Vince Gironda – Was He Natural Or On Steroids?

Vince Gironda a.k.a. The Iron Guru has been considered for a long time one of the most controversial bodybuilding figures. He devoted his whole life to the sport of bodybuilding and was known for being against many of the mainstream training and dieting ideas. Gironda had a successful bodybuilding gym and for many years bodybuilding and movie superstars had the opportunity to improve their physiques under his guidance. At the same time Vince Gironda claimed that he is a drug free bodybuilder and was openly against steroids. Similar statements are highly attractive these days when people are bombarded with the images of fake natural bodybuilders. Questions is, was Gironda natural or was it all an illusion?

Vince Gironda – Trainer Of The Stars {don’t fuck with me attitude}

Vince Gironda was known for his 'if you don't like me, fuck you.' attitude.

Vince Gironda was known for his ‘if you don’t like me, fuck you.’ attitude.

When Arnold was sent by Joe Weider to train at Vince Gironda’s gym the ‘poor boy’ was welcomed by ego shattering comments.

According to the legend Arnold entered the gym of Vince Gironda and said something along those lines:

I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger from Austria and I’m Mr. So and So.

Gironda responded by saying: “You’re nothing but a fat you-know-what.”

According to his friends and co-workers, this was Gironda’s typical attitude towards many people and he was often hated for it. While similar actions could be is a sign of unique personality and firm character fighting against the status quo and the mainstream deceptions in our world, in Vince Gironda’s case it came with a good dose of bitterness and even envy. Despite his stubbornness Gironda’s gym was the place where many champions were built.

Vince took under his wing a bunch of popular bodybuilders. The most notable are the first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Howorth, Mohamed Makkawy and many more to count. They all did his unorthodox exercises, trained without listening to music and posed the way he thought them to…etc.

Vince Gironda Was Known For Hating Anabolic Steroids But…


Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia – he was trained by Vince and was not natural

Vince Gironda was against steroids, or so he said. He had many anti-mainstream ideas and expressed the belief that fertile eggs in large quantities could work just as well as steroids – something unmistakably wrong. While their is no doubt that Gironda was well educated on the subject of physiology and nutrition, it’s hard to forget the fact that all of his champions were on steroids and competing against other PED users.

The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, was intensely trained by Vince Gironda and later in his life admitted to usage of D-bol. This is not a surprise since he was 5’7″ and 208 lbs – heavier than Frank Zane {three times Mr. Olympia} by about 20 lbs while also being 2 inches shorter. The same goes for other of Gironda’s trainees such as Don Howorth who also admitted to using D-bol, and of course Arnold who has always been open about his usage. So, the logical question is:

If Vince Gironda was all that against steroids, why were all of his popular athletes using drugs?

Vince Gironda is particularly known for his book ‘Unleashing The Wild Physique’. Many noobs have looked for the book everywhere in the hope to find the way to achieve superior natural physique using Gironda’s underground training secrets. Unfortunately, the first thing that hits you when you open the book is that all of the images used as examples are of bodybuilders on steroids. There are no photos of physiques that can be achieved naturally and Gironda often presents as examples people like Robby Robinson, Serge Nubret, Don Howorth, Sergio Oliva…etc. So, the logical question is:

If Vince Gironda was all that against steroids, why didn’t he make a compilation of regular natural bodybuilders who were able to build decent physiques?

Why did he, like the rest of the bodybuilding disinformation media, use the photos of drugged individuals to support his training methods?

It’s simple: Natural bodybuilders don’t sell books because they look unimpressive and initiate questions like: ‘Do you even lift?’ in the heads of the brainwashed bodybuilding fans.

