Riley Shaia-Tabata Bootcamp Master Trainer

Love circuit training? Try this in the new year!

Looking for a way to change-up your workout? Did you make a New Year's resolution to improve your fitness or lose weight? Joining a gym to accomplish these goals can be expensive so I have an alternative that is both easy and effective while requiring little to no equipment. Circuit training can be done in your home with a few tools like weights or resistance tubing but can also be done with body weight alone. To enhance the basic circuit training workout try a method called Peripheral Heart Action or PHA circuit training. Here's the what, why and how of PHA Circuit Training:

What is it?

Traditional circuit training rotates exercises in order to give ample rest to a muscle group before working it again. For example, one might work the pectoral muscle followed by working the back, shoulders, biceps and triceps before starting back over with the pectorals. PHA is a type of circuit training that alternates upper and lower body exercises with the goal to force the blood to circulate quickly throughout the body.


This method has been shown to increase caloric expenditure and is theorized to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass according to Gettman et. al in the Archives of Physical Medicine. PHA circuit training may enhance a person's cardiorespiratory fitness while simultaneously improving muscular endurance. This time-saving workout provides both cardiovascular and strength benefits.


Most healthy individuals can perform this type of exercise but consult a physician before starting a program like this if you have high or low blood pressure or are severely deconditioned as it may place too much stress on your body. Here is a sample workout that may be helpful to get you started! This workout uses only body weight and focuses on three key components of physical fitness: Stability, strength and cardiorespiratory conditioning.  Make sure to do a good cardio warm-up for 5-10 minutes before starting the circuit training and always cool down and stretch at the end of the workout!







Hold mid-range push-up while alternately lifting legs

Push-ups any variety

Burpees with a push-up


Side lunge to knee balance, repeat other side




Bird dog in Plank or on all fours

Body weight drag****

Wood Chop with or without jump


Lunge to warrior three

Alternating reverse lunges

Jumping lunges


Elbow Plank

Skull Crushers

Squat with speed bag


Squat hold with alternating heel lifts

Hack squats

Squat jumps


Side plank, repeat other side

Hip dips, repeat other side

Mountain climbers


1 minute intervals

If exercise must be performed on one side perform each for 1 minute

Rest 0-30 seconds between exercises according to fitness level


****Directions for bodyweight drag****

  • Set yourself up in push-up position on a slick floor surface that will allow you to slide up and down (concrete, hardwood or linoleum will all work). Place your hands in an extended position in front of you with your palms spread out. Your legs should be extended with your feet together.
  • Keeping your entire body taut (tight core and neutral spine), propel your body forward without moving your hand position or bending your elbows. Come as far forward as you can to bring yourself forward beyond where your hands are located.
  • Now, reverse the motion to drag your body back as far as possible, again without moving the position of your arms or feet. To make the exercise more challenging, rise up on your toes to allow for an extra range of motion. Do not allow your knees or shins to touch the ground as you move back and forth.
  • The entire movement should be initiated by the back muscles. You should feel the lats stretching and contracting as you power your body back and forth.

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