Vince Gironda – Was He Natural Or On Steroids?

Vince Gironda a.k.a. the Iron Guru remains one of the most controversial bodybuilding figures. He devoted his whole life to the construction of the ideal physique and built an ideology against the mainstream training and dieting principles. In addition, Gironda had a successful bodybuilding gym frequented by movie stars and bodybuilders.

He also claimed that he is a drug-free bodybuilder and was openly against steroids. Nowadays, similar statements generate a lot of interest because people are bombarded with the images of fake natural bodybuilders. However, was Gironda really a lifetime natural? Let’s find out.

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.

Vince Gironda – Trainer Of The Stars

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


Legend has it that Arnold entered the gym of Vince Gironda and said a little something like this:

“I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger from Austria. 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. Similar behavior is a sign of a unique personality and a firm character fighting against the status quo, but in Vince Gironda’s case, it also came with a good dose of bitterness and even envy.

Despite his stubbornness, Gironda’s gym produced many champions. Vince took under his wing a bunch of bodybuilders and polished them. The most notable among Gironda’s pupils are the first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Howorth and Mohamed Makkawy. They all did Gironda’s unorthodox exercises, trained without listening to music and posed the way he thought them to.

did-larry-scott-use-steroids

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

Vince Gironda “Hated” Anabolic Steroids But…

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 – a notion deprived of logic. While there is no doubt that Gironda was well educated on the subjects of physiology and nutrition, it’s hard to ignore the fact that all of his champions were on steroids and competing against other PED users.

Larry Scott, for example, took D-Bol. This is hardly a surprise since he was 5’7″ and 208lbs. That makes Scott 20lbs heavier than Frank Zane. Furthermore, Don Howorth and Arnold have also discussed their use of anabolic steroids.

If Vince Gironda was against steroids, why were all of his popular athletes on drugs? Why didn’t his men eat fertilized eggs instead?

The book of Vince Gironda, “Unleashing The Wild Physique”, which contains the underground training secrets of the iron guru, is flooded with images of bodybuilders on steroids. The book does not contain photos of physiques that can be achieved naturally. Gironda uses as examples people like Robby Robinson, Serge Nubret, Don Howorth, Sergio Oliva…etc.

This leads to another logical question:

If Vince Gironda was against steroids, why didn’t he make a compilation of regular natural bodybuilders? Why did he use the “druggies”?

Why did he rely on the photos of hormonized bodybuilders 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.

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

Larry Scott demonstrates Gironda dips – most human shoulders can’t handle this exercise.

Vince Gironda – Nitpicking at Its Finest

Gironda was known for his perfectionism and ability to see details that remain invisible for most people. This particularity was part of his typical Scorpio personality. The majority of Gironda’s exercises were modified versions of the basic lifts. He was known for his Neck press, the so-called Gironda dips and the legendary Sissy squats. While those movements are fine exercises, the actual benefits that come from the exaggerated stress on a particular muscle group are minuscule in the long run.

Gironda’s unique exercises work well as far as muscle emphasis is concerned, but they are poorly engineered from a bio-mechanical standpoint and place too much stress on the 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 lift when doing the exercise unless you want to blow out your knees?

Vince Gironda – The Guy Who Hated Carbs

vince-gironda-low-vard-diet

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 naturals and non-naturals to lose body fat.

Low carb diets were considered revolutionary back then. At the time, most bodybuilders relied on carbs as their main energy source. Naturally, fat was demonized.

Even today, it is not uncommon to see bodybuilding diets that are almost completely fat-free. The typical bodybuilding meal consisting of rice and chicken breast shares the same philosophy – the rice provides the carbs whereas 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 weighed 187lbs at his peak. Of course, he was ultra-shredded too.

During the competitive days of Gironda, the judges were not used to seeing the ripped physiques and often much smoother/fatter 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. The nattyornot.com’s chart for natural bodybuilders lists a man who is 5’8″ at 156lbs maximum natural bodyweight (at 5-8% body fat). Even at 165lbs (Vince’s preferred weight), Gironda is still 9lbs over the guide’s estimation.

I often receive letters from people who are supposedly 20lbs over the numbers in the guide, but they tend to forget that the estimations there are for people who are insanely lean and even water depleted prior to a contest.

There is a world of difference between 25% body fat and 8%. To top it all off, most people that contact me have never even reached the numbers in the guide, and yet they are already complaining. Undoubtedly, if you get to the weights presented in the guide at the correct body fat, you will not be disappointed by your physique.

At the end of the day, weighing between 165lbs and 187lbs at 5’8″ in a lean state equals a serious muscular development. Most true natural bodybuilders will never reach similar stats even with fancy and unorthodox training methods. That’s also an indication that Vince Gironda might have experimented with steroids, at least during his peak.

Vince Gironda –  Enigma or Hype?

There are many web pages dedicated to Vince Gironda and his “ultra-effective” ways to build muscle. Sadly, most of the info is nothing but hype. While many of Gironda’s ideas are perfectly fine and true, they are not magic.

In the past, Gironda used to promote the usage of desiccated liver tablets. The goal was to constantly supply the body with amino acids as well as Vitamin A and B complexes. I can assure you that even if you eat all the liver tablets in the universe, you won’t have the results of Gironda’s bodybuilders. Many of them were not even taking liver tablets. They seemed to prefer the already proven D-bol tablets.

Ultimately, the methods of Gironda don’t have the ability to produce steroid-like results. Manipulation of exercise plans, nutrition and supplementation are feeble efforts to produce the effects created by anabolic drugs. Steroids alter the synthesis of protein and allow growth beyond the natural potential of the body.

In conclusion

Vince Gironda loved bodybuilding and knew how to produce aesthetic physiques. But even if you follow Gironda’s methods to the last bit, you won’t become as big as his trainees naturally because they were all popping drugs.

As far as Vince Gironda is concerned, he might have experimented with steroids as well. If at his peak Gironda was truly 187lbs and shredded to the bone, he had a professional physique in times when the pros were already hormonized.

 

21 comments

  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:

    Aromatase
    Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
    Anti Estrogens (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators [SERMS])
    Estradiol
    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] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metandienone)

    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.

    http://www.thewarriorphysique.com 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.

  14. Greg Johnson

    The author is full of shit!!! Vince was a genius knew every single muscle bone in human body and its function. He was far ahead of his time! I take offense to the author the egg / liver analogy woudnt apply by todays standards of bodybuilders whom are freaks but in 60’s with right training you could achieve similar results back then!
    Long live Vince’s principle’s even if most think they are outdated or unorthodox!!!

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