Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More on P.H.A. - John McCallum (1968)

Originally Published in This Issue (May 1968)

Last month we discussed a break-in program for PHA training. This month we'll examine PHA in some detail, and then give you a slightly more advanced program to work on.

PHA, if you don't already know, stands for Peripheral Heart Action. It's a new system of weight training. To the best of my knowledge it was developed by former Mr. America Bob Gajda. Gajda and other top physique stars such as Sergio Oliva have used PHA in their training with apparently good results.

PHA is presently sweeping the country. Like all new wrinkles it has its proponents and opponents. A lot of claims are being made for it, some sound, some obviously exaggerated. The truth, as with most ideas, seems to lie somewhere in the middle, somewhere between the two extremes.

PHA is too new a concept for any accurate statements to be made regarding its value. More time and experimentation will be needed before all the facts can be formulated. Some aspects of PHA are, however, coming into sharper focus. Some of the questions concerning it can be answered with at least a fair degree of accuracy.

Let's take a look at three questions most commonly asked: 

(1) Will PHA training build muscle? 

Any kind of weight training will build some muscle. The worst program in the world is better than nothing at all. The fact is, though, that some systems of training build muscle far faster than others. Heavy squat programs and high set pumping programs with forced protein intake are specifically designed to build muscle as fast as possible.

In its present state of development, PHA doesn't appear to build muscle rapidly. It's doubtful if PHA by itself will build a really massive physique and there's no sense telling you it will. If you're still in the bulking up stage, you'd be better off to stick to the short, heavy, bulk and power routines for the time being.

 (2) Will PHA training build good health? 

Yes. The production of buoyant health is PHA's most outstanding contribution to the field of physical culture. Conventional training has one major flaw from the standpoint of good health - it doesn't provide quite enough stimulation for your heart and lungs. Sound, sturdy lungs and a bombproof heart are an indispensable part of good health. PHA training provides cardio-vascular stimulation far in excess of conventional training routines. If good health is your principal goal, and it's a worthy one, then PHA will solve your problems.

(3) Will PHA training build definition? 

Yes. PHA is un

Definition used to be gained by long, grueling workouts and a semi-starvation diet. PHA gets it better results in one-tenth the time and with none of the muscle loss and exhaustion produced by the old style workouts.

At this stage of the series, we'll be using PHA strictly for definition. We won't be concerned with its muscle building properties. We'll use it strictly for definition. You can take any other benefits you reap as an added bonus.

Let's take a quick look now at the technique of PHA training, and then we'll get into the actual program. You don't need to be an authority on the subject, so we won't dig too deep. You're probably more interested in results than theory, anyway.

The principle difference between PHA and conventional training is the practice of pumping. You don't pump in PHA. You don't do multiple sets in the standard fashion. You do sets, but in a different way.

In conventional training, your exercises are grouped into sets.

You take one exercise at a time an do as many sets of that exercise as you plan to do before moving on to the next exercise. Once you move on to another exercise you never go back to the first one until the next workout.

Take curls, for example. You do a set of curls. Then you rest a minute or so. Then another set of curls. Then another rest. Another set of curls, and so on for anything up to 15 sets.

When you finish your final set your biceps will be pumped. They'll be swollen and congested with blood an finished for the workout. Then you go and do the same thing with another exercise.

Not so with PHA. In PHA training you do your exercises in groups of five or six. You do one set of exercise one, one set of exercise two, one set of exercise three, and so on right through the group. Then you go back and repeat the procedure. A second set of exercise one, a second set of exercise two, a second set of exercise three, and so on. Then you go back and do a third set of each exercise in the group. You keep running through the group for as many sets as you plan to do. When you're finished with the first group of exercises you move on to the second group and treat it the same way.

The exercises in each group are spread out for different sections of your body. You may do a biceps exercise, for example, and follow it with a calf exercise and then a stomach exercise. The idea is to not congest the blood in any section of your body. You pump the blood through all the sections, not just into one of them.

