Just a few decades ago, the sport of bodybuilding was in its prime, with men and women alike learning to listen to their bodies and fine tune their training and nutrition.
It was a time before information overload and too many shiny objects, a time of natural muscle building, and it was ushered in thanks largely to the exploits of one man. That man, was the iron guru Vince Gironda.
Vince Gironda, more affectionately known as the Iron Guru, was hailed for his exploits in the bodybuilding community, training the cream of the crop at that time. Did you know he was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first trainer? That is in no small part responsible for the success he would go on to later attain.
His methods were regarded as a little “unorthodox”, as he developed training routines based on real life experience. For example, he resented the back barbell squat, as he argued that they promoted uneven growth of the hamstrings and glutes, and also the flat bench press, which he believed fatuous the muscle of the deltoids too much. He believed in an approach of training all muscle with the same intensity, and using the least amount that delivers results.
Many of his nutrition and training principles still hold true today, so let’s have a look at some of the gems this legend has left for us!
The Hormone Precursor Diet
Vince firmly believed that your success as a bodybuilder was over 85% dependent on how good your nutrition was. He believed in diets high in fat and animal proteins, since these diets were favorable for optimal muscle development. One of his favorite tools to use was the hormone precursor shake (taken from his hormone precursor diet), which is especially effective if you’re a hard gainer (ectomorph) struggling with meeting caloric requirements for building mass. It looks like this:
- 12oz half and half (milk consisting of light and heavy cream)
- 12 raw eggs
- 1/3 cup quality milk-and-egg protein powder
- 1 banana (optional)
Consuming this shake was not difficult at all, since liquid calories do not have much measurable effect on satiety and hunger, meaning you could still have your solid meals. Vince would consume 1-3 of these daily, to keep nutrients supplied throughout the day for optimal muscle synthesis.
Raw Eggs As An Anabolic Powerhouse
Eggs are among the top 3 foods with highest nutritional values on the planet, explaining why Vince made sure to have them on a daily basis. Nowadays, eggs are criminalized as bad for you, but are essential for promoting optimal testosterone and supporting hormones production.
A study even debunked the fear of eggs, as it was revealed that a high intake of eggs was not associated with increased incidence of heart disease. Heart disease results primarily from elevated triglycerides, a state encouraged by high sugar consumption.
As if high protein and cholesterol levels weren’t’ good enough to promote muscle building, eggs are also riddled with important vitamin, minerals and co-factors that promote overall health.
Desiccated Liver Tablets (Bovine)
A staple supplement used by the best bodybuilders back in the day, this organ is considered to be the single most concentrated source of nutrients on the planet, compared on a per gram basis with any other food.
This is why Vince advocated for their use. Not only were they rich in aminos, vitamins and minerals, but also an important family of enzymes known as the cytochrome P-450s. These enzymes are important in sex hormone synthesis, metabolism and facilitate rapid recovery rates following training.
Used commonly by boxers and athletes, it involves the practice of abstaining from ejaculation for a short period of time, ideally 1-2 weeks. Though in the past athletes practiced retention for periods of up to 6 weeks, it is now known that periods exceeding 52 weeks is not good. Studies have confirmed that the short term practice is favorable in raising testosterone levels, and is useful prior to competitions or fights to boost concentration and aggression.
The former world heavyweight boxing champion David Haye 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."
Newer studies have also found that regular ejaculations did not diminish testosterone levels, but the period of abstinence was still beneficial in the short term.
Applying Old School Techniques To Optimize Body Type Goals
You have to keep in mind that not everyone’s body is the same, you will respond differently depending on which “somatotype” you fall primarily in. Consider these food for thought:
Classic hard gainers, these people find it difficult to gain weight by virtue of their fast metabolism. The hormone precursor shake is ideal for them to consume, multiple times daily, as well as weight lifting not high in volume (think full body splits focusing on major muscles).
The genetic superiors who appear to be born with a bodybuilder’s physique. Grow extremely well from a variety of workout stimuli, but generally responds better to slightly higher training volume. Hormone precursor shake can still be useful, as eating many solid meals daily could easily become tedious.
Characterized by large bone structure with narrow shoulders and shorter “plump” appearance. Retains fat easily and must be diligent when it comes to caloric intake. Cardiovascular exercise is mandatory, as well as moderate volume weight training sessions. Supplementation with desiccated liver and CLA is extremely useful for promoting fat loss, and supplying a good source of saturated fat for hormone production
Many of the principles developed by Vince Gironda can, and should still be applied today. Don’t get caught up in artificial steroids, natural sterol rich foods are the way to go along with plenty of fats for hormone prodution. Take a step back from all the confusion, and make bodybuilding what it’s supposed to be; an art form perfecting the human physique to create the illusion of perfect mass and symmetry, all naturally of course.
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. You can find him on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook