Monday, July 20, 2009

Vince Gironda's Definition Routine for a Classic Physique!

(Photo Above: Classic Physique Builder Vince Gironda - The "Iron Guru")

Here is the classic "Definition Routine" by Vince Gironda. Despite being the trainer of some well-known 1st generation steroid users (like Larry Scott) in the 1960's, Vince tested all his methods on himself - he was 100% natural! Although during the pre-roid, Golden Age (of the 1940s and 50s) there were other methods of pursuing definition or "muscularity", this routine of Vince's can be considered as one of the last, classic definition routines since Vince himself was one of the last classic physique builders.

Now, it should be mentioned that Vince, even with this natural method, took definition to an extreme in the eyes of the pre-roid, Golden Age judges (who were not impressed by the cadaver look). This is why, on some occassions, he didn't place higher in physique competitions. Nevertheless, his method is very effective and it is easy enough to stop well before one looks like a cadaver!

His method, of course, includes an exercise routine and his classic "maximum definition diet." The exercise routine was a 6 day-a-week split, doing upper body on 3 days, lower body on 3 days and resting for one day.

Upper Body Exercises (eg., M, W, F):

1. Wide Parallel Dips (with hands 32" apart, chin on chest, feet under face)
2. Seated Rows
3. Biceps Preacher Curls (with wide grip and elbows close)
4. Triceps Overhead Pull
5. Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise
6. Wrist Curls (with rolling bar to finger tips)

Lower Body Exercises & Abs (e.g., T, Th, Sa):

1. 1/4 sit up or roll (essentially ab crunches), superset with following exercise
2. stiff leg raise
3. Hack Slides (up on toes with heels touching and knees 20" apart)
4. Donkey Raise (with knees slightly unlocked and toes on 4" block"

The rep scheme was as follows: first 3 weeks do 8 sets of 8 reps, next 3 weeks do 6 sets of 6 reps, last 3 weeks do 4 sets of 12 reps. The only exception is calves for which you always do 20 reps per set. This was a 12 week course. Presumably there was a week layoff after each training period of 3 weeks (Vince liked to train for 21 days, then take 7 days off - so these instructions fit that pattern). Between sets, Vince prescribed hyperventilating - or taking 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Of course, Vince had special instructions for each of his exercises. So to really understand the routine, you can still purchase a copy of Vince's original booklet at Ron Kosloff's NSP Research Nutrition site ( Ron carries on Vince's legacy and makes available to the public all of Vince's courses in their original form. When you get to his site, just look for the online shop section and click on "books and courses."

Now, Vince stated very clearly that he felt that gaining definition was 85% nutrition. So that tells you the importance of his "maximum definition diet" that he recommended to go along with his exercise routine. The diet is a zero-carb diet where you have a total carb meal every 72 hours or 4-5 days (in order to restore the glycogen in your system & muscles). The details of the diet are spelled out in his booklet. But the general idea is this:

eggs & meat, fish, fowl only (no limit)

eggs & meat, fish, fowl only (no limit)

same as breakfast and lunch (note: in one version of this diet, Vince allowed a tossed green salad with oil & vinegar dressing with dinner)

Carb Meal
every 72 hours

Use butter and cream (this is the only dairy products allowed)

e.g., liver tablets, kelp tablets, amino acids, enzyme tablets, vitamin & mineral tablets, glandulars, wheat germ oil w/ every meal, arginine-ornithine, etc (see Vince's booklet for details). He stressed the importance of taking calcium since it will counteract the "nervousness" that the high protein diet will cause.

An important issue with this kind of diet is the lack of fiber and, thus, potential constipation. One solution is to take a psyllium husk fiber drink (which should have no digestible carbs). Another thing that might help is to take probiotics daily to make sure your gut has all the beneficial bacteria needed to ensure optimal digestion (this is our suggestion, not Vince's).

In any case, there you are! One of the last methods of gaining classic definition from one of the last, true representatives of the pre-roid Golden Age. Vince's ideas probably represent the "high point" in terms of the pre-roid, Golden Age supplement methods.

This routine and diet will definitely work! It is really for the advanced trainer and requires major discipline! Zero carb diets are not easy to follow, but they sure burn fat quickly and allow you to retain more muscle mass! If you plan to try out Vince's routine, we recommend getting the original, full course from NSP Research Nutrition at the site we indicated above.


P.S. For a free, 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid, Golden Age of Bodybuilding (the 1940s and 50s) - just email us your name, the name of your city (not your address), state/province, and country. That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone. So you won't get on any unwanted lists or received unwanted, automated emails (even from us)!


Johnny G said...

this is one thing certain about the Golden era is that they had healthy diets - Vince is talking about eating meat all day long - go ahead and all of you eat that way and I'll visit ya in the cardic care unit - milk - cream - meat - how about colon cancer as well - and what is this liver tablets, kelp tablets and all this other stuff, I thought all of you deployed the waste of money on supplements - what happened to eating clean 3 times per day - and then some you bust on todays bodybuilders who use all their supplements and I'm not bring up steroids because that is a different subject on it own, I'm just talking about supplements - with everything Vince is taking it might be healthier to just do a cycle of steroids because for damn sure I'm not going to take a ton of supplements like Vince did in the so called Golden Era

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny,

You raise a number of good points. Here are some clarifications.

The first is, as I indicated, there were other approaches amd methods for training for classic definition than Vince's (which we will cover in the future). So Vince's wasn't or isn't the only approach. But it is natural and he was a classic physique builder and it does work - so it may be useful for some and it is certainly worthy of our historical acknowledgement.

