Vince Gironda (November 9, 1917 – October 18,1997) was an American professional bodybuilder, author and owner of the celebrity-famous Vince’s Gym. His nickname was the Iron Guru.
Gironda is often quoted as saying that bodybuilding is 85% nutrition. In fact, he was what some may call a health food nut. He was also an early proponent of low carb dieting, and recommended the use of numerous supplements, including desiccated liver tablets, kelp, digestive enzymes and glandulars such as adrenal and orchic. In certain circumstances Gironda would recommend up to 3 dozen fertile hen-eggs a day, along with raw (unhomogenized, unpasteurized) milk. Large amounts of fertile eggs, he said, is equal to the anabolic steroid Dianabol in effectiveness. He almost never provided supporting scientific evidence for his theories.
He had what many consider “unorthodox” training ideas. For example, unlike many other physique trainers, he did not prescribe regular back squats for most male trainees (his gym had no squat racks), stating that they caused the over-development of the glutes and hips relative to the thighs. The exception would be female trainees and rare men who actually needed more glute and hip development. Typically, Gironda prescribed sissy squats, hack lifts, front squats and a special style of squat which he called the “thigh squat” for thigh development. In addition, he was one of the first few in the bodybuilding scene to comment that sit-ups do nothing to the formation of abs.
He also admonished against using the regular bench press for chest training, thus, for Vince, the bench press was an inferior exercise – he favored the “neck press” in which the bar is lowered, with a wide grip, to the neck instead of the chest. He considered his Gironda dips (on the “V-bar”) the best overall pectorali developer (the dip could be considered equivalent to the decline bench-press). For Vince, pecs should be a wide slab, and not some kind of woman breast look.
When the 1960s rolled around, Vince’s reputation grew as a personal trainer due to his pupils winning all the important contests, the most well known being Larry Scott winning the first IFBB Mr. Olympia in 1965. Bodybuilders who have trained at Vince’s Gym over the years include “Body by” Jake Steinfeld, Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”), Frank Zane, Don Howorth and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gironda came to be known as the Iron Guru, a name former magazine editor and photo/journalist Denie Walter gave him.
Vintage Vince Gironda posing footage, from 1947.