Vince Gironda Part 2:
(Last Month, Vince's friend Ron Kosloff revealed never-before told anecdotal tales of the muscle maestro. This month, he adds more unpublished gems to complete his one of a kind necklace of Gironda memories.)
Early on in my association with this young fellow I'm training, he observed that we weren't doing much. You never want to work a muscle more than twice in one week, and when you work it, you work it with intensity. You never rest for more than 15 or 20 seconds between sets. When you work with intensity you'll be surprised how fast you get the pump, which is what you're looking for. Remember, when you're trying to gain, you never work your stomach because the stress attacks and shocks the nerves in your solar plexus and then your hormone levels go down.
This is the routine I had him on to start. You work your biceps, triceps, delts, chest and back on Monday. You work your forearms, thighs, leg biceps and calves on Tuesday. If you want to work your inner thighs on Tuesday also, that's okay. Repeat Monday's workout on Thursday and Tuesday's workout on Friday. Then you have to rest because this is when HGH is released by your pituitary and you'll gain muscular size.
I said, "I'm going to show you how not to work out.
I'm not criticizing anybody, but this is how most people train." I pointed to a fellow in the gym, a local bodybuilding hero who'd won a few contests and was a steroid user. "He's probably here six days per week," I explained, "but when he comes in he doesn't do very much. He thinks that just being in the gym and taking steroids is going to increase his physique, which will probably happen with the steroids." I told the kid to watch this guy.
He was doing the bench press for his chest, but the bench press is not a chest exercise. The neck press is, as Vince taught. He grunted and groaned and grunted and groaned, did about 7 or 8 reps, and then sat there for ten minutes looking at himself in the mirror. Then he got up and went for a drink of water. A few minutes later he came back and did another set. He grunted and groaned some more and then went into the next room and b.s'd with some guys for 10 or 15 minutes before doing another set. When he'd finished his chest, he did his delts the same way. He read the bulletin board, did about 4 sets, and left. Most guys spend hours at the gym and tell their girlfriends about their long, hard workouts. Well, this guy did practically nothing. He spent more time reading the bulletin board, drinking the water, and looking at himself in the mirror than he did working out. There was nothing intense to his workout.
Another question the kid asked me was, "What about personal trainers? How come you're a personal trainer and (pointing to another fellow in the gym who was doing personal training) he's certified?" So I said, "Certified by whom? I know that guy's methods. He'll tell you to eat gobs and gobs of complex carbohydrates. Look at the people he trains. Are they making any progress? No. You're going to get into this gym four times a week and you're going to work out Monday a half hour, Tuesday a half hour, Thursday a half hour, Friday a half hour, and then you're going to go home. These people spend two and three hours a day in a gym and their personal trainer kills them. Why? Because otherwise they don't feel like they have got their money's worth. They don't understand the overload principle."
German scientists proved - and this was documented -
that the only way you can increase the size of the muscle is by what they call the German overload principle: The greatest amount of work in the least amount of time. How much work you do doesn't matter. How fast you do it is what counts. That's why sprinters have far, far superior physiques to long distance runners, who overtrain. The principle was proven conclusively a hundred years ago by German scientist, and that's the method Vince adapted. That's why his students always looked a thousand times better than anyone else. The guy was just so brilliant it was almost mind-boggling. The scientific principles and ideas he would use to create a physique were just amazing. These people don't understand that. They don't understand nutrition. They don't understand that the word protein means most important.
I showed the kid what this personal trainer was doing wrong. He was telling people to grab the weight with their thumbs around the bar. You almost never put your thumb around the bar - only in a few exercises. In any exercise you will inadvertently use your forearm to help lift the weight. If you put your thumb under the bar, it's called a palm grip. Some call it a false grip. He had these people doing sit ups and leg raises. They were trying to gain size but not getting anywhere because, as Vince explained, of the shock to the solar plexus. He was having them do bench press for chest, but the bench press is not a chest exercise. It's mostly an exercise for the front delts. When you bring the bar down to the lower pec line, you're working your delts. If you arch your back to hoist the weight up, you're using the teres major. If you put your thumb around the bar, you're using your triceps and forearms. You're working everything but your chest.
Vince preached isolation exercises. He really scoffed at personal trainers because they didn't know much. Somebody just made five hundred dollars to give them a phony certification, and they still didn't know what they were doing. They don't know much about kinesiology. They don't know much about how a muscle works, and if you don't know how a muscle works, how can you work a muscle? Like Vince, I teach nutrition first and then exercise. I don't just teach exercise and ignore nutrition because bodybuilding is 85% nutrition.
Some people look but they never really see. Some people listen but they never really hear. Those are just some of the lessons of life, and most people never learn life's lessons. Unfortunately, big advertising and marketing are America. Doesn't make any difference what you have as long as you market it correctly. I've often said that if somebody produced rabbit pellets and told bodybuilders they were good for you, bodybuilders would be eating rabbit pellets without question.
Vince said once that the average intelligence in your average gym ape wasn't much higher than your average pair of socks!
Vince Gironda didn't really get along with Joe Weider. They were adversaries and their training philosophies were totally different. There was no comparison between Vince's method and the Weider method, but Weider didn't care. To him Vince was just a gym owner and seller of his nutritional supplements and courses. It's a sad, sad fact that when Vince Died, Madeline, his wife, told me that he was overdrawn about $160 dollars on his bank account. Vince pretty much died a pauper. I'm very much saddened by that fact. After Vince died, Weider had the very, very commendable decency to write a little section in his magazine concerning him. Basically, it said, "We are sad to see that Vince Gironda recently passed away." Then he gave Vince a lot of credit when he stated, in very small print, "Clearly this man was way, way, way ahead of his time." And he certainly was. Thank you Joe.
Vince knew the lessons of life, such as you should never be concerned whether people like you or not, but whether they respect you. The liking will come after they respect you. He scared many so-called authorities with his revolutionary ideas and theories. This is why they attacked him routinely. For example, he always used the word, 'overtonus' in referring to loss of muscle tissue from over training. He had read this in a medical journal, but his critics constantly attacked his use of this word, saying they'd never heard of it. Vince called his findings facts, but Gene Mozee and John Balik said that statement was extreme. However, I never knew his methods to fail. To me they were facts!
This student of mine asked me about supplements and Muscle Media and MET-Rx and EAS and Bill Phillip, and of course, I had to answer him honestly. At first, I didn't intend to mention Bill Phillips and Muscle Media because they don't have much to do with Vince, but I've been sort of prodded into doing it because of a rather degrading remark Phillips made about him. A customer of mine related it to me two or three y ears ago, and it mad me angry and upset, so I think I'll discuss it if you don't mind.
I feel as if Phillips is the new Joe Weider. That's just my gut feeling. His Muscle Media is just a catalog marketing his own supplements...
which is his right, of course, but I feel he slammed Vince and made him look very foolish. My customer told me he was at a seminar or bodybuilding contest somewhere where Phillips was talking to a group of people. Someone asked him about liver tablets, milk and egg protein, and Vince Gironda, and he said, very directly, that was "old-time" bodybuilding. That was passť. He implied that Vince didn't know what he was talking about.
Let me explain a bit of philosophy. There was once a man named Martin Boorman who was a minister of propaganda in Hitler's regime. Boorman knew that if you control what people see, what they hear, and what they read, you literally control them. The church in the Middle Ages called it "propogate." That's where the term propaganda comes from. The Orientals call it mind conditioning or brainwashing. Today we call it marketing. If you get all your information from the media, you're brainwashed. Remember the egg scare? The media told people that eggs cause heart attacks, and everyone believed it. Whenever I do a consultation or seminar, I tell people I wish there were zippers on their heads so that I could unzip hem and take out all the garbage the media has put in.
The media can control our thinking. This is exactly what Mr. Phillips is doing. He's done some very, very slick marketing that I'm just awed by. I mean, this guy has come out with his supplement guide, and amazingly his products always come out on top. Four or five years a go a magazine called Nutrition News called MET-Rx a hoax.
Steve Patton, who works for Universal Nutrition Supplements, is a good friend of mine. Steve and I talk a lot about nutrition and Vince and bodybuilding. In the course of one conversation Dr. Scott Connelly's name came up. (Connelly supposedly invented MET-Rx). I asked Steve, "Where is the miracle in MET-Rx?" He replied, as I have always said, the miracle is in the marketing. It's a hell of a marketing plan.
