Vince Gironda- the Iron Guru- what can we learn from him today?

Since the Mike Mentzer article has gotten such good feedback, I thought: “Why not write a series about pioneers of the iron game?”
So today, I want to write about one of the forgotten pioneers of bodybuilding, who coincidentally, was almost as sociable as Mike Mentzer: Vince Gironda aka the Iron Guru. Vince, born  in the Bronx, later settled in California and was one of the first trainers to the stars.
His clients were : Clint Eastwood, Cher, Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger and so on. But it wasn’t so much his clientele that makes him remarkable , but his contributions to the sport  which pushed weight lifting in a new direction. I just want to list the most important ones.
He was one of the first to develop a low carb approach to dieting, where he prescribed a whole eggs and lean meats combination along with some vegetables ( pretty much a paleo diet).
Interestingly enough, he only proposed 3 meals a day and bridged the time in between with amino acid and liver tabs. I myself am a huge fan of liver tabs, its a convenient protein and vitamin B source and I feel my physique looks better and leaner when I use them. So this is more or less an intermittent fasting approach, as it has become popular today.
Even though he didn’t like back squats, he used front squats in every workout as a hormonal optimizer in order to create growth in all muscle groups. This is something I have done with clients and I urge everyone to try. If you have a period of time where you can focus on your training and resting, up your calories by 10% and train your legs every time you got the gym for 2-3 weeks. You will be very pleased with the results.
The bench press got no love from Vince , he felt it places too much stress on the front deltoid and doesn’t develop a good chest. As a bodybuilder, I have to agree. The flat bench is very hard on the rotator cuff and front delts, while creating a droopy chest. I prefer the dumbbell version or the incline bench. For power lifting, that’s a different story
Vince also dismissed the then common notion of bulking for the sake of getting bigger as nonsense since it only lead to fat gain. He was very much concerned with creating a physique as opposed to just heaping on mass ( where has that idea gone??). I think the appropriate term for Vince would be “Physique architect:, he was very much concerned with a v-tapered physique. Vince was actually punished at a contest for appearing to “ripped”  and was placed lower for being too lean …( those judges later oversaw Lehman Brothers real estate portfolio).
In a way, I feel that Vince was too ahead of his time. In today’s world he would have been a multimillionaire over and over.
He also created the 8×8 routine ( the “honest workout”),which consists of a whole body or split routine where you perform 8×8 sets with short rest only.  Again, this is also a form of training I would like anyone to try out for a week or two, either for the whole body or to bring up a lagging bodypart.
Another invention of his was the drag curl , one of my favorite exercises for the biceps.
Most interesting though was his attitude toward bodybuilding as such. He really cared about the sport, not his financial success. Without hesitation, he would dismiss paying clients if they did not follow his routine and rather work pro bono with a talented and dedicated lifter. He also couldn’t stand it if people did not follow his advice. According to Don Howorth, Vince hated crunches. So when he saw a member doing them despite Vince’s advice , he walked to cash register, took out 100$, gave it to the member and told him to get the f..out of his gym.This lead to near bankruptcy of his gym on multiple occasions but he surely kept his integrity.
I feel this is something the sport has lost over the last decade or so and its helpful to recall what it is all about: getting yourself in shape and helping others.
Vince’s teachings are all but forgotten, yet many current bodybuilding diets and routines are based on Vince’s wisdom.
Thanks Vince!
I am off to an 8×8 shoulder workout

How to eat donuts and still lose weight

That statement should have gotten everyone’s attention. But what does flexible dieting mean?
OK, the donut part was more of a hook to get you to read the following. As we all now, dieters are failing by the millions, due to a number of reasons , the biggest one being a lack of will power.
Some of them are so motivated that they don’t stray from their diet for weeks, counting every calorie, eating at the perfect time and then….they implode. Due to stress or worries they fall off the wagon completely and stay off it.
This is where flexible dieting comes in; you need to allow yourself to live. If you are on a mild caloric deficit (400 calories per day or less), schedule a cheat meal once a week, so you can go to dinner with friends without worrying. I would give myself a 4-hour window for this and eat a side of fries or a dessert to your liking.
Athletes who run a more severe deficit and have a competent coach need to have a 2-3 day re-feed every week, combined with a heavy weight training session.
This will allow them to stop the muscle loss and revive their metabolism in order to continue to lose body fat. What does that mean?
When you diet for an extended period of time, such as more than 14 days, bad things start happening in your body: HGH and testosterone drop, cortisol goes up and leptin drops. This goes especially  if excessive amounts of cardio are being performed. The results: you get hungrier, more irritable and start losing muscle. Fat loss, on the other hand, comes to a screeching halt. Not a good situation for a bodybuilder or strength athlete. Flexible dieting or smart cheating reverses that.
The added calories ( which should mostly come from carbohydrates) will cause the body to produce testosterone and HGH again as well as raise leptin levels, which regulates your satiety. You can optimize this hormonal state by doing a heavy whole body workout the day after your cheat.
Won’t  I get fat from the extra carbs? No, here is the situation: imagine you have 20000 $ credit card debt and someone gives you 10k. Would you pay off the credit card or start a savings account? Your body works the same way, first it will replenish muscle and liver glycogen, then start storing fat. This only occurs after 48 h of overeating so you should be safe unless you grossly overdo it.

