This article was originally published in 1981. Vince Gironda passed away in 1997.
Several people have asked me why I have written articles concerning Vince Gironda. Some have inferred an interest conflict, as he handles Natural Source in his gym and I distribute his courses in the East. Well, he handled the products long before I became a distributor! He owes me nothing and vice versa!
I only see him once a year when I'm in L.A., and then just to say hello and have lunch. I do speak to him periodically when I order his courses. I will never forget that he helped me to make progress after I wasted two years on fruitless training methods.
I, as Vince, am a very analytical person, and I did as much research on him and his methods as was possible. He has given so much to bodybuilding but has been virtually ignored.
We all search for honesty in life and Vince is one of the most honest people I have ever met! This I immensely respect. It will take many words and examples, but I hope I can communicate with you and comprehensively explain the title, so please bear with me.
I felt the need to write my second article about Vince because I feel that all bodybuilders might listen and benefit from his teachings, and that his many critics would be understanding. Then, I hope both groups would have an open mind. Remember, 35 years of bodybuilding research is at your disposal, if you desire it!
It is still a fact that bodybuilders, gym owners, and so-called authorities either scoff at or just ignore Vince's methods, and for very definite reasons. It is paradoxical, for I have personally discovered that his harshest critics have read or understand little or none of his philosophies, and have never given them an honest evaluation.
I have observed that when someone has unorthodox views, he seemingly is always defending his views while being criticized for them. I can refer to Vince and myself, for he created his ideas and theories and I embrace them. Just being a proponent and exponent of his teachings has left me open to ridicule, arguments, and some friendly kidding.
Inevitably, I'm asked why I am not Mr. America if his methods are superior. Well, I always answer that I am no Mr. America in any sense of the word - not even close! I work out to maintain a decent physique, my health, and I am aware of my genetic limits. But, I interject, that what I have attained would never have been possible if I hadn't met Vince Gironda - period!
Where Vince is concerned, it is very true that he never capped a major title. Concepts of the ultimate physique have repeatedly changed over the years and men that won contests did so with the physique that was "in style" at that period.
When Vince competed, either you looked like John Grimek (bulky and smooth) or you lost - simple as that! Ironically, Vince always placed second or third and was branded "too defined," whatever that meant. If I have encountered these critics, then I have wondered about Vince himself, and the criticism he has taken for his unorthodox thinking.
Of course, this reminds me of the fact that anyone who thinks differently than the so-called establishment is always ridiculed. You can categorize people as being a conformist or a non-conformist, a leader or a follower, and secure or insecure.
Vince is fortunate that he is a non-conformist, a leader, and very secure. Coupled with the fact that he has an outstanding I.Q., it created the combination that has contributed immensely to the science of bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding As Science
The gifts that humans possess that are unique among animals are the ability to reason and think. These abilities create many things, both good and bad, and unfortunately most of us don't utilize these abilities enough. The people that do give us knowledge in the arts, sciences, engineering, medicine and bodybuilding.
Here is a tangible point in that most of us just don't realize what a scientific endeavor bodybuilding really is. A tremendous amount of mental and physical preparation must be anticipated, plus the nutritional and theoretical principles must be valid. Extensive planning is essential!
A good number of us are not aware that bodybuilding was born of weightlifting - a son, so to speak. But these two endeavors are as different as languages. Where the weightlifter is huge and powerful, the bodybuilder is symmetrical and defined.
The dawn of the modern physique appeared first around the late 1940s with the concept of a small waist, symmetry, non-drug size, and definition. It was Vince Gironda who applied the overload system, isolation, intensity, double breathing, palm grip, muscle confusion, kinesiology, sissy squats, no abdominal work, creating an illusion, creative posing, the neck press, and, finally, nutrition.
The divorce had been made, and the bodybuilder had his own identity. Unfortunately, old ways die slowly and most trainers still utilize the non-productive methods.
When I think of all the excellent bodybuilders that could profit immensely from Vince's principles, Mike Mentzer comes to mind. Now please, I know that Mike is a certified winner and a gentleman. I've met him twice at different shows and liked him very much, but anyone can make improvements.
Vince's Advice To Mike Mentzer
I am certain that if Vince were speaking to Mike personally, he would give him this constructive advice:
- Mike, you have a very large and overly developed gluteus maximus, minimus and hips (rear end) from doing excessive weightlifting squats.
- You have done excessive stomach work (sit-ups and leg raises) and it has increased the size of your waist. Relaxed and in repose it looks rather heavy, and an increase in waist width decreases optical shoulder width.
