Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training

Cardiovascular and strength in one workout!

Photo: Chris Linton

We all want to make our workouts as effective as possible. Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) is a time-efficient way to work out your whole body, increase the cardio intensity of your workout and improve calorie burning. 

PHA training involves switching between a lower body exercise and an upper body exercise with little or no rest between movements. It improves your cardiovascular endurance and aerobic capacity while simultaneously challenging your muscle endurance and strength.

Research finds that alternating between upper and lower body exercises increase blood flow to the extremities—arms, hands, legs and feet— which can improve your metabolism at the cellular level.

It also suggests this type of training might be a great way to lose weight in people who can’t or don’t want to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Overall, PHA training increases strength in the muscles worked – the chest, back, shoulders, legs and calves. By alternating between upper and lower body the burning sensation from lactate accumulation is also reduced.


Repeat x 2

  • Step side-to-side x 16
    Step out wide and to the side with one foot and bring the other foot beside it. Repeat with other leg.
  • Skaters x 16
    Bend both legs into squat position, leaning slightly forward and step wide and to the side. Bring other leg in beside keeping knees bent as you swing both arms in direction of leg movements.
  • Reach up & tap floor x 16
    Feet shoulder width or wider standing tall; reach both arms up over head and then bend knees deep as you bring arms and hand down towards floor and tap palms down to floor.
  • Air squats x 16
    Start with feet hip width or wider and bend knees to drop buttocks as low as you can keeping chest and chin up. (Visualize sitting in a chair). Pres through heels and stand back up.

1. Mountain Climbers 

24 Reps, minimal rest

  • In the plank position distribute your weight evenly between your hands and your toes.
  • Check your form—your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, back flat, abs engaged and head in alignment.
  • Pull your right knee into your chest as far as you can and return. Repeat with the left knee.
  • Keep your hips down, run your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can. Alternate inhaling and exhaling with each leg change.
Rosalie Brown
Mountain Climbers. Photo: Chris Linton

2. Shoulder Presses

24 Reps, minimal rest

  • Sit on an upright bench, a ball or stand holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with your palms facing each other or facing forward.
  • Keep your chest up and your core braced and look straight forward throughout the move. 
  • Press the weights directly upward until your arms are straight above your head.
  • Lower the weights back to your shoulder and repeat.
Rosalie Brown
Shoulder Presses. Photo: Chris Linton

3. Bridge Thrusts 

24 Reps, minimal rest

  • Lay flat on your back or elevate your feet on a step or exercise ball. 
  • Hold a dumbbell or two on your upper legs, letting the load rest where your hips bend. 
  • Bend your knees 90 degrees, pointing them to the ceiling and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your hips towards the ceiling. Your shoulders and head remain flat on the floor. Your knees should still point upward, with your body forming a straight line from your shoulders to your hips. You may feel your abdominal muscles tightening while moving into this position.
  • Hold this upward position for a few seconds, then slowly release back to the floor and repeat.
Rosalie Brown
Bridge Thrusts. Photo: Chris Linton

4. Bicep Curls 

24 Reps, minimal rest

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows should rest at your sides and your forearms should extend out in front of your body. 
  • Bring the dumbbells up toward your shoulders by bending your elbows. Once at the top, hold for a second by squeezing the muscle.
  • Reverse the curl slowly and repeat.
Rosalie Brown
Bicep Curls. Photo: Chris Linton

5. Jackknife Abs

24 Reps, minimal rest

  • Sit on the floor with your hands beside your hips and your knees up in boat pose.
  • Tuck your knees in toward your chest and contract your abs.
  • Extend your legs as you lean back.
  • Pull your knees back to your chest & repeat.
Rosalie Brown
Jackknife Abs. Photo: Chris Linton

6. Back Row 

24 Reps, minimal rest

  • Reach down and pick up the dumbbells with bent knees and straight back. Hold them, arms extended, with a neutral grip (palms facing you).
  • Pull the dumbbells to your chest, concentrating on using your back and shoulder muscles rather than your arms. Keep your chest still as you lift. At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder and back muscles. Slowly lower the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended again. 
Rosalie Brown
Back Row. Photo: Chris Linton

Watch these PHA workouts and many more in action by visiting Rosalie Brown on YouTube.
Makeup courtesy of Genny Rovito, @gennydoesmakeup on Instagram.

Photos by Chris Linton

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IMPACT Magazine’s 2021 Inspiration Issue

Read about our 2021 Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors – our top 30 from across Canada! Go beyond traditional thinking to optimize movement through stretching, find out about 7 DIY hacks to improve the air quality in your home,  learn about taking care of your heart through proper nutrition, enjoy some of our best plant-based recipes yet, and work out with our Canada’s Top Fitness Trainers!