Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Philosophy of Sequence Training - Bob Gajda

Sergio Oliva

 - The 1966 Mr. America plans not only to outline a new system of training during this coming year, but he also wants to influence each trainee to "think through" his individual program so that each person will eventually develop a philosophy of training all his own.

Bob Gajda training with Sergio Oliva

Dave Draper benching with George Eiferman and Chuck Collras

Although several fine articles have recently been written about the exercise system I use, the P.H.A. (Peripheral Heart Action), to date none has been explicit enough.

In explaining this system I think it is essential to give a little history of how it was developed. In 1963 while attending George Williams College I had the good fortune of participating in a class of Bukh (Danish) gymnastics, along with forty students from the Neils Bukh School, for an hour of continuous drills.

Although the exercise bout was quite rigorous, I found it to be stimulating and almost tonic in effect. Seeking an explanation as to why I felt no fatigue I consulted my professor of physiology, Dr. Arthur Steinhaus, and he explained that the basis of the system of P.H.S. involves the thorough stimulation of the circulatory system.

How Circulation and P.H.A. Function

The meaning of Peripheral Heart Action is this: In addition to a single central heart, of which everyone is naturally aware, the body contains approximately 696 secondary hearts or pumps. Yes, you guessed it, every muscle in your body is a pump. Whenever a muscle contracts, veinal blood - full of oxidative wastes - is forced out and new nourishment enters via arterial blood. For a muscle to perform work it needs a supply of oxygen to break down glycogen (sugar) for energy. The muscle must also have an adequate transport for the removal of the waste incurred from chemical reactions. The veins, which are thin-walled tubes with very little muscle fiber, act in this transport. The returning blood does not have the advantage of the strong pumping action of the heart. Veinal blood must also contend with the force of gravity. Although the veins of the lower extremities do contain valves that prevent back flow, they must depend on muscle contraction for active transport. This explains why runners continue moving after a race. It also explains the value of the Hoffman walk after each set of exercises.

The cardiac muscle (heart) is nothing more than a pump. It needs a returning blood supply, otherwise it cannot function properly. The less blood the heart receives the less it puts out. An example, soldiers standing at attention for long periods drop like flies; the reason being the great strain on the circulatory system due to lack of peripheral heart action. As a result the muscular pumps cannot be utilized. Hence, the blood tends to accumulate (stagnate) in the lower extremities and veinal return becomes inadequate. Consequently, fainting occurs because the heart has no blood to pump to the brain.

Buffer Action

There is no value in congesting blood in any muscle. The sooner the veinal blood is carried back to the lungs for the removal of carbon dioxide the better. The main reason that circulation is so important is because of a unique system of buffers contained in the blood.

The way the buffer system functions is this: Buffers are substances contained in the blood which will neutralize acids or bases so that the pH. of the blood is not altered appreciably. The pH. of the blood is a state of dynamic equilibrium or chemical balance needed for survival. A normal pH. is 7.35. Anything above or below this level would offset the chemical balance of the body. This chemical balance is so important that if the pH. were to drop even a few tenths death would occur. During exercise we build up acids which the buffers must neutralize. If we fail to neutralize the acid build up, we become fatigued. By using the P.H.A. system there is an optimum utilization of the blood buffer action.

The main buffers are:
1) Oxyhemoglobin
2) Plasma proteins
3) Cell phosphate
4) Bicarbonate

Reasons for P.H.A.

Although it is true that every muscle contains buffers, it is also true that no single muscle contains enough to replenish its own loss. For water to be purified it must be filtered over many rocks. Like a stream of water, blood must pass over many muscles to pick up additional buffers. When buffers are used up, lactates (acids) accumulate. The difference between a conditioned athlete and the non-athlete is a phosphate (buffer) reserve. The more progressive training one does, the more buffers you put in the bank, so to speak. It's a type of security to draw on when the need does arrive.

In short, the value of the P.H.A. system is accelerated venous circulation and the optimum facilitation of buffer action.

