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 – 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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.