R.E.S.T. SYSTEM OF TRAINING
By Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"
Back in the 90s thousands of body builders across the country
were extremely excited about a colorful character in Southern California,
known as Dr. Pete Samra. Although the excitement at that time seemed
to be at an all time high, it was really nothing new to the man
causing it. Ten years or so previous, Pete Samra was creating another
stir and that was in the world of Drug Free Body Building competitions,
where he won such prestigious titles as "Natural Mr. U.S.A.",
and the "Mid-America" championship honors.
Dr. Pete Samra of Redondo Beach, California
was a most familiar name and force on the west coast bodybuilding
scene due in part to his crusade against unnatural bodybuilding
[anabolic steroid induced] and his daring and practical seminars
on the R.E.S.T. System of Training. First, lets take a glimpse
at his astonishing background. Dr. Pete Samra was the President
of Samra Nutrition in Torrance, California and held degrees in Naturopathy
and Business; and most importantly, he specialized in sports nutrition.
He wasobviously well known as a nutritionist to a natural bodybuilders,
athletes and celebrities worldwide. He also lectured to large audiences
and frequently appeared on T.V. and radio, where he spoke in detail
about the R.E.S.T. System of Training.
I was naturally quite curious about the R.E.S.T.
theories of Dr. Pete Samra, and how it helped natural [anabolic
steroid free] bodybuilders develop to their full potential. I made
arrangements with Pete for a one-on-one in person interview to discuss
the R.E.S.T. System of Training. Pete began his explanation of the
R.E.S.T. system by saying that it includes full mental and spiritual
development, emotional control and poise, intelligent eating habits,
bodybuilding: various physical outdoor activities, and constructive
positive thinking. It became immediately clear to me that this international
champion bodybuilder had developed a holistic idea which urges the
complete development of the person and not becoming a narrow minded
faddist on some single phase of right living.
SAMRA R.E.S.T. SYSTEM OF TRAINING
R = Relaxation, Rejuvenation, Rest, Positive
Pete says it is very important for a bodybuilder
to have balance in his or her life. So many bodybuilders have very
little in life outside the posing rostrum and the gym. Whenever
he would begin getting prepared for a contest or exhibition, the
first thing he would do was to get a vision of how he was going
to look on the day of the contest. It all starts with a thought.
When he was preparing for the 1980 Natural Mr. U.S.A. he would develop
a positive mental attitude. He saw himself winning the
trophy on contest day. He also had some photos taken of himself
and from this he would form a vision in his mind how he would look
after five months of hard training. He would take some 2 X 3 blank
cards and write on them "Pete Samra 1980 Natural Mr. U.S.A.".
One of these cards was placed on the headboard of his bed so it
would be the first thing he would see in the morning and the last
thing at night. Another card was placed on the dashboard of his
car so he could meditate on it while he was driving. The third card
was placed on his bathroom mirror so he would see it while he shaved
and brushed his teeth. From this practice, he began to have a vision
and then that vision became a reality. Pete went on to say that
the most important thing a competing body builder needs to remember
is to relax. Take time off away from the gum. Go to the beach, read
books on other subjects other than bodybuilding and, as well, play
other sports and develop some new hobbies. Pete really enjoys musicals
and concerns and finds that going to the movies is an excellent
form of relaxation. He says it is important to forget about your
training after you leave the gym.
E = Eating
Proper nutrition is the major key in developing
a great physique. Never say DIET because the first three letters
spell DIE [Death]. It is important to have a proper eating plan
and it should be basically the same all year around. Bulking up
by eating junk food is a poor excuse for sloppy eating. Pete went
on to say that a competitive bodybuilder cannot afford to have dairy
products in his or her nutritional program. For example, milk comes
from a cow. The cow secretes milk from the mammary gland, making
it high in the female hormone estrogen, so it makes no matter if
you are blasting your muscles with some tiger tough workouts you
will have a thin, fatty layer under your skin which will blur any
former cuts or definition. Also, some bodybuilders have a lactose
intolerance to milk and this most certainly can cause problems.
He eliminates white sugar, flour, salt, eggs and beef form his nutritional
program. The SAMRA NUTRTITION PLAN is as follows:
MORNING: 1 Olympac *84* [time released vitamin/mineral
pack], 2 Stanabol Capsules [Gama Oryzonal which is derived from
a Japanese Rice Bran Oil], 2 Natural-Multi-Glandular caps [contains
5 glands necessary for growth], 2 Chromium Picolinate Capsules,
2 Garlic Capsules and 20 drops of Smilax.
BREAKFAST: Strawberry Banana Shake which consists
of 10.5 oz. package of Mori-Nu Tofu, Silken/Soft, drained. One small
peeled banana and 1 cup [10 oz.] frozen sweetened strawberries,
slightly thawed including juice. In a blender or food processor,
combine all the ingredients until smooth. Mori-Nu Tofu is the best
on the market.