Regarding the CPB editorial stance on supplements - as we say in the "Credo" - we believe in using pre-roid Golden Age methods (which includes limiting our supplements to pre-roid Golden Age supplements). We have been honest in pointing out that plenty of Golden Age champs built their physiques with no supplements (not even protein powder). However, we also mentioned the other supplements that came into use during the 40s and 50s. Vince had a "high view" of supplements and their effectiveness. His supplements (although plentiful) don't go beyond vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and concentrated food - hardly anything that is bad for you (and not very high-tech). We report it for historical purposes - not because we actually think all these supplements make that much difference (although the calcium is a very good idea on such a diet). Nevetheless, CPBer's (who follow our creed) can decide for themselves.

Regarding the diet and frequency of eating - Vince was always careful to point out that this diet was a "specialized diet" to be used for a short peroid of time only (note that the definition course is a 12 week course). It was not meant to be followed for long peroids of time. He had other diets which were more balanced for maintenance (not to mention his vegetarian diets, etc). Also, we have pointed out before that in the pre-roid Golden Age they did have 4, 5 and 6 times-a-day eating plans as well as the standard 3 (actually Vince follows the standard here).

Thanks for the comments. I hope this clarification helps!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Johnny G said...

Again it seems you come to the defense of those whom you like - The articles I have read since I have been on your site seems to steer us from the abuse and I'll use the word abuse again because of all the toxcities from the extreme amount of supplements will produce, but that Vince seemed to believe it would work - I sometimes can not figure out this site - once we are discussing truly natural training and diet and what makes common sense to where Vince use to believe in taking handfulls of supplements, I even read where he take 50 to 60 liver tablets at a time - then you would want us to beleive when steroids were available that some of these guys like Vince (using Vince as an example) would have steered clear from steroids when he was already overloading himself up with mounds of pills everyday - it seems to me that your Golden Era might have ended with Steve Reeves, because once it was available to find short cuts mankind acts like mankind and that is to take what is there - The people who really impress me are the ones who truly walked away from steroids and extreme amount of supplements when they were available - Not the Reeves or the Grimeks, because we will never know deep down if they would have steered away from drugs because it wasn't available..but those who knew the dangers and steered clear (note again that John Grimek did use steroids after his bodybuilding days were behind him, but he still did STEROIDS)-Now I know how you are going to react by saying Reeves and the boys put down steroids, but again if they were available would be the true test of someones character not talking it down when you are out of bodybuilding -- I really do not want to be a pain in the butt with your site, but when I see errors and maybe I'm only seeing them I voice my opinion - but this will be my last blog - I'll shout up and let others voice their opinions from here on out- later all

UK Steve said...

Is this CPB's first bit of controversy?!! Ha ha!

I agree that this does seem a bit 'at odds' with the CPB usual message - but it is something that was around in the Golden Era so I think it is right to cover it.

I agree with Johnny and would definately not follow that diet for health reasons - even for a short period of time - but again I think it is fair for a website like this to explain how the 'more extreme' CPB'ers of that age trained and ate. Personally I prefer the approach of Steve Reeves to diet - he wanted to be the healthiest man in the world not just the most muscular.

Again I feel uncomfortable with people who say they are against drugs in bodybuilding and then go on to train drug using bodybuilders - there is a clear incongruency there. Personally I prefer the approach of people like Harold Poole who when they state that they don't agree with drug taking - then back that up by not getting involved in the drug scene.

Some controversy is a good thing though - it makes you question yourself and helps you clarify in your own mind what you want to get out of your Classic Physique Building activities.

Keep up the good work CPB!

Steve, UK

Anonymous said...

wow just meat & eggs thats very hard to do

Ibrahim said...

I think it´s just a historical diet info about a person who was active in that era. But, certainly you heard it very often, there are so many ways to do something.
Another point is this type of diet, is very expensive, i mean in most diets you see the protein content, but here you have to put the price as content to the diet, too.
But everyone has different ideas.
You have a different point of view, he, she has a different point of view.
I just think even if you follow such a diet like Clarence Bass, it´s not functional at the end i think. Because you can have a 5-8% body fat can you still can be healthy.
I read a good quote on a friends site: "Keep everything moderate, including moderation" I think thats the best way.

Anonymous said...

Since it's a diet from a guy related to the golden age I don't see any controversy:
I would never follow this diet but it's interesting to know the different things the old champs tried.

It's interesting to know how Vince Gironda reached this extreme definition (although I'm no friend of extreme definition) and that he had other views than the champs that didn't take this amount of supplements.

(I don't see this article as a recommendation, but more as an information.)

All the best!!!

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

I hope it is clear that CPB Blog/Zine will cover ALL of the pre-roid Golden Age from 1940-59.

During that Age, there were a variety of methods and approaches. Reeves, Hoffman, the Weiders, Rader, Paschall - all had their approaches which differed from one another.

Vince had his approach, and since he is a personality of the pre-roid Golden Age, we will cover him as well.

As far as the CPB editorial position goes, I have made it very clear in many posts and articles that one does not NEED supplements in order to build a classic physique. That is the truth!

However, for someone following the CPB Credo, we say "We using Golden Age methods." Well - this means Golden Age supplements are fair game IF someone wants to use them. Vitamins, minerals, protein powder, liver tablets, etc, aren't unhealthful - unless used inappropriately.

A word about Golden Age type supplements like liver tablets. Some find that they don't help much (that has been my experience). Some find that they do help. There is enough individual biological variation between people for both of these to be true. So a CPBer is free to use Golden Age type supplements to find out for themselves. I would rather people take Golden Age type supplements than modern, high tech supplements (remember the problem with Hydroxycut?) or steroids.

