Ultimate Bodybuilding for Men and Women

A Real Vince Gironda Workout

The real problem with writing a Vince workout is so much is lost in the translation. Side Laterals to Vince took on a whole new meaning, as did pretty much every other exercise performed at Vince's. He, Nick, or other members were quick to bark orders commanding you to perform a movement with a certain, precise style. It was this “style” (for lack of a better word) that would make Vince’s hack squat a multi exercise station. I am hoping that most people on this forum understand what I mean, and already know many of Vince’s “rules” for the exercises I am about mention.

I was asked to provide a “Vince” routine. Also mentioned is people’s misconception of Vince’s hatred toward squats and bench presses. So in order to satisfy the squatters below is a sample leg workout from many years ago. Keep in mind there were no routines or typical workouts at Vince’s.

Day One: Quads, Hams, Calves

Leg Extensions 8x15
Hack Squat (a) 8x15
Hack Squat (b) 8x15
Leg Curl 8x15
Calf Raises 8x20

There was VERY LITTLE REST – EVER. I’m talking 15 – 20 seconds break, “take 10 deep breaths…GO!”.

All of these were performed in a very strict manner – Vince Style. I am not going to go into great detail about each exercise, but briefly put:

Leg Extensions were performed while basically performing a sit up motion coordinated with the flexion and extension of the knee.

Hack Squat (a) was performed with the feet together, toes out, heels all the way to the back of sleds platform, and the knees bent way over the feet upon descent.

Hack Squat (b) was performed with the feet together, toes straight forward, and toes nearly hanging off the front of the platform.

Leg Curls were performed in a similar coordinated fashion as Leg Ext…rocking upper body up and down while performing Leg Curls.

Calf Raises had to be performed with your SHOES OFF, and very strictly. If you are using a ton of weight - you’re doing them wrong.

They (Vince and Nick) liked higher reps for legs, at least my legs. Those eight sets were built over time, starting with one each and each workout building. But I gotta tell ya, for some reason I can not come close to doing that workout any more. There was something special at Vince’s Gym that could make me like a machine and keep going.

Some of you may find it interesting that while they used high volume training in his gym, they also openly advocated Mentzer’s Heavy Duty back in the day. They said it was sound training, but for most people its better for them to handle more volume. Maybe they meant safety, but in my opinion they were probably referring to creating the “illusion” of a perfect body.

Please remember this was performed after years of training and under guidance.

That workout was/is brutal. Like I said I’ve tried going back to it and I can’t seem to do it without utilizing major drop-sets. Those days of training like that was when I was 19 years old and in excellent shape (my waist was 27” and my thighs were 28”). 8 x 8 is not for the novice. And yes, like I said, it was months before I could work up to that volume. The main part was focus and drive to just get it done. I think those leg workouts lasted at most 35 minutes. I often tried to do too much too soon (because I always figured more is better) but I would try to stop myself as I matured, otherwise he would yell at me for overtraining. I was actually sent home one day because I just kept training (I was about 15 or so).

A sample beginner workout was more like:

One set each between 8 to 12 reps

Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Hack Squat
Pull Downs
Decline Fly (with those low pulleys Vince had)
Side Laterals
Scott Curl
Tri Pushdown

That’s what I started with more or less. And still, that is more or less what I start my clients with as well.

Vince performed this as a circuit. Each workout the volume increased by performing the circuit one more additional time. I know he really liked two-a-days with this as well.

Really the importance of Vince’s training wasn’t in the “routines” so much as it was in the way an exercise was performed. They (Vince and Nick) were VERY specific about the way an exercise was to be done in their gym.

Today, I perform very few sets per workout, but the sets I perform are done with precision. I think Vince would still approve of my current training, yet still have many suggestions to make it better.

At Vince's I was often instructed to do routines consisting of three sets per exercise and between two and three exercises per bodypart. The first set was light and used to get perfect form. The second set was heavy and to failure, and then the third was a no rest, drop set. The emphasis was on form and failure. Reps were moderate between 8 - 15.

Vince was very specific about a muscle needing 72 hours of rest. But he also had most of the beginners (including me) workout day after day using a circuit routine.