Vince Gironda – Nitpicking at Its Finest

Larry Scott demonstrates Gironda dips - most people's shoulders can't handle this exercise

Larry Scott demonstrates Gironda dips – most people’s shoulders can’t handle this exercise

Gironda was known for his perfectionism and seeing details that others can’t. It was part of his typical Scorpio personality. The majority of Gironda’s exercises were a modified version of the basic lifts. He was known for his Neck press bench press, the so-called Gironda dips and the legendary Sissy squats. While all of those movements are fine exercises, the benefits that come from the exaggerated stress on a particular muscle group are minuscule, if any in the long run.

While Gironda’s ‘unique’ exercises were well though as far as muscle emphasis goes, their bio-mechanics were poorly engineered and the movements place too much stress on large upper and lower joints. Regardless of popular opinion, those movements offer no magical benefits compared to the mainstream versions of the lifts.

Who is going to have a bigger chest – the guy doing regular dips which are safer for the shoulders or the guy doing Gironda style dips which may place more stress on the chest, but in the meantime kill your rotator cuffs?

What do you think will build stronger legs – properly performed front squats or sissy squats with a broomstick which is what you should use when doing the exercise unless you want to blow your knees?

Vince Gironda – The Guy Who Hated Carbs


Vince Gironda was shredded before it was even mainstream

Vince Gironda was known for his high fat/high protein/low carb diet which he considered the best nutritional plan to get shredded. This is indeed one of the fastest ways for natural and non-naturals to lose body fat. Gironda was also a pioneer and one of first bodybuilders to compete on stage with really low body fat levels.

It’s much easier to lose fat on a high fat/low carb diet and to keep your muscle mass while doing so. Even modern professional bodybuilders like Kevin Levrone were known for cutting the carbs during the leaning out phase prior to a contest. This method is considered revolutionary because back in the day bodybuilders were actively preferring carbs as their main energy source, and were afraid of fat. Truth be told, this continues to be promoted to this very day.

It’s not uncommon to see bodybuilding diets that are almost completely fat free. That’s where the typical bodybuilding meal combination of rice and chicken breast comes from – the rice provides the carbs while the chicken breast contains mainly protein and almost no fat. Vince Gironda saw this as unnatural because in nature protein always comes with fat – even plants rich in protein are also high in fat sources. At the same time carbs are not essential to the body. The organism will survive with no carbs in the system, but it needs fat and protein to function properly.

Vince Gironda – How big was he?

Vince Gironda was big and lean

Vince Gironda was big and lean

According to different sources Vince Gironda was 5’8” tall and 187 lbs at his peak. However, he said himself that he felt the best, when he was around 165 lbs. At the same time his body fat was always really low.

During the competitive days of Gironda the judges were not used to seeing the ‘ripped physique’ and often much ‘smoother’ bodybuilders were placed ahead of Vince. Today, unless you have striated glutes on stage, you might just as well apply for a NASA trip. You are not going to win.

All of this concludes that Vince Gironda was not a small guy by any means. Our chart for natural bodybuilders lists a man who is 5’8″ at 156 lbs maximum natural bodyweight (at 5% body fat). This means that even at 165 lbs Vince Gironda is still 9 lbs over the guide’s estimation.

We often receive letters from people who are supposedly already 20 lbs over their weight in the guide, but they tend to forget that the estimations there are for people who are insanely lean and water depleted prior to a contest. There is a world of difference in terms of appearance between 25% body fat and 5%. To top it all off, most people that contact us have never even reached the numbers in our guide, and despite that are already complaining. There is no doubt that if you reach the weights presented in the guide at the correct body fat, you will not be disappointed one bit by your physique.

In the end of the day, having a weight of 165 – 187 lbs at 5’8″ while also being quite lean, are body stats not to be joked with. Most true natural bodybuilders will never reach similar stats with or without fancy ‘unorthodox’ training methods. That’s also an indication that Vince Gironda may have experimented with steroids, at least at his 187 or so lbs peak.

Vince Gironda –  Enigma or Hype?