Regarding the question of "which CPB champ would have used steroids if available, etc" - I don't think we are mind readers. So this kind of speculation provides nothing useful or helpful. Also, I don't think it is reasonable to think that just because someone is willing to use Golden Age type supplements that they would also be willing to use steroids.

Going back to Vince. He was quite an enigma, and I, personally, don't know quite what to make of him. On the positive side, he was a true proponent of the classic physique. He was an effective trainer. He was ahead of his time in many ways. He was vehemently anti-steroids. On the negative side, he was dogmatic, egotistical, and harsh (I remember that he hung up on me when I called him as a kid to ask him for some alternate exercises to the ones in his course which required special equipment). He was also the trainer of some notable 1st generation steroid users (like Scott) - and other 1st generation users (like Howorth, Ortiz, Peters) frequented his gym.

How can we resolve this contradiction that Vince was? This would require more space than this "comment" allows. Was he secretly using steroids? I doubt it. Did he train and allow steroid users to use his gym because he needed to pay the bills and it flattered his ego? I don't know. Did he have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding dianabol? Who knows. Did he develop his supplement methods as a natural alternative to steroids? Could be. The bottom line is that we don't know - we were not in his shoes.

Vince has a place in the "history" of the pre-roid Golden Age. His methods are included as a small part of the Golden Age "tool box" - doesn't mean you have to use them. It's a big "tool box!"

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

Thanks Anonymous, Steve, Ibrahim, and Johnny! CPB Blog is richer because of the added comments to the posts. Everyone should feel free to express their view as long as it is mature, respectful, and good-natured. No need to worry about being "flamed" here. Discussion is very welcome.

Also, please don't take each and every post as a personal endorsement! Think of CPB like a "reporter" of the pre-roid, Golden Age - who is giving people access to that information once again. It was a big Age with lots of different info!

I think it should be pretty plain from the posts and comments what I personally think. And if you are unsure and really want to know. Just ask! But just remember, different Golden Age tools will work for different people. Step 1 is just knowing what all those tools were. Step 2 is trying them out for ourselves and finding what works for us personally.

One last clarification regarding Vince's Definition Course - it is not for beginners or intermediates! It is for advanced trainers (people who have already attained their size and symmetry goals and now just need to increase their muscularity). This is the routine he used to get into contest shape! So it is not for general reducing. Also, for those who want to try it, you don't have to go for the whole 12 weeks. You also don't have to use it to acheive "extreme definition" - which I've always been against.

But we do have some modern, natural bodybuilding competitors who read this Blog and Vince's ideas on definition might be helpful to them (and it is good for all of us to be educated on the full range of Golden age methods in any case).

So please take the posts in the spirit that they are offered.

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Casey Butt said...

The claim that fats and cholesterol cause heart disease has never been conclusively proven and there's enough inconsistency in the studies that do reach that conclusion to cast serious doubt on it - not to mention evidence to the contrary. Mary Enig, Ulf Ravnskov, Michael Gurr and others have been pointing this out for years. Go ahead and eat all the milk, cream and meat you want and there's no reason to believe you'll end up in the cardiac unit any faster than anyone who doesn't - Gironda didn't and neither did countless others, including full societies, that ate and continue to eat that way.

As for the Gironda supplement recommendations I do agree that on the surface large doses of liver and kelp seem questionable. However, I've taken liver for years with no ill-effects whatsoever and have always gained strength while on 'cycles' of it. The large does of iodine in the kelp cause me concern, but in light of Gironda's other excellent advice I'll at least try to remain open-minded about it.

Gironda was a master at nutritional manipulation - perhaps the first bodybuilder to understand the role of carbohydrates in getting lean and manipulating water balance. I suspect that if and when the processed food and drug industries lose their grip over brainwashing the public with regards to nutrition we'll come to find that Gironda was on the money more times than not.

Johnny G said...

Well chime in Anthony, do you support the large quanities of meat/eggs/and diary products as Vince & Casey are suggesting - If you do then I'll shut up - this is about HEALTH we are talking about - for me to believe that this impetuous behavior of eating will bring us to a Healthy Classical Physique is on the line - you are the one who is claiming of having a PHD and I'm not challenging your credentials, but your response will be the most insightful for ALL of us

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny and Everyone,

Actually, Casey is another researcher/scientist with a Ph.D. and was a writer for "Hardgainer" and "Milo" magazines. He has extensively researched body measurements for the pre-roid Golden Age champs & modern, drug-free bodybuilders. So, he does speak authoritatively in my view. Please visit Casey's drug-free bodybuilding website at

But let me second Casey's point and go a bit further from my standpoint as an anatomist (and anthropologist).

The human body has been essentially the same for the last 1.8 million years (from the neck down). That body has long been adapted for a hunting-gathering way of life. The normal diet for hunters and gatherers is animal products (~50%) & wild plant products (~50%). These percentages vary according to the particular region that the hunter/gatherer group is in.

Hunter-gatherers didn't eat dairy, grains, breads, pasta, oatmeal or brown rice. The wild plant materials they ate were high fiber items like wild fruit and vegetables in season - not all year round like we have today.

There are plenty of hunter/gatherer groups (e.g., those in arctic climates) that lived almost exclusively on animal products (i.e., a high protein, high fat diet) and they lived very healthy lives until they came into contact with Western culture, diet, and processed foods - after which they rapidly developed the same chronic illnesses that are common today.

So a high protein, high (good) fat, low carb diet is a natural diet for humans.

