Bodybuilding For Men Over 40 By Vince Gironda

Bodybuilding For Men Over 40 By Vince Gironda

The most famous bodybuilding trainer in the world reveals special training advice for more mature bodybuilders.

He demonstrated the validity of his training techniques by placing second in the NABBA Pro Mr. Universe contest against the world’s best at the age of 42!

Fifty years of experience in the gym business gave Vince an insight into building muscle that few men in the world possess. His training advice has been used successfully by hundreds of bodybuilding stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Larry Scott, Don Howorth, Reg Lewis, Chris Dickerson, Frank Zane and Sergio Olivia. Vince pioneered many of the concepts that have subsequently been proven to be the most effective for muscle growth and definition.

This is being written for men who consider themselves “older men,” who are confused by the so-called physical culture writers who are themselves confused.

These writers—self proclaimed experts—are advising older men to use lighter weights and high repetition programs. This is not only a waste of time and energy, it is also detrimental. The real secret is to know how muscle is developed and to train accordingly. This is what I am about to reveal to you.

To begin with, it is important to understand the correct time of the day to train. That is, the time of day when you blood sugar level is at its highest. Men under 40 years of age function more efficiently in the evening. Mature men reach this efficiency time of day in the early hours.

I personally find myself most energetic at 6:00 o’clock in the morning. My most serious training has always been done at this hour, yet when I was in my twenties I trained at 10 o’clock at night. World famous fitness expert Jack LaLanne also trains before 6:00 am, and bodybuilding superstar Bill Pearl always trained at the same early hour in the morning.
Early morning training insures me of a high-energy level the rest of the day. Science claims that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Because the blood sugar drops three hours after any meal, it needs to be refurbished every three hours in order to maintain a constant nitrogen balance. It is important to know that 90% of any protein ingested is utilized after training (up to 1 to 2 hours), so it is recommended to consume more protein at this time.

The right approach to your training routine is simply to set in motion the right mental attitude. You must have a clear image of what you wish to feel and see from the workout. This means you must constantly take a visual inventory of your physique. You should stand in front of a mirror and analyze your development—drawing a positive thought form of any body part that you wish to improve.

This visual inventory procedure may require a few poses, which enable you to make a mind-to-muscle contact. This is done by isolating the muscle and developing a control, which is very important to establishing a strengthened nerve impulse to a given muscle. Actually, you must realize that nerve impulses are established to send stronger and more efficient electrical charges before the muscle can be developed. The larger the muscle the stronger the nerve charge. Think of this process as charging your storage battery—the stronger the charge, the harder the contraction.

Any exercise program should be designed to create an illusion, because we all have faults in our conformation. The first illusion to create—which all of the modern-day bodybuilders seem to lack—is shoulder width. As far as I am concerned, the average lay person has always admired broad shoulders above all else. This has always proclaimed a man as an athlete who has broad shoulders.

PECS—The first exercise I am about to describe creates an illusion of width across the chest by creating a shadow and/or line under the pecs and continuing until it seems to merge with the shadow under the deltoid. This exercise is:

V-Bar Parallel Dips. Until you develop the look described above, you will not be able to appear to have pecs. This movement is performed by using a 32″ wide parallel bar and holding your body in a crescent shape position (chest concave), with the elbows wide in order to fully engage the pectoral muscles. The head is facing the floor, looking at the pointed toes, and dipping down as far as you can stretch. The bottom of the stretch is the most important aspect of the movement. The first 8 to 10 inches is 100% pectoral engagement, providing the elbows are wide. If the elbows are facing back to any degree the value of the exercise is diminished by 80%.

UPPER BACK—The next exercise to employ is for width across the upper back. You may be surprised to learn at this point that I am not suggesting latissimus dorsi work. Why? Because long lats destroy a dramatic taper which we are trying to achieve. The teres major, however, does just the opposite by producing a wide shoulder and back appearance.

Seated Horizontal Pulley Rowing. Teres major muscles are engaged by a horizontal pull to the chest with the chest concave, or chest up (chest up produces more back width). In my gym, I had a special piece of equipment, which I designed with a horizontal pull. The pulley is 16 inches off the floor and you site and pull a 24″ wide handle back to your chest with the legs slightly bent. It is important to always touch the chest at the bottom of the sternum to insure maximum contraction. Also, remember to keep the elbows up away from the body. Last but not least, you should have a picture in your mind of the anatomy of the teres and upper back. Study a good anatomy chart of the upper back for a better understanding.