There are tons of web-pages dedicated to Vince Gironda and his supposedly ultra effective ways to build muscle. Many people make money on his back by selling ‘controversial’ e-books to poor teenagers who are looking to finally build them big muscles. That and Gironda’s personality and stance against steroids have caused great interest in his methods. Unfortunately, most of this is nothing but hype. While many of Gironda’s ideas are perfectly fine and true, there’s no magic to them and you won’t suddenly become the next Steve Reeves or something. As we’ve already said, all of the popular bodybuilders trained by Vince were far from being natural.

Back in the day Gironda used to really promote the usage of desiccated liver tablets. The idea was to constantly supply the body with amino acids as well as Vitamin A and B complexes. Whatever the case, we assure you that no matter how many liver tablets you take, you won’t magically enjoy the result of Gironda’s bodybuilders. Many of them were not even taking liver tablets. They were strictly sticking to the good old D-bol tablets.

Regardless, there are people who start furious research of their local liver tablets sellers, once they’ve read that Gironda used to promote them. Well, sorry. It’s just another supplement that offers little to no value and this one even smells like s***, literally. After all, it’s made out of animal liver which is dried, processed, encapsulated and imported in your country. There is absolutely no doubt that liver tablets’ power was oversold, to say the least. In the end, it’s nothing more than dried meat. Now, if you eat some meat (whatever it is) do you think it will somehow produce magical results? Of course, not. So, why do you put so much faith in dried meat?

The same applies to Gironda’s idea that fertile eggs can be just as good as steroids. That’s not the case at all and you can eat all the eggs in the world – you ain’t getting steroids like results. That’s because one is simply food – protein and fat, while the other is a powerful hormone responsible for muscular growth and strength. When you take more testosterone, you are essentially reaching beyond your genetic limitations.

What do you think happens when you take extra protein? If you have your bases covered, more protein does not equal more muscle mass. Sorry.

In conclusion

Vince Gironda loved the sport of bodybuilding and knew how to produce aesthetic physiques. His methods were all orientated towards the creation of the perfect muscular illusion and a larger than life look. It worked for some and failed for others.

Unfortunately, even if you follow Gironda’s methods all the way, you are not going to be as big as his trainees because they were all popping drugs. As far as Vince Gironda is concerned, he might have experimented with steroids as well.  That’s a little hard to analyze due to the lack of sources regarding Gironda’s progress over the years. It’s safe to say, however, that at that time drugs were much more limited and usage was less severe compared to what we have today. If at his peak Vince Gironda was truly 187 lbs shredded, he was as big as Frank Zane while being 1 inch shorter. Something that we all know is impossible naturally, especially when your genetics are average when it comes to muscle building.


  1. Daryl Conant

    I disagree with this. As a student of Vince Gironda I can attest that the methods that he taught are accurate and provide incredible gains in muscle. Vince never took steroids. He was a genius in the bodybuilding ranks and he transformed my body. I have never taken steroids and have followed Vince’s methods for the past 30 years. His views on nutrition are sound and Desiccated liver does nourish the body. Desiccated liver is not an anabolic agent, it is food that provides proper nutrition to restore muscle tissue. All those of us that were trained by Vince knew that it wasn’t about getting huge, it was about building a symmetrical physique within our own bio-individuality. Vince’s methods did provide magical results to those who followed them precisely. Unfortunately, there are too many ignorant trainer’s and guys who don’t know Vince’s methods and try to teach them to no avail. I continue to teach Vince’s methods and have helped many guys and gals transform their body– naturally. So I disagree with some of your points. I have also been performing gironda dips for 30 years and have never had a rotator cuff injury. I perform the sissy squat with 135 lbs and have never had a knee issue. According to your post, I should have blown out my rotator cuff and shouldn’t be able to walk due to the stress of these exercises on the joints. Again it is all about how these exercises are executed for the right person. I would never teach someone these exercises if they don’t have the physical stature to do so. But for those that can perform them, they are exceptional isolation exercises. Vince was the greatest trainer of all time. People can say what they want about the guy, but to me he was a genius. I looked past his cantankerous personality and listened to what he said.

