Strong & Sweaty: PHA Training

ssphatOf all of Cathe’s new workouts in the Strong & Sweaty Series I was most excited about this one (with Total Body Giant Sets a close second). First let me explain what PHA Training is. It stands for Peripheral Heart Action Training. Cathe defines it as: “You’ll alternate from lower body to upper body with very short rest periods between exercises. The goal is to maximize blood flow between the upper and lower body while the shortened rest periods keep your heart rate up for cardiovascular and fat-burning benefits.” This workout consists of 2 circuits. Each circuit contains 6 exercises and is repeated 3 times. Every exercise is done for 12 reps.

I was first introduced to Cathe’s PHAT workouts via Cathe Live. In fact, PHAT #1 was the very first Cathe Live workout I did after subscribing and it remains my all time favorite Cathe Live workout. She later did a Live PHAT #2 workout which I also like a lot, but PHAT #1 remains my favorite. So I was very excited to hear she created a PHAT workout for DVD. Having done it this morning I am mildly disappointed. Do not misunderstand–it is a very good workout and I not only like it but I plan to return to it. But it was no PHAT #1 (the Live workout). Nothing compares to that workout. This one is actually similar to the Live PHAT #2–which I liked but didn’t love. Oh well, right? I’ll deal with it. However, now that I’ve done it, I’m already feeling resistant to doing this PHAT workout instead of the Live PHAT #1 workout. I have my workout rotation for January already mapped out using Strong & Sweaty workouts as the foundation and I now want to go in and swap out all of the S&S PHAT workouts with Cathe Live PHAT #1.

**1/11/17 Note: I have to share. For my birthday I got a 12 pound weighted vest (the same vest Cathe wears in STS Squat Rack Legs) and I love it! I have now worn it for a lower body workout (Cathe Live Triset Legs) and this workout this morning. It makes an enormous difference in the intensity of a workout. That vest brought this workout up to the intensity of Cathe Live PHAT #1. So much more challenging and I liked it so much more than I did the first time I did this workout. Those release push ups were brutal with that vest on! I think soon I will do a post on the vest alone–it is changing my workouts–for the better! **

PHA Training is part of the Strong & Sweaty Series. There is a free digital handbook associated with the series that has all kinds of information–including several rotations. I created my own workout cards prior to doing all of the Strong & Sweaty workouts (however, Cathe does include workout cards in the handbook that you can print out and use), so the weights listed below are the weights Cathe uses. I chose my weights prior to doing the workout for the first time. I did a decent job pre-choosing my weights, but I did find that several of the exercises that I used the same weight as Cathe did, I ended up giving up arrows to. Since this is a fast paced workout (not as fast paced as PHAT #1 Live btw), I stuck with the same weights through all 3 rounds of each circuit, in case I became fatigued. I figured that even if I felt in the beginning I could increase my weight, by the 3rd circuit I may have changed my mind. But that wasn’t the case, so when I repeat the workout I will use heavier dumbbells for some of the exercises.

Finally, just like all of the workouts in the Strong & Sweaty Series, the Bonus Ab segment is included (breakdown below).

PHA Training is 43 minutes long; 4 minute warm up and 3:30 minute stretch. Equipment needed: dumbbells, a step @ 10 inches and a fitness mat. **I am adding the weights I used at request of commenter below.**

Round #1 (perform this circuit 3x):

  1. Squat Off the End (of step), 12 reps (Cathe used one 15# DB, I used one 20# DB)
  2. Overhead Presses, 12 reps (15# DBs)
  3. Side Lunges, 12 reps (Cathe used 12# DBs, I used 15# DBs)
  4. Upright Rows, 12 reps (15# DBs)
  5. Step Ups, 12 reps (Cathe used 12# DBs, I used 15# DBs)
  6. Release Push Ups, 12 reps

Round #2 (perform this circuit 3x):

  1. Cross Back Lunges, 12 reps (Cathe used one 15# DB, I used one 20# DB)
  2. Bicep Curls, 12 reps (Cathe used 15# DBs, I used 17.5# DBs)
  3. Deadlifts, 12 reps (Cathe used 25# DBs, I used 30# DBs)
  4. Pullovers, 12 reps (Cathe used 15# DBs, I used one 35# DB)
  5. Standing Squats, 12 reps (Cathe used 20# DBs, I used 25# DBs)
  6. Lying Extensions, 12 reps (12# DBs)

Bonus Abs is 13 minutes long. This is a tough and unique little Ab bonus. Cathe used a lot of familiar core exercises but put a new spin on them, making this fresh and different from what she has done in the past. I haven’t even seen these moves in her live workouts! Equipment needed: 8 pound dumbbells and a fitness mat.

