Gironda’s influence on the iron game is almost unsurpassed. He trained, at some stage in their careers, most of the all-time greats, including Larry Scott, Sergio Oliva and Arnold, just to name three.
Gironda invented the preacher curl, and we know how well that worked for Scott. Some of Gironda’s greatest legacies, though, were his “crazy” theories. He challenged everything about the iron game.
In fact, he altered some of today’s most popular exercises with slight variations that improved the result. For example, Gironda never used or prescribed regular bench presses or barbell curls, instead opting for neck presses and body drag curls. He felt that the more common mass builders recruited too much front delt and not enough of the target muscle group.
He was also 100 percent against drugs and believed training each muscle group just once a week worked only for “juiced” athletes.
Even Vince’s beginning programs were controversial, but they were designed to transform a trainee’s body in the shortest amount of time. Vince’s programs worked. Movie stars—including Denzel Washington, James Garner and David Carradine—trained under Vince for roles, and most used his beginning routine. By today’s standards, like most of his theories, it is controversial.
Vince Gironda’s Raw Beginner’s Program
Decline pulley hugs 12 reps
Also known as decline cable flyes. Because most beginners are weak, Vince believed this was the only exercise that successfully hit the lower-pec line to improve the overall chest appearance.
Seated cable rows 12 reps
Lateral raises 10 reps
Triceps pushdowns 10 reps
Barbell body drag curls 10 reps
Barbell body drag curls are just like barbell curls, only you keep the bar in contact with your body and drag it up to your neck. That removes front-delt recruitment.
Seated wrist curls 12 reps
Leg extensions 12 reps
Leg curls 12 reps
Standing calf raises 20 reps
Now the really crazy part: Do the above six days a week.
Remember, this is a month long program for getting in the best shape in the shortest time. The progression is as follows:
Week 1: One set of each exercise, six days a week.
Week 2: Two sets per exercise, six days a week.
Week 3: Three sets, six days.
Week 4: Three sets, six days.
After one month, for those who aren’t preparing for a movie role, Vince recommended dropping back to a three- or four-days-a-week schedule—but the choice is yours.
Don’t dismiss this routine—it’s worked for hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.