Bodybuilding today is totally controlled by the magazines.
One magazine that seems to be in charge is Muscle Media. A lot of people read it, and they say, "Well, if Bill Phillips says it, it must be true. Bill Phillips says liver tablets are no good." Let me tell you something about Bill Phillips and liver. He panned liver, said it was not good. It's old time bodybuilding, he said. He wouldn't take it because it traps toxins in the body, and that's got to be terrible.
The liver probably has a thousand functions. It manufactures hormones, it filters, it converts amino acids to protein, it transfers nutrients. I could go on and on. It contains P450, which happens to detoxify drugs and a thousand bad substances in your body. Liver is a unique food, and that's why Vince turned me onto it. Liver used to be the staple of bodybuilding, and now some guy says its no good and nobody uses it. Liver is a phenomenal food. When an animal can get any food of its choice, organ meat is what it goes for first. It an animal gets an egg, it eats the whole egg. It doesn't just eat the white and throw the yolk away.
Phillips promotes creatine, and creatine is a great product if you don't abuse it. But remember, the reason Vince advocated a lot of liver, a lot of glands, and a lot of meat is that they contain creatine. That's why when you took liver tablets; you got a tremendous amount of energy. Plus the fact that liver contains cytochrome C, which is an iron-bonding amino acid that draws oxygen into the bloodstream. The p450 in the liver is s tremendous antioxidant and detoxifier, probably the most powerful known. Dr. P.H. Ersoff at the University of Michigan proved that in the early 1950's. See why liver and glands and meat are so important? Because they're hormone-precursing nutrients. (Just ask the Indians).
Mr. Phillips implies his EAS products are "new-way" bodybuilding. Well, I've looked at a lot of his products and some of them are good, but, as Gironda proved, you have to have al least a thousand milligrams of chelated or ionized calcium every day, plus high amounts of macrominerals and trace minerals. Senate bill number 264 in 1936 told the American people that our soil was lacking 22 minerals then. Now 64 years later, the deficiency is over 40 minerals. Some people say 45. That's why Vince recommended Celtic sea salt and liquid minerals - so that you could get all your minerals. Your minerals and trace minerals are hormone precursors. When you stimulate hormones, you create muscle tissue. B Complex is indispensable. I don't see any good, solid quantities or high potencies of B complex in any EAS products.
Then there's the matter of synthetic hormones on the market these days - androstenedione and a couple of others. Vince always said that if you're very well nourished, you can manufacture your own hormones into your 50's, 60's, 70's 80's and 90's. My grandfather, who lived to be almost 98, was sexed into his 80's! My grandmother, who lived to be 101, had her last baby at 54. They had tremendously high hormone levels because they at all natural foods. Vince was dead set against synthetic hormones of any kind because when bodybuilders take synthetic hormones, their own hormone production ceases. Testicles shrivel up to nothing, and a lot of men have to take synthetic hormones for the rest of their lives. So don't mess around with andro and all that garbage. Oh sure, it makes everybody a lot of money, but you can do it naturally folks. Vince Gironda always advocated the natural way, not the cheater's way.
Drug users, as Vince always said, are nothing but cheaters.
In a lot of protein powders that Bill Phillips and the others make, I see 50 or 45 grams of protein, and I think: "Oh my God! You can't digest all that protein unless you take extra amounts of protylitic enzymes and hydrochloric acid." If you're a man, 30 to 35 grams is all you can digest at a meal. For a woman, it's 25. Undigested protein is converted to sugar. It sounds good, but it's just a game of one upmanship between companies. One company says, "We have 25 grams of protein." The next one says, "Well, we have 35." And so on and so on. It's just a marketing ploy.
I spoke with Mr. Phillips about eight or nine years ago and asked him why there isn't any fat in his protein. He replied, "Oh, you can't have any fat." See, he was on the anti-fat bandwagon, proving he didn't know you'll die without natural fats. Americans have been on a high-carbohydrate, zero-fat diet for the last 40 or 50 years, and we're getting fatter and sicker. Don't believe anything but the facts. Americans are the fattest people in the world, and we're also the sickest people in the world.
