by Mike Westerdal
Vince Gironda is one of bodybuilding’s pioneers. In fact many call him the father of bodybuilding. His roots go all the way back to the mid-1900s, when he opened his own gym in 1948, in North Hollywood, California. As a trainer and gym owner, Vince quickly developed a reputation as a trainer of champions, including the very first IFBB Mr. Olympia in 1965. From there, his fame grew and his gym began attracting some of the biggest names in bodybuilding, including Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane and even Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Vince became well known for being a trainer of champion bodybuilders and Hollywood celebrities, but his training concepts and philosophies generated a lot of controversy. Many of his ideas were considered to be unconventional by much of the bodybuilding community. Despite his ‘unorthodox’ viewpoints, a lot of people really believed in Vince and his theories about bodybuilding and nutrition. Let’s take a look at some of the most polarizing things Vince said, and you can decide for yourself if he was truly ahead of his time.
1. Vince was one of the earliest professionals to make a strong connection between nutrition and performance. In fact, he went even said that bodybuilding was ‘85% nutrition.’ Some of his nutrition ideas were very controversial—like reducing carb intake during a cutting phase. Or the fact that he was a big proponent of drinking raw, unpasteurized milk, which has generated a big debate over the last couple of years. Some bodybuilders swear by it, but governmental health regulators consider drinking raw milk a dangerous practice—so much so that it’s banned in a number of states.
2. He didn’t believe in the bench press for building the pecs. He said that it put too much emphasis on the front deltoids and not enough on the pectoral muscles. Yikes! Tell that your buddies at the gym and see what kind of reaction you get. Instead of the bench press, Vince favored what he called the ‘neck press,’ which is sort of like a bench press, but instead of lowering the bar to your chest, you lower it to your neck, using less weight and a wider grip.
3. To improve digestion, Vince believed that it was important to put your legs and feet up higher than your stomach after every meal.
4. Vince did not believe that you should listen to music when working out. He felt that it was too distracting to bodybuilders. For him, music was only good for doing aerobic exercises.
5. In sharp contrast to what most experts say, Vince believed that beginning bodybuilders should train six days a week—not the three to four days a week you see advocated today. He reasoned that beginners are so full of energy and enthusiasm, that six days a week was good for them. He ruffled a lot of feathers with this one.
6. A fierce advocate of all natural bodybuilding, Vince believed that bodybuilders should eat up to 36 raw, fertilized eggs every day. He said that the effects of this were equivalent to taking the steroid Dianabol. Can’t even imagine where you’d find raw, fertilized eggs these days.
7. Unless you were a woman or a guy without any ‘junk in the trunk’ Vince didn’t believe in regular back squats—a staple of most any bodybuilding routine. Instead, he favored sissy squats, front squats and his own modified squat.
8. This isn’t so controversial now since it’s pretty widely accepted but Vince was one of the very first bodybuilding professionals to deride the sit-up as a strategy for building the abs. Back when he first made his thoughts on the subject known, you can bet riled some top professionals of the day.
9. And speaking of abs, Vince believed that most guys wasted far too much time training their abs. According to him, spending too much time training the abs shocked the central nervous system, disrupting muscle growth in other areas of the body.
10. According to Vince, there is such as thing as too much protein. A lot of guys would disagree with this but Vince said that excessive protein intake results in the opposite effect of what you want to achieve by consuming lots of protein. Vince had this crazy idea that you should consume the amount of protein that is right for you, based on gender, age, fitness level, training routine and lifestyle. In his mind, it’s foolish to consume massive amounts of protein just because some other guy is doing it.
So there you have it, ten of Vince’s more controversial viewpoints. You can decide for yourself whether or not you think Vince just liked controversy or was way ahead of his time. Leave a comment below and let me know which points you agree with, disagree with or if you have any other favorite quotes or view points of Vince that you’d like to share.
If you’re interested in learning more from Vince check out the book Vince Gironda Legend & Myth.