The health benefits of low carb diets have been fairly well documented by scientific research. An easy way to find this research is to get a copy of Dr. Atkin's New Diet Revolution book. He cites the scientific literature extensively so you can easily find & read the scientific papers yourself.

The problem with a high protein, high fat diet comes when you throw lots of carbs on top of that. This is the situation in the West today and why there is such an epidemic of obesity.

Your body has a mechanism to burn carbs as fuel. It also has a natural mechanism for burning fat when carbs are absent. We naturally go back and forth between these two mechanisms every day.

So a high protein, high fat (good fat - not trans fat) diet in the absence of carbs (or with low carbs) will result in your body burning fat for fuel. First, it will burn the fat you eat, then it will burn the fat you've stored (e.g., under your skin).

This is why low carb diets are so effective at burning fat and why Vince and other bodybuilders have routinely used low carb diets for acquiring definition - long before Atkin's came out with his books.

So are high protein, high (good) fat diets unhealthy? In themselves, and if they are followed correctly, they are not in my view. If you have a pre-existing kidney problem, then processing large amounts of protein can be a problem.

What about eggs & cholesterol? Unless you have a pre-existing heart condition or high cholesterol, then dietary cholesterol from eggs is not a problem.

Actually, the body needs cholesterol. Why? One reason (of interest to muscle builders) is that our bodies produce testerone from DHEA and it produces DHEA (the "mother hormone") from cholesterol! So starve yourself of cholesterol and muscle building will be more difficult.

In a future post, I will cover Vince's view on "The Anabolic Egg". Perhaps now you can understand a bit why he thought that eggs (used properly) could be as anabolic as steroids - this was his view in the 60s when steroid dosages were much lower than today.

Bottom line - in my view, low carb diets or high protein, high good fat diets (if followed properly) are not unhealthful. Vince's short term Definition Diet is nothing to be concerned about in this regard.

But switching over to such a diet can be rough! But I will save that for another time. Also, low carb diets aren't the only way to acheive classic defintion.

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Johnny G said...

question is to both of you two Anthony & Casey, are your view points about diet in the minority or the majority of the medical community - there many highly educate people in the medical community(Mayo Clinic & John Hopkins Research) that believe that this caveman diet is bunk as they also feel about Atkins - even Jack LaLane doesn't eat meat - I do eat meat so I'm not some tree hugging vegan, but common sense runs my life not a Iron Guru who I beleive was more interested in building physiques before being concerned about the general health of his students - just his own students were into steroids big time, so why would he be so concerned about their health in this circumstance when it comes to diet - Anyone overloading on vitimans are taking a major chance that your body cannot handle all the toxicities that they produce - JUST DOES NOT SEEM NATURAL to me - I really believe that the most HONEST statement was said to Barbara Walters during an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger(1974) were he said to her is this (I have won Mr.Olympia taking supplements and I have won Mr.Olympia NOT taking supplements, But I never won Mr.Olmpia not taking steroids). So it comes down to me and is this( moderation when it comes to diet and hard training) If I would ever decide to get so extreme by taking the enormous amounts of supplements and such a extreme diet that I truly believe could be dangerous to my long term health and if I did then Hells Bells I might as go on a cycle steroids - We are in this for the LONG HAUL are we not??!!!

Dzenan said...

Yeah, he's basically using ketogenic (atkins) diet. I tried it but it's hard to live without carbs and I had to stop.
Despite our lifestyles a million years ago, up to perhaps 10,000BC? I think our organisms today are geared toward carbs as the preferred source of energy.
Almost all my life, I've been eating Mediterranean diet and I think I'll stick to that.

Overall, I think it's more about the in and out equation and what kind of foods you eat (clean and as much non processed as possible) rather than the percentages of protein, fat, and carbs.

Ibrahim said...

Exactly, low carb diets are not the only way. I think these kind of diets are burning fat very fast but, i would rather follow a diet for the long term. I mean that i change my life style a little bit. Bruce Randalls diet is pretty good.
And i think if somebody is active and participates in sport regularly he needs carbs.
Therefor i´m really happy that i don´t want or like to pose on stages. I like both the athletic side and the workout out side of sport.
In my mind, Vince for example on this pic, has way to much definition. Not that extreme cadaver look like today but this is not necessary i think.
When you look at the old post and look at John Grimek, is he unhealthful or does he looks bad because of not having such a definition i think not.
And when talking about Atkins:
Just no! I mean you want live a certain live style and you can see when the bodybuilders are in off season how much more they weigh. And just for a contest to cut so much weight, it´s not healthy in the long run.
I saw some pics of Reg Park where he stands on a stage with Draper, Frank Zane and other guys. You cannot say that he´s not in shape or needs more definition.
For another example Sig Klein the old time Strongman, had two pics, 1 where he was in his 20´s, another when he was in his 50´s. In Both photos he looked very muscular and in his 50´s he still had no excessive body fat.
He recommended the old two or three meals a day diet.

