Vince Gironda was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1917. His father was a stuntman and took the family to LA when he was offered a part in Ben Hur. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps Vince Gironda decided to take up bodybuilding. He was 22 years old and it was 1939.
He started training at a local YMCA gym before moving on to a more dedicated gym owned by the Easton brothers. The Easton Gym is still operating in Hollywood today. It was founded in 1938 by Harvey and Dale Easton and was possibly the most innovative bodybuilding gym of its day. The Easton brothers invented the preacher curl (isolation of biceps to increase the peak). Vince went on to open his own gym in 1948.
Gironda really was ahead of his time when it came to training. He believed that bodybuilding was 85% nutrition and 15% lifting. He was an advocate of low carb dieting to cut fat and build muscle faster. He used many supplements and ate over 30 eggs a day (something professional bodybuilders still do today). Although he never provided any scientific research to back his nutritional approach, he strongly believed that his supplementing and egg based diet was key to his development.
Gironda’s Training Methods
Again, his methods were controversial. He did not believe that back squats were required, stating that they led to the development of muscles that were too big in men. His gym did not even have squat racks – something unheard of in bodybuilding gyms then and now.
Instead of standard back squats he used to do sissy squats (no weight is used other than bodyweight, imagine doing the limbo but without moving your feet, then standing up again), hack squats (hold the bar behind and squat), front squats (barbell held to the upper chest).
Sit Ups are a Waste of Time for Abs!
It was Vince Gironda who first said that doing many sit ups was an ineffective way to develop the abdominals. This is advice which is still being marketed as “new information” for people wanting to develop a 6 pack.
Do Not Bench Press
As well as dismissing sit ups he also abandoned the classic wide grip bench press and instead advocated the use of dips and neck presses (like a bench press, but you lift in line with the neck instead of the chest). He felt that these exercises built a more solid and complete upper chest where as traditional bench presses, which many new weight trainers still do today, develops the pecs individually leading to more of a bosom look than a solid slab of muscle look.
The Birth of the Iron Guru
As his reputation grew his gym attracted many of the heavyweights of bodybuilding including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Jake Steinfeld, Frank Zane and Don Howorth.
It was Denie Walter, the photography and Editor-In-Chief of Muscle Training Illustrated, who nick-named Vince Gironda the “Iron Guru” to honor his amazing knowledge of bodybuilding and the success that many of his students had in bodybuilding competitions.
Vince Gironda the Fitness Writer
Vince Gironda wrote on a regular basis for Iron Man magazine during the 1970’s, as well as writing his own series of training manuals. He co-authored Unleashing the Wild Physique in 1980 with Robert Kennedy, which provided the “ultimate bodybuilding for men and women”. Unfortunately the book has long been out of print now.
Vince passed away in 1997 just before turning 80. He was a great example of a fit and healthy bodybuilder who lived a long and active life. An athlete, a businessman, a writer and a leader. And most of all, an Iron Guru.
The Vince Gironda Body Drag Curl
One of the few video clips of Vince Gironda teaching how to do a proper body drag curl.
Vince Gironda Legend & Myth (review)
Vince Gironda Legend & Myth is a new 334 page book written by Alan Palmieri. It tells the story of Vince and also contains some of Vince Gironda’s articles that expand on the information above.
The book covers all aspects of Vince Gironda’s training, lifestyle, philosophy and motivation for training. Some of the key chapters include:
- 15 Sets of 4 Reps
- A Muscle Has Four Side
- Mental Attitudes
- Workout Tempo
- Best Exercises
- Vince’s Stone Age Nutrition – decades ahead of his time!
- Three Day Detoxification Plan
- Philosophy of Champions
- Abs Vince’s Way
- Bodybuilding For Men Over 40
The book also shares many of his bodybuilding workouts, training tips and nutrition advice, including his 8×8 workout, the neck presses, drag curls and his revolutionary triceps training.
This ebook literally unleashes the wild physique Vince Gironda once again. It is keeping his bodybuilding philosophy alive for all to learn for many more years to come.