DELTOIDS—This is the next body part in line to produce the cosmetic look we wish to achieve. The lateral head of the deltoid is the portion of this three-headed muscle, which gives the maximum-width look we are striving for. Presses of any kind develop the thickness or front deltoid, not the width of the delts. The posterior (rear) delt also contributes to thickness only of the delts. You can work these strands at a later date to round out the deltoid, but not at this stage.

Upright Rowing Motion. This exercise develops the deltoids faster than any exercise I know. The width of the grip is shoulders-width—any narrower grip causes the trapezius to be brought into play and will develop them and not the deltoids. The bar is across the upper thighs at the start and the elbows are not locked out, they are pointed outwards. As the bar is pulled up, pull it away from the body (about 10-inches). When you reach the height of the mid-pectoral, the elbows stop at the height of the top of your head—the elbows are also forward, not out to the sides. At this position, the upper arms should be in the same position as the lateral raise with dumbbells. Actually, this exercise is a duplicate of the lateral raise. However, it is superior to the lateral raise for deltoid development.

TRICEPS—The exercise for this muscle is a compound movement (two exercises on a given muscle). The name of this combination is referred to as

Barbell Pullover and Press. Lie down on a flat bench with the top of your head off the end of the bench. Take a slightly narrower than shoulders-width overhand grip and begin with the arms extended over the chest. From this position, with elbows parallel to the body, lower the bar down and back under the bottom of the head; without pausing, pull the bar upwards and forward to the starting position. Perform 8 reps, then without stopping, lower the bar to the base of the neck and do 8 presses with the elbows always under the bar.

BICEPS—Here is a great biceps developer that builds this muscle rapidly. It is also a compound movement.

Preacher Stand Curls and Barbell Body Drag. The proper stance using the Preacher Stand is: the left leg is place next to the post, holding the Preacher Stand, and the right leg is back for support.

– Elbows are placed 3″ below top of stand and are shoulder-width. Hands are shoulder width.
– Begin curl by letting the barbell roll down to the first joint of the fingers.
– Start curl by closing hand on bar and then curl hand and wrist.
– Start the barbell moving up and as curl nears completion, the forearms should cover the upper arm.
– At the top of the movement, the bar should be pulled back until it touches base of neck and front deltoids.
– After completing this set, select a barbell 40% lighter and with a wide grip curl up touching the body all the way up to the neck and back down the same way (barbell body drag).

Now for forearms. Sit on a bench and lay forearms on top of thighs with the wrists breaking over end of knees.

THIGHS—The following exercise builds shape and size to the mid and lower portions of the thighs:

Hack Slide. This exercise is performed with the heels about 16″ to 18″ apart, with the toes wider and upward. The heels should be positioned well back under the hips to produce maximum thigh stress and to create development above the knee and middle thigh areas. Never lock out at the top of the movement. This is an incomplete burn type of movement and builds muscle tissue faster than any other thigh exercise I know. Steve Reeves’ thighs were the type of shape and development produced by this exercise. If you feel you need leg biceps development, after every set of hack slides, step outside the platform to the sides, toes very wide, and do 4 to 6 more reps without resting. This was Larry Scott’s method of working his thighs.

CALVES—This muscle has more fibers (1,120,000) than any other muscle in the human body. The upper arm has only 40,000 fibers. So this indicates to me that more work is needed. I have experimented with heavy weights and low reps (10 reps) and received no success. This experiment lasted one year. I found 20 reps to be the answer, with all the weight you can handle. Also, you may work stubborn calves on off-days, providing you use no weight—pump only!

Calf Raises. You must rise on your toes with the feet placed on a 4″ block. Most of the weight is on the first two toes: big toe and second toe. If you wish to develop the diamond peak of the calves, the knees must be slightly out of lock. As you rise, there is a pressure at the heels. You must also remember that calves are a stretch muscle, so make an effort to touch the floor on each rep. I have observed the men with good calf development have this full range of movement, and those that don’t have shown a marked lack of development. Get good use out of the calf machine.