Johnny G said...

and again I eat my words which isn't unusual - I have been reading alot about Vince and as usual I to get caught up on what I read to be the truth in todays media when it comes to what we call modern nutrition and medicine - the more I argue a point that I feel is correct the more I'm brought back to real reality that maybe I'm wrong or just misinformed - I know I'm a pain in the ASS(I'm my mother), but if we can not argue a point where we get all the facts out then what is the purpose of having a blogg to begin with - I'm 56 years old and still learning and that still turns me on to a better health and a better body - I don't want all of you to think that this is a suck up apology, but an understanding about searching for the truth - I feel if we read something on this site and if it doesn't jive then question it and then we can get down to the nitty gritty - again thanks Anthony for showing me new or old info about developing and strong and healthy body

Johnny G said...

boy oh boy here I am again - one last point or two about Vince I REALLY LIKED was that he did not allow any horse play, no distractions at all from blairing music, there would never be a TV in his gym as their is today in these commercial gyms - Vince beleived in two things and that was KICK ASS in the gym then go home - sounds like I need to get my own equipment, even my old YMCA in Harrisburg, Pa has gone high tech - sure do miss the old days

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

Great comments! It is a pleasure to have such a high level of discussion. It is a great testament to our CPB Blog participants!

Let me add some additional points to the discussion:

1. Medical Orthodoxies - it has often been the case in science (perhaps most of the time) that majorities and orthodoxies have been wrong. If medicine had adhered to its own orthodoxies, then doctors would still be applying leeches as the treatment of choice for many ailments.

2. It is helpful to realize that politics and big money special interests affect science and medicine. You all know how big the agricultural business is. Now imagine what would happen to their profits if Atkins was too successful and people stopped buying high carb, agriculturally based products? So there are powerful interests who are ready to oppose a meat, fruit, vegetable - low carb type diet.

3. For Dzenan - humans invented agriculture around 10,000 years ago (ya) in some places and more recently (5-7000 ya) in other places. That is only "a few minutes ago" in evolutionary time. In my view, that is not enough time for us to have fully adapted to an agriculturally based diet. This is why many people have wheat and diary allergies today.

4. I would take vitamins over steroids every time! Steroids and hormones are very powerful and are involved in many, very complex reactions in the body - which I don't think science has fully understood. So you are really taking big risks when you start messing with your endocrine system.

As long as you don't overdose on fat soluable vitamins, then you will be OK. At the risk of opening up another can of worms, I would say that "organic vitamins in whole food complex" are better than the chemical analogs that are sold as "vitamins" over-the-counter.

5. Vince was aware that the body needed to rest from taking supplements, so he had different recommendations for this. One was to refrain from taking any supplement for one day each week. But he had other recommendations.

6. Rember that Vince was proposing a very specialized diet for a special purpose for the advanced trainer. He didn't intend this diet for long term use for the general public. So to get a balanced view of his many dietary plans and recommendations, you can read his book "Unleashing the Wild Physique" or visit some of the Vince tribute sites on the web.

Great comments! Great discussion!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

Just two more things:

I actually teach in a prominent medical school here in the U.S. and can tell you that the med students are lucky to get 4 or 5 nutrition lectures in their 4 years of study! So unless they take a personal interest and educate themselves, they are not very knowledgeable about nutrition, sorry to say. I don't know how it is in the rest of the world. But perhaps some of our CPB readers (we have subscribers from all over the world), might have first hand knowledge of this for their region.

Regarding Vince, Johnny points out...he was a no nonsense kind of guy. I think among the pre-roid, Golden Age figures, he was also a tragic one.

I won't go into his whole story, but when the commercial gyms came onto the scene and with steroids becoming commonplace, Vince's gym and his nutritional cosmetic bodybuilding approach (nutritional - refering to his diets and natural supplements, cosmetic - referring to his classic physique standard) seemed less and less "cutting edge" and "mainstream."

He never waivered from his views (refused to follow the latest fads like "low fat dieting") and his popularity declined, his gym membership dropped off, and he was forced to close his gym. One might say that roid-based bodybuilding, having took over, no longer had any use for him. He did agree to train a few steroid users (not the monsters of today though) like Mohamed Makkawy. But in all likelyhood I imagine that they would not bring up the subject of steroids with him and he would probably not ask them about it (or maybe he would have them agree not to use as long as they were training with him - I don't know).

In any case, he could have "gone with the flow". He could have sold his endorsement to supplement companies, fitness equipment companies, gym chains, etc. He could have publicly taken the position that "everyone has to decide for themselves whether to use steroids or not - I won't pass judgement." But he didn't. He was VEHEMENTLY anti-steroids - even when writing a column for Bob Kennedy's MuscleMag (a roid-based mag). He never pulled his punches on this.

He was forced to sell his gym, was little respected by the roid-based bodybuilders of the 1970s - 90s and he died poor - all this unnecessary had he just jumped on the steroid bandwagon.

During his life, at one time he had a battle "with the grape" - he was open about his faults. If he had taken or used steroids, I feel sure he would have been open about it - and would have used his experience to put them down even more vehemently and with even more authority.

So I think it is reasonable to conclude that a good part of the tragedy of his life had to do with his decreasing popularity due to his opposition against roid-based training methods (promoted by the mags which made his methods seem odd and out-of-step) and steroids.

This is speculation on my part, but I encourage everyone to read about his life and learn about him (and remember the context of roids and roid-based methods taking over the bodybuilding world beginning in the 1960s), before passing judgement.

None of us are without some faults.

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

One last thought on Vince's Maximum Definition Diet.

Vince once wrote that he got into the best shape of his life when eating 65 grams of protein! He said this, knowing that people would be incredulous because at other times, he recommended much more protein than this.

He didn't really explain himself on this, but I speculate that he wasn't talking about "mass building". Usually, the phrase "getting into the best shape of my life" refers to a finishing aspect of training. So he may have made this statement in reference to his Maximum Definition Diet.

So even though he says you can eat "eggs and meat" with no limit, that is probably just to provide psychological comfort - so someone doesn't feel restricted from eating. When you actually eat eggs and meat, it satisfies you & fills you up pretty quickly at smaller quantities.

