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The Poliquin Principles
Bodybuilding Vince Gironda Style
What do you think of Vince “The Iron Guru” Gironda’s writings? Was he all hype, or could one learn from him? I used to read his column in MUSCLEMAG all the time!
Vince Gironda was an innovative trainer, and if you track down his books and original articles, you’ll find numerous training pearls that will help you – and your athletes, if you’re a coach or trainer – achieve your goals. Here are five major ideas about strength training that I got from him. Some of them can be attributed directly to Gironda; others he just popularized.
Lesson 1: The value of high-volume training. In what he referred to as an “honest workout,” Gironda believed in the value of using periods of high-volume training to achieve maximum muscle growth quickly, especially in lagging bodyparts, and to reduce bodyfat. One of his favorite workouts was what he referred to as the “8×8 system.”
It’s similar to German Volume Training in that it focuses on doing a few exercises with a lot of sets and reps so an entire workout can be finished in an hour or less. In fact, most of his workouts were designed to be performed in one hour or less. To work all the major muscle groups and enable them to recover from these difficult training sessions, you would work each bodypart only twice a week and give it at least 72 hours of rest between workouts. A typical split might look like this:
|8 X 8 SYSTEM|
|Monday and Thursday: Chest, back, shoulders|
|Tuesday and Friday: Biceps, triceps, forearms|
|Wednesday and Saturday: Legs|
Lesson 2: Eat small meals frequently. Gironda was one of the first to promote lower-carbohydrate diets. He also included fat in diets, which ran contrary to what the aerobics industry was promoting. Instead of three large meals, he recommended six small meals to stimulate the metabolism.
Lesson 3: Take care of yourself. To make progress in weight training, Gironda advocated avoiding what he called physical and mental “energy leaks.” “Physical leaks” included
smoking, drinking, skipping meals, missing sleep and eating refined sugar. “Mental leaks” included displaying emotional qualities that upset tranquility, such as hate, anxiety and ego.
Lesson 4: Do not use aerobics to lose weight. Gironda did not believe in doing aerobic exercise to get lean. Unlike many bodybuilders, he didn't consider aerobic training mandatory for women. He believed, and rightly so, that weight training was superior for losing bodyfat and that aerobic training could compromise mass gains. He thought that nothing was better or faster for shaping the female figure than weight training.
Lesson 5: The value of dips and chins. Two of my favorite exercises, often missing in modern-day training programs, are chins and dips. Gironda loved both of them, and in fact he believed that dips were so superior for developing the chest that he didn't even have a bench press station in his gym. For pecs he recommended using a V-shaped dip apparatus, which accommodates a greater variety of body types. He’d have his trainees use a reverse grip and perform the movement with rounded upper back, chin to chest, elbows pointed straight out, feet together, toes pointed down and under the face.
For chins he recommended a full range of motion and was a big believer in sternum chins, pulling up till your lower rib cage is close to the bar. Gironda was obsessed with technique; if you want to see his variations of many exercises such as curls and dumbbell lateral raises, go to YouTube.com and search for Vince Gironda drag curl, Vince Gironda perfect curl and Vince Gironda dumbbell alternate side swing.
Gironda promoted many other good ideas, including not working the abs every day, the importance of eating a good breakfast, the need to change your workout frequently, the technique of specializing on areas that lag behind, the importance of supplements, the benefits of concentration during training and the willingness to experiment with new ideas. The Iron Guru was definitely a man ahead of his time.
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