Old School Meets New School: Mixing Techniques with Science for A Legendary Physique

This is a guest post from Alex Eriksson.

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.

There was a time, just a few decades ago, when bodybuilding was in its “golden age”, a time when men trained chiseled works of art, perfectly muscular and symmetrical; the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Then, the era of performance enhancement hit; the sport of bodybuilding became merely a competition to see who could become the biggest of them all, and people who previously worshipped these men of the golden era became disillusioned with the way the community had become.

Time moves by, however, and today, more and more people are revisiting the time when bodybuilding was truly a sport to marvel over, before the introduction of anabolic steroids, an era revolutionized thanks to the significant efforts of one man- Vince Gironda, the “Iron Guru”.


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Who Was Vince Gironda?

When you think of bodybuilding icons of the past few decades, the first name that pops to mind is undoubtedly Arnold Schwarzenegger. And while that is a pretty good guess of the father of modern bodybuilding, there was one that came before him; that man was Vince Gironda. Vince was, in fact, Arnold’s first trainer, proving the fact that he had merit as a trainer, for the legendary “oak” to be his student.

This was just the icing on the cake, however, as Vince became a household name thanks to his exploits of working with many Hollywood actors. He was also well known for his “controversial” techniques, which went against traditional teachings of that time, but proved to be worth consideration, as another one of his students, Larry Scott, went on to win the first Mr Olympia in 1965! Talk about accomplishments!

Vince’s Old School Beliefs

Vince was a man lightyears ahead of the current beliefs of the day, which were evidenced by his teachings at the time. Why? Among his many beliefs was the fact that he believed that a diet low in carbs, and higher in fat was superior for bringing about drastic changes in body composition. This is well known, but something that is not entirely embraced by the wider cross-section of fitness athletes, as it goes against the grain of thinking. Another one of his earliest advocated teachings was the fact that he placed your success in bodybuilding as 15% what happens in the gym, and 85% diet outside the gym. This was incredibly wise for the day since we know today that growth happens out of the gym, not in it.

Among his more unorthodox training styles are the fact that his gym did not own a squat rack, as he opined that regular barbell squats emphasize the development of the hamstrings and glutes when one expects to get quadriceps flair and sweep. Instead, he taught the sissy squat. Likewise, he had a strong dislike for the flat bench press as he argued that it fatigues the front deltoids as opposed to the pectoralis region as a whole.

He also despised steroid use strongly, stating that it destroys the body by promoting abnormal muscle growth and loss of symmetry. At the end of it all, he advocated for optimizing one’s diet over artificial means and left us a few gems in that department. Let’s look at some of them:

Raw Eggs As Anabolic Fuel

Vince believed in the power of raw eggs for stimulating anabolic conditions favorable to muscle growth, because eggs are rich in protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Eggs are complete proteins, in that they contain all essential amino acids, with him going as far as saying that consuming several dozens of raw eggs per day was comparable (even superior) in potency to the powerful steroid Dianabol.

It is also important to note that the fats contained in eggs are good saturated ones and that they DO NOT negatively impact blood lipid levels or cause heart disease, as is believed by many sections of the traditional medical community. Restriction of this important type of fat from the diet only serves to impair testosterone synthesis, as it helps make cholesterol which is the base of many hormones.

Eggs are also rich in conjugated linoleic acid, popularly known as CLA, known for its ability to promote weight loss and boost testosterone. Although eggs are an excellent source of CLA, it can also be obtained from supplements if you prefer to go that route.

Using Liver Tablets

Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, containing more vitamins and minerals that many nutritional heavyweights when compared on a gram-per-gram basis, with the exception of vitamin C. Yes, liver is highly nutritious, which explains why many carnivorous animals go for the liver and organ meats first, then skeletal muscle afterwards.

At this point, you may be wondering why more people do not consume liver today if it is that good, and that would be an awesome question. The answer is very simple actually; it is due in large part to marketing,  nobody would find an ad for liver sexy when compared with the designer supplements available today.

