I will make no pretext in this article to attempt to convince anyone that I am using PHA (Peripheral Heart Action) as a pure system or as it was originally intended when it was first designed. Some readers will think that perhaps it would better be called a sequence system. However, since it utilizes the general principles of PHA we will describe it in those terms.
It is the opinion of this writer that PHA as it was originally designed cannot be applied to lifting in the strictest sense. Since in its original design PHA involved moving from one exercise to another with only the amount of rest required to change weight or move to a new piece of equipment. The lifter must change his weight, perhaps, move to another bar, and if he is not yet recovered past the puffing or breathless stage of his previous exercise, must wait a few seconds longer before he begins his next exercise. My procedure has generally been to rest between 30 and 60 seconds. In some cases in a very heavy workout, the rest period might even be slightly longer.
The fact that it cuts down training time is readily apparent when you consider that most lifters rest between three to five minutes between heavy sets. It has been my experience that a training session, which under the normal system of training would take 2.25 to 2.5 hours to complete, can, by applying PHA methods, be completed in 1 to 1.25 hours.
Whereas my workouts under the former system would total 12,000 to 18,000 pounds in one workout, the present system has allowed this total poundage to increase to 18,000 to 20,000 pounds as an average workout and has gone as high as 27,000 pounds in a single workout.
The lifter must be careful on this type of system to arrange his workouts so that some are lighter in total pounds used during the training session, and some are heavier in total pounds lifted than would be true in the average workout; the same as on any other type of training system. A lifter should also avoid working to the same top poundage on any given exercise in all workouts. In other words, the lifter should not expect to be able to go all out every workout continuously for weeks on end. He will have the same variances in energy, the same variance in his ability to do a particular lift or the same type of variables in his desire to continue to work out at a peak load over an extended period of time that he would have on other training systems. However, this type of training system will tend to make workouts considerably more interesting. So long as the same exercises are not done every workout and so long as the same poundage and same reps for the same exercise are not used continuously, the lifter's interest will have a tendency to remain higher.
The psychological implications of trying to develop this training program for each individual are manifold. In order to avoid getting too involved in this aspect and rambling on, I will mention only a few.
One problem is in convincing the lifter that switching from one exercise to another, and using the various joints in different angles alternately, rather than in just one specific direction, after preliminary warmup will not be injurious to the joints. When analyzed from the correct viewpoint, he will find it is just as easy to keep the entire body warm and the various joints loose, as it is from just one angle in the same given time period.
Some people who have tried this type of training have said they begin to feel ill about midway through their program, and give it up for that reason. This is basically a matter of conditioning. The same as when they first try to run a mile; they become ill midway, or near the end of this mile if they are not in proper condition. Any lifter who does have feelings of weakness or nausea during the program must realize that he just doesn't have the endurance that he thought he had. However, if begun properly, this program will build considerable endurance.
In order to enter this type of training program properly, a lifter must cause his ego to suffer considerably when, at first, he drops his poundage, and then does only half a workout. For example, a lifter might normally do six sets or presses, working from 135 to 215. He should, when beginning this type of program, do only three sets in his first workout and perhaps work up to a maximum of 175. This would be correspondingly true of all exercises. Several lifters I have been in contact with feel that they are going to lose out on too much if they spend two weeks adapting to this type of training program by using light poundages until they are used to it. No amount of talking to them, trying to convince them otherwise, does any good if they already have their minds set against it. Looking at it from the common sense viewpoint, however, they would realize that two weeks of light training might do them some good.
First of all, by gradually working back into the heavier weights they likely will continue to make progress past the point they were at before. Partly due to improvement in their overall physical condition. Anyone who understands basic physiological processes of the body should understand that being able to accomplish a greater amount of work in a given period of time would be partly due to improving stamina. They should also realize that by improving their condition they would have more energy in reserve when reaching the clean and jerk in a contest than before.