So don't get the image in your head that he means to gorge yourself on dozens of eggs and tons of meat. Maybe, it just means a few eggs, some fish, a chicken breast and big green salad! After all, 65 grams of protein isn't much.

Perhaps if there is anyone out there who actually trained under Vince, they could enlighten us further!

Just some more food for thought from the enigmatic Vince!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Casey Butt said...

I know that Canadian med schools typically have terrible nutrition curriculums. In fact, it was because of a nursing/med school nutrition text that I initially sought out better sources of scientific information. I recall one chapter admonishing saturated fats because they caused arterial 'lesions' when fed in massive doses to rabbits. I found it quite an obvious question as to why the same does not happen to wolves on similar diets? Apparently, the researchers either didn't know that rabbits are herbivores, weren't aware of the existence of carnivores, or thought for some reason that humans have more in common with creatures that evolved eating no meat than with ones that did. 'Research' like this is why the average westerner is being brainwashed into fearing eggs, beef and milk. Gironda wasn't so easily lead.

From what I've been able to gather, Vince was quite dejected as bodybuilding strayed away from proportion and conditioning in the 'mass at all costs' direction - to the point of becoming a nasty old goat. Regardless, he certainly knew a thing or two about bodybuilding.

I think it has to be re-iterated that Gironda's methods weren't intended to be long-term healthy diets, but rather targeted nutrition programs aimed at creating a growth and visual effect. Even Vince said this himself in his writings. However, even with that said, there is a wealth of research refuting the idea that diets high in natural, unprocessed saturated fats, meats, milk, eggs, etc, is unhealthy at all - and an even larger amount of evidence supporting them.

Our modern, sedentary lifestyles are unnatural to the human creature. We are trying to fix a broken situation by blaming traditional nutrition when in reality, we live in a manner that our body and food supply never evolved to support. Now we have a food industry that introduces countless new chemicals into the system each year, compounding the problem further.

Natural, unprocessed foods are not unhealthy. To believe so is to disregard Charles Darwin. It is us who are not living and eating as nature designed. Under the premise that our modern lifestyles and chemically tampering with the food supply is not the fault, of course there is confusion and falsehoods rife in the nutrional and medical communities. The so-called "French Paradox" (why do the French eat so much saturated fat yet have such low incidence's of heart disease?) is only a paradox when we 'accept' the lipid hypothesis that saturated fats cause heart disease. If this is not the case, then there is no French 'paradox'.

Until we start accepting that we have drifted away from the lifestyles and activities that millions of years of evolution has designed our bodies to prosper in, and this is in fact the culprit in our rising rates of heart disease and cancer, then there will be many more 'paradoxes', and much more finger pointing in the food and medical industries.

Casey Butt said...

Vince spoke many times of fats 'sparing' protein (ala Irvin Johnson aka Rheo H. Blair). In fact, Blair claimed only a tablespoon of his protein powder was necessary when taken with heavy cream. In my opinion, when Gironda mentions 65g of protein it is because he ate high quantities of fat and this, he believed, made high protein intake unnecessary.

Johnny G said...

Bill Pearl is a lacto-ovo-veggie and he does not consume any kind of meat -Steve Reeves rarely I bet ate meat - as for Jack LaLanne does not consume red meat and only seldom does he eat chicken & fish - I am not saying Vince is wrong, but all I am saying is there are many paths to a Classical Physique - I guess this is FOOD for thought - and that applies to training as well

Johnny G said...

Oh by the way, I do remember where I read that about the over use of supplements - Anthony you made the point in your column the difference between Natural Bodybuilding vs. Classical Physiques and you pointed out with your words(Natural Bodybuilders over-emphaasizes the use of supplements).So maybe the case for Vince was he a classical bodybuilder & trainer or was he a natural.A fair question!!!???

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny, my view, Vince represented the "extreme" in terms of pre-roid Golden Age supplement use.

Although he was definitely at "one end of the spectrum" with respect to supplement use, the supplements were still Golden Age supplements (e.g., vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, and concentrated food - like liver tablets) and not the high-tech stuff used by today's natural bodybuilders.

Vince's ideal, in terms of physique, was definitely "the classic physique" - something which is not generally true of natural bodybuilders & their competitions as a whole.

So "classic physique ideal" plus "Golden Age supplements" equals "classic physique builder" in my book. But this is a small point.

One could argue that, although Vince was a classic physique builder, his emphasis on supplements pre-figured a similar emphasis that later natural bodybuilders would have (although they would use high-tech, designer and more risky supplements).

By the way, just heard on the radio that the FDA (in the U.S.) was recalling 8 more high tech supplements on the market because of possible liver & kidney damage. I didn't catch the names of these supplements but the news report said that they might have even contained steroids. So with Golden Age supplements, at least you know what you are getting. With all these modern, high-tech, designer supplements - you really don't. Risk and safety is a real issue (and one that usually shows up a few years down the line).

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Johnny G said...

I hear ya Anthony, my point is that Vince used high tech supplements at that era when the average John & Jane Q Public wasn't using anything - Now even Casey Butt recanted some of his first answer about Vince's methods by saying he only used these supplements sparingly which makes me to believe that there could be a adverse affect if done too long, do you get my drift - Where Steve Reeves daily regimen of diet was more consistent thru out his whole life - Vince tried things that where cutting edge at that time and you and Casey can say to me till you are blue in the face that everything that Vince did was Classical and Natural, but the over abundance of supplements can take a negative effect where Reeves' diet would not - Daily Classical Diets should not come from a pill or a tablet even though it was developed back in the 50's - And to UK Steve, it is great that you are trying to be consistant with a Classical Physique workouts, but remember that even then the top bodybuilders were not being up and up on their training programs, I feel they over exaggerated their measurements without a doubt and underscored how much and often they worked out - they also did a lot of gymnactis and hand balancing workouts as well that we don't discuss enough which in its self can be one hell of a workout - as usual I have little or slight different opinion - but we all want to keep it clean much as possible

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny,

Well...there no one like Vince to get a discussion going! :)

I will just say again that I consider Vince to be "at the extreme end of the spectrum" when it came to Golden Age supplement use. My preference is certainly the Steve Reeves approach.

