Back in the 1960s, Bob Gajda, the reigning Mr. Universe at the time, popularized a body-building routine across North America and Canada, that was affectionately called ‘death circuits’ by those in the business.

The science behind this extremely challenging workout—formally known as PHA or Peripheral Heart Action Training—was developed by physiology expert Dr. Arthur Steinhaus two decades prior, and it has remained a favorite among serious body-builders across the world since.

Weight training constitutes a big part of PHA (Image: Oxygen Mag)
Weight training constitutes a big part of PHA (Image: Oxygen Mag)

How it works
The aim of training through PHA is to ensure that the heart is constantly pumping blood to the extremities of your body through repeated circuit workouts. What distinguishes it from other forms of circuit training, however, is the intensity of the workout: PHA combines a number of back-to-back upper and lower body exercises with very little rest in between. This puts a huge demand on your heart, which has to work continuously harder to get enough blood volume to your arms and legs.

The goal in PHA training is to alternate between muscle groups so as to prevent lactic acid build up in any one area, which can make it difficult to continue. This is done by designing a routine of 4-5 exercises targeting different body parts, and doing multiple repeats of the same. The only things to keep in mind are that you have to use a considerably challenging weight, distribute your routines to target muscles across the body, keep moving for as long as possible, and minimize breaks.

A typical PHA workout can be completed in 60 minutes or less, but it serves a complete set for your heart, lungs, and all the key muscles in the body.

While PHA may seem like it’s meant for those looking to beef up, it can also prove extremely beneficial for endurance athletes who want to add more strength while maintaining cardiovascular fitness. We will look at some of its benefits next time around. Till then ask your trainer or fitness instructor to start your initiation into this training routine.

Main image: Map My Run

mobiefit apps

Subscribe to our Fitness Wiki for a new article in your inbox everyday!