The Relation of P.H.A. and Current Training Methods

After hearing Dr. Steinhaus explain the theory of P.H.A. my interest mounted and I began to realize its broad possibilities. Naturally my second question was, "Is P.H.A. applicable to weight training?" Dr. Steinhaus believed the system would be ideal since it was based on sound scientific facts.

There is little value in the "pumping system" advocated by present day weight trainers. Actually, pumping exercises have little merit in the development of a healthy body. Results are not long lasting and perhaps even detrimental in many ways. The pumping system favors the development of a condition called "Ischemia." Ischemia is an extreme build-up of an oxygen debt. IT is evidenced by cramp and muscle ache. Also the possibility of extreme dilation of capillaries and veins favors the the development of varicose veins. There are many other chronic effects of the pumping system that I will not enumerate for the sake of brevity.

So what does all this have to do with building big strong muscles? It sounds more like endurance training, and who wants that? Let's consider first what causes hypertrophy. According to Dr. Steinhaus, muscles grow in proportion to the amount of work done in a unit of time (Intensity Factor). No benefit is derived from exercise until a muscle is relaxed or no longer performing work. It is then that the wastes are carried off and new blood enters. When adapting P.H.A. we are applying the above factors to the fullest. The average weight trainer usually rests two to five minutes between sets to recuperate. Have you ever wondered how many additional exercises could be done in that period of time? I do four to six sets. The average weight trainer usually works out from one to three hours daily. So you can see that by doing P.H.A. you have a minimum increase of four times more work done, four times more intensity, and four times more recuperation because of buffer action. What is really astonishing is the fact that you can handle heavier weights for a longer period.

One day my Wednesday training partner, Roger Metz, and I decided to try an experiment. Instead of sequencing our exercises as usual, we did 10 straight sets of dumbbell curls. When using P.H.A. we used 70 lbs for 10 sets. This time we rested about four minutes instead of doing the other exercises. To our amazement we finished with 40 lbs on the final set! The reason for this was inadequate circulation and lack of buffer action.

Practical Application

Caution should be exercised in beginning a course of P.H.A. In most cases moderation is always best. Visiting bodybuilders have often joined me in a workout usually lasting only 20 minutes. Seemingly, they found that they weren't as physically fit as they thought they were.

Too much too soon is just not using good judgement. It is senseless trying to follow the exact routine I use. If you start off right, every workout will be a new challenge and your all-important enthusiasm will remain at a high level. You'll be out of the gym faster, with more time for studies, hobbies, or social interests, and most importantly you will be physically fit. Besides developing big strong muscles with this system, also be developing cardio-vasculatory fitness, which I believe is more important.

The main thing to keep always in mind is your weak points. You've got to emphasize them constantly. Keep circulation, not pump, in the areas where growth is needed. Dr. Steinhaus once told me that any muscle would grow if circulation to a specified area remained constant. So remember that circulation is paramount. Likewise, speed of the transportation of veinal return, and the intensity factor must be given equal consideration.


In outlining your programs keep all of the above in mind. Take three weak points and list them. Example: deltoids, waist, and calves. Now select three of your favorite exercises for each of the three areas. Then list at least one exercise for the other body parts to complete the routine.


Sequence #1
1) One leg calf raise
2) Press behind neck
3) Incline leg raise
4) Bench press
5) Wide chins
6) Barbell curl

Sequence #2
1) Donkey calf raise
2) Side lateral raise
3) Situps
4) Dips
5) Lat pulldown
6) Squat

Sequence #3
1) Leg press toe raise
2) Seated DB press
3) Twists
4) Leg curl
5) Triceps press
6) Deadlift

This type of program is geared for the beginner on a 3-day-per-week programs. It should not last more than one hour. In starting, use 2 sets of 8-10 reps with light weights.

In my next article I will elaborate further on how to program and specialize with P.H.A. 

Article courtesy of Jack Chrisomalis.      


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