Save time (and your joints) with this unique workout program

Peripheral heart action training is highly customizable, allowing you to tailor your workout to suit your current fitness level, and increase the difficulty over time. (Photos: Freepik)
If the high-intensity workout regimens that are all the rage these days are too hard on your joints (or simply not your style), there is one type of training program that provides similar benefits, minus the strains and pains. This type of workout is called peripheral heart action (PHA).اضافة اعلان

Like high-intensity training, PHA is time-efficient and yields relatively quick results. In other words, it offers a similar bang for your buck, making it worth a try if you are in the market for a new fitness package.

Defining peripheral heart action
PHA is a type of circuit training that involves alternating between exercises in rapid succession. The PHA system is rather unique. While common lifting programs work different muscle groups depending on the day of the week, PHA works multiple large muscle groups in the same session, waffling between upper-body and lower-body exercises in a single circuit.

Ultimately, this allows blood to circulate throughout the body more quickly, which can help boost calorie-burning and potentially increase lean muscle gains.

PHA derives its rather formal name from creator Arthur Steinhaus, a doctor who invented the method in the 1940s. It rose to fame in the 1960s after Bob Gajda won the Mr Universe title. Gajda attributed his success to the fact that he incorporated PHA into his workout calendar.

Like many fitness programs, PHA went out of vogue within a couple of decades, but, thanks to a 2015 study', it has recently begun regaining popularity.

PHA for beginners
PHA is highly customizable, allowing you to tailor your workout to suit your current fitness level and increase the difficulty over time. If you are starting out, it is best to exercise with light or no weights, fewer circuits, and simpler exercises. As you build your strength, you can incorporate compound exercises to work out more muscle groups at once.

For example, a beginner may start with wall push-ups and build to a more advanced version combining push-ups with a side plank.

To start a PHA workout, select six exercises: three upper-body and three lower-body. As a beginner, try chair squats, assisted lunges, and calf raises for lower body and wall push-ups, dumbbell rows, and overhead presses for upper body.

The next step is to select the proper weights. You should be using weights just heavy enough to perform 15 repetitions of each exercise (for beginners, body weight alone might suffice).

To perform a circuit, alternate between upper-body and lower-body sets, performing 15 reps of each exercise with no rest in between. Once you have completed all six sets, your first circuit is done. Beginners should perform one to three circuits, and advanced PHA-ers should perform up to six.

The science behind the routine
Scientific data does back PHA as a workout program. In general, high-intensity fitness regimens significantly improve cardiovascular health but bring with them the negative side-effect of fatigue.

When Steinhaus developed PHA, he aimed to circumvent this issue by incorporating active rests that allow for sustained cardio activity. Working a muscle group consumes oxygen, sugar, and other nutrients while expelling waste products. These waste products are naturally removed through the bloodstream, and increased circulation can facilitate this process.

However, in high-intensity exercise, a point is reached when the rate of waste buildup is higher than that of waste removal, ultimately contributing to fatigue.

Steinhaus hypothesized that switching between upper-body and lower-body muscle groups provides rest to one group while maintaining high circulation. This allows you to exert greater effort and still reap benefits to your cardiovascular health.

Subsequent studies have supported Steinhaus’ hypothesis, showing that active rest allows muscles to do more work than static rest. In fact, a 2020 study found that PHA could better increase muscle strength while significantly improving cardiovascular health than traditional resistance training.

The other side of the coin: HIIT
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is another circuit training method that has gained massive popularity over the past decade. It has become the gold standard for maximum-value workouts. Lasting just 10–30 minutes, HIIT routines have similar benefits to moderate-intensity exercise, but calorie burning continues for up to two hours after the workout.

One of the most common types of HIIT is known as Tabata training. In Tabata, you perform a compound exercise like burpees at high or maximum intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of immediate recovery. This is repeated eight times in a row, for a total time of four minutes.

Although this method is very effective at burning calories and fat, it is recommended that no more than two to three HIIT workouts be performed weekly. This is because the high intensity increases the risk of overtraining, potentially leading to injury.

These high-intensity workouts are effective because they put the whole body under extreme stress. However, this also means that the joints are under stress, potentially leading to sprains, strains, or even more serious injuries. The intensity may also be mentally taxing and overwhelming for beginners.

The 2015 study, the catalyst for PHA’s resurgence, examined the effect PHA has on an individual’s level of fitness, as well as the accompanying health benefits, to determine if it is a comparable substitute to HIIT.

One of the key differences found between the two methods is the effect on strength. Compared with HIIT, PHA showed greater strength building in all muscle groups, especially in the upper body. Two factors are likely at play here. First is PHA’s improved circulation, which contributes to relatively lower levels of fatigue and higher levels of work done.

The second factor rests on the nature of the two methods. HIIT does involve resistance training, but cardio is more greatly emphasized. PHA, on the other hand, combines both cardio and resistance training.

The most important study objective was to determine whether PHA is a valid substitute for HIIT in terms of cardiovascular benefits. Since HIIT is more cardio-intensive, it comes as no surprise that study participants who focused on HIIT training witnessed significantly improved cardiovascular health indicators. However, PHA training also provided the same significant improvements, and it was found that there were no notable differences between the two groups.

According to this study, PHA can be considered a viable alternative to HIIT training. The actual choice of routine, however, may come down to personal preference. HIIT is most famous for its fat- and calorie-burning powers, but it does come with a high risk of potential injury. The study did not examine potential risks of the two regimes, so further testing should be implemented to measure these factors.

At the end of the day, if your goal is to improve strength and avoid fatigue and injury, then PHA may just be the better option.

Read more Health
Jordan News