  1. Roll Downs (as you roll down you pause at 3 different levels and hold to the count of 8 each time)
  2. Reverse Crunch & Pilate Press (lay flat on back, head down, knees bent and raised; do reverse crunch into straight legs twice; then hold straight legs a few inches off floor and raise head/shoulders, arms straight at sides (but off ground); pump arms 8 times; repeat these two exercises)
  3. Side Plank Elevated Toe Taps (straight arm side plank with feet staggered, bottom foot in front of top foot and back leg bent; raise and lower hips while lifting bottom leg and tapping toe with top hand)
  4. Rope Climb (in C sit with feet elevated, do rope climbs)
  5. L Position Leg Circles (lay on back with straight legs in “L” position; do small circles with leg that is raised to ceiling)
  6. Weighted Sit Ups (holding one DB in both hands, do a full butterfly sit up, doing a pullover with DB at bottom and raising DB overhead at top)
  7. Sit Up Twist (still holding one DB in both hands, do a full sit up and at the top, twist DB to side of body while same side leg raises and at bottom do a pullover; this changes to Russian Twists–these are done pulsing and slow singles)
  8. L Position Pull Overs (lay on back holding both DBs straight to ceiling with straight legs also raised to ceiling; slowly scissor straight legs while also doing DB pullovers)
  9. Plank Complex (start in straight arm plank; tap your lower back with same side arm (do both arms), then tap hand to opposite foot under the body (both sides), do a push up and raise into soldier plank (raising opposite hand and arm), do another push up and a soldier plank on other side of body)


Basic Premixes
#1 Warm Up + All Six Rounds + Bonus Abs + Stretch (56:32)
Timesaver Premixes
#1 Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 1B + 2A + 2B + Stretch (31:09)
#2 Warm Up + Rounds 2A + 2B + 2C + Stretch (25:21)
#3 Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 2A + 1B + 2B + Stretch (31:09)
#4 Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 1B + 1C + Stretch (25:13)
#5 Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 1B + 1C + 2A + Stretch (31:08)
#6 Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 1B + 1C + 2A +2B + Stretch (37:03)
Mish Mosh Premixes
Scrambled #1: Warm Up + Rounds 2A + 2B + 2C +1A +1B + 1C + Stretch (43:06)
Scrambled #2: Warm Up + Rounds 2A + 1A + 2B +1B +2C + 1C + Stretch (43:06)
Upper Body Split #1: All of the upper body exercises in their original order repeated three times. (23:09)
Upper Body Split #2: You will do three sets of the same upper body exercise before moving on to the next exercise. (23:09)
Lower Body Split #1: All of the lower body exercises in their original order repeated three times. (27:24)
Lower Body Split #2: You will do three sets of the same lower body exercise before moving on to the next exercise. (27:24)
Extreme #1: Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 1B + 1C + 2A +2B + 2C + 1A + 1B + 1C + 2A + 2B + 2C + Stretch (78:59)
Extreme #2: Warm Up + Rounds 1A + 1B + 1C + 2A +2B + 2C + 1A + 2A + Stretch (55:06)






23 thoughts on “Strong & Sweaty: PHA Training

  1. I am so happy I found your website! I come to it daily to read about the workouts before I do them- and I write your weights down to challenge myself, I’m not advanced! Would you mind sharing what kind of weighted vest I need and If I’m not advanced (although I would say pretty close), what weight should I get for the vest.
    Thank you!


    1. Hi Michelle! This is the weighted vest I use:

      If you’re pretty close to advanced, there is no reason you can’t use this vest. In fact, you could start with it on then when you feel wasted, take it off and complete the rest of the workout without it. Measure improvement by how long you can keep it on, as well as the dumbbells you use, each time you do the workouts.

