Vince Gironda Part 1: The Man And His Philosophies

Maik Wiedenbach
Written By: Maik Wiedenbach
October 19th, 2012
Updated: March 13th, 2024
Categories: Articles Training
31.5K Reads
Man doing a pull up in the gym
An inside look at one of the greatest fitness trainers of all time, Vince Gironda. Feature includes an analysis of his 8 major lifting philosophies.

This article is the first part of a three part series about one the most influential people the beloved iron game has ever seen, and a man who also happens to be a coach I look up to: Vince Gironda. Vince who you may ask? Let me just put this out there:

Vince Gironda was the Bill Gates/Steve Jobs of bodybuilding.

In other words a true visionary. He was the first trainer to Hollywood's elite, people such as Clint Eastwood and Cher. Vince Gironda even trained Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger and so on... He also took the concept of getting ripped to a whole new level, coming up with low-carb eating, carb loading, the use of liver tablets, etc.

Regarding Vince's low carb approach to dieting, he often prescribed a whole eggs and lean meats in combination with some vegetables (pretty much a Paleo diet). Interestingly enough, he only proposed 3 meals a day and bridged the time in between with amino acid and liver tabs. There was only one high-carb meal every 4 days. Sound familiar? So this was more or less an intermittent fasting approach, which has become popular today.

Vince Gironda also had his own ideas when it came to the squat, flat bench and sit ups. These topics will be covered in part 2 of this series.

Who Was Vince Gironda and What Made Him Special?​

Vince came from a very humble beginning in Brooklyn, NY. He moved to California when he has seven years old because his father took a job as a stunt man in the original Ben Hur movies. So, one can assume that a certain physicality was a given in the Gironda family.

Vince started out playing all kinds of sports. He was especially fond of horse back riding, gymnastics and the like. At 22, he took up weight lifting at a local YMCA. From there Vince Gironda became a trainer, and later an author that would create some of the most important principles in the fitness world.

Vince's Gym was the Mecca for bodybuilding long before there was Gold's Gym. He constantly churned out top-notch physiques, including Mr. Olympia Larry Scott.

To put it mildly, Vince was not an easy guy to get along with. He was known to kick members out of the gym when they didn't work hard enough or performed sit-ups. (We'll get to Vince's hatred of that particular piece ab exercise in a later part)

Those poor souls would get a cash refund and that was that. Some of his contemporaries described him as erratic, impossible and rude. All this is most likely true but he had is reasons for his behavior (and the success to back it up). His methods were often ridiculed, even he never claimed to have found the absolute truth and always stated that his principles should be challenged.

8 Important Gironda Bodybuilding Principles​

I want to elaborate on seven of some of the most important principles Vince Gironda formulated.

Training is a Privilege

Vince Gironda strongly believed that training is a privilege, not a chore. If you do not have the desire to be a great bodybuilder do not waste your (and his) time. Too many people see training as something that needs to be done, like home work. The truth is, this approach will get your nowhere fast. 

Build Enthusiasm Before Going to the Gym

Build up your enthusiasm before getting to the gym. If you just go through the motions, you will achieve nothing.

Cycle Your Intensity

Cycle your intensity. Only use as much energy (but not more) as needed to grow. Use your mind to control your energy output.

This is an important point which has gotten pushed aside in our over-stimulated, pre-workout drink laden society. You simply can not train with 100% intensity at all times. This doesn't mean you should be slacking, but be smart about your energy expenditure.

Do Your Routine

Bodybuilding is not about moving weights from A to B, instead work on building up a sufficient nerve-muscle connection. Vince was never a slave to a certain routine, but would experiment with different exercises, sets and rep number in order to find out what worked for a particular student. You are you, which is why you must do your routine, not someone else's.

Bigger is not Better

Bigger is not better, better is better. Vince also dismissed the then common notion of bulking for the sake of getting bigger as nonsense, as he believed it only led to fat gain. He was very much concerned with creating a physique as opposed to just heaping on mass (where has that idea gone?).

I think the appropriate term for Vince would be "Physique Architect." He was very much concerned with a v-tapered and symmetrical physique. Vince Gironda was actually punished at a contest and given a lower placing for appearing too "ripped" and too lean. (Those judges later became NFL replacement refs.)

Build Your Physique

The sport is about building your physique, not emulating somebody else. Vince was known to create physiques with the material they were given as opposed to simply putting muscle on someone's frame.

If you have narrow clavicles, you will never be as broad as Arnold. Sorry to say it. You need to look at your frame/structure and concentrate on building the most perfect physique YOU can have. Remember, it is called bodybuilding, not muscle building or arm building.

Bodybuilding is 85% Nutrition

Bodybuilding is 85% nutrition, you simply can't out-train a poor diet. Enough said.

Get Sleep and Relax

Get as much rest outside the gym as possible. This includes sleep but also relaxation during the day. I highly recommend disconnecting from all electronics two hours before going to bed. Your sleep quality will be a lot higher.

A whole day away from electronics on the weekend is even better. Yes, that includes Facebook. If you schedule allows for it, take a 30 minute nap in the afternoon. Vince called this the muscle sleep.


In many ways I feel that Vince Gironda was well ahead of his time. In today's world he would have been a multimillionaire several times over. Nevertheless, his teachings are timeless.

In part 2 we will deal with his training techniques.

Maik Wiedenbach
Posted on: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 21:00

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 03:32

I feel like Vince Gironda in another life lol...although I'm hardly his build at this point. Indeed, it is about knowing and understanding your body. That has to be the best advice I've ever heard.

Many people have cherry-picked his advisements (possibly where I have encountered these ideas before)...

In the end, the biggest piece of advice is to just relax. It is essential to understand if you're trying to compete with Ronny Coleman or not. If you are, then do what you do... If you are not, then just get in the best shape for your body and condition. It'll last a lot longer and your fitness will remain...

Great article...