Today’s blog comes from Alex Eriksson. Take it away Alex …
There was a time when bodybuilding was as fulfilling a sport as you could get; after all, it depended solely on how badly you wanted it. This was before the advent of the “anabolic steroids” era when hulking beasts emerged from the fog and ushered in another phase of mass monsters.
No, we’re going back to a time before that, when one man started a revolution on his own. This man, was Vince Gironda.
Known as the “Iron Guru” Vince Gironda was the man credited with bringing about the true Golden Age of Bodybuilding. What makes Vince Gironda’s style of training fascinating, however, is the fact that his training and nutritional modalities were developed long before the advancement of science, and based largely on real life experience.
For example, he thoroughly disliked the flat bench press, stating that it resulted in deltoid development but not pectoral.
He also despised back squats, saying that they unequally promoted large gluteal and hip development, making the thighs look tiny. His gym even controversially lacked a squat rack, because he did not allow pupils to do it. Could you go without squatting? You should consider it.
Many more of his principles still hold true today, and are now confirmed by science.
By the way, did we mention that he was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first trainer? This simple notion helps prove that his methods did in fact work, and paved the way for natural bodybuilders. We owe this man a real debt of gratitude.
What Nuggets Of Wisdom Has This Legend Left For Us? Among the most notable ones:
Vince Gironda was a huge proponent of nutrition, so much so that he actually believed that diet and nutrition is responsible for 85% of your success as a bodybuilder. Vince was also an early supporter of low carb dieting trends, and believed in higher fat and protein diets for optimal muscle development. Hence, the “hormone precursor diet” was created.
To understand what one of his hormone precursor shakes was all about, you have to see what it contains. Here is the original recipe:
Though it may seem immense at first, the good news is that since it is in the form of a shake, it won’t be as difficult to consume as if it were solid food. This is especially beneficial to the “ectomorph” or classic hardgainer, who has a difficult time consuming enough calories in the form of solid food.
The primary goal of the hormone precursor diet was to keep the body in a state of anabolism, so muscle synthesis was increased constantly throughout the day. Vince would take 1 to 3 of these shakes per day, to ensure regular delivery of nutrients to supply muscles with necessary building materials.
If you like, the banana can be excluded to maintain macros on a lower carb diet as well.
Nowadays, eggs are vilified as nutritional criminals who will kill you if you consume more then two per day. However, these sentiments are not shared by many natural bodybuilders, not to mention the Iron guru himself Vince Gironda.
In reality, eggs are some of the best muscle building foods on the planet, being loaded with protein and cholesterol to boost hormone production. In fact, a study revealed that consumption of a diet higher in eggs and cholesterol was not associated with higher incidence of heart disease, but rather triglyceride levels are a determining factor. Elevated triglyceride levels usually occur in response to excessive sugar consumption.
In addition, eggs offer much more than protein and cholesterol- they are also loaded with Vitamins A, D and E, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
Many of these minerals and vitamins help to regulate metabolic processes of the body, including promoting testosterone synthesis. Consistent, high levels of testosterone levels are critical when trying to build appreciable muscle mass, and is the main reason people turn to illegal and harmful steroids.
If all of this was not enough, eggs have in studies been shown to normalize lipids and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. How’s that for the mentality that cholesterol is bad?!
If there was one staple supplement back in the days when bodybuilding was in its peak, it had to be good old bovine (cow) liver tablets. But why liver?
Well, for one the liver is considered the most nutritionally dense source of nutrients on the planet, compared on an individual gram per gram basis.
This is exactly why Vince almost always recommended supplementation with liver tablets. They not only provide exceptional amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals, but they also contain enzymes belonging to the cytochrome P-450 family, responsible for regulating steroid hormone synthesis, and numerous other beneficial metabolic body processes.
What this results in is improved recovery following training and enhanced energy levels throughout the day. We seriously need to revisit this simple staple from back in the day, instead of getting caught up with dozens of high tech artificial pharmaceuticals!
A technique employed frequently by old school boxers as well as bodybuilders, semen retention is the practice of abstaining from ejaculation for periods of time, ideally not exceeding two weeks. Research has even been conducted on the matter, proving that its merits have solid ground, long before such studies were conceived.
In the past, athletes would practice semen retention for weeks at a time prior to a match, or competition, but new research has emerged showing that periods exceeding two weeks are hardly any more beneficial, and may lead to the opposite result of your goal which is raising testosterone and energy levels above normal baseline.