Another problem that has to be overcome by a lifter embarking on this type of training program is the builtin habit of sitting down to rest after completing an exercise until time for the next set. Using PHA you don't sit down. You remain on your feet at all times, preferably moving about. This helps keep circulation going at a better rate and also helps in the recovery of respiration. Convincing the lifter who is trying this type of program for the first time that he can move to the next exercise with one minute's rest or less is a difficult task. For the individual trainer to force himself to do this after years of other training habits is no small matter.
The arrangement of exercises for a workout program could take many different forms. It could include various numbers of exercises. If more than five exercises are used, the program should be set up in a minimum of two sequences. As few as two exercises could be used in one sequence so long as the stress is on two different areas of the body, but a maximum of five should be used in any sequence. When five exercises are used in one sequence care must be taken to avoid too many heavy exercises, as well as a selection of exercises promoting the rotation of stress on various body areas.
Although the following sample training program is based on six workouts, this does not necessarily mean it must be a six-day-per-week program. My method has been simply to rotate the six workouts regardless of whether I work out three, four, five or six times per week. Although the majority of the exercises will show six sets, it is not mandatory on this program that each exercise by performed for six sets. Some will have five sets listed and others, although presently listing six sets, have been done as high as eight or nine sets. An individual lifter must design his program to meet his own needs, weaknesses and energy level, plus time allotted to the workout.
About Sets and Sequences
If you are not acquainted with PHA procedures perhaps we should explain here just how you should proceed. You will note in the given sample workouts, I have listed 6 sets of 3 repetitions for the snatch, for instance (in the first workout). In the PHA or Sequence system you do only one set then go on to the next exercise or lift which, in this case (Workout No. 1) would be the seated incline press, and you do a set of this, then on to the clean pulls for a set, then the squat for a set. Then you start all over the the snatch for another set, then the seated incline press, and on through all four exercises again. Continue this way until you have completed all sets for each exercise (never do more than one set of an exercise or lift in succession). In other words, if your workout calls for 6 sets, this means that you go through the whole workout 6 times.
Don't forget, you do not rest between sets or exercises more than a minute and preferably 30 seconds. Do not sit down during this rest period; instead keep moving to keep the circulation active. This is very important -- KEEP MOVING -- KEEP THE HEART ACTION UP AND THE BLOOD MOVING.
Workout No. 1
Snatch - 6 sets of 3 reps
Seated Incline Press - 6 sets of 5
Clean Pulls - 5 sets of 3 (a recent change in this workout has been to do the clean pulls in the power rack)
Squat - 1 set of 10, and 5 x 5.
Workout No. 2
Power Snatch - 7 sets beginning with 5 reps and working to 2 reps
Press - 5 x 5
Good Morning - 6 x 5
Squat - 6 sets of 10.
Workout No. 3
Clean and Jerk - 6 sets beginning with 5 reps and working to 2 reps
Seated Incline Press - 6 x 3 reps
Push Press- 6 sets beginning with 5 reps and working to 2 reps
Snatch Pull - 4 x 3
Squat - 1 sets of 10 and 4 x 5.
Workout No. 4
Power Clean - 2 sets of 5 and 4 sets of 3
Snatch - 2 sets of 3 sets of 3
Press - 5 x 5
Good Morning - 5 x 5
Squat - 1 set of 10, 4 sets of 5, and 1 set of 20 reps.
Workout No. 5
Push Press - 6 sets of 5
Snatch Pull - 5 x 3
Incline Press - 1 set of 5, and 5 sets of 3
Squat - 6 sets of 10 (a recent change in this workout has been to do sets of 3 in the power rack).
Workout No. 6
Deviates from the PHA system by doing the three lifts in order, then squatting:
Press - 1 set of 5, 1 set of 3, 3 sets of 2, and then add 10 pounds and do a single
Snatch - same as Press above
Clean and Jerk - same as Press above
Squat - 1 set of 10 reps, and anywhere from 2 to 5 sets of 5 depending on energy level.
Instead of a six workout cycle, this program could also be reduced to a five or four workout cycle if the lifter so desires. I would like to repeat again that the lifter's ability to adapt to this program is strictly one of psychological motivation and of conditioning for overall fitness.