|FAQ #1: Why does Vince train so fast? | Rest
between sets | What is 8x8? | Should I start with 8x8? | Do I do just one exercise for an
8x8 (or 6x6 or 10x10) program?
By Doug Schneider
Why does Vince
train so fast?
The most confusing thing to many people who don't yet
understand Gironda's principles is understanding why Vince advocated training so fast.
After all, most people in the gym just think they have to lift as much weight as possible
to a grow big muscles. A succinct explanation can be found in an article Vince called
"Developing Muscle": "...to acquire larger muscles, you must increase the
intensity of work done within a given time. This means minimum rest between sets. (Push
yourself.) I feel workouts should be timed, and constantly strive to shorten the time it
takes to get through your routine. (This is a form of Progressive Resistance.) It does not
matter how much work you do. What counts is how fast you do it. This is known as the
'overload principle.' The overload principle explains why sprinters have larger leg
development than long-distance runners. It is more work to run a mile than 100 yards, but
the sprinter is doing more work per second."
Rest between sets
Vince advocated resting as little as 10-15 seconds between
sets, and even recommended working to such short rest periods that the hands never leave
the weight. However, that doesn't mean that everyone should do this right right from the
start. As Vince, and now Ron Kosloff, stressed, these are goals to be worked towards. As
Ron keeps reminding me, if you put a guy who has never trained on an 8x8 program with
10-15 seconds of rest between sets, you might give him a heart attack. Instead, you have
to work toward this goal. Perhaps at the beginning 30-40 seconds will be neccessary, and
then worked down from there. As Vince stated in "Developing Muscle,"
"...shortening the rest interval between sets is a form of Progressive
What is 8x8?
The 8x8 method of training was one of Vince's favorites --
something he called an "honest workout." The 8x8 method of training involves
picking one exercise per bodypart, and by using the same weight for every set completing 8
sets of 8 reps with minimal rest between sets (explained above in "Rest between
sets"). The 6x6 and 10x10 set-and-rep schemes are done the same way -- there's
just less sets and reps in 6x6, and more in 10x10.
Should I start with 8x8?
Likely not, although most people don't listen to this piece
of advice and jump right into it without even thinking. It comes from the mentality that
we're brought up with that goes something like: the more you work the more you earn. While
that may work for making money, it doesn't work in the gym. Do you see anyone doing 20x20,
or even thinking about doing it?
A good primer for this type of training is 6x6, which most
people find easier to complete both mentally and physically. Six reps isn't that much, and
six sets isn't that much to wrap your head and body around either. It's a good way to get
a handle on picking the correct type of weight and learning to minimize the rest between
sets in order to progress.
Do I do just one exercise for an 8x8 (or 6x6 or
10x10) program ?
Yes, but unfortunately due to some articles -- including a
section in Vince's own book The Wild Physique that described the pre-Olympia
training of his pupil Mohammed Makkawy -- many people think that you do more.
Some people can handle more than one exercise per
bodypart, doing each exercise for 8x8. Mohammed Makkaway was one of them -- a genetic
super who did it for short periods of time just before the Mr. Olympia. Most people,
however, cannot, and will quickly overtrain. Most should stick to just one exercise, do it
correctlyy, and focus on minimizing the rest period between sets. Remember, working more
hours may earn you more money on the job, but the extra exercises and sets in the gym
won't necessarily build you more muscle.