  2. Kaustuv Ray

    You guys in natty or not r simply rotten pussys. You r also those motherfuckers who, when there girlfriends lauds a strongly built man, always tell her : ” honey, he is on steroid”. You sons of cowardly mothers dare to put finger on Gironda the only man who always told the truth and never worked to gain money or fame. Sons of bitches, Unleashing the Wild Physique was marketed by Bob Kennedy of Muscle Mag Intl. What would expect from the seller of a popular bodybuilding magazine to post pictures of your chiken shaped fathers? Bastards don’t try to turnish Gironda or Reg park who could perform with loads in there seventies which you NATTIES can not imagine in your late twenties. Bastards, come to a nation unlike yours where steroids are not that easily available and too much expensive for poor power athlates, who use Gironda style nutrition and exercise and see their awesome physique and strength and TEST them whenever you please.

    1. kev

      You are correct a ridiculous disrespectful article, l also smashed down the eggs and dessicated liver and acheived great results within my own genetic potential.

    2. vince

      Nice onekaustuv ray, i agree. I bet you if this guy ever gets a hot sexy beautiful girlfriend with good body (extremely unlikely) this natty or not mother fucker would weigh his girlfriend and measure her height and weight and bodyfat levels before dating her. If only she passes this natty or not bullshit test will he only date her. Hes that kind off a bullshitter. Hes probably done neck presses with 45 pounds bar and then critisises it. And he thinks anyone who puts more hard work than him and get bigger rounder muscles must be taking steroids. Lets all report this natty (loooooool). I guarantee if this natty becomes unnatty he will still look natty. I recoment the author of this article to stop fukin writing this bullshit and start training ur self rather than to talk abt whos natty and whos not.

  3. Thomas

    Vince really is an Iron Guru and I would place him in the TOP 5 of all time but only uninformed people would think the Gironda System is a magic pill. However, the GS is pretty close. I also dont think Vince ever said his way would be the ultimate of all time and even Vince would probably say that it is naive to think only the GS is the BEST way for you. This is because everyone is different based on genetics, lifestyle, values, biochemical energy, motivation, life problems.

    The truth can be defined in bodybuilding as reaching your genetic potential. There is no total system that works BEST for everyone across the board. All we have are different paths to it. Some people will mesh better with the GS while some with other systems but that doesnt mean the GS is right or wrong, best or not so good. I took what I could from the GS that worked best for me. 50%+ of what I do is based on the GS so my CORE SYSTEM Is the GS. However, I dont do things like the 8×8 or 10×10. I cant even do the 6×6 for certain body parts or else they will be be overtrained and shrink. That could be errors on my part of diet or something but if I have to go into that much detail to do something like the 6×6 then it is not the best way for me. This is because lifestyle and choice of how to spend my time come into play. I dont have the time or inclination to follow the GS way like Larry Scott did. I also personally think that none of the GS techniques are the best for certain of my lagging body parts. Again, this doesnt mean Vince didnt know what he was talking about. If I was his pupil he may prescribe a special routine for me. Just dont accuse the GS of being false or outdated because that just isnt true.

    His methods DO require proper guidance and logic though or else you can get hurt. After a year of bench press to the neck I had to stop because my rotator was agitated but nothing too serious. It took a few years to heal and so I did cable crossovers in the meantime. Thats my fault not Vince.

    #1 Too heavy too fast because I was getting so strong following his diet plan. #2 My arms and shoulders were not able to keep up with my chest and thats an obvious genetic limitation I have and I should have gone slower up the rack. #3 Structural limitation mentioned by previous poster. I should not go too far down with a full stretch because my structure. I now know to go down until my arms are 90 degrees – give or take 10 degrees. This wouldnt have happened if I had Vince there or one of his students. The lack of proper guidance on Vince’s techniques seems to be dilution over the years by others.

