|Remembering the Guru: Vince Gironda
The Greatest Trainer That Ever Lived
By Ron Kosloff N/C of NSP Research Nutrition
(This article was originally published in MuscleMag -- Ron Kosloff was generous
enough to allow us to publish it here.)
...continued from Part
Early on in my association with this young fellow Im
training, he observed that we werent 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 youll
be surprised how fast you get the pump, which is what youre looking for. Remember,
when youre 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,
thats okay. Repeat Mondays workout on Thursday and Tuesdays workout on
Friday. Then you have to rest because this is when HGH is released by your pituitary and
youll gain muscular size.
I said, "Im going to show you how not to work
out. Im not criticizing anybody, but this is how most people train." I pointed
to a fellow in the gym, a local bodybuilding hero whod won a few contests and was a
steroid user. "Hes probably here six days per week," I explained,
"but when he comes in he doesnt 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 seven or eight reps, and then sat there for 10 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 hed finished his chest, he did his delts the same way. He read the
bulletin board, did about four 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 youre a personal trainer and (pointing to another fellow
in the gym who was doing personal training) hes certified?" So I said,
"Certified by whom? I know that guys methods. Hell tell you to eat gobs
and gobs of complex carbohydrates. Look at the people he trains. Are they making any
progress? No. Youre going to get into this gym four times a week and youre
going to work out Monday a half-hour, Tuesday a half-hour, Thursday a half-hour, Friday a
half-hour, and then youre 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 dont
feel like they have got their moneys worth. They dont understand the overload
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 doesnt matter. How fast you do it is what counts. Thats 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 thats
the method Vince adapted. Thats 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 dont understand that. They dont understand nutrition. They dont
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, its 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. Its mostly an
exercise for the front delts. When you bring the bar down to the lower pec line,
youre working your delts. If you arch your back to hoist the weight up, youre
using the teres major. If you put your thumb around the bar, youre using your
triceps and forearms. Youre working everything but your chest.
Vince preached isolation exercises. He really scoffed at
personal trainers because they didnt know much. Somebody just made five hundred
dollars to give them a phony certification, and they still didnt know what they were
doing. They dont know much about kinesiology. They dont know much about how a
muscle works, and if you dont know how a muscle works, how can you work a muscle?
Like Vince, I teach nutrition first and then exercise. I dont 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 lifes lessons. Unfortunately, big advertising and marketing are
America. Doesnt make any difference what you have as long as you market it
correctly. Ive 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
wasnt much higher than your average pair of socks!
Vince Gironda didnt really get along with Joe Weider.
They were adversaries and their training philosophies were totally different. There was no
comparison between Vinces method and the Weider method, but Weider didnt care.
To him Vince was just a gym owner and seller of his nutritional supplements and courses.
Its a sad, sad fact that when Vince Died, Madelaine, his wife, told me that he was
overdrawn about $160 on his bank account. Vince pretty much died a pauper. Im 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 overtraining.
He had read this in a medical journal, but his critics constantly attacked his use of this
word, saying theyd 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 Phillips, and, of course, I had to answer him honestly.
At first, I didnt intend to mention Bill Phillips and Muscle Media because
they dont have much to do with Vince, but Ive 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 years ago, and it mad me angry and upset, so I think
Ill discuss it if you dont mind.
I feel as if Phillips is the new Joe Weider. Thats
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 didnt 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 Hitlers 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."
Thats 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, youre 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. Hes done some very, very slick marketing that Im 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 Connellys 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.
Its 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. Its old-time bodybuilding, he said. He
wouldnt take it because it traps toxins in the body, and thats got to be
The liver probably has a thousand functions. It
manufactures hormones, it filters, it converts amino acids to protein, it transfers
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 thats 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 doesnt just eat the white and throw the yolk away.
Phillips promotes creatine, and creatine is a great product
if you dont 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. Thats 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
1950s. See why liver and glands and meat are so important? Because theyre
hormone-precursing nutrients. (Just ask the Indians).
Mr. Phillips implies his EAS products are
"new-way" bodybuilding. Well, Ive 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. Thats 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 dont see any good, solid quantities or high potencies of B Complex
in any EAS products.
