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Part 4: The Original Contrarian Bodybuilder (Vince Gironda)

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By Brandon Cook

 “You don’t build a muscle until you ‘build’ the nerve pathway. What comes first? It starts INSIDE. The muscle is only a BADGE for something else. Look. You’re talkin’ to a guy that is not genetically superior; I’ve always been a hard-gainer. I’ve got every reason to be believed.” – Vince Gironda

Vince GirondaBeing a Contrarian Bodybuilder isn’t always easy and no one knows that more than Vince Gironda. If you didn’t recognize him right away, he is the man in the picture on the left.

Vince was a legendary bodybuilding icon. His training methods contrasted greatly with the accepted practices of that era and he was very controversial.

Vince is the Original Contrarian Bodybuilder!

Vince “Iron Guru” Gironda was perhaps at the pinnacle of fame in the “Golden Years” of bodybuilding, the 1960’s. During that time, Vince dominated the scene and Vince’s gym, was known as the Mecca of bodybuilding.

Not only champion bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane trained at Vince’s Gym, but movie stars were also regular visitors to seek Vince’s training advice. People like Eric Estrada, Clint Eastwood, Clint Walker and many others. Hollywood studios used Vince and his gym to shape up their stars.

Here’s what Arnold had to say about the Original Contrarian:

Arnold“When I first moved to California in 1968, I sometimes trained at Vince’s Gym in Studio City, owned by Vince Gironda. Vince was a bodybuilding pioneer with many radical theories about bodybuilding training, and he was always experimenting.”

Vince’s information was light years ahead of the science and he was way beyond his time.

The Essence of Bodybuilding

Here is an article by Vince Gironda speaking on the Essence of Bodybuilding as it was published in the May 1983 issue of Iron Man:

“I have stated numerous times that champions obviously possess something that others do not. Even though training partners do the same routine set for set, rep for rep, they do not obtain the benefits of the champions.

I have observed some champions train in a manner I do not approve, but they receive results that are phenomenal. What is it that they possess? Well, I will tell you, they are using mental suggestion (self-hypnosis).

When I first observed this, it puzzled me. The first time I noticed Walt Baptiste, former gym owner and magazine publisher from San Francisco (Body Moderne), touching his abdominals while backstage before going out to pose at several physique contests, he seemed to be saying something to his abdominals as he stroked them. He seemed to be sending a message into this body section, because I could actually see the abs sharpen up and grow more outlined than his normal condition. I later discovered that Walt was sending mental images to his subconscious, to produce this phenomenon.

I learned that you can actually produce the desired condition by picturing in your mind what you wish to manifest.

He also breathed deeply and regularly in through his nose and out through his pursed lips. As you know, this type of breathing is employed between sets prior to repeating the next set. At this time, the mechanism employed should be to picture in your mind a clear image of the muscle or area of the body you wish to develop, and hold the image throughout the performance of that set.

Vince Training

Walt promoted the first Mr. California Physique Contests, in which I placed second and third several times. He later gave up his gym and opened a chain of yoga studios in the San Francisco area.

The technique of mental suggestion is what all physical culture writers are trying to explain when they throw that nebulous term “concentration” at you. They seem to recognize that concentration is necessary, but do not know how to trigger the mechanism that produces the phenomenon. The subconscious believes any thought you perceive, and stores it. It accepts everything that is thought or spoken by you or another, if you accept it as truth. But it must be repeated again and again until the subconscious accepts it as fact. Then it will produce the condition pictured in your mind.

This procedure is what I maintain is used by the champions, whether or not they are aware of it. They are convinced of a successful outcome.

This awareness is more important that any steroid drug, any diet plan or supplement, or any exercise routine ever conceived. I have observed bodybuilders who take steroids and receive no benefits. They take unimaginable amounts of supplements and constantly try new routines, but are not getting results, and never will until they discover that what I have written here is the true essence of bodybuilding. For years I have been asked by my fans to write the secrets of the champions, and here you have it.”

— End of Iron Man Article —

Well here you have it indeed… The Essence of Bodybuilding… and I might add the secret to success in any area of your life. Does any of this sound familiar to you?!?!?!

I never knew Gironda recommended this until a new ebook called Vince Gironda: Legend and Myth was recently released about his life and training principles! I’m finding it fascinating and inspiring so far and I will tell you how you can get your hands on it in a moment.

First, I’d like to paraphrase and recap a few points that really jumped out to me in the “Iron Guru’s” article:

1.    The champions receive results that are phenomenal by using mental suggestion (self hypnosis.)

2.    You can produce the condition you desire by picturing in your mind what you wish to manifest.

3.    Have a clear image of the muscle or area of your body that you wish to develop and hold that image as you perform the exercises for that muscle.

4.    The subconscious believes any thought you perceive, stores it, and accepts it as truth.

5.    In order to produce the condition pictured in your mind, the thought and/or image must be repeated over and over until it is accepted as fact.

6.    This awareness is more important than any steroid, drug, diet plan, supplement or training routine ever conceived.

7.    You have asked for the secret of the champions… and here you have it.

Vince Gironda: The Legend & Myth

Vince GirondaIf you think what you’ve read so far is interesting, you should definitely consider getting this new book about the Original Contrarian, Vince Gironda. Over the next couple days I’m going to share some more of Vince’s groundbreaking ideas and training philosophy with you.

The ebook, Vince Gironda: Legend & Myth is being made available by Mike Westerdal of Critical Bench… you might remember him from a few guest posts on this blog about Lean Hybrid Muscle Training. Anyways, the book was actually written by a student and friend of the late Vince Gironda who is thoroughly convinced that his methods work. This is the most complete and comprehensive writing ever put together on Vince and his methods. I’m still going through my copy (it’s 334 info packed pages) and I am finding it really interesting.

Personally, I don’t agree with everything Vince says in regards to training, based on my own personal goals and objectives, but there are MANY things that he was doing that are dead on and that plain and simply work. Many of them I do apply to my own training like the mental suggestion techniques he outlined here, not doing sit-ups or bench presses, the benefits of front squats, and some of his nutrition strategies like eating whole eggs, moderate amounts of protein and healthy fats instead of excessive protein and low fat like many do!

I’m sure I’ll discover many more similarities as I continue reading the book. Vince was truly… beyond his time and had a huge impact on bodybuilding and physical culture!

Be sure to check it out >>>
Vince Gironda: Legend & Myth by Alan Palmieri

Book Cover


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