    *One thing people forget is that it takes very smart people to be the forerunners of anything despite what people sometimes hope that you can just do it with experience and hard work. That very smart person sees things no one else does and understands true nuance. Many personal trainers and people in the iron game are experienced and they are smart, but they aren’t very smart as in genius level so they F**K up what people like Vince are trying to do and say.

    *I do suspect Vince experimented (meaning tried it a little) with steroids but I have no proof other than the internet rumors about it that steroids did not mesh well with his body chemistry so he discontinued after a brief run. As an Iron Guru he may have tried it to see what was going to happen like a musician with drugs. I do not, however, believe it takes away from the GS because the GS really does work well. There’s plenty of science out there indicating that bench to the neck, for instance, is the best overall chest exercise hitting all parts of the chest in a balanced manner.

  4. Ernesto

    Calves routine off vince gironda is the only one that have work for me. My calves are start growing now, and i am 42 old. Respect Vince Gironda.

  5. Starbuck

    Pffft…as usual, some author wants to make pencil-necked geeks and fat slova feel “good” about themselves by claiming they will never reach a certain physical development without DRUGS. So just STAY a fat fuck, for all I care. Just don’t look at those of us who have any modicum of muscle more than some poor schmuck who’s been benching 120 lbs for 5 years and wondering why he doesn’t have a chest. The minute we tell someone to get stronger…they claim they don’t wanna look like Arnold…as if they would. So please…keep promoting ignorance. While those of us who reached our physical goals LAUGH at you idiots who associate 6-pack abs with STEROIDS.

  6. Craig Dillon

    I disagree with your article . Vince was way ahead of the field back in the day when it came to getting guys in shape whether for film or bodybuilding competition. He knew nutrition and correct/healthy supplementation in order to maximise the desired look . YES , he trained a lot of guys on steroids and `The wild physique` had lots of pics of those enhanced physiques , but look past Bob Kennedy`s input and actually read the content instead and you will discover where Vince was really at. Or purchase some of his older courses ( virtually devoid of pics ) and you can/will learn a lot . I have practiced Vince’s advocated methods for 30+yrs and like many who have done so have reaped reward , so please don’t try and bring down someone of whom you have obviously done little practical research by actually practicing their method and instead be grateful for the continued influence he has on those who wish to follow the `natural way`.

  7. J N

    Another fact human muscle tissue as other red meat species 1 pound is actually 72% water although water alone cannot induce muscle gain although would be nice if we could manipulate nutrition partitioning agents to induce the storage of intramuscular water into the muscle tissues.

    90% of the testosterone males produce is inactive including with steroids, now there are natual ways discovered to guarantee 98% of the testosterone is active then combine these natural ways with additional natural testosterone boosters you can guarantee results beyond more than less than average genetics.

    The most natural testosterone males can produce without any enhancement is 5mg to 10mg and only 10% is active, now there are natural ways discovered to increase natural testosterone production to 5 grams (5,000mg) and 98% active including males in their 80’s.

    Block these written below combined with natural testosterone boosters including
    a high fat diet with organic pharmaceutical grade Minerals, organic pharmaceutical grade Vitamins as recommended by Vince Gironda and genetic limitations become null and void:

    Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
    Anti Estrogens (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators [SERMS])
    Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

    Testosterone do not enlarge muscles testosterone can only amplify the effects of the basic building blocks and foundation to enlarge muscles which are fat, protein, amino acids, high nitrogen retention and balance.

    The most Human Growth Hormone (HGH) humans can produce without any enhancement is 2mg, now there are natural ways discovered to increase natural
    Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to 800mg all active.

    Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is highly anabolic and thermogenic then testosterone amplifies the effects dramatically.

    There are 17 methods to naturally gain 5 pounds of muscle in 1 month when you combine all 17 methods or tactics this equals 85 pounds of muscle or greater.

    My conclusion is everyones genetics are equal for enlarging their muscles and you cannot determine ones genetic potential by looking at them.