      However, here is an 8 pound vest that would be a great place to start and it looks like a comfortable fit, too. 8 pounds might not seem like much but trust me, if you are using dumbbells too, it still really increases the intensity. I didn’t think 12 pounds would be enough to escalate my workouts so much but it does–exponentially!


  2. I use a weighted vest for all of Cathe’s lower body weight exercises. it makes a huge difference in intensity! Glad you are finding it a bonus for your workout time. I find most of her workouts are fine for me as long as I my weights are heavy enough.


    1. What a discovery! I cannot believe I haven’t been using this vest all along! I haven’t gotten to the point where I am using it for cardio (maybe one day) but for my lower body and total body workouts–it is a game changer! I used it for ICE: Metabolic Total Body this morning and holy crap! It took that workout to a new level! I love it!


      1. When you use the vest for lower body in this workout, do you go with lighter dumbbells or stay the same? Do you leave it on for the upper body stuff? I see you left it on for pushups but everything else too? What about for the exercises on the bench? I’m guessing it would be uncomfortable to lay down with it on. I’m weird in that I hate to pause a DVD, and I imagine taking the vest on and off would eat up some time.


      2. In this workout I kept the vest on for the entire workout. And no, I did not use lighter dumbbells. I actually had “up” arrows on my workout card from the last time I did the workout so I increased my weights as I planned to. It was very intense! As for laying on the vest it wasn’t super comfortable but it didn’t hurt me either. I hate pausing a DVD, too, and I usually don’t unless it is a weekend workout (when I am not on a schedule). I used it for STS Total Body this weekend and I only wore it during the lower body segments so I paused it briefly before each lower body segment. However, the vest comes off pretty quickly so I didn’t have to pause it after, just unsnap it and let it slide off.


    1. I love the ICE Metabolic Total Body, too. But no, they are not the same. ICE MTB is much more metabolic and cardio focused. I would never use MTB as my main strength training. S&S PHA on the other hand can be used as your strength training. Because of the pace and the PHA aspect it is metabolic, but not in the same way MTB is. Does that make sense? MTB focuses more on fast paced compound exercises with weights. PHA focuses on upper or lower body with each exercise (not both together) and you move at a slower pace than you do in MTB so you can lift heavier.


      1. hi thanks for the response. I guess what I mean is, I am intermediate, and thought ice was pretty tough! do you think the new PHA can be used by somebody like me? I use the same weights cathe does on the ice series.


      2. Oh, I see. I think you could. Just use lighter weights. In ICE, Cathe did not lift the same weights she does in her normal workout DVDs–she lifted lighter, since it was for intermediate exercisers. But in Strong & Sweaty she is lifting heavier like she usually does. So just make sure you try it for the first time with lighter weights than Cathe is using. And if you find the weights are too light after the first time through, then increase them. I personally didn’t find PHA advanced compared to her other workouts.


      3. checking in-this is a great workout! I used lighter weights and that went ok. it is different than the ice metabolic total body.
        funny how different people are about what they like, ice bootcamp circuit was right up my alley too.


      4. I wanted to like ICE Bootcamp more. I need to return to it and give it a second chance, but I haven’t yet. Have you tried S&S Bootcamp? I really like that one.


    1. It’s both. It is faster paced and uses different exercises. The combination of the two make for a more metabolic workout. I feel like I work so much harder in the Live PHAT #1 than I do in the Live PHAT #2 and the DVD PHAT.


  3. I totally agree with your review!! I LOVE The first PHA workout and was a little disappointed in this one. I typically expect Cathe’s DVDs to be more difficult than Love workouts. I plan to try it again with heavier weights, but I still think I’ll prefer the Live class.


    1. I’m kind of disappointed with the series as a whole. I’m very happy with Total Body Giant Sets and Ramped Up Upper Body–they are my favorites. But the other 3 weren’t as great as I was hoping. Especially PHA Training. I am on the fence about what I’m going to do about my January rotation. Part of me wants to do the Cathe Live version rather than this one. Tho this is a good workout, it kind of feels like a waste of time when I know there is a better workout out there!


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