And here is the question that I have about Vince. Vince surely knew that physiques like Reeves, Grimek, Ross, Stephan, Eiferman, Delinger, etc, were built without supplements. His own physique was not better than theirs - despite his supplement use. So why did he feel the need to advocate so many supplements? I guess this question would open up a whole new speculative discussion.

Regarding exaggeration of measurements, etc., I think there was much less of this in the 1940s (when Steve was competing and more active) than in the 1950s (once supplements entered the picture).

Handbalancing, gymnastics, etc - true! During the muscle beach era the champs were also engaging in these types of activities. However, it is less clear that they were doing A LOT of this while building their physiques initially. For those who find it hard to gain, the Golden Age advice was to restrict all other sport activity until your classic physique was built. Then you were encouraged to engage in any sport or activity!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Casey Butt said...

I think it's important to put Gironda's supplement recommendations into perspective. Forty 10-grain desiccated liver tablets, the largest commonly available in Gironda's day - and most manufacturers who claim to produce larger today (such as Beverly) are manipulating the truth - is only equivalent to a maximum of about 104 grams of raw liver. Even 100 tablets only contains as much liver as you'd eat in a typical fried piece. I don't think anybody would expect to collapse of an iron overdose eating a piece of liver a day, yet Gironda's recommendations for typical trainees (a max of about 50 tablets/day) fell well below this equivalent amount.

As for kelp, iodine toxicity symptoms don't develop until the dosage gets over 6 mg/day for extended periods for a typical person. That's the equivalent of 15-40 kelp tablets (depending on potency). Gironda usually recommended as high as 30 tablets a day. At 1960s potencies, that's about 4.5 mg/day of iodine - less than what should cause any detectable toxicity. And it has to be remembered that Gironda was looking to increase iodine intake to deliberately raise thyroid levels and take off fat - in effect, flirting with hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is fairly easy to spot (I've brought it on myself through supplementation) - when signs of hyperthyroidism occur (shakiness, light-headedness, etc) that's the sign to back down.

Of all Gironda's supplement recommendations, I think the kelp tablets have to be most closely monitored - especially now when the iodine in kelp tablets can be over 220 mcg/tablet. But it has to be kept in mind that Gironda did not typically recommend a dose that would cause toxicity and really only meant this as a short-term thing for taking off fat. Thyroid is a 'dangerous' thing to be messing with when you don't know how much iodine you're taking in or are ignorant of hyperthyroidism. I think Gironda should have explained this better, but the amounts he recommended - for the potencies available at the time - weren't at levels where a typical hard training bodybuilder would experience any negative symptoms.

Johnny G said...

about Vince's use of supplements it all about mankind looking to get results easier and faster and that is the nature of the beast - even Steve and the other guys tried to mix up shakes that would help with their recovery from tough workouts - and again where is enough a enough - If mankind wouldn't try to fine easier ways we would never discovered the wheel, and leads us back to Vince - the true problem is when we know that a over abundance of supplements and steroids can cause a negative effect on ones health then we look away because were are only concerned about how we look is the major problem...maybe someday we might discover a pill that would develope us to a classical physique, but where would the fun be in that - We need to maybe have this journey to work on physical perfection by gut wrenching workouts and good healthy diets, not because how it makes us look, but how it makes us feel physically and mentally as well...I worked, I achieved, Now I understand the Journey...It completes us as a whole...something might be missing if we only had to take a pill...maybe I'm to deep, but this is how I really look at this

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

Casey makes a good point to keep in mind for perspective - that is, the amounts/dosages of supplements that Vince was recommending were not toxic (in the strong sense of the word).

Although it is tempting to generalize and equate Vince's supplementation methods with taking the little blue/pink pills (steroids) as "trying to find a short cut," I think this is over generalizing. I definitely draw the line between Golden Age supplementation (even the "extreme" methods of Vince) and steroids.

Even with all of the supplementation that Vince recommends, it does not come anywhere close to the effect of taking one little pill of dianabol.

Dianabol (and other steroids) were the true "short cut". Once this came in, bodybuilders were reputed to say when asked which protein supplement they took "Who needs protein when you have dianabol!" (This was reputed to have been said by Freddy Ortiz). So much for supplements being a short cut!

I would like to raise the point of supplement "toxicities" ("toxicity" in the weak sense of the word). Vince would recommend to everyone that they lay off supplements for various peroids of time (he had different schemes). For example, one of his schemes was to lay off supplements 2 days/week and also for one week every 3rd week. He said that this would allow the body to rest and clear out any "toxicities."

Now, here, Vince is not talking about overdosing. I think he is referring to the portion of supplements and also, some of the inert materials (e.g., in the capsules casing) that don't get fully digested and end up "clogging up your system." So to "detoxify" - he gave his different recommendations about how to lay off supplements.

So Vince's supplementation methods MUST, at the same time, be considered within the context of his supplementation lay off instructions.

