A Real Vince Gironda Workout

The real problem with writing a Vince workout is so much is lost in the translation.

Side Laterals to Vince took on a whole new meaning, as did pretty much every other exercise performed at Vince’s. He, Nick, or other members were quick to bark orders commanding you to perform a movement with a certain, precise style.

It was this “style” (for lack of a better word) that would make Vince’s hack squat a multi exercise station.

I am hoping that most people on this forum understand what I mean, and already know many of Vince’s “rules” for the exercises I am about mention.

I was asked to provide a “Vince” routine. Also mentioned is people’s misconception of Vince’s hatred toward squats and bench presses. So in order to satisfy the squatters below is a sample leg workout from many years ago. Keep in mind there were no routines or typical workouts at Vince’s.

Day One: Quads, Hams, Calves

Leg Extensions 8×15
Hack Squat (a) 8×15
Hack Squat (b) 8×15
Leg Curl 8×15
Calf Raises 8×20

There was VERY LITTLE REST – EVER. I’m talking 15 – 20 seconds break, “take 10 deep breaths…GO!”.

All of these were performed in a very strict manner – Vince Style. I am not going to go into great detail about each exercise, but briefly put:

Leg Extensions were performed while basically performing a sit up motion coordinated with the flexion and extension of the knee.

Hack Squat (a) was performed with the feet together, toes out, heels all the way to the back of sleds platform, and the knees bent way over the feet upon descent.

Hack Squat (b) was performed with the feet together, toes straight forward, and toes nearly hanging off the front of the platform.

Leg Curls were performed in a similar coordinated fashion as Leg Ext…rocking upper body up and down while performing Leg Curls.

Calf Raises had to be performed with your SHOES OFF, and very strictly. If you are using a ton of weight – you’re doing them wrong.

They (Vince and Nick) liked higher reps for legs, at least my legs. Those eight sets were built over time, starting with one each and each workout building. But I gotta tell ya, for some reason I can not come close to doing that workout any more. There was something special at Vince’s Gym that could make me like a machine and keep going.

Some of you may find it interesting that while they used high volume training in his gym, they also openly advocated Mentzer’s Heavy Duty back in the day. They said it was sound training, but for most people its better for them to handle more volume. Maybe they meant safety, but in my opinion they were probably referring to creating the “illusion” of a perfect body.

Please remember this was performed after years of training and under guidance.

That workout was/is brutal. Like I said I’ve tried going back to it and I can’t seem to do it without utilizing major drop-sets. Those days of training like that was when I was 19 years old and in excellent shape (my waist was 27” and my thighs were 28”). 8 x 8 is not for the novice. And yes, like I said, it was months before I could work up to that volume. The main part was focus and drive to just get it done. I think those leg workouts lasted at most 35 minutes. I often tried to do too much too soon (because I always figured more is better) but I would try to stop myself as I matured, otherwise he would yell at me for overtraining. I was actually sent home one day because I just kept training (I was about 15 or so).

A sample beginner workout was more like:

One set each between 8 to 12 reps

Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Hack Squat
Pull Downs
Decline Fly (with those low pulleys Vince had)
Side Laterals
Scott Curl
Tri Pushdown

That’s what I started with more or less. And still, that is more or less what I start my clients with as well.

Vince performed this as a circuit. Each workout the volume increased by performing the circuit one more additional time. I know he really liked two-a-days with this as well.

Really the importance of Vince’s training wasn’t in the “routines” so much as it was in the way an exercise was performed. They (Vince and Nick) were VERY specific about the way an exercise was to be done in their gym.

Today, I perform very few sets per workout, but the sets I perform are done with precision. I think Vince would still approve of my current training, yet still have many suggestions to make it better.

At Vince’s I was often instructed to do routines consisting of three sets per exercise and between two and three exercises per bodypart. The first set was light and used to get perfect form. The second set was heavy and to failure, and then the third was a no rest, drop set. The emphasis was on form and failure. Reps were moderate between 8 – 15.

Vince was very specific about a muscle needing 72 hours of rest. But he also had most of the beginners (including me) workout day after day using a circuit routine.

  1. I had been training for years before I bought Vince’s exercise DVD. But I learned so much from it, and the next time I trained felt like the very first time! Like flicking the light switch on.

    As you say, it’s more than just the exercise, it’s knowing how to get the best out of it, and Vince was a true master.


  2. I am a female, ex-amateur bodybuilder. I have been away from serious lifting for about 5 years now, but would like to re-start. Although I don’t want to compete again, I DO want my firm, muscular physique back. I noticed when I was training that I just didn’t seem to be getting the results that I should have been on certain body parts, namely back and shoulders.
    I plan to “Vincify” my workouts and see what happens!


  3. Yeah, lifting is great, except it makes your hair fall out. I did serious weight training last year for the first time in my life. And I lost more hair than I did in the previous five years over that ten month span. Doing that “Sprint 8” thing now. Was doing strictly cardio before. Please don’t give me that, “I’d rather be bald than a skinny wimp,” nonsense. Fat comes and goes much easier than hair.

    1. Were you losing a lot of weight very rapidly at that time too? Like trying to diet while lifting? Stressors to the body, such as new/aggressive exercise and weightloss can cause you to lose hair. Anything that messes too greatly with your hormones, male or female, will do that. Perhaps your routine was too much for you, maybe you had a weak thyroid, poor sleep, or other things going on in your life where working out added a layer of stress and not restoration. With sudden/rapid hair loss you’ll notice it about 3 months after a large stressor (google telogen efluvium). This is very different from hair thinning gradually over the years. If it was anything like that, wouldn’t blame weightlifting as much as your approach.

  4. #4 Emit 2015-05-30 16:02
    Yeah, lifting is great, except it makes your hair fall out. I did serious weight training last year for the first time in my life. And I lost more hair than I did in the previous five years over that ten month span.”

    How do you know for certain that your hair loss was caused by weight training and not by something else? That is, that your hair loss wasn’t merely coincidental to the weight training?
    I’m 59, have been a (lifelong PEDrug-free) bodybuilder since age 16 in 1972, and have NEVER heard of anyone losing hair due to weight training.
    How old were you when your hair loss began? Have you sought medical advice and been tested in order to diagnose any hormone imbalance (such as thyroid imbalance) which might cause hair loss? And — were you taking steroids while training? Steroids use can manifest pre-existing genetic tendencies to hair loss in some individuals.

  5. #4 LOL that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life! Hair loss has nothing to do with lifting weights.

  6. If you had taken up knitting for a year and started losing your hair then would you put it down to that?

    Maybe you just reached the time where you were going to start losing it regardless.

Leave a Reply to CF Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.