Where there's money there is the pursuit of money, and people will do anything to make it. I'm not much of a Bible-pounder, but in the Bible, Jesus says, "Beware of the person who wears the clock of respectability," and "The Love of money is the root of all evil."
Very few people under the age of 50 will ever believe or listen to Vince's methods simply because of the maturity factor. Young people are easily swayed. I recall three friends I met when I owned the Powerhouse Gym - Tom Patton, who's won a few titles and is a personal trainer, Dan Martin, who' s a personal trainer, and Little John Pechinino. They all have excellent physiques. Many years ago, when I first met them, they thought I was a nice guy, but oh those silly methods! That was when they were in their teens and 20's. I take my hat off to each one of them. They didn't agree with me, and that was fine, but they never really disagreed. Now, ten years later, Tom uses Vince's training and nutritional methods exclusively. So do Dan and John. They all ask me, "Ron, why didn't you make me listen to you 15 years ago?" Well as I said, it's all education, wisdom and experience.
If the lightbulb of life doesn't go on by the time someone is 35 years old, it'll never really go on. He's going to be wallowing in his ignorance until the day he dies.
I'm currently training a young man named Tony Oglesby at the Powerhouse, and I'm certifying him in Vince's methods. When Tony first came to me two years ago he was a little bigger, but had absolutely no shape, no definition, no symmetry. He called himself "hardcore," whatever that means. Now, two years later, Tony's about 10 or 15 percent smaller, but with phenomenal shape. I wish you could see this kid! He's never entered a contest, but he will. Right before he does, I'm going to put him on Vince's Six Week Bulk course, and then after that, his definition course. I haven't seen the competition yet, but Tony does not take steroids, never did, and won't. He's going to blow everybody away. I guarantee that right now. Whenever anyone went to Vince and said he wanted to be Mr. America, Mr. California, Mr. Olympia, or Mr. Whatever, Vince would always reply, as he did to Larry Scott, "You do exactly what I tell you to do, and you will be a title winner.
The only crime Vince Gironda ever committed was being out of style and being 50 years ahead of his time. He stood virtually alone because he didn't pursue the big bucks and he didn't choose to lie. This quality, I'm sure you'll agree, is not only admirable and honest, but also to be respected. The truth is a very powerful weapon. It was one of Vince's virtues. This weapon, the truth, was really the only weapon he had against the steroid users and the entrepreneurs. I hope you get my point.
He always prodded people to think. I know he made me think. He gave me a compliment one time. He said, "You must have a high IQ because you're always searching, always prodding, always asking questions." Vince's own IQ was near genius level. It's just too bad that people out there who are making millions of dollars selling B.S. are not that intelligent. The only mental capacity they have is to make money at all costs. I'm going to do my best to make Vince Gironda a symbol of all that is good, decent and honest in bodybuilding. I will do my best not to let his name, his methods and his principles fade away without a fight.
I recently spoke with Vince's widow, Madelaine, and she has given me the exclusive rights to distribute his courses. In the coming months, I hope you'll see some ads I the magazines stating that Vince's courses are available again. My objective is to keep Vince Gironda's name alive and make sure his knowledge, philosophy and goodwill toward bodybuilding will live on. I hope you'll understand that I'm doing this because Vince was my teacher and mentor. I truly loved the man! If you read his courses, you'll understand how brilliant he was. You cannot fail to benefit from them.
If the courses are a success, I'm going to make three videos that will explain Vince's philosophy, his nutritional principles, and his training methods. Some of the knowledge in these courses will be mine because there was nobody to carry on the torch so I did a lot of experimenting. Vince commented on many, many projects I showed him, like a colon-cleansing kit I developed. Vince always stressed keeping the colon clean. Hippocrates also said that a healthy colon is essential. I'm going to offer to teach anyone who wants to come to Detroit all of Vince's nutritional principles and certify anyone in his principles and theories. If you see something on the video you don't understand, I will be glad to advise you, or you can call me at any time. My office number is 313-372-1807.
I am going to attempt to erect a historic marker on Ventura Boulevard to pay tribute to Vince Gironda, the father of modern bodybuilding - the guru, as he is often called. If anyone would like to send in donations, they will be greatly appreciated. I also plan to use the money from the sale of the courses for this project so a lot depends on how sales go. My address is NSP Research Nutrition, c/o/ Ron Kosloff, 15255 E. Seven Mile, Detroit, MR 48205.