In any case, I think anyone who has been on dianabol in the 1960s would tell us that the Golden Age supplements (even Vince's) were nothing compared to those little blue/pink pills.

All the best (and great discussion!),

CPB (Anthony)

Casey Butt said...

More on the fat-protein ratios proposed by Gironda and Blair...

Quoted from Sallinen J, Pakarinen A, Ahtiainen J, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Häkkinen K. "Relationship between diet and serum anabolic hormone responses to heavy-resistance exercise in men."...

"Significant correlations were observed between serum basal testosterone (T) and fat and protein intake in the total group of subjects. However, when the two groups were examined separately the significant relationships between serum basal T and dietary fat and protein could be noticed in strength athletes only. Both serum T and free testosterone (FT) responses to heavy-resistance exercise were correlated with fat and protein. The results suggest the possible role of diet leading to alterations in serum T and FT during prolonged strength training, and that diets with insufficient fat and/or excessive protein may compromise the anabolic hormonal environment over a training program."

Essentially, the researchers found that in weight training athletes dietary fat promotes a greater testosterone response to exercise and dietary protein reduces it. Their conclusions were that resistance training athletes' diets should contain sufficient fats and not too much protein for maximum effectiveness. Precisely what Blair and Gironda were recommending in the 1950s and '60s.

Perhaps Blair and Gironda "realized" more than most give them credit for.

UK Steve said...

This is very interesting - did the study mention what types of fat are most beneficial for building muscle e.g. would we be better off supplementing our diets with healthful fats such as fish oil, olive oil etc rather than protein powders?

Casey Butt said...

I don't recall if they looked at actual types of fats in that particular study, and I'm at work right now, so I can't check. However, other studies did find that saturated fats and monounsaturates had the most effect on testosterone levels, with polyunsaturates being more or less effectless.

I wouldn't swallow the whole "good fats, bad fats" line. The scientific evidence condemning saturated fats with regards to health is far from conclusive and often even contradictory. In this case, it appears more aimed at selling publications and processed vegetable oils than anything rooted in truth.

The main 'problem' with fats is that they contain about 9 calories per gram (all of them), and they convert to body fat very efficiently (except the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil, etc). So they have to be consumed sparingly if you have a tendency to get fat. But the take-home lesson with this appears to be that saturates and monos certainly should be included in a 'training' diet.

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

I would like to second Casey's comment about saturated fats. Usually saturated fat is demonized as "bad fat" by "nutritionists" and others, but what they don't tell you is that your body actually needs saturated fats in order to carry out certain necessary physiological functions. So any natural fat (fat on meat, fat from nuts, fish, olives, etc) is nothing to worry about in general (except in terms of calorie content perhaps) - the body is adapted to handle it in appropriate quantities.

The fat to avoid is "trans fat" (partially hydrogenated oils). This is an artificial fat which has no redeeming qualities that I know of. It is usually added to all kinds of processed foods.

So if you are on a pre-roid Golden Age high protein diet of meats, dairy, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains with little to no processed foods, then you won't have to worry because these foods don't have trans fat.

Another point, dietary fat in the presence of carbs will convert easily into body fat. However, if your carbs are low (as Gironda was recommending), your body can burn the dietary fat easily and it has the additional benefit of giving you the sense of being satisfied longer after eating and thus controlling feelings of hunger.

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

For anyone interested, here is a link to an article on the biological importance of saturated fats -

The info presented in this article is consistent with other scientific papers I've read on the topic.

As Casey pointed out, there may be powerful financial interests behind the demonization of saturated fats (and I would add dietary cholesterol to that as well).

In any case, the pre-roid Golden Age diet was not a low fat, low cholesterol diet - which is the fad and fashion of today.

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Balamurugan said...

Hi everyone,

i hope you may consider the following points,

1. during the time of vince 1960's average human was lean and trying to getting big both muscles and fat. they want to eat more. but now 2010, average human is fat and trying to get lean.

2. cardiovascular excercises were not needed in 1960's where people walked a lot (minimum 5 kms) apart from doing household chores themselves.

3. cholesterol and heart problems are related. but simpley one is not the cause of other. cholesterol problem and heart problems found together in the crime scene of hear attact or stroke. but cholesteroal is still the accused. simple correlation doesnot mean casue effect realtionship.

4. liver tablets provide the biomolecules available in human liver. liver tablets were from mammals like cattle slaughter house. they provide the biomolecules in liver and helps in functioning of liver fat metabolism and helping in assimillation of excess fat and builing up of body.

5. liver tablets works only when combined with carbs and fats in excesss body requires. so vince might prescribed liver tablets so fat and protein will be used up at least in protein excretion.

6. if average joe of today want to cut up and gain musle at the same time it may be impossible as body during cut up will be unable to take care of building up.

7. supplements do work. if they supply proteins and other required nutreints required by body. but its still possible to acheive the same condition with normal food and workout but time required will be longer. again few supplements like creatinine and BCAA might not work for all since people are not same with genetics.

8. normal food composition is 50-30-20 carb:protein:fat or simple modification of this formula. some claim 60-30-10. high protein if we take it will not be used up in building body, but used as a normal fuel replacing carbs. carbs are the basic fuel escpecially complex carbs.

9. high protein places little overload for kidney as there is a load to convert protein to carbs and then use them as fuel. only 25%-30% of energy came from protein.

10. protein is not stored in animals( humans) so even consuming protein more will not help to build body. inturn excess protein will be converted to carbs or fats and stored or used as fuel.

11.low carb diet can be prescribed for a short period of cutting up 3 months or so. otherwise kidneys have to pay for the excess load.