SETS and REPS for men over 40—I particularly advise beginning this program with three sets only. You may add a fourth set later only if you feel that you are honestly doing the exercises to the best of your ability. Train three times a week with at least a day of rest between workouts.

Beware of adding sets and weight. This usually indicates sloppier form and is an excuse to justify it. Rather than to raise the weight, I advise doing three sets of 8 reps, and increasing the reps as you improve to 12. Never raise the reps until you have completed three workouts at the number of reps you are using at the time. This is the system that I taught at my gym for fifty years with great success.

On compound movement or burn movements, the second exercise is less than the first movement, such as 8 reps on the Preacher Curls and 6 on the Body Drag; or 8 reps on the Hack Slide for the thighs, and 6 reps on the leg biceps (feet wide outside of the platform). Calves, of course, are always 20 reps. Prior to a contest, I raised the count to 30 reps.

  1. Never allow your age to be an excuse!..if you are healthy enough to weight lift..go for it!..our society has a lot of age bias…which is bull..don’t let it get you down..and rob you of your manhood..

  2. We don’t know who wrote the article above. If it was Vince Gironda then he would be far older than late 40’s/early 50s. The author stated in the article that “This is the system that I taught at my gym for fifty years with great success”. Also, how old is this article? Jack LaLanne was cited as an early morning trainer and he has been dead since 1/23/2011! Also some serious license was taken with dietary information in regard to timing and use of nitrogen by training. I just want a program that works for me and not have to change my life to get up at 6am. I worked years on second shift and that will not work for me.

  3. Hi! I’ve been following your site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a
    shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up
    the great work!

  4. I am 53 yo have recently been treated for high blood pressure. My doc is a sports medicine physician so I am confident I am in good hands however I would like to learn what to expect. Do I need to change my strategy for mass building for an overall fitness rather than bodybuild

  5. Sam, I don’t think he is saying 6am is a mystical hour, just that getting up early and training straight away is the best time for an elderly gentleman because after your shift/nearer sleeping time, energy is far more depleted compared to a youngster.

  6. Sam – I dont think he is saying 6am is a special hour, only training out very early (perhaps an hour before your usual wake up time) is when an elderly gentleman would have the most energy. After work/late night, no longer cuts it when older…i remember myself training at 10pm and going for midnight jogs…those days are over for me, I’m afraid 🙂

  7. Valuable guidance.Could have been more inspiring with photographs.
    Need a diet plan and workout as I am diabetic/hypertensive on medications.
    working out at the gym daily 45 -50 minutes daily,5 feet -10.5 inches .At 51 ‘am 95-5kgs.determined to go for bodybuilding.

  8. I am 53 and have been a weight lifter for 37 years and just found this article. I am giving it a go and find that it is more doable and reasonable than the other workouts I have tried in the last 10 year.

    I keep hearing age should not be a factor, says the 28 year old. Hell, anyone can be in great shape at 28! Try it at 53 and we’ll talk. Thank you for a reasonable workout that seems to get results. Wish you had more info for the over 50 crowd.

    1. Just take in what this genius as to say–it’s Vince in the picture–anyone who has even casually followed bodybuilding should know this.

  9. Vince was a kickass and take names kind of a guy when it came to training. An Old Salty Dog so to speak. I did his 8×8 method in the past and put crazy size on. I also read a lot about him which I was impressed with. I will be forty in a few months and have been a serious lifter since fifteen years old. I am looking forward to the next twenty-five years of lifting in hopes of helping to destroy some of the myths out there that say lifting heavy cannot be sustained into our elderly ages.
    Thank you for the article- Timothy

  10. If you don’t have the equipment to do the rows, is there a substitute? Also, I don’t have access to a preacher bench or hack squat machine. Any suggestions?

  11. Love this article. With all the unnecessary BS fitness advice out there it was refreshing to see some straight forward simplistic information. I don’t have access to a hack machine, anyone have an idea for those? I have a home gym with squat rack, barbells, dumbbells, and lat pulldown/seated row tower.

  12. I keep returning to this article. Vince’s recommendation for reps is the best for men over 40 (or 50 in my case). It allows for progress overload without causing aching tendons ( My greatest challenge). Thanks for the post…keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.