Bob Gajda Tribute


We are very sad to report that another “Oldschool” good guy bodybuilder has passed away. Bob had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago and had experienced ill health for awhile.

He apparently started feeling unwell, but resisted going to the hospital. Finally, as he seemed to be somewhat incoherent, he was taken to Northwest Hospital in Arlington Heights, Chicago, on Saturday, and his heart stopped Sunday morning.

Bob was well known and extremely well liked in the Chicago bodybuilding community.

Our condolences to his family and friends.

Bob Gajda Rest in Peace. Bill and Judy Pearl


Bob Gajda, born September 13, 1940, was announced winner of the 1966 AAU Mr. America contest. It was the first year the competition was conducted on a separate evening from the Senior National Weightlifting Championships. The contest, held at the High School Auditorium in York, Pennsylvania, was a success, with anyone of the top six competitors a worthy choice. Gajda, the winner, worked at the Duncan YMCA in Chicago, and trained with that year’s Mr. America runner-up and Most Muscular winner, Sergio Oliva.

Preparing for this competition, Gajda had devised a system of weight-training he called Peripheral Heart Action (PHA), which he clamed developed muscles quickly and was beneficial aerobically.

Bob had entered the Mr. America contest for the first time in 1964, but placed out of the top ten. In 1965, he had an outstanding year, winning the AAU Mr. USA and the Most Muscular award after taking second place at the Mr. America event. At a height of five-feet, nine-inches and weighing 195 pounds, his arms measured 19 inches; chest, 49 inches; waist, 29 inches; thighs, 25 1/2 inches; and calves, 18 inches.

Retiring from competitive bodybuilding, Gajda went on to earn two Masters’ degrees and during his Ph.D. course work, he finalized his system Peripheral Heart Action training.

In September of 2017, Dr. Bob Gajda was director of Gajda Health Plus Network, recognized as one of the worlds most prominent kinesiotherapist and sports trainers. He was inducted into the National Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2007.

Bob passed away the morning of January 16, 2022

Bill Pearl’s Facebook Page

PHA training

PHA training or peripheral heart action training is a form of bodybuilding circuit training that was popularized by former AAU Mr. America and Mr. Universe Bob Gajda in the 1960s. The smaller muscles around the heart are worked on first before the larger muscles around the body’s periphery.

The technique requires the exerciser to continuously exercise over a long period of time with no breaks. It is typically performed using multi-muscle exercises such as squats, pulls and presses and follow a specific strategy so that no one muscle is covered in two corresponding exercises.

A common approach with PHA training is to alternate from upper body to lower body and back again. This is different from many other circuit-style approaches.


Peripheral heart action (PHA) training as a valid substitute to high intensity interval training to improve resting cardiovascular changes and autonomic adaptation

Alessandro Piras et al (2015) showed that after 30 training sessions performed in 3 months, PHA resistance exercise promoted cardiovascular adaptations, with a decrease in the power spectral component of vascular sympathetic activity and an increase in the vagal modulation. Low-frequency oscillation estimated from systolic blood pressure variability seems to be a suitable index of the sympathetic modulation of vasomotor activity. This investigation also want to emphasize the beneficial effects of this particular resistance exercise training, considering also that the increase in muscular strength is inversely associated with all-cause mortality and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, independent of cardiorespiratory fitness levels.


Bob Gajda Contest History


Mr America – AAU, 11th


Mr America – AAU, 2nd
Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 2nd
Junior Mr America – AAU, 4th
Mr USA – AAU, Winner
Mr USA – AAU, Most Muscular, 1st


Mr America – AAU, Winner
Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 2nd
Junior Mr America – AAU, 2nd
Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 3rd
World-Universe – FICH, Overall Winner
World-Universe – FICH, Tall, 1st

About Yegor Khzokhlachev 820 Articles
Gorilla at Large

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