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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

4 Old School Bodybuilding Tips For An Epic Physique

4 Old School Bodybuilding Tips For An Epic Physique

Anyone who has spent quite some time practicing serious bodybuilding will likely have come across the name of “The Iron Guru,” Vince Gironda. Gironda was a premier trainer of bodybuilding greats such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. His methods were revolutionary and continue to be relevant up to this day. Most of his ideas were controversial but have in recent years been given more merit after being proven by medical research.

Gironda always said that bodybuilding is 85% nutrition, and this is very much true. Without the proper fuel, there is no way your muscles can grow. Let’s take a look at some of The Iron Guru’s secrets to building an epic physique.

The Hormone Precursor Shake

Some bodybuilders have probably heard of one of Gironda’s peculiar shake recipes that promises to help build mass faster. This one is called the Hormone Precursor Shake, and it’s a drink based on the power of raw eggs.

The Hormone Precursor Recipe (original):

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  • 12 ounces of half-and-half
  • 12 raw eggs
  • 1/3 cup of good quality milk-and-egg protein powder
  • 1 medium-sized banana (this can be skipped if you are on a ketogenic diet for lean muscle building and/or weight loss, which will make this drink work better with low-carb diets)

This shake can be consumed 1-3 times per day between meals to help you stay in a positive nitrogen balance, which is the key to muscle growth. Hard gainers will benefit the most from this recipe. These people have a hard time gaining mass no matter what they eat or do. This recipe helps them to get a larger amount of calories, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in liquid form, which makes them easier to digest and consume.

The Anabolic Role of Raw Eggs

The eggs do most of the work in the above shake recipe. Eggs are filled with essential amino acids that the body can use for building muscle. They are also a first-rate source of protein and healthy cholesterol, which maximizes testosterone production. Cholesterol can be used by the body to produce more testosterone, which can further support lean muscle building. Raw eggs are also a rich natural source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), another helpful nutrient for building muscle, losing weight and balancing hormones.

Raw eggs are a superfood, and they have powerful anabolic actions in the body. At his peak, Gironda and his students would consume over 36 raw eggs per day to promote anabolism and growth.

The saturated fats and cholesterol in raw eggs are helpful for hormone production, and they do not raise the levels of cholesterol in the blood by a significant amount. In fact, the body use fats and cholesterol from foods directly to produce testosterone.

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Supplementing with Liver Tablets

Another debatable topic surrounding Gironda was his aversion to supplements. He did not recommend the use of most supplements, since he believed they would bring you no closer to the Greek-god-like physiques, unlike what is suggested by some of the manufacturers.

That is, except for liver tablets.

Technically, liver tablets are not in the same league as some other commercially-available supplements. They are real food, made from liver that has been freeze-dried, ground up, and made into tablets. In essence, they are an all-natural whole food supplement packaged into a small capsule. The ultimate multivitamin.

So, what do liver tablets do?

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They are an extremely nutrient-dense food. In fact, liver is the most nutrient dense food on the planet, beating even fruits in most classes except vitamin C content. Liver contains excellent concentrations of vitamin B12, vitamin A, copper, folic acid, iron, chromium, and zinc, to name a few. These vitamins and minerals are all supportive to building muscle and increasing exercise performance and recovery.

The Iron Guru and Squatting

Gironda’s unique methods go beyond nutrition. He had some unique training methods that went against common convention and are still very popular today. One of these is his take on squatting. His gym stands apart from the rest due to its very noticeable lack of squat racks.

For most bodybuilders, squatting is an integral part of training. The Iron Guru believed otherwise.

In traditional squatting, the focus is mostly on the muscles of the hips and the buttocks. This technique can work for those who need to develop these areas; however, the type of physique that most guys are after does not include huge butts and meaty hips. Also, the hips are spread by the common squat and this might hurt the back.

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A better exercise is the “Sissy Squat.” This is better performed using Smith and/or Hack machines. These give better control over the movements compared to the free weight squat.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RqNPstpdaw

This routine requires balance. The feet are kept 13 inches from each other with the knees 17 inches apart. The routine is done while balancing on the toes. This is so much different from the traditional flat-footed squats.

The Sissy Squat stance keeps the thighs and the upper torso in alignment during the whole routine. This will reduce undue strain on the back and does not spread the hips, while the thighs still get enough muscle-strengthening, sculpting effect.

Conclusion

Eating the right foods and following the correct training routines will together help you create the best physique your body is capable of achieving. Vince Gironda’s techniques may seem like a total turnaround from prevailing bodybuilding ideas and methods, but his life’s work proves that his methods work. You can see this in the shape of the many amazing bodies he has produced, such as the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Featured photo credit: Gordon Cowie via unsplash.com

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Alex Eriksson

Founder & CEO, Anabolic Health

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body

How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body

As a general rule, everyone wants to have a sexy and strong body, but no one wants to put in the work. We see a whole lot of excuses being thrown around every time fitness is mentioned, and it’s frightening that only about 3% of people in the US subscribe to the healthy living philosophy.[1]

That being said, have you ever stopped to think about why all these people fail to get in shape? Sure, there are some who are lazy, some with legitimate medical issues, and the readily available cheap junk food doesn’t help, but I think there is something more to it.

People are pressed for time, scared, and confused. Yep, it’s as simple as that. Most people either can’t make it to the gym, don’t have a lot of money to drop on long-term membership fees, don’t feel comfortable exercising around others, or they simply don’t even know what to do when they do get to the gym.[