Vince Gironda¶s 8 X 8 Workout

One of the reasons the name Vince Gironda is as popular as ever in bodybuilding articles is that the man had ideas that were truly revolutionary and way ahead of their time. 50 years before Charles Poliquin wrote about ³German volume training´ and new workout templates such as ³FST-7 appeared on the scene, Vince was advocating the benefits of volume training for maximum hypertrophy. Vince was known for his unusual training methods. Some of his unique exercises included the bench press to the neck, the sternum chin up (touching the chest to the bar), ³drag´ curls and sissy squats with what he called a ³Burlesque Bump.´ His training systems included 15 sets of 4, 3 sets of 12, 6 sets of 6, 10 sets of 10 and 4 exercises in a giant set ± one for each ³side´ of the muscle. Of all Vince¶s techniques, the 8 sets of 8 program was his favorite for the advanced bodybuilder. ³I have a definite preference for the 8 X 8 system of sets and reps,´ wrote Vince. ³I come back to this high intensity ³honest workout´ more often than any other for maximizing muscle fiber growth in the quickest possible time for the advanced bodybuilder.´ 8 sets of 8 might be the most effective set and rep combination ever developed for rapidly building muscle fiber size while simultaneously shedding body fat. Vince called it the ³honest workout ´ because of the pure muscle fiber size that can be achieved on it. ³Keep to 8 X 8 and your muscle fiber will plump out, giving you a solid mass of muscle density as a result,´ promised Vince. 8 sets of 8 is so effective that as a 20 year old novice competitive bodybuilder, I was able to gain 17 pounds of muscle drug-free (contest weight from one show to the next) in under nine months using this system. To this day, I still use the 8 sets of 8 system whenever I need a ³shock program´ to bring up a lagging body part. Vince warned that this set and rep combination is not for beginners: ³You have to build up to the stage where you can benefit from this extremely advanced form of training. I doubt if anyone with less than two years of training experience could benefit from this method.´ How it Works 8 sets of 8 is a high volume, fast tempo, size building workout. It is not designed for strength development ± it¶s purely for bodybuilding or ³cosmetic´ improvements. 8 sets of 8 will also help you get leaner. The short rest intervals stress the cardiovascular system to the point where calories are burned, the metabolism is stimulated, hormones are stirred up and fat is melted away. Here¶s how it works: You will select three or four exercises per muscle group and perform 8 sets of 8 on each exercise. Yes ± that¶s 24 to 32 sets per body part! You will work two or three muscle groups per session and rest only 15 to 30 seconds between sets. Each workout will be completed in approximately 45 minutes and never more than 60 minutes. Although this apparently excessive volume might seem reminiscent of the Steve Michalik and John Defendis ³Intensity or Insanity´ style of training ± it¶s NOT the same thing. These are not two or three hour marathon workouts. You are completing this routine in under an hour. The reason this doesn¶t constitute overtraining is because you¶re not exceeding the workout duration that begins having a negative effect on recovery and anabolic hormones. You are simply overloading the muscles by condensing more training into less time. Why it works: More work in less time = higher intensity and bigger muscles Many people are under the impression that the only way to make a muscle larger is to increase the amount of weight you use. This is not true. Overload is an absolute requirement to build muscle, but the overload can come in more ways than one. Progressively adding weight may be one of the best ways to provide an overload, but it¶s not the only way. Vince was all in favor of adding weight to the bar, (provided good form was maintained), but he believed that performing more work in less time was a better method of overload. The Iron Guru¶s advice: ³To acquire larger muscles you must increase the intensity of work done within a given time. This means minimum rest between sets. Push yourself. I feel workouts should be timed and you should constantly strive to shorten the time it takes to get through your routine. This is another form of progressive

his muscles will become larger. you must seek out new types of stress to coax your muscles into continued growth. Proper weight selection is critical. Take no rest between body parts. You become more conditioned. When you can easily complete a full 8 sets of 8 reps. So why bother with such an ³outrageous´ program as 8 sets of 8? The answer is because this type of ³honest. he had Mohammed conditioned to the point of doing 8 sets in as little as 5 minutes or less. Intensity: ³Training Over your head´ Most of your sets will not be taken to failure. but if your reps drop below 8 by your 4th or 5th set. the sprinter is doing more work per second.´ Why Use 8 Sets Of 8 Instead Of ³Conventional´ Training? The most popular method of training for advanced bodybuilders is to choose between two and four exercises per muscle group and perform three or four sets of 6-12 reps on each exercise. depending on the goal.