An Alternative to HIIT training

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training has become very popular over the last few years. By training at a high intensity with appropriate rest intervals, HIIT allows people to reap many of the same cardiovascular benefits of traditional cardio in a fraction of the time.

There are many HIIT protocols and perhaps the most famous of these is the Tabata protocol. In the original experiment, after a 10 minute warmup on a stationary bike subjects performed eight 20 second intervals of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds rest. This was done four times a week along with one 30 minute session of steady state cycling and two minutes of maximum effort intervals, all of this totaled 88 minutes a week. Another group did steady cardio on the bike for an hour five times a week for a 300 minute total. After 6 weeks, the Tabata group had 1.5 times the VO2 max gain of the other group.

If you’re interested in learning more about the great benefits of HIIT and many workout ideas, have a look at the excellent One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala on our books page.

However, HIIT training isn’t for everyone as some people don’t enjoy the intensity required.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like this intensity and would like an alternative to HIIT or want to try a different protocol that can deliver similar benefits and even outperform HIIT in some ways, without the gut-wrenching effort, then we’d like to introduce you to Peripheral Heart Activity or PHA workouts.

PHA alternates upper and lower body exercise in a circuit with no rest between exercises. A lot of cardiovascular and muscular improvement can be attained with PHA workouts without the trainee feeling devastated afterwards.

PHA was popularised by Bob Gadja who was a Mr Universe in the 1960’s, rather than weight train as many others did where they chased the ‘pump’ through fatiguing one muscle group at a time, Gadja believed much more in conditioning the body both muscularly and in a cardiovascular sense.

A PHA approach using a bodyweight workout could be something like:

6 Push Ups

10 Reverse Lunges Left Leg

4 Chin Ups

10 Reverse Lunges Right Leg

Do this circuit 2 to 3 times.

If you wanted to use the Modest Equipment set up, you could try

10 standing dumbbell press

20 bodyweight squats

4 Pull Ups

Alternating Step Ups

8 push ups

10 reverse lunges, 5 left leg then 5 right

Again, do this circuit 2 to 3 times.

To progress these types of workouts, you could choose to either add circuits or add reps/weight. Better yet, use both methods of progression. Start with reps/weight and when that becomes too intense, reduce the reps/weights by 20% and add a circuit, then begin again.

Finally, a word of caution – we advise you to master our standard workouts and remind you that the numbers specified above are just suggestions, remember our guidelines that you shouldn’t exceed ‘8’ on your intensity scale.

Many advocates of PHA, say that the target is to get a good workout in but to finish feel refreshed rather than devastated i.e. you aren’t trying to chase fatigue as with many other workout protocols.

If you decide to give this alternative to HIIT a go, let us know how you do.