The Samra nutritional plan includes eating some
type of bran for breakfast (bran muffin) such as a bowl of oat bran
served with Mocha Mix Non Dairy.
MID MORNING: A piece of fresh fruit, 3 Amino
Complete Capsules (a combination of 28 free form amino acids), 3
Desiccated Argentinean Defatted Beef Liver 23 grain Tablets, 20
drops of cuts (Echinacea) Herbal Fat Emulsifier.
LUNCH: Usually fish (not shell) or skinless
chicken or both with a salad and maybe some brown rice. Use cider
vinegar and a little safflower oil for the dressing. The safflower
oil is needed for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins. Take
more of the supplements that were taken in the morning, i.e. Stanabol,
Naturol and Chromium Picolinate.
AFTERNOON SNACK: A piece of fresh fruit and
3 Amino Complete Capsules and 3 Argentinean Defatted Beef Liver
23 Grain Tablets.
One hour prior to his workout, Pete will take
3 Power Plus Tablets [contains Octacasonal, Bee Pollen, Bee Propalis]
for an added pre-energy boost. Sometimes he will take in some Samrabol
[which is a metabolic energy optimizer].
DINNER: Dinner varies between fish, turkey,
chicken or Tofu, 2 portions of green vegetables, perhaps a green
salad and includes a salad dressing which he made himself of Cider
Vinegar, safflower oil and Italian herbs. Dinner is usually followed
by a cup of herb tea. Take your supplements [the same ones taken
at Mid-Morning[ just prior to eating dinner.
During the day, snack on carrots, celery sticks,
jicama. These are life foods and give abundant energy.
S = Spiritual
Pete believes that a person cannot have a balance
in their life with just a good, healthy body and a sound mind. Abide
by the eternal truth that a peaceful, tranquil life must originate
from within, and this can only be accomplished by building yourself
up spiritually. Pete became a born again Christian in 1979.
T = Training
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
On this particular exercise program, Pete trains
all the muscle groups each and every workout. He is able to do this
because he uses light to medium poundages [the poundages used are
substantial enough to require maximum effort on each set completed.
Careful attention is given to maintaining proper technique performance
at all times], and he only does 4 sets per exercise. The repetition
scheme used with exercises in this program and #2, as well, will
vary from a high of 15 down to 10 reps. To clarify this a bit further,
he will begin his program where the volume [estimated total reps
properly completed] is high and the intensity [estimated average
poundage used per set] is low by doing each and every set for 15
repetitions. He does this for 2-3 weeks, then he decreases the repetition
scheme dramatically, to where he is only doing 10 per set. This
is done for 2-3 weeks also. This practice shocks his body into greater
adaptation [increases in size, power and strength, etc.]. After
these two cycles are completed, he will increase the rep scheme
back up to 15 again, while going with related but different exercises
for all of the various muscle groups. These exercises will slightly
change the muscular involvement through an altered stance, grip,
bar placement or speed of movement. It is variation such as this
which help Pete avoid the overtraining stage [stage #3 of the General
Adaptation Syndrome]. The following workout should only take 50-70
minutes to complete and 90 minutes tops. This is the maximum amount
of time he will train in any given workout to achieve what he terms
POSITIVE MUSCLE GROWTH.
The exercises are performed in the order in
which they are listed. You may be wondering why Pete does not follow
the rationale behind the tried-and-true rules of working form the
largest muscle groups to the smallest [or from the center of the
body outward]. A quick glance at the first four exercises would
seem to indicate that he is, in fact, doing this, but it is only
being done as a priority measure to gain more muscular size in the
thighs and calf muscles. He then jumps right into some tricep work
after he has completed his leg training. Normally, after training
the legs, back training might come next, and triceps work most always
comes after chest and shoulder work. Pete feels that most standard
exercise programs are inflexible where legs, chest, back exercises
and the like always come first. This practice does, in fact, follow
working from the center of the body outward, but the problem with
this sequence is that those muscles which may be the least responsive
to training are habitually worked later on in the exercise program
cannot be attacked with the same intensity as those at the beginning
of the program due to dramatic decreases of glycogen and testosterone
in the blood. So, with this thought in mind, Pete will most always
bomb the least responsible [success of determining this is through
instinctive training] muscle groups early on in his program.
Exercise program #1 is as follows:
1. Leg Extensions
2. Hack Machine Squats
3. Leg Curls on Sampson Line Machine
4. Seated Calf Raise
5. Standing Calf Raise
6. Tricep Push Downs
7. Lying Triceps Extensions
8. Peck Deck Contractions
9. Dumbbell Press Overhead
10. Dumbbell Laterals [these are done with the Iron Tear Drops,
which due to the low weight mass and off-set center of gravity,
there are no lockouts or resting points at either end of the rep.
This really promotes blazing muscularity in Petes delts.
Barbell Press Behind the Neck
11. Lat Machine Pulldowns
12. Barbell Bent Over Rowing
13. Barbell Curls
14. Seated Dumbbell Curls [use Iron Tear Drops]
15. Ab Work [50-100 reps per set are done here and in 15-20 minutes.
Bench Lying Leg Raise, ¼ Crunches & Roman Chair Sit
Monday and Thursday
Chest 3 exercises 12 sets
Shoulders 3 exercises 19 sets
Triceps 3 exercises 16 sets
Pete works all these muscle groups together
on the same days as part of the famous push/pull system of training,
which, in this case, is the push day. When bombing the chest, Pete
will use exercises such as the Peck Dec, Incline Dumbbell Flyes
and Presses. He seeks to have more upper pectoral exercise involvement
than lower pectorals. Deltoid exercises consist of Dumbbell Laterals
and Bent Over Laterals and the Standing Barbell Press. Only 20%
of his total deltoid training time will be for the front (anterior)
potion and 40% for the lateral (medial or side) aspect, and 40%
for the posterior (rear) delt head. Tricep exercises consist of
Lying E-Z Curl Barbell Extensions, Tricep Kick Backs. Pete works
for a 50/50 balance of training time for the long and inner head,
and only 30% for the outer (lateral) aspect of tricep work. The
next exercise session is dedicated to so called pushing exercises
with abs and calves included as neutral muscle groups.
Tuesday and Friday
Thighs 4 exercises 12 sets
Calves 3 exercises 9 sets
Back 4 exercises 12 sets
Biceps 3 exercises 9 sets
Abs 5 exercises 10 sets
The exercises listed for the thighs consist
of the 3 listed in program #1 and additionally the Sissy Squat.
Seventy percent of training time should be for the thigh biceps
(hamstrings) and 30% for the quads or front thighs. Calf exercises
are the same as in program #1 with the addition of Donkey Calf Raises.
The training time is a 50/50 deal between the soleus (slow twitch)
and the gastrocnemius (fast twitch) muscles. Back exercises encompass
all the exercises in program #1 and a 33 1/3% ratio of training
time between the upper, mid and lower back.
Bicep exercises include any two of the three
listed in program #1 and additionally, 30-degree angle preacher
bench curls. Training time for upper and lower aspects of the biceps
is 50/50. Ab exercises are rotated every training day, making sure
that 50% effort targets the lower abs while the remaining 50% of
the training time and exercises should target the upper abdominals.
For cardiovascular/respiratory work, Pete will
do an aerobic workout for approximately 12-15 minutes, 4 days a
week after his regular workouts with the weights. He says this is
the best way to improve your heart, loose fat, and get ripped. He
has many exercise options from which to choose. He will, at times,
use a Lifecycle, job, power walk, skip rope, roller skate, or 10
The above outlined push/pull program [#2] resets
the muscles for at least 48 hours before they are trained again,
and this is one of the secrets of the SAMRA R.E.S.T. System for
promoting the ultimate in POSITIVE MUSCLE GROWTH. Pete realizes
that there are some real stubborn hard gainers out there and he
says that some slight modifications may be necessary for both programs
#1 and #2. On program, you may have to reduce the number of sets
you are doing per exercise from four to no more than 2-3. With regard
to program #2, you may want to back your sets off to where you are
only doing between 8-10 and in some very extreme cases, this may
even go as low as 5-7 sets per muscle group. Training frequency
can be a problem in both programs which can stop the acceleration
of your size and strength curve. In program #1, train only on Monday
and Friday and in program #2, utilize the every-other-day split
system where there is one day of rest between each push and pull
workout and always total rest on the weekends. Follow program #1
for 4-6 weeks, then #2.
Watching Pete Samra train, it is apparent that
he does every exercise just a little bit different in order to "work
for the feel of the muscle and discovering the muscular pathways".
He will do little things like a twist of the wrist, pulling back
the shoulders, raising the weight either a bit forward or backward,
holding the bar momentarily at the sticking point. These are all
done to force the muscles to do more work. These are not exaggerated
body movements in an attempt to gain a mechanical advantage, which
by doing so will decrease the maximum tension in the muscle he is
attacking. As well, Pete always makes sure that his repetitions
are done slowly and deliberately [rather than quick and snappy]
to avoid placing undue or unusual stress on the joints.
The supplements listed in the SAMRA NUTRITION
PLAN mentioned earlier in the article are just a few of his famous
formulas which have been available on the public market for the
past 25 years. If you are a natural bodybuilder who is trying to
put your body into an anabolic state [a state of growth or building]
without the use of anabolic steroids, then the Samra Natural Bodybuilding
Program will be of special interest to you.
The Samra R.E.S.T. System of Training had a
dramatic impact on the bodybuilding world and still does so to this
day. I think it is safe to say that he will be honored in the years
ahead by the subtle compliment of imitation. You will find many
systems discovering his R.E.S.T. principles and calling it their
own. It is unlikely, however, that the world of bodybuilding will
ever be rocked by as unusual a man as Dr. Pete Samra "Mr. Nutrition"!