´ He said that using the 8 sets of 8 format is not enough to ensure muscle gains. but don¶t put them down or re-rack them. that¶s fine. You can easily count each weight training session as a cardio workout. shape or form. Once your conditioning has adjusted to the demands. ultimately cutting them down to just 15-20 seconds between each set. When Vince was training Mohammed Makkawy for the Olympia. Tempo tips The proper tempo combined with the correct resistance is the key to the success of this program. you may even get close to your original poundage. but keep your hands on it. Although Vince did not advocate overtraining in any way. rack it. then it¶s on to the next set. If your tempo on each exercise is 2-0-2-0 (2 second eccentric. but that¶s ok. An advanced bodybuilder will adapt to any training program within a matter of months and often within just weeks. But you can do 8 sets of 8 because you get such an ³honest´ workout with a fraction of your usual weight. 8 sets of 8 is a fantastic method for pre-contest definition training because 50-60 sets in under an hour is decidedly aerobic. don¶t unwrap them. Initially. you¶re going to have to reduce your weight to about 35 pounds to successfully complete 8 sets of 8 with 15-30 second rest intervals. Vince cautioned that the same weight for all eight sets is imperative. ³Minimum rest between sets is a must. no pauses and two second concentric). For example.resistance. Stay on the bench or machine until all 8 sets of 8 are completed. even if this meant. Amazingly.´ 8 sets of 8 is simply an unusual and effective method of overload and muscle confusion. move directly into the first exercise for the next muscle group. pull or soft tissue injury. it¶s normal to fail at the 6th or 7th rep. Although you won¶t be reaching failure on most of your sets. he did advocate using ³muscle confusion´ for stimulating gains.´ This means no magazine reading. What¶s more important is the speed with which you get through the program. If you fail on the sixth or seventh rep on the last set or two. you might as well pack up your gym bag and go home. ³temporarily overtraining.´ high volume. you won¶t be able to complete 8 reps on the last several sets nor will you be allowing room for progression over a period of weeks. How much rest between sets? Vince advocated ³a very businesslike approach towards tempo. if you normally perform dumbbell flyes with 55 pounds for 8 reps with a 60 ± 90 second rest interval.´ said the master. Fast-metabolism types may not even need any other aerobic work while using 8 sets of 8. there will be a large drop in your normal training poundages. This program must be done alone. Heavy training with 5-6 rep maxes is impossible when you¶re babying a strain. and no ± not even going to the bathroom. and none of them will be taken beyond failure. When you finish the last exercise for the first muscle group. then increase the weight on the next workout. especially in the beginning when you are unaccustomed to it. It¶s a ³shock routine´ you can use for brief periods to kick-start a new growth spurt when you need it most. you¶ll need just five to ten deep breaths between each set. This principle of overload explains why sprinters have bigger muscles than distance runners. Most people will need to reduce their normal 8 rep max by about 40% to successfully complete 8 sets with such brief rest intervals. If you get interrupted or distracted. After completing a cycle of 8 sets of 8. By the way. this program is not intended for constant use. If you¶re using straps. With a 15-20 second rest interval. How much weight? Using 15-20 second rest intervals will limit the amount of weight you can use. it will amaze you how much weight you will be able to build back up to while maintaining the short rest interval. Another advantage of 8 sets of 8 is that it can be used to work around an injury. Obviously. Training large muscle . to follow these tempo guidelines means you¶ll have to ditch your training partner. Also. and is more important than raising your weights. If you attempt too much weight too quickly. 24 sets will take only 18 to 21 minutes to complete and 32 sets will take 25 to 28 minutes to complete. Your goal is to reduce your rest intervals to 30 seconds or less. you can go back to more conventional methods. On your last set or two of each exercise. some serious growth will begin to occur. no changing the CD in your Walkman. then each rep will take you four seconds. Vince defined optimal tempo as ³the evenly spaced sets (time-wise) without any distractions and complete concentration on when to pick up the next weight and do the next set. At this point. Consequently. Once adaptation occurs. the weight you selected is too heavy. no walking around the gym. The rest intervals range from 60 seconds to four minutes. This program requires 100% total concentration. Although it¶s more work to run a mile than it is to run 100 yards. Rest them on your knees. The first workout should be made intentionally easy. make no mistake ± this is some of the most difficult training you will ever undertake. don¶t release the bar between sets. no gossiping. Eight reps per set means that each set will take you 32 seconds. fast tempo training will be a complete shock to your body. Do not put the dumbbells down between sets. How long should you use 8 sets of 8? As long as it keeps working.