Another difference is the rest factor. You stop for frequent rests in conventional training. It's not uncommon to rest five minutes between sets if you're training real heavy. You don't rest at all in PHA training. You keep moving from the time you start the workout till you finish it. You go right from one exercise to another with no rest period in between. If you're puffing so hard you simply can't do the next exercise, then you walk back and forth till your breathing slows down a little but you never sit down and stop completely during the entire workout.

This continuous motion principle has a tremendous effect on your endurance and definition. Your endurance climbs rapidly while your excess fat disappears like a magician's rabbit. Two or three months of this kind of training will convert you from a shapely fat man to a rock hard, superbly conditioned athlete.

The continuous motion principle eliminates all wasted time from your workouts. A little imagination will show you the possibilities. You can do the same amount of work you have been doing in about one-quarter of the time, or you can work out for the same length of time and do about four times as much work.

The final factor you must consider is the warmup. Most men do very little warming up in conventional training. Some do none at all. For PHA it's essential that you warm up thoroughly. There's a number of very complex physiological reasons for this. We won't go into them at the moment; just remember that a muscle works best when it's warm and receiving a sufficient supply of blood and oxygen.

Spend at least 10 minutes warming up. Skip rope, run on the spot, pushups, situps, anything you want. Run through some of the exercises in the workout with a very light weight. Be sure you're fully warmed up and puffing a bit before you start the workout.

Now for the workout itself. Do as follows:

Group One
1) Front Squat, 12 reps
2) Cuddle Situp, 25 reps
3) Curls, 10 reps
4) Seated Twist, 25 reps
5) Wrestler's Bridge, 10 reps.

Do one set of each exercise, from #1 to #5. Then a second set of each, then a third set, and so on for five sets of each. Use about 50% of your best exercising poundage for the first set, about 75% for the second set, and all the weight you can handle for each of the last three sets.

Don't sit down and rest between exercises. You don't have to make a race out of it, but go as fast and steady as you comfortably can. If you absolutely can't do the next exercise, then pace back and forth until you can. Don't dawdle and never stop completely.

Group Two
1) Incline Dumbbell Press x 10 reps
2) Situps x 25
3) Rowing x 12
4) Bent Forward Twist x 25
5) Calf Raise x 15

Treat this the same as Group One. Work right through the group five consecutive times. 50% of your exercising poundage for the first set, 75% for the second, and all you can lift for each of the last three. Don't get frantic about it, but don't loiter either. Keep on the move.

Let the dumbbells go way out to the sides at the bottom of exercise 1. Keep your elbows way back and don't let the weights fall inward. Use a close grip for exercise 3 and pull the weight to your lower abdomen. Arch your back at the top of the movement and round it at the bottom. Don't let the weight touch the floor. Make it a dead hang pull.

Group Three
1) Hyperextensions x 12
2) Leg Raise x 25
3) One-Arm Military Press x 10
4) Side Bend x 25
5) Close Grip Bench Press x 10

Do Group 3 the same as Groups 1 and 2. Five times through, 50% poundage for the first set, 75% for the second, and maximum for each of the last three.

Do exercise 1 off the end of a high bench. Drop down to right angles at the bottom and arch your back as much as you can at the top. Do the exercise in flawless fashion. Style is more important than the amount of weight you use.

Use a grip no wider than six inches apart for exercise 5. It's designed to work the triceps and anterior deltoids as much as the pecs. You might find it a little rough on your wrists at first. Stick with it and they'll soon toughen up.

The final step in the workout is the cooling down process. We want to keep the blood circulating at a good clip for a while after. You do this by running on the spot.

Run on the spot for 10 minutes after you finish the last group. If you can't run for 10 minutes, then run as long as you can. Walk back and forth for a while, and then run again. Work at it until you can do 10 minutes.

Do your running on the spot at a moderate speed. Lift your knees way up each step. This flattens your gut and burns up calories like a blast furnace.

Remember - this program is designed to harden you up. It's not intended for bulk. Work the program three days per week and stay on the definition diet. Do the running routine outlined in an earlier article on three of your alternate days.


We're going to bring your definition training to a peak next month, and then we're going to specialize on your showy muscles for a while. Summer will soon be here and you want to look your best for it.
Work hard on the program and you can be sure of one thing - when you step on the beach this summer, you're going to look an awful lot better than you ever did before  




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