Many people including myself, consider Vince Gironda as a genius, and rightly so. His training methods and diets, tips and tricks seem to boggle our minds. Whenever I read his books, I hang on every word he says, re-analysing what he says again and again. The Iron Guru was and still is one of the greatest trainers of all time. However, many people do not understand the origins of the Iron Guru, and how he came to obtain all his bodybuilding knowledge. Don Howorth, and others put it perfectly. To paraphrase Don Howorth:
Vince’s Gym was the greatest gym in the world, because it was an agglomeration of great bodybuilding minds. It was a melting pot of experimentation.Don Howorth
This statement alone serves to underline a very important fact. Vince Gironda did not come up with all the techniques, methods and diets he would later promote and preach.
He was influenced by many of the Silver Era and Golden Era greats, and through experimentation, he realized what worked, and what didn’t.
After Vince began bodybuilding in the early 1940s, he met the Easton brothers and joined their gym, making excellent and rapid gains. He soon became and instructor at Easton Gym, and began absorbing much of the Silver Era techniques from the champions at the time. It is no wonder that when we read The Wild Physique, or any other publication from Vince Gironda, we are constantly reminded of the Silver Era and Golden Era greats that contributed to Vince Girondas principles and methods of bodybuilding.
Many of the exercises he discusses pay tribute to these legends.
- The Steve Reeves Dumbbell Row
- The Scott Curl
- The Delinger Squat
- The Steve Reeves Toe Press
- The Don Howorth Heel Raise
- The Zottman Curl
- The Scott Curl
Vince Gironda and Steve Reeves
If you didn’t know, Vince Gironda was a massive fan of Steve Reeves. If you asked Vince what his opinion of Steve Reeves was, well here is your answer:
“Michelangelo’s concept of the perfectly formed man!” – ‘Vince Gironda
Vince admired Steve Reeves greatly, and therefore studied his methods.
Besides preaching the benefits of using some of the exercises that Steve Reeves propagated, such as The Steve Reeves Dumbbell Row for the development of the back and The Steve Reeves Toe Press for the development of the calves, Steve reeves used a very particular advanced style of training that was later adopted and tweaked by Vince Gironda.
Steve Reeves’ 10 x 12
In preparation for the 1950 Mr Universe, Steve Reeves claims that he used a very similar program to what Vince would later famously call the 10 x 10. Reeves’ version was the 10 x 12, or 10 sets of 12 repetitions. Like Vince, he would recommend that only one exercise per body part be selected, and that each exercise should be performed with a weight that allows you to perform 10 sets of 12 repetitions. Steve Reeves, being the champion that he was, would perform his version of the 10 x 12 as a full body routine! I know…WOW!! I thought was Vince’s 10 x 10 routine was tough! At least Vince split the 10 x 10 into upper body and lower body splits! Reeves claims to have put on 19 pounds of muscle with such a routine in one month using this routine! Vince similarly claimed that using the 10 x 10 allowed the bodybuilder to stimulate an incredible amount of hypertrophy, due to the sheer volume of work being performed.
This example serves to highlight that Vince Gironda, who propagated routines such as the 10 x 10, were most likely developed back in the Silver Era when he was just learning, when the likes of Steve Reeves, graced the Mr Universe and Mr America Stages.
Vince simply absorbed what was useful, tweaked it, and improved on it. It is therefore likely, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, that Vince was not the inventor of such routines, but simply propagated what worked.
Reg Park and the 5 x 5
This may come as a shock to many of you, but Vince also propagated the 5 x 5 routine which was made famous by Reg “The Leg” Park. Don’t believe me? Open up a copy of The Vince Gironda Workout Bulletin and on page 3 you will find that in the beginners course, Vince Gironda states the following:
Beginners should start off with 3 sets of 8 reps. After the first month they should graduate to 5 sets of 5 reps. The third month, 6 sets of 6 reps. This course should be retained for at least 3 months before trying the advanced 8 sets of 8 reps.Vince Gironda
This again highlights the point I made earlier. The question of course remains as to whether he adopted the 5 x 5 routine from Reg Park, or he may have even learnt it around the same time as Reg Park. My own study of Reg Park’s methods reveals that after his first visit to the United States, he had a tour training with many of the greats on the West and East Coast, and learnt much from them.
He adopted many techniques and principles which may have helped him develop many of his bodybuilding principles. Further, I have had many conversations with Reg Park’s son, Jon Jon Park, who mentioned that Reg Park may have not even developed this routine, and it may have been developed by Mark Berry.
Whether Vince Gironda did in fact adopt the 5 x 5 from Reg Park or not is irrelevant. He propagated this style of training, and its not surprise that he later began promoting a similar routine, namely the 6 x 6 routine which he also became famous for.
Vince Gironda, although considered by many as “The Grandmaster of Bodybuilding”, was actually a very intelligent student of the Iron Game, and he understood what worked and disregarded what didn’t.
Having learnt from the greats and applied the knowledge he inherited for some many years, it is no wonder that he is still revered today and still affectionately called, “The Iron Guru”.