  8. Tyler

    Vince at his 187 lb “peak” was not shredded. His shredded physiques actually sat between 155 lbs -165 lbs. He was was small boned and hence not “thick” just extremely muscular and shredded.

  9. Ishan Subedi

    Do your research before you accuse someone of steroids. Watch the youtube video where Vince is in a competition posing. Does that look like a steroid physique? As far as the Gironda Dips goes there is a correct and incorrect way of doing it. The correct way as demonstrated in his Unleashing the Wild Physique beautifully works the chest without harming the rotator cuffs.

    The guy has been experimenting and working for ages hence his body. Also if you follow the correct instruction, Vince’s exercise work the correct muscle group and do not hamper “bio mechanics” you talk of. BTW Vince was actually an ardent student of anatomy. He knew the anatomy and latin names of each and every muscle.

  10. vince

    Im 5 foot 9 and i weigh 225lb of muscle. I have bo choice because i cant afford drugs. I only have money to buy meat, fish, eggs, chicken, cream, liver tablets, etc. So u natty motherfuckin cunt are telling me that i am on steroids i assfucking gay prick. My arms are 20.5 inches and for u i am a steroid freak who must be takin steroids every hour. I bet ur some ass wanker who sits at home all day on computer games and goes to the gym to do the gym and does 45 lb bench presses and 25 lb curld and 20 lb pushdowns and thinks hes all that but in reality u should find a job and do something with urswlf rather than put chat shit about everyone whos bigger, better, more handsome than u. “He’s bigger than me so he must be takin steroids” thats ur fuckin thinkin. U r a loser who cant do anything in life thats why ur writin this shittu natty or not articles abt every fuckin person. Next time call cristiano ronaldo on steroids eventhough the guy cant even bench the olympic bar alone.
    Get a dildo and shuv it up ur asshole thats wt u should be doing. Btw vinces philosophy has worked for nearly everyone except for people like u who cant lift for shit. Fuckoff and delete ur website before we all report u mother fucker.

  11. Lifterx

    Lots of Gironda fanboys dick-riding on him I see. Hey, Gironda can claim natty 100% as much as Frank Zane but the truth says otherwise. They love their steroids and all of you fanboys are never gonna change that so just go back to Fairyland or STFU.

  12. danR

    ” Regardless, there are people who start furious research of their local liver tablets sellers, once they’ve read that Gironda used to promote them.
    … After all, it’s made out of animal liver which is dried, processed, encapsulated and imported in your country. There is absolutely no doubt that liver tablets’ power was oversold, to say the least. In the end, it’s nothing more than dried meat. Now, if you eat some meat (whatever it is) do you think it will somehow produce magical results? Of course, not. So, why do you put so much faith in dried meat?

    The same applies to Gironda’s idea that fertile eggs can be just as good as steroids. That’s not the case at all and you can eat all the eggs in the world – you ain’t getting steroids like results.
    Nothing more than dried meat? Liver and eggs are ‘notoriously’ (so to speak, if you buy the propaganda) high in High Density Lipoprotein (cholesterol)

    Arterioscler Thromb. 1991 Mar-Apr;11(2):307-15.
    Relation of serum testosterone levels to high density lipoprotein cholesterol and other characteristics in men.
    Freedman DS1, O’Brien TR, Flanders WD, DeStefano F, Barboriak JJ.

  13. Vincent Exertus

    This article is a fail.

    The first steroids were developed at the end of the 50’s. Metandienone (INN) (brand names Averbol, Dianabol, Danabol, Metanabol, Naposim, Vetanabol) was originally developed in 1957 by CIBA and marketed in Germany and the United States.[1][2][3][4] (

    Vince Gironda was in his prime in the early 50’s.

    1949 Pro Mr California -4th
    1950 Mr USA -4th
    1952 AAU Mr America -2nd

    He simply couldn’t have been on steroids as that time. shows the reality of steroid-free training. It is possible to achieve very impressive physique, but not with the modern fitness exercises, which are effective when taking steroids.

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