In addition, semen is not just composed of sperm. It is rather a highly complex mixture of many nutrients including calcium, phosphorus, cholesterol, protein and zinc. Upon each ejaculatory release, these compounds we’re lost, reducing net concentration in the body.
There are also additional benefits of semen retention such as mental sharpness and physical aggression, which can be very useful for short term goal achievement. The former world heavyweight boxing champion David Haye probably said it best:
“Find a lion that hasn’t had some food for a while, and you’ve got one dangerous cat. I don’t ejaculate for six weeks before the fight. No sex, no masturbation, no nothing.
It releases too much tension. It releases a lot of minerals and nutrients that your body needs, and it releases them cheaply. Releasing weakens the knees and your legs.
Find a lion that hasn’t had some food for a while, and you’ve got a dangerous cat. So there won’t be a drip from me. Even in my sleep — if there are girls all over me in my dream, I say to them, I’ve got a fight next week, I can’t do anything. I can’t do it. That’s control.
I’ve been doing that since I was fifteen and its part and parcel of my preparation now. That’s why I am who I am today —it’s down to all those little sacrifices. Find me another boxer who makes that sacrifice, and you’ll find another champion.”
Interestingly, newer studies have shown that regular ejaculations do not direct diminish testosterone levels, although during the 3 week period of abstinence levels did increase, but may increase testosterone levels short term.
What this can say to you is that short term abstinence may be useful, but don’t go crazy with it. Or, the increased aggression that arises from semen retention could also be a result of not stimulating endorphin and dopamine release, as occur after sexual activity. Don’t hold off on sex if you can’t, before you kill someone!
Before we continue, you must have understood by now that not everyone shares the same body type, and as such not everyone will respond the same to nutritional and training stimuli. As such, consider making the changes mentioned below depending on which body “somatotype” you primarily fall into below.
Ectomorphs are naturally slim, taller individuals with low bone mass. Ectomorphs find it difficult to gain weight, and require frequent food consumption to keep their high metabolism stoked. The hormone precursor shake is ideal for an ectomorph, since they are nutritionally dense, yet are not extremely filling by virtue of them being liquid calories. Training style needs to make use of short workouts emphasizing large muscle groups (such as full body splits), with just a little cardiovascular work to maintain heart health.
Bedtime meals may also be advised for ectomorphs, since the 8 odd hour fast the body is about to undergo can initiate catabolism of muscle tissue.
These are the genetic superiors, who possess long muscle bellies that increase size rapidly upon training, and do not have excessive fat tissue. They have large bone structures, and can get away with a sloppy diet and training plan, although if their true potential is to be reached they must adheres 100%. Mesomorphs benefit from a combination of resistance and cardio exercise, and have a more forgiving diet macronutrient requirement.
Endomorphs are characterized by large bone structure, narrower shoulder, and plump appearance. They retain large percentages of fat quite easily, and must be extremely diligent on caloric intake, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. They must also include cardiovascular exercise in their workouts, as much as a daily requirement, but also need resistance work to maintain muscle mass. Endomorphs can benefit greatly from liver tablets and extra CLA intake, as both can help to reduce hunger, body fat levels and are a goof source of protein and saturated fat for hormone production.
Many of the principles developed by the “Iron Guru” Vince Gironda are still very applicable to training today, and should be advocated for. Bodybuilding was designed to be a way to sculpt the perfect physique through natural means, and using things nature gifted us to enhance the assimilation of muscle.
In our current society, we are plagued with “analysis paralysis”, too many new reports of breaking supplements and training techniques, when in all honestly only a handful of breakthroughs were truly found over the past 30 years.
Keep it simple, keep it natural and prosper greatly!
Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health.
Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out anabolichealth.com to learn more about Alex and his work. You can also find him on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.”
Let’s be clear – Vince’s methods were controversial, but I LOVE old school advice, and the guy is an enigma in the bodybuilding world.
Whether you want to start downing raw eggs Rocky-style and give yourself blue balls in the pursuit of more muscle mass is up to you, but some of his advice probably is worth looking into.
I’m a huge fan of looking back about what the biggest, strongest guys of yesteryear had to say about getting jacked and strong, which is why Im passionate about the DUP method.
Based on the strength secrets of Soviet supermen – sheer behemoths of muscle and might – it’s uses science and evidence-based principles to help you build muscle up to twice as fast as a traditional bodybuilding split. Plus, it’s just about the only program I’ve ever followed that’ allowed me to gain strength fast while cutting body fat.
Check it out here:iron guru, old school bodybuilding, vince gironda, vince gironda methods
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