In writing this article about Vince Gironda, I don't want to imply that he was perfect.
To a lot of people he had his faults, but then don't we all? You're never going to meet a perfect person, ever. Yes, he had his faults, but he sure had his positives. He knew what he was talking about as far as bodybuilding goes. One of his faults, he admitted, was that he had a battle with the grape in liquid form. This happened after the death of his first wife. But no matter. Nobody is perfect. I truly felt deeply for this man. I became very emotional while writing this article. It's a tribute to Vince, a tribute to his greatness. Everything I have written comes from my heart. I wasn't at Vince's funeral, but If I had, this would have been my eulogy to him.
When I walk into a gym for a workout, I instinctively think of Vince, for that is the profound effect he had on me. Students I have trained relate the same feeling to me as if he were watching them. I always ask my students to promise me they will tell people it was the guru's methods that gave them their physique, so that his methods will live on.
My advice to young bodybuilders is to remember the old German proverb, "Ve git too soon oldt und too late schmart." Almost to a T my students who make progress in a short amount of time say they realize that they had wasted one, two, three or four years on worthless training. Don't do that yourself. Listen to Vince and give him a chance.
In my life, I've met very few people who didn't speak with a forked tongue, as the Indians used to say of the white man. There are only two reasons in life why people lie. One is for personal gain, and the other is to make money. Got it? There are no other reasons. There are people who give and take in the bodybuilding game, so you'd better know who they are. Vince gave to bodybuilding his whole life and took nothing. He became very angry when talking to the phonies in the game, like the phony drug users who are all around us. Of course, I totally agreed with him on that subject. Most people just follow the crowd in every phase of their life, but if you are perceptive, you have to realize that all of us profit from visionary people like Vince. I put his contribution in fitness and in bodybuilding in the same category as Thomas Jefferson, Henry Ford, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Hippocrates, etc. He never was a profiteer like some people in this game. Again, you know exactly who they are. He was, as Bob Seger said, like a rock. He never wavered as he took vicious and monumental abuse for his different views - just like the famous men mentioned above. Even I, as a proponent of his methods, have received abuse. Years ago people at the gym used to laugh at me behind my back, but how times have changed!
Those who once laughed at me are now coming to me for advice.
Vince's most glaring shortcoming was that he didn't have money to promote and market his theories. If he had, oh my goodness, what a revelation that would have been! I have a picture in my office of Vince at age 46, when he had attained the best shape of his life. His research just kept progressing and getting better. He was only 5' 8" tall but to me he was 8' 5". His size and the fact that he didn't possess a genetically gifted physique and structure made him become a scientist and sculptor of his body. He did this better than anybody because he had to. Then he passed his knowledge on to his students. He would be very proud to know that people call me today concerning his methods, as I observed that the great majority of them are very intelligent, and Vince loved intelligent people.
I feel very fortunate that on my trek through life, I've had great, honest, fair and knowledgeable people teach me lessons of life. Vince was one of the best. He has created a cult of people throughout the United States and the world who hold him in the highest esteem. My heart is heavy because he truly had nothing to live for after he closed his gym. I can no longer go to L.A. and work out and learn from him. As Dr. John said, he was in the right place but it must have been at the wrong time. I know that there are thousands of people who hate the fact he's passed and won't be around any longer, but then again maybe he will!
I truly respected and loved this guy. I will miss him very much. Goodbye to the greatest trainer of all!
I dedicate this article to Vince's widow Madelaine, his son Guy, my friends Ray Raridon, Chris Arigona, Steve Patton, John Balik and Gene Mozee, all the old members of Vince's Gym, his fans and students, my students, all the people who have called me, and especially to my friend Bob Kennedy of Muscle Mag International, for including this article in his fine publication. Thank you so much!
Note: Vince passed away in 1997. If you want to learn more about Vince and his unique training methods, I recommend all of his training courses and his full-length book, "Unleashing the Wild Physique." You can purchase these hard-to-find collector's items at very reasonable prices from Ron Kosloff, a long time friend and student of Vince's. Ron has the exclusive rights to Vince's courses and you can reach him in Michigan at (313) 372-1807