- As you were born with very narrow shoulders (as was Larry Scott), you should de-emphasize working your trapezius muscles, for as they become larger, again, you lose optical shoulder width. You should concentrate on deltoid mass and create the illusion of width that you need (as Larry Scott did).
His suggestions prove the genetic obvious that each and every one of us have natural flaws in our physiques and therefore we must accentuate the positives and hide the negatives. Vince called this creating an illusion.
This is exactly what makes Vince so outstanding, as he has thought of almost everything. He has never said that he was 100% correct in all aspects, and this is obvious in his new and revised courses. Even today, I think he is working with amino acids, for he, years ago, predicted they would someday replace protein for bodybuilders.
What bothers me most is that there are so many bodybuilders and trainers who utilize his methods, yet they give you the impression that it was their idea. Being an avid reader of most physique publications for the past few years, I have noticed several articles concerning different aspects of training.
Enable me to describe some of them that I have read. One article dealt with the fact that bodybuilding was certainly more than 80% nutrition and gave some very familiar-sounding nutritional tips.
Another said use muscle confusion for maximum gains; another spoke of intensity and the most amount of work in the least amount of time; one stated that isolation movements were supreme for best shape; then another suggested to eliminate stomach work when you're on a gaining routine, and, last but not least, some author said that you should use a carbohydrate overload every fourth day for maximum definition.
This is all well and good because facts were spoken, but not one author gave credit to Vince, as he has been advocating these methods since 1950. Why shouldn't he, for he invented them? The only authors that give credit to Vince are Don Ross and Tim Brolus.
A few years ago, I took my products and courses to a contest that featured a famous guest-poser. At intermission, he was signing autographs and answering questions. We were sitting next to each other, and a young fellow asked him what the best method of training was. He replied, "To work out fast, short and intense."
Another fellow asked if that wasn't what Vince Gironda advocated. He replied that he wasn't familiar with Vince's methods and then proceeded to change the subject. I couldn't believe what he had said, for earlier he was thumbing through Vince's courses.
Ask yourself how you would feel if you discovered, researched, or invented something and you received absolutely no credit whatsoever. I'm certain that it would be very discouraging and frustrating. Of course, the fact is that egos and jealousy run rampant among bodybuilders, but I'm certain that you are well aware of this!
Of course, this situation exists in life among countries, corporations, schools and churches, as well as both sexes. Think for a minute about yourself personally and someone at your company, at school, next door, and even in the gym, who is very popular, very good looking, exceptionally well-built, dated the best-looking girls, and to top it all off, was extremely intelligent.
At some time or another you had envious feelings and were probably just a little jealous. It happens to all of us and, really, it's just human nature!
This is one of the very problems that Vince has faced for years. We all have our peer groups, and Vince's was the one that emerged in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s with different approaches to physique training. There was Bob Hoffman, Jack LaLanne, Joe Weider, Dan Lurie, John Grimek, and lesser-known names.
Each and everyone thought his methods were authoritative. But the fact is that Vince surpassed them all in training innovations, techniques, theory, and nutrition. Even today, most of them still don't know what he is talking about!
As I have always said, the only crime Vince Gironda ever committed is being 1000 years ahead of his time, being simply too smart and knowing too much. Another disadvantage Vince encounters is that he owns a very small gym and sells his courses and memberships.
The Power Of Advertising
Now it should be quite obvious to everyone that the U.S.A.'s economy is built upon consumer purchasing, coupled with tremendous advertising to sell products. Some say this promotion is based upon a form of subtle brainwashing with every conceivable psychological tricks used to sell, including the old standby, sex!
Just ask any kid what he wants for a treat, and with no hesitation he'll say a candy bar or McDonald's, not vitamins or milk and egg protein! When Madison Avenue says we should use coffee, smoke cigarettes, consume Coca-Cola, or drink beer, we usually do. It is a mind-conditioning process. They routinely play with us and do our thinking for us - as in Howdy Doody!
Bodybuilding philosophy and thinking is, today, dominated by very slick publications whose sales of equipment, vitamins, and courses is in the millions, and their advertising budget is also! Some of these magazines have some control of physique contests and committees by sponsorship alone. The publications recruit and contract top bodybuilders to endorse their products and philosophies.
An old proverb states, "Whose bread you eat is whose song you sing!" Get the point? Many of the top stars have either trained at Vince's or practiced his methods, but you'll never know this, for there is a definite conflict of interests involved.
