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8×8 Workout: Vince Gironda Training Review03/07/2016
You’ve heard the old saying:
“You can’t kill two birds with one stone”, at least not in bodybuilding that is.
Conventional gym wisdom would have you that building muscle and losing fat at the same time is a cryptic myth. Even holding the thought in your mind alone is a cardinal sin.
Most people simply do not have the time, energy or self-discipline to do both simultaneously and quite rightly focus on one fitness phase first before moving onto the other.
We have dedicated “bulking” and “cutting” seasons during certain intervals of the year which further cements this commonly held belief.
I too, was one of those critics at one point who thought it simply wasn’t possible to grow as big as an ox and be as chiseled as a raccoon.
Oh how naive and foolish I was.
Lying in the mist and murkiness of the bodybuilding world lies an age old workout so beautifully crafted, it is nicknamed ‘the honest’ workout.
Why, I hear you ask?
This is in part due to the modest weights used and the sheer amount of muscle density and thickness one can build on the muscle(s) being targeted.
As it happens…
The training routine is so simple you’ll wonder why it is often overlooked and neglected today.
The workout is known as the 8×8 workout and was (and still is) a popular bodybuilding routine to fine tune muscular imbalance for improved aesthetics, as well as improving cardiovascular health due to the high volume.
The proponent of such a revolutionary workout?
The “Iron Guru” Vince Gironda
Vince was considered by many to be the “Godfather” of modern-day bodybuilding.
He was a man responsible for introducing such revolutionary exercises and routines into the field of bodybuilding that if you were not performing the 8×8 workout, you would simply be blown out of the water by those who were.
A few of his outlandish exercises included bench pressing to the neck, sissy squats, the pectoral chin-up (touching your mid to lower chest to the chin-up bar), drag curls and many more.
Rumour has it that Vince Gironda once threw a guy out of his gym for performing sit-ups arguing that regular crunches do not contribute to the development of abdominal muscles.
Ab wheel rollout anyone?
Vince was also a pivotal figure in the “golden era” of bodybuilding during the 1960’s where relatively unknown amateur bodybuilders and rising stars would train under his unorthodox tutelage and soon go on to be champions in their own right.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he famously called a “fat f*ck” in response to his aspirations of being a legendary bodybuilder, Frank Zane, Lou Ferrigno and Larry Scott were just a few names to walk through his famous gym doors.
Need we say more?
Vince Gironda’s 8×8 Workout
The following routine was one variation of Vince Gironda’s workout.
It is reported that Vince developed numerous adaptions of his workout program based on an individual’s personal needs (he was a coach after all).
Vince did not prescribe his training method to anyone with less than 2 years solid weightlifting experience nor complete novices.
So if you are new and you are reading this, you have been warned! Vince Gironda’s workout is not for the faint of heart.
On average, Vince would complete each session in and around 30 minutes (yes, you read that correctly) 6 times a week into 3 body part splits:
Monday & Thursday: Chest, Back & Shoulders
Barbell Bench Press To The Neck
Parallel Bar Dips
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
Standing Lateral Raises
Tuesday & Friday: Biceps, Triceps & Forearms
Barbell Drag Curls
Seated Dumbbell Curls
Tricep Rope Pulldown
Tricep Dumbbell Kickbacks
Reverse Wrist Curls
Wednesday & Saturday: Legs
Given the high volume that is involved, it is almost impossible to lift heavy weights while performing this routine.
It is advised that you use weights that are roughly 60% of your 8 rep max to complete each set.
You will notice from the above that 2 exercises are performed per body part in sets of 4 rather than 8. There is no particular reason for this.
Of course, if you are feeling adventurous and think you have what it takes to perform 8 straight sets of each exercise, by all means press on.
Although expect your time in the gym to increase should you go down this route.
You will be extremely sore the next day that’s for sure!
It is worth pointing out that some of the exercises mentioned above may not be suitable for you based on the equipment you may have available at your gym or risk of injury for that matter.
I highly recommend switching to exercises you know that will give you maximum hypertrophy.
For instance, removing the forearm work and sissy squats in place of deadlifts. The compound nature of deadlifts will ensure your forearms are being worked indirectly without skipping those legs!
The 8×8 workout should not be performed any longer than 3 weeks and should be followed by 1 deload week.
This is crucial in preventing the body adjusting to the intensity as well as allowing enough time to recover from such gruelling punishment.
Vince recommended that you do not train to failure but to discipline yourself to reach those 8 reps 8 times.
It is expected that you will stop at either the 6th or 7th rep when just starting out. Use rest-pauses to build up the strength and endurance to reach the end and begin to add additional resistance when you return to the workout.
If you are feeling like a total bad ass, Vince also suggested that intermediate lifters should perform this routine once per day, advanced lifters twice per day and pro lifters 3 times per day.
Of course bare in mind that most pro bodybuilders back in those days were on that “good juice” so train at your peril if you’re looking to do this more than once per day.
Although Vince advocated the use of progressive resistance in his 8×8 workout system, he was more in favour of doing more in less time.
“To attain larger muscles, you must increase the intensity of work done within a given amount of time.”
Vince advised advanced lifters to rest for 15 seconds between sets and intermediate lifters to rest for 30 seconds.
We warned you this is brutal.
Vince Gironda’s workout should be performed moderately fast but not jerky.
Total concentration is key in order to isolate the targeted muscles for maximum contraction.
An ideal tempo would be 2-0.5-2-0.5. This involves 2 seconds in a concentric (positive) motion, holding it for 0.5 seconds follwed by 2 seconds in an eccentric (negative) motion.
When you are not performing the 8×8 workout, and are feeling up for it, consider doing some light stretches or cardio to ease the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) you will certainly be experiencing.
The 8×8 workout is a ridiculously difficult yet highly effective routine.
In my opinion, Vince Gironda’s training routine is extremely useful when you are performing compound movements to get maximum results in the shortest amount time.
However, as highlighted earlier, Vince Gironda’s workout is only used for cosmetic purposes in order to correct muscular imbalances.
Pro bodybuilders would often use Vince Gironda’s workout on certain muscles that were lagging behind and would perform isolation exercises to bring them up to scratch.
Thus, the 8×8 workout is not a magic bullet that you can solely rely on as the be all end all of routines. It is merely intended as a short-term shock to your central nervous system.
With that said:
Vince Gironda’s workout WILL exhaust your muscles day in, day out and toughen you up mentally.
The high amounts of volume involved will also plough through a lot of calories, so don’t expect vast amounts of muscular growth – but naturally you will get bigger if you perform it correctly.
I’ve performed Vince Gironda’s workout on many occasions using the 3 week cycle and have seen some tremendous results physically.
Some noticeable benefits I gained from this routine included being able to carry on the high volume in 8 straight sets, seeing greater muscle definition and separation as well as a drop in body fat and a slight increase in mass.
Ultimately though, each of us respond differently to different routines so give this one a shot and see how you get on.
The beauty about weightlifting in general is being able to experiment with what works well for you or not and working around that.
The 8×8 workout is a “classic” bodybuilding routine and is revered for its simple yet no bullshit approach to building muscle.
8×8 training should be avoided at all costs if you are a complete novice to weightlifting, although intermediate to advanced lifters will definitely benefit the most from this system.
What are your thoughts on the 8×8 workout? Have you tried it or are you currently testing it?
Let us know in the comment section below. We’d love to hear what you have to say!