you¶ll get great results on 8 sets of 8. If Vince were around today. Sample Routine: DAY 1 Chest Decline low cable crossover (touch hands at waistline) 8 X 8 Bench press to neck 8 X 8 Incline Dumbbell Press (palms facing each other) 8 X 8 Wide Grip V-Bar Dips 8 X 8 Biceps Drag Curl 8 X 8 Preacher curl (top of bench at low pec line) 8 X 8 Incline Dumbbell Curl 8 X 8 Forearms Zottman Curl 8 X 8 Barbell Wrist Curl 8 X 8 DAY 2 Shoulders Dumbbell Side Lateral raise seated 8 X 8 Wide Grip upright row 8 X 8 Front to back barbell shoulder press 8 X 8 Dumbbell bent over rear deltoid lateral 8 X 8 Triceps Kneeling rope extension 8 X 8 Lying Tricep Extension 8 X 8 2 Dumbbell Tricep Kickback 8 X 8 . If you have a split routine that works well for you. each performed for 8 sets of 8. Sometimes he had his pupils train as often as six days in a row with each muscle group being worked three times per week! More often. but I¶ve discovered that 8 sets of 8 works with nearly any split routine whether you work each muscle group once a week or twice a week. you can perform seven or eight exercises for 8 sets of 8 reps and fit it all inside of forty-five minutes. endurance and mental toughness. This is the way Vince had Makkawy do it when he was training for the Olympia. you won¶t be sure if you can go on. Vince suggested limiting your total sets to no more than 12-15 per body part. The optimal number of exercises and total sets per muscle group will depend on your level of training experience. your tolerance to stress. depending on the circumstances.´ At times.´ and that not everyone can handle this kind volume. The important thing is to adjust your volume so you can observe the tempo and time limit rules.groups and doing multi-joint free weight exercises are especially difficult. With a four or five day split. As far as how many exercises. With this type of split. Vince recommend anywhere from one to four exercises per muscle group. The most important factor is to do only as many exercises as you can fit into the 45 minute time limit. You will face the burn of local muscle fatigue. and your recuperative abilities. For example. He said that if you can¶t get a workout in 12 sets. you will aim for three or four exercises for large muscle groups and two or three exercises for small muscle groups. but once you start. If you are on a two or three day split as Vince often recommended. 8 sets of 8 is a test of strength. Vince was quick to point out that Mohammed was a ³genetic superior. These days it¶s more popular to split a routine four or even five ways. one day off. the challenge of oxygen debt and the difficulty of maintaining mental concentration. he would surely give me a verbal beating for saying this. Vince was partial to routines split two or three ways so that each muscle group was trained twice per week. you may have time for only one or two exercises per muscle group. What Type of Split Routine? Vince advocated different types of split routines for various purposes. Gironda called this ³training over your head. each muscle group is worked once every five to seven days. The sample routine I¶ve outlined is based on a four day split. if you¶re on the popular four-day split where you train two days on. you will perform 8 sets of 8 reps on two to four exercises per body part. How Many Sets & Exercises As a general rule. The 8 sets of 8 program for the advanced bodybuilder is one of them. For this particular variation of the program. Generally. He advised advanced bodybuilders to use a three-day split with 72 hours of recuperation between maximum-intensity workouts. you¶re not concentrating properly. you cannot stop. However. by all means stay with it. he also said there are certain occasions where this rule could be broken. The number of exercises per body part will also depend on what type of split routine you choose.

Too bad for them! The real reason most people never finish a full cycle of 8 sets of 8 is because it¶s too damn hard! 8 sets of 8 reps performed in five minutes for a large muscle group can test the grit of the toughest bodybuilder. You don¶t have to agree with all of Vince¶s teachings to use this program. Test. If you have doubts. The secret to success is to believe that the course I give will work and it will. It¶s natural to resist concepts that are so radical. Then make up your own mind. Vince advised. try these concepts and try others.DAY 3 Back Sternum Chin up 8 X 8 High bench two dumbbell rowing 8 X 8 Low cable row with 18 high pulley 8 X 8 Medium Grip Lat Pulldown to Chest 8 X 8 Abs Double Crunch (pull in knees and elbows together at same time) 8 X 8 Weighted Crunch 8 X 8 Lying Bent Knee Leg Raises 8 X 8 DAY 4 Quads Front Squat 8 X 8 Hack machine squat 8 X 8 Sissy Squat 8 X 8 Leg Extension 8 X 8 Hamstrings Supine Leg Curl 8 X 8 Seated leg Curl machine 8 X 8 Calves Standing Calf raise 8 X 20 Seated Calf raise 8 X 20 In Conclusion 8 sets of 8 is a little known and very misunderstood program. I urge you to give this ³honest workout´ an ³honest´ try. Results count. Even when fully understood.not even in his famous mail order courses.´ . When questioned. This is partly because Vince never explained it clearly in great detail. Nearly all of Vince¶s ideas met with a certain degree of skepticism initially. Vince was quite used to it. most people will never even attempt this type of training because it seems like too much volume and the weights seem too light to get anything out of it. Examine.´ Regardless of whether you think Vince was the greatest trainer of all time or just a crusty old curmudgeon. you will find it won¶t work. yet eventually ± sometimes two or three decades later ± many of his methods became accepted as standard bodybuilding truths. ³If in doubt.