Then theres the matter of synthetic hormones on the
market these days androstenedione and a couple of others. Vince always said that if
youre very well nourished, you can manufacture your own hormones into your 50s, 60s,
70s, 80s and 90s. My grandfather, who lived to be almost 98, was sexed into his 80s! My
grandmother, who lived to be 101, had her last baby at 54. They had tremendously high
hormone levels because they ate 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 dont 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 cheaters 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 cant
digest all that protein unless you take extra amounts of protylitic enzymes and
hydrochloric acid." If youre a man, 30 to 35 grams is all you can digest at a
meal. For a woman, its 25. Undigested protein is converted to sugar. It sounds good,
but its 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. Its just a marketing ploy.
I spoke with Mr. Phillips about eight or nine years ago and
asked him why there isnt any fat in his protein. He replied, "Oh, you
cant have any fat." See, he was on the anti-fat bandwagon, proving he
didnt know youll die without natural fats. Americans have been on a
high-carbohydrate, zero-fat diet for the last 40 or 50 years, and were getting
fatter and sicker. Dont believe anything but the facts. Americans are the fattest
people in the world, and were also the sickest people in the world.
Where theres money there is the pursuit of money, and
people will do anything to make it. Im 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 Vinces 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, whos 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 20s. I take my hat off to each one of them.
They didnt agree with me, and that was fine, but they never really disagreed. Now,
10 years later, Tom uses Vinces training and nutritional methods exclusively. So do
Dan and John. They all ask me, "Ron, why didnt you make me listen to you 15
years ago?" Well as I said, its all education, wisdom and experience. If the
lightbulb of life doesnt go on by the time someone is 35 years old, itll never
really go on. Hes going to be wallowing in his ignorance until the day he dies.
Im currently training a young man named Tony Oglesby
at the Powerhouse, and Im certifying him in Vinces 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, Tonys about 10 or 15% smaller, but with phenomenal shape. I wish
you could see this kid! Hes never entered a contest, but he will. Right before he
does, Im going to put him on Vinces "Six-Week Bulk Course," and then
after that, his definition course. I havent seen the competition yet, but Tony does
not take steroids, never did, and wont. Hes 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
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
didnt pursue the big bucks and he didnt choose to lie. This quality, Im
sure youll agree, is not only admirable and honest, but also to be respected. The
truth is a very powerful weapon. It was one of Vinces 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
youre always searching, always prodding, always asking questions." Vinces
own IQ was near genius level. Its 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. Im 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 Vinces widow, Madelaine, and
she has given me the exclusive rights to distribute his courses. In the coming months, I
hope youll see some ads I the magazines stating that Vinces courses are
available again. My objective is to keep Vince Girondas name alive and make sure his
knowledge, philosophy and goodwill toward bodybuilding will live on. I hope youll
understand that Im doing this because Vince was my teacher and mentor. I truly loved
the man! If you read his courses, youll understand how brilliant he was. You cannot
fail to benefit from them.
If the courses are a success, Im going to make three
videos that will explain Vinces 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. Im
going to offer to teach anyone who wants to come to Detroit all of Vinces
nutritional principles and certify anyone in his principles and theories. If you see
something on the video you dont 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, I dont want to
imply that he was perfect. To a lot of people he had his faults, but then dont we
all? Youre 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. Its a
tribute to Vince, a tribute to his greatness. Everything I have written comes from my
heart. I wasnt at Vinces funeral, but If I had, this would have been my eulogy
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 gurus 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. Dont do
that yourself. Listen to Vince and give him a chance.
In my life, Ive met very few people who didnt
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 youd 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.
Vinces most glaring shortcoming was that he
didnt 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 didnt 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,
Ive 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 hes passed and
wont 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 Vinces widow Madelaine,
his son Guy, my friends Ray Raridon, Chris Arigona, Steve Patton, John Balik and Gene
Mozee, all the old members of Vinces Gym, his fans and students, my students, all
the people who have called me, and especially to my friend Bob Kennedy of MuscleMag
International, for including this article in his fine publication. Thank you so much!
Editors 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 collectors items at very reasonable prices from Ron Kosloff, a
long-time friend and student of Vinces. Ron has the exclusive rights to Vinces
courses and you can reach him in Michigan at (313) 372-1807.