Every now and then there’s an older guy in the fitness industry that we can learn a ton from. I’m not talking older guys like Arnold, I’m talking about guys even older than Arnold. Guys that told Arnold what was up.
And that’s exactly who Vince Gironda was.
Vince Gironda is one of the most successful bodybuilders and trainers of yesteryear, and is responsible for many different training ideas that we utilize today. Hell, Gironda was one of the first guys to recognize that the bench press sucked as chest developer, and this was way back in the 50’s.
So yeah, Gironda knew a thing or two about getting people jacked and shredded. And today we’re going to explore one of his most common training tools to make both happen at the exact same time.
First, a quick primer on density.
Jorden wrote a bit about density training and why it works so well for fat loss. If you’re training with higher density, you’ll burn through more calories. Simple enough.
But density training can also be used for muscle building purposes if done with the right compound exercises. That’s where Gironda comes into play.
The 8×8 method.
Gironda is most notably known for his 8×8 training style. It was the training program that he ran many of his clients through when prepping for shows, and for good reason. The shit works.
The Gironda method:
- 6 days a week.
- 2 big lifts for each body part – choose about 60% of your one rep max.
- 2 accessory lifts each body part – where you’ll do 4×12.
- Decreasing rest periods.
Okay, simple enough. You go with a 6-day body part split. Think something along the lines of chest/triceps, back/biceps, etc. So for each day you would pick two big compound exercises that you’re going to use.
On chest day you might choose dumbbell incline press and dips, and on leg day you might choose front squat and leg press. You get the picture.
Then you’d pick 2 assistance exercises to go along with that. So on chest day we might go with dumbbell incline flyes and svend press. On leg day we might choose Romanian deadlifts and lunges.
Here’s where the fun starts.
Each training session only has 4 exercises, but remember we’re worrying about training density here. We want as much work in as little time as possible. So for 2 weeks you’re going to rest 60 seconds between each set.
That goes for your work on the two 8×8 lifts, and the 4×12 lifts as well.
You’re going to feel absolutely gassed, and that’s the point. Doing that many reps in such a short period of time with so little rest is a complete shock to your energy system.
If you’re getting to the point of failure, then during your short break you need to drop the weight. Getting the reps in is the most important part of this program, and the strength will come back as you adapt.
Two weeks later.
After two weeks of lifting this style with 60 seconds rest you should be getting accustomed to the tempo and intensity of the workouts, so it’s time to change things. At the start of your third week, drop the rest periods to 45 seconds and aim to keep using the exact same weight.
Two weeks after that.
Drop the rest periods to 30 seconds. At this point you may notice that you’ve actually been able to up the weights you’re using, or at least keep them the same. Which means that in a shortened period of time you’re doing more overall work, which just so happens to be great news for your physique.
Gironda was known for getting his clients down to 15 second rest periods with weight that they first started the program, which when you think about it is absolutely freaking ridiculous.
The program is worth trying though. It’s about 6-8 weeks long depending on how low you take the rest periods, and chances are you’ll come out on the other side looking a hell of a lot better thanks to it.