If you want to read more about how to properly introduce cheat days into your diet, my book has more info and its only the cost of a Starbucks latte :)
Most importantly, flexible dieting  gives you a psychological break and you don’t feel that your diet is done for good, if you have a donut…hmmmm donuts….
It will actually help you to get lean!
Till next time

Setting goals to achieve your dream physique

I was recently asked to write about the journey of training and dieting. While this seems like a rather arduous task, it really isn’t. In a way, bodybuilding is somewhat similar to business. You need a vision ( of yourself) and a strategy as to how to get there.The biggest mistake people make is to say : I want to get in shape. This is way to general, getting in shape means vastly different things to LeBron James than it does to the average gym rat. You need to be more specific : Do you have body parts that lack? Do you want to add another 15 lbs of muscle? Do you want to compete?

From there on you draw up a plan for 6 or 12 months and set the stage. As you go along ,you need to have smaller goals that are achievable within a 4 week time frame. ( upper abs coming through, bench up by 5 lbs etc). In my experience, athletes with a poorly laid out plan still do better than without one.
Another very important tool is visualization , you need to have a vision of yourself what you would like to look like. If that presents a problem, pick someone out of a magazine, or choose Tom Platz’s legs, Arnolds biceps, Ronnies back ,Cutlers haircut :-) as your model. Even if you only get 70% to what your idol looks like, you are still far ahead of the game.

Another thing: set a time frame, do not train for infinity. There are different ways to do that, you can a. compete in a bodybuilding show. Standing in your ( skimpy) underwear in front of 100+ people will definitely motivate you to get in shape. Another way to it is to book an expensive photo shoot 6 months out. Pay up front and you will have the motivation to do the right things.

Lastly, and this I stole from Arnold, tell everybody what you are about to do so you can not back out.
Equipped with these tools, you should reach your potential!
Train hard,

Top 10 most effective diet foods

When it comes to diet foods, I consider two things essential:
1. do they cover your nutritional needs?
2. how filling are they are?
During a diet, it is critical to consume foods that will curb your hunger for an extended period of time.Here are my most effective diet foods:

1. Chicken breast: a lean protein that can be prepared in a variety of ways and it is easy to eat in office or on the go. An alternate would be tilapia.
2. Flank steak: red meat is often being shunned during a diet but it has its benefits. Iron, zinc, and creatine will enable you to make it through your workouts with greater intensity, further leading to greater fat loss. The fats in red meat are also critical since they are building blocks for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, that play a crucial role in maintaining a high metabolic rate. Flank steak tends to be a tougher cut so I recommend marinating it in lime juice and soy sauce for 24h.

3. Eggs: I highly recommend eating eggs during a diet. They are a complete protein with many vitamins (D, E) and stearic acid. If your calorie count doesn’t allow for many whole eggs, mix them with egg whites in a 1:2 ratio. In general, all proteins are a great hunger-suppressant so it is advisable to consume them during a diet at every meal.
4. Oats: a very filling complex carb, that is easy to prepare and even be kept at the office (just add water)
5. Brown rice: a good alternative to oatmeal. It complements most meats and will keep insulin levels stable. By doing so, the dieter will not experience any hunger pangs.
6. Nuts: it is critical to take in the right fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated. Nuts are a great and an easy way to achieve this. They also provide a certain amount of protein, which makes them an interesting choice for vegetarians. As for calorie content, granted it is high, but there is a loss of about 30% in the calories in nuts which can not be fully explained. The best available explanation is that their thermic expense is rather high during digestion.
7. Avocado: another source of good fats and a good addition to salads, omelets, etc.
8. Broccoli/lettuce/spinach/califlower: I label those free foods; due to their low caloric content, they can be consumed in unlimited quantities and they provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, most of them are alkaline and will balance out the typical western diet which is more acidic.

9. Asparagus: hardly any calories, very filling and a mild diuretic. The initial water loss can be very motivating for people to stay on the diet since they already lost a couple pounds.
10: Grapefruit (whole fruit, not juice): there is some evidence that grapefruit itself is promoting fat loss but the evidence is questionable. However, grapefruits contain nargenin, which is a substance that blocks the metabolization of caffeine in the liver. Caffeine has fat burning properties which is why it is the main ingredient in many commercial fat burners. If consumed with grapefruit, one extends the active life of these products by 2-3 hours which over time sums up to greater fat loss.

In summary, the best diet is one you can stick to. If you can not stand chicken, find another lean protein. And yes, calories matter most, as there are no magic foods. if you like what you read, my book goes into greater detail!
So keep cooking and training!

Do grapefruits burn fat?

Remember the Grapefruit Diet? Eat only grapefruit and loose twenty pounds in as many days. The hype surrounding this diet has dwindled, and for good reason, but the myth still lingers. Do grapefruits really burn fat? The answer is not so clear-cut.

First of all, grapefruits are truly great food. They contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamin C, and control insulin levels. Studies have shown that grapefruit aides in DNA repair, can control the growth of cancer cells in vitro, and fights Hepatitis C. This is certainly a very impressive resume overall.

Yet, there is no direct correlation between the intake of grapefruit and speed of fat loss.

Grapefruits are full ofnaringin, which among other things inhibits activity of the enzyme CYP34A in the human liver.

What does that have to do with fat loss?

Caffeine, one of the most potent fat burners, is metabolized by CYP34A. So, the intake of naringin could lengthen the half-life and increase the activity of your fat burner therefore making it more effective. For best results you should eat the fruit with all its fiber. Grapefruit juice has shown to be less effective. A good dose would be six ounces of grapefruit for breakfast (no sugar!) with your thermogenic or simply black coffee.


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