Vince Gironda has never paid any physique man a cent and has never had one under contract! It is obvious that these publications feel toward Vince as the medical profession feels about vitamins and minerals - an economic threat!
Now enter the impressionable mind of a young trainee who sees these physique stars in full-color ads implying that if you use this product or that course, you'll look like him, in a very short time. Usually his idol is next to or holding a half-nude young lady, to seal a lasting impression, and if he'll bomb, blast, bang, and blitz his brains out, he'll be a bona fide winner!
His idol also belongs to the magazine's research clinic, so it's got to be valid, and, after all, his idol wouldn't lie to him, would he? By the way, I have searched, and I have never been able to locate this research clinic because it just plain never existed.
So now what we have is a little guy like Vince competing against a million-dollar magazine promotion of bodybuilder philosophy. Guess who will win? No contest, to be sure.
So now the young trainee enters the gym and is ready to proceed with the task of becoming a champion. A trait of human beings is that we always seem to conform to the environment that we're exposed to, and this holds very true in the gym where we train.
In America, we're always taught that the harder you work, the greater your rewards, but this theory has no relation to increasing muscle size and definition. In the many number of gyms that I have been to, I have only seen a handful of people working out correctly.
One reason is that most people conform to the standard way of training or as all the other fellows in gym train. This is comprised of 20 to 30 sets of 5 to 8 exercises per bodypart, plenty of squats, enormous poundages, cheating, lengthy workouts, many sit-ups and leg raises, excessive chatter and talking, very little concentration because of the loud rock music, and very limited knowledge of nutrition.
Most trainees have little or no concept of how to train correctly, so therefore the result is failure! I know exactly what it is, for I have experienced it all! So, I'm encouraging the bodybuilder to think, reason, and explore all the methods, but at least give Vince a real chance to help you!
Getting To Know Vince
The inevitable question that I am asked is, "What is Vince like, personally?" Well, I will give you a short summary, because I have only observed him in the gym.
To begin with, and I've said this often, he is extremely outspoken - painfully so! He certainly wouldn't be ordained a Lutheran minister, and I'm positive that no public relations firm would hire him. His sardonic manner would give Don Rickles an inferiority complex.
He is definitely not concerned whether you like him or not, because he is the best at what he does, and he knows it! I heard him once say that unfortunately he was stuck with his personality. At times he can be so very nice that you would like to hug him, and at other times you'd like to choke him.
His sense of humor is monumental, and an infinite stream of jokes are cracked during the day. I've taken workouts when he wasn't present and the atmosphere was definitely lacking. He is an extremely interesting person and absolutely has charisma. Vince's pride is still very much in tact, for he keeps in constant shape, even to this day.
Comparing physiques, you'll find no one his age that can even come close. Today we have a Mr. Over 40 contest with so many outstanding men, but I wish they would stage a Mr. Over 60. It would be dull, of course, because Vince would be the only contestant and winner. The old guard that I spoke of earlier wouldn't dare compete.
One feeling that I have always had is that he is extremely sensitive and hurt because he has not been recognized and respected for his contributions! I'll take the optimistic view that there is still time remaining!
Let us all look to the future and explore the very legitimate possibility that in the next century the science of bodybuilding and nutrition will be taught in our schools and colleges as courses.
Required nutritional reading will be by Vince Gironda, Rheo Blair, Dr. Kurt Donsbach, Dr. Carlton Fredericks, and Adell Davis. Workout philosophy will be, I feel, by Vince Gironda. So hold on to all of Gironda's courses, for some day they will be valuable. Of course, at this time there is no established school or college that teaches bodybuilding, so we are all on our own to educate ourselves.
Until then, maybe I can recommend a place that I refer to as G.U. (Gironda University). If you're ever in North Hollywood, drive west on Venture Boulevard past Universal Studios until you come to 11262. There you'll find what you're searching for - knowledge!
Again, looking to the future, we might also see a bodybuilder's "Hall of Fame". Many of the champions we've known, Grimek, Reeves, Scott, Arnold, and Zane, will be featured, and I feel that the master of the teachers will finally be given his due - Vince Gironda.
So, as I have steadfastly implied for 16 years, whether you choose to accept it or not, that there is only one authority in bodybuilding today, and he is Vince Gironda. I just hope bodybuilders will see through all the B.S. of commercial publications where big dollars distort the facts; give Vince a chance, for he deserves the respect for his honesty, truthfulness and dedication to our sport!
Check out VinceGironda.com for more information.