‘Iron Guru’ Vincent Gironda was born in the Bronx, New York but moved to Los Angeles when he was young because his father, a stuntman, found work in Hollywood. Always athletic, Gironda was also interested in becoming a stuntman, but realizing he needed more muscles and started lifting weights when he was 22. He trained at the YMCA and then another gym before opening his own, called Vince’s Gym, in 1948. Gironda was a proponent of low carb eating and believed nutrition mattered more than working out with regards to building a strong physique. Because he became known as a person who could get anyone into shape fast, he trained many famous bodybuilders and actors, including Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, the Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane, Clint Eastwood, Cher and Arnold Schwarzenegger.Gironda along with fellow trainer Ray Raridon developed a line of supplements called NSP Nutrition. Gironda wrote many training and nutritional manuals, and co-authored a book called Unleashing the Wild Physique. Due to competition from fancier gyms and innumerable personal trainers, Vince’s Gym closed in 1995. Gironda died in 1997, just before turning 80. At his peak, he was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 175 lbs.
Vince Gironda’s Diet
Gironda famously said bodybuilding was mainly about nutrition, and that if you don’t nail that down first, the rest is moot. He advocated eating a moderate amount of protein in the form of steak, eggs, and protein powder; high fat from such things as unpasteurized heavy cream or half-and-half; and the rest coming from raw vegetables, nuts and seasonal fruits. He was an early supporter of the low-carb diet and used many supplements including amino acids, digestive enzymes and vitamin C. He also advocated eating free-range eggs and raw cream because he said they worked like steroids, although he was strongly opposed to actual steroid use.
- Low Carbs 10% 10%
- Medium Protein 40% 40%
- High Fat 65% 65%
Eat Like A Caveman
Gironda was the source of the steak and eggs diet. He ate a lot of eggs, up to 3 dozen per day. On the steak and eggs diet, you eat nothing but steak and eggs twice a day for 3-4 days straight, and then have 1 big carby meal to replace glycogen stores before going back to steak and eggs.
Maximum Definition Diet
Now known as the ketogenic diet, back in the day, Gironda had a different name for it: The Maximum Definition Diet. It was considered the best and fastest way to burn fat and gain muscle simultaneously. This diet would be followed for 4-6 weeks, followed by an alkaline diet of fresh vegetables and fruit to rebalance the metabolism.
Hormone Precursor Beverage
Gironda made a concoction of 12 oz. half-and-half, 12 raw, free-range eggs (including the shells), 1/3 c. milk-egg protein powder and an optional banana (if carbs were needed) to drink between meals and before bedtime.
Supplement To Stay Calm
Gironda recommended several supplements, including digestive enzymes, liver tablets, wheat germ oil and calcium to fill in any nutritional gaps, and to reduce any nervousness some people experience on a high-protein diet.
What to Eat
Raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized cream or half-and-half
Seasonal Fruit (in moderation)
What to Avoid
Gironda on Nutrition vs. Exercise
‘Remember that nutrition is 90%; exercise is 10%.’
Gironda on What to Eat
‘Eat for nutrition and food value. Emphasize natural foods, avoid processed foods, and eliminate junk entirely.’
Gironda on Eating Eggshells
‘You won’t find a better balance of minerals on the planet.’
Vince Gironda’s Fitness Routine
Gironda’s exercise routine was 10 sets of 10 reps each, which is known as the German Volume Training. The (simple) theory behind it is that by making the muscle fibers do a lot of work, they will grow.
Gironda was looking to create a certain look, which involved massive arms, big shoulders, a broad chest (G’s was 49”), a small waist (his was 29”) and defined legs, which he did naturally, without steroids. But his main focus was coaching his clients on how to eat.
Gironda did not like barbell back squats because he said they led to the overdevelopment of the gluteals relative to the hips and thighs. (The exception to this rule was for women who needed to develop these areas.) He was also against the bench press, and banned traditional sit-ups in his gym as both ineffective and dangerous.
The Sound Of Muscles Growing
Gironda didn’t play music in his gym because he found it distracting and said people needed to focus on what mattered: visualizing their sculpted body.
No Rest For Beginners
While it was common for pros to take a day of rest between workouts, Gironda said that beginners didn’t need rest and were highly motivated to work, and therefore should only take Sundays off. He would have his beginners do only 1 set rather than multiples to keep the workouts manageable.
While Gironda didn’t much care if a person came early or late to work out, he said it was a good idea to train at the same time to set the body’s internal clock to prepare itself for the coming routine.
Gironda had a personalized approach to each and every client. For those who adapted quickly to a routine, he’d make sure to change things up regularly. For those who were dedicated to particular routine, they might stick with the same exercises for a year or longer.
Gironda took care to teach his students the rule of weight overload, which is to to start with light weights and add as you grow stronger, and to keep in mind that you can’t always see the change at first. Also, diet must never be neglected.
A Vince GirondaSample Routine
Do 10 sets with 10 reps in each set, taking about a 1 minute rest between sets. The weight used should be about 50% of your max, which will feel light at first, but probably not by the end. When you can actually complete 10 full sets, you can increase the weight.
Decline pulley hugs
Barbell body-drag curls
Seated wrist curls
Calf heel raises
Bent knee leg raises
Gironda on Listening to Music While Working Out
‘Don’t these music-minded people realize that the accomplishment of physical perfection requires vivid imagination, enormous desire, total faith, visualization and unending mental commitment? How can any of that be put into practice to the strains of distracting music?’
Gironda on Bodybuilding
‘Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition!’
Gironda on Bodybuilders
‘Bodybuilding just wasn’t accepted back then. It was a secret thing to lift weights.’
Gironda on Steroid Use
‘Size without Shape is Grotesque.’
Vince Gironda’s Supplements
Liver isn’t an especially popular meat these days, butcontain lots of nutrients, including B12, iron and protein, all of which can help muscles grow stronger.
Gironda advocated taking calcium, not only because it helps prevent muscle spasms, but also to improve mood in those following a high-protein diet.
Gironda was ahead of his time in many ways, including supplementation. Sea kelp contains tons of vitamins, minerals and fiber. It helps maintain the pH balance in the body, regulating blood sugar and can help you lose weight and potentially even prevent cancer.
Gironda was all about nutrition, but if you’re not digesting the food you eat, you won’t get very far. Digestive enzymes help prevent inflammation, strengthen the immune system, support a healthy liver and heart, and can help you lose weight.
Wheat Germ Oil
offers many benefits, ranging from anti-aging effects like improved cognition to boosting energy and metabolism.
Vitamin C is a famous antioxidant which increases immunity and minimizes damage from free radicals. Gironda liked it because it helped with muscle recovery.
Gironda advocated taking a protein supplement because it’s hard to create muscle without enough protein in your body to use as building blocks.
Vince Gironda’s Lifestyle
Gironda recommended staying away from stimulants such as cheese and caffeine before bed. He also thought it was important to wind down and relax, clearing your mind of thoughts that might be keeping you up at night.
No Frills Mecca
Gironda believed in concentrating at the matter at hand: getting ripped, not bopping to music, sipping a smoothie from the juice bar, or even talking. Vince’s gym did however sell t-shirts. They read, ‘Vince’s Gym. No pool. No chrome. No music. Just iron.’
Just Say No To Nautilus
Gironda was staunchly opposed to using Nautilus equipment, saying it was dangerous, expensive, inefficient and not versatile like barbells, and compared gyms that had Nautilus equipment to assembly lines, made for convenience, not results.
Gironda invented and advocated a lot of exercises that went against conventional wisdom back in the day, such as the Frog Sit-up and the Sissy Squat. He could still benchpress 300 lbs. at age 65.
Gironda on Rules
‘I have found that man’s logic and nature’s logic are totally different.’
Gironda on Competition from Other Gyms
‘Working out there beats sitting around a bar and drinking.’
Gironda on Weighing In
‘I would like to be the first man in the gym business to throw out my scale. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, what difference does it make what the scale says?’
Gironda on Nautilus Equipment
As far as bodybuilding is concerned, who has it every produced?’
Unleashing the Wild Physique
Vince Gironda pamphlets
Vince Gironda movies