Another reason could be due to the fact that liver is somewhat of an acquired taste; even though you are not eating raw cow liver, the odor and residual taste of a liver pill can be quite off-putting

Liver tablets can help retain a positive nitrogen balance when consumed between meals, important if you want to spare muscle and keep building muscle, along with a rare family of enzymes known as cytochrome P-450, important in hormone synthesis and the detoxification of waste.

The Hormone Precursor Shake

The hormone precursor shake was designed as a convenient way to quickly get in calories, proteins and fats when solid meals are impractical. Vince Gironda strongly advocated for high fat/ moderate protein diets as being superior for muscle growth than lower fat diets, which studies now confirm as even being bad for your testosterone levels. He was in a class of his own, proving he knew his stuff long before studies confirmed it.

The shake typically looked like:

  • 12 Raw Eggs
  • 1/3 cup high-quality milk and egg protein powder
  • 12 oz. Half and half milk (mixture of light and heavy cream)
  • 1 banana for taste (optional if on strict low carb diet)

The shake could be consumed for breakfast, and up to two more times daily between meals as deemed necessary for muscle growth. Interestingly, the shake did not lend itself to the accumulation of a lot of body fat, but rather lean gains.

Body-Solid SPR1000 Commercial Power Rack

Body-Solid SPR1000 Commercial Power Rack

Are All Bodies the Same?

Short answer: no.

Individuals inherently have different genetic compositions, as well as varying levels of physical build. Accordingly, all humans fall primarily into one of three somatotypes namely the ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph. Each of these body types responds differently to nutritional and training stimuli, so consider the following depending on which one you find yourself in:


These are the hard gainers of the world that seemingly chow through tons of food and fail to gain even a good pound of solid muscle. This group requires higher caloric intake due to a faster metabolism, and relative resistance to hold on to muscle. Ectomorphs do well with multiple hormone precursor shakes daily, since it guarantees good quality calorie intake and may be sufficient to elicit growth.


These are individuals that fall on the “bulky” side of the spectrum, as they easily retain body fat. These individuals also find it relatively easy to gain muscle mass, but fat is a frequent accompaniment. Liver tablets can help speed up metabolism moderately, as well as the hormone precursor shake without the banana can be useful tools in their arsenal.


These are the genetically “gifted” group that can under eat, undertrain and still gain muscle and stay lean. Since they are the likeliest to also eat a crappy diet, liver tablets and raw eggs can help keep body composition moving in the right direction.

Protein shake.jpg

By Sandstein – Own work, CC BY 3.0

The Protein Factor: Is It Ever Bad?

Protein is not bad, but that does not mean it should be confused with being essential at all times, as studies have found out that protein could have an adverse effect on your testosterone levels; especially around your workouts. Here are a few key findings as they relate to protein:

  • Diets that have a high amount of protein intake in relation to carbs result in lower testosterone levels: this was published in a study conducted since 1987, but which found that diets that included more carbs led to a more favorable testosterone profile. Cortisol was also reduced in higher carb eaters, giving you something to think about; that carbs are not necessarily the worst thing you can do to your diet.
  • Your post-workout shake may not be essential: don’t get us wrong, protein is absolutely necessary for muscle growth, it just makes no difference at this period. Researchers compared and found that if subjects consumed a protein shake or plain water after a workout that there was no difference in muscle protein signaling (and growth triggers). Our advice? Consume protein spaced out during the day, but do not stress over the posts-workout window (which may not even be real!)
  • More protein does not equate to more testosterone: in fact, it can have a detrimental effect on your levels. Increasing fat intake will improve your testosterone levels, so a meal containing ample fat a few hours before your workout will raise testosterone levels more than a protein shake.

Wrapping It Up

Many of the old school principles and techniques taught by Vince Gironda are still applicable to the day. In fact, as outlined above, you may be doing your body a disservice by being too particular with protein needs, and underestimating the role of carbs and fats in a diet. Sometimes, revisiting the basics may be what you need to finally break a plateau, or start making gains in the first place! Enjoy the best of both worlds; old school experience, and new school science.

This is a guest post from Alex Eriksson. 

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 TwitterPinterest and Facebook.


Author: Body-Solid

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