure they follow the training approach fully.

You’ll see that we’ve added different types of workouts using different types of equipment. This’ll give you an idea of the range of workouts you can include.


Workout #1: Mixed Equipment

A1Barbell Back Squats12-15
A2Lat Pulldown12-15
A4Press Ups12-15

Workout #2. Mixed Equipment

A1Trap Bar Deadlift12-15
A2Neutral Grip Chins12-15
A3Goblet Squat12-15
A4Neutral Grip Bench Press12-15
A5Physio Ball Hamstring Curl12-15
A6Physio Ball Roll Out12-15

Workout #3. Barbell only

A1Overhead Press12-15
A2Front Squat12-15
A3Upright Row12-15
A4Walking Lunges12-15
A6Step Ups12-15

Workout #4. Body Weight

A1Press Ups12-15
A2Jump Squats12-15
A3Pull Ups12-15
A4Skater Lunges12-15
A5Inverted Row12-15