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Administrator. Graeme
Staff member
IT’S the low impact training that delivers high impact results. Skip your next HIIT session and try some PHA training instead.

WITH so many benefits it’s easy to see why High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage. Research shows it burns more calories than steady state cardio, improves heart health, and whittles down our waistlines.
However, it’s not all bliss, bike sprints and burpees. HIIT can be extremely taxing on the body’s nervous system and should only be performed a maximum of twice per week to avoid injury and burnout.
So what should you be doing on the other days, or if you have a condition that prevents you from doing high impact HIIT altogether? PHA might be the answer.
Peripheral Heart Action, or PHA, is a type of circuit-based training that alternates between upper body and lower body strength exercises at a moderate intensity. It isn’t exactly new considering it was fist developed by Dr. Arthur Steinhaus in the 1940s, but recent research has highlighted the numerous benefits.
A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that compared to traditional HIIT training, PHA increases muscle strength, moderately improves cardiovascular fitness, and has minimal wear and tear on the body.

For PHA training pick upper and lower body strength exercises and alternate between them.Source:istock

This makes it the ideal exercise for fat loss as the strength exercises build muscle mass leading to an increased metabolic rate, while the elevated heart rate burns calories throughout the workout. Researchers also found it decreases blood pressure, which is important for heart health and preventing chronic disease.
The reason it works so well is due to the fact that blood is constantly being pushed around the body from the arms to the legs and back again. This keeps heart rate elevated throughout the workout to boost fitness, but also prevents a build up of lactic acid so exercisers can lift heavy without becoming fatigued.
This full body workout is also extremely time efficient, so you won’t be spending hours at the gym. It’s as simple as picking 6 exercises (3 upper body, 3 lower body) performing each for 15 reps or a set amount of time back to back, with a quick rest before repeating the circuit for a total of 3-4 times.
A beginner PHA workout you can do at home is: body weight squats, push-ups, alternating lunges, tricep dips on a chair, glute bridges, and supermans.
Physical Activity Guidelines recommend resistance training 2 to 3 times per week, and PHA can be a great way to achieve this while also giving you a low impact cardio boost. R
ember, when it comes to exercise, just as with nutrition, variety is important. Each type of training has its benefits but overdoing any one can increase your risk of injury.
Sarah King is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, and founder of SK Active. Follow her on Instagram.


For instance, here is a sample PHA workout:

  • Standing Press (barbell, dumbbell, sandbag, machine, kettlebell)
  • Squat (barbell, dumbbell, sandbag, machine, kettlebell, trapbar)
  • Abdominal Crunch (body, dumbbell, suspension apparatus)
  • Chin-up (body, machine, assisted)
  • Standing Calf Raise (barbell, dumbbell, sandbag, kettlebell)
  • Dip (body, machine, assisted)