Vince Gironda Rep Speed

Simply put, use the muscle not momentum. Vince or Nick would be quick to point out when I was cheating myself by using momentum instead of focusing on using the muscle to perform the movement. This also means don't "explode" at any part of a movement.

Usually I was aiming at completing a perfect 8 reps, but sometimes they would yell at me to keep going by doing "burns" - which consist of performing quick, short range of motion reps (focusing on the contraction part of the rep). Otherwise I performed reps in a very strict and focused manner.

Quick note: I remember Nick talking about one of the real old school guys (sorry I can't remember his name - but I think he called him "pumper" or something like that, cause he only tried to get a pump) who would show up at Vince's and use light weight, fast reps, and no real form. According to Nick the guy was huge. His point was...different strokes for different folks.

Vince Gironda 8x8 Training

I hope you guys understand Vince (as far as I know) never really started anybody out doing the 8 x 8 routines. Rather he started people (from the advanced athlete to the overweight actor) by doing more of a one set "circuit" style of training. And in doing so they (Vince or Nick) would endlessly critique your form on every movement or exercise. From there they would increase the trainees' work load gradually and steadily. I know Vince (or his fans) talked a lot about the 8 x 8 routines, but remember that first came mastering the forms and rest intervals. Also, please remember they would not let me train longer than 45 minutes...so if you are going to do some of these routines I've seen, you better hussle as well as keep strict form.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from doing 8x8, rather I am just emphasizing what was emphasized to me from Vince and Nick. Be patient, be disciplined, and be tenacious.

Vince Gironda Training Routine Questions

Vince was into strength like he was into perfect form, intense sets, no rest, and all around insane training. He was strong like those kids who do gymnastics are strong. You look at them scratching your head, saying to yourself "nothing about what this guy is doing looks right" (the position, the weight, the easy performance...).

Vince liked to see people push themselves unreasonably. This meant sometimes doing a weight that seems impossible considering the task at hand. He also liked to prove himself with weight. My most vivid memory of this is with Nick and a Vince's member whose name escapes me (David - maybe).

Anyway, I was 14 or 15 (not driving yet) and playing football. The coach wanted us to do bench presses. I told Nick I needed to start doing bench press, so my "Bench" would get stronger. After laughing at me and saying my coach was an idiot, he had me train with "David" who he said NEVER does traditional bench presses. First we did incline dumbell press (he used a lot of weight but I can't remember how much), then we did Bench Press-traditional style. I was doing my best, but David, who was by no means huge like the Gold's guys rather he was defined and just well built, proceeded to do 5 x 5 at 315lbs. No bounce, no momentum - perfect. Later in my life when I was 19 and preparing for the Teen USA I tried to do the 5 x 5 at 315 (as it had become a goal) - it kicked my ass, but I did it.

As I remember most all the members were strong - especially for their size. And we were encouraged to show our strength in every exercise.

You may have to start with light weight, but with patience and consistent training, the weight and quality of training improve dramatically.

Vince Gironda 6 Day Training Routine

I have first hand knowledge of his six day routine. When I started thats what they had me do. It was great... Its like a crash course in Vince's techniques (but being so young I didn't know any better). And no it wasn't easy... there was some "new" muscle sore on me everyday.

My understanding was that Vince felt that beginners who were brand new to bodybuilding tended to have all kinds of energy and excitement. He started people off with a circuit-type training style that did 1 set per body part the first week, 2 sets the second, 3 sets the third. If the person had so much energy that they wanted to do it every day, he let them. This was for a beginner, mind you.

However, for Vince's intensive training routines he stressed 72 hours recuperation for a hard-worked muscle.

The training consisted of a whole body circuit using a combination of machines, free weights, and body weight. One exercise per body part, for one QUALITY set, minimal rest (just seconds)- and then another exercise.

Initially the training was difficult but do-able. The weights were light enough so that I could learn the movement, yet heavy enough so that I was approaching failure near 12 reps. We used higher reps (20+) for legs, calves, and forearms. I did no ab training.

After the first week I would do the circuit twice, and then later a third time. Other guys were doing two-a-days... but since i wasn't old enough to drive I only went once a day.

I can't remember how long this went on for, but it was a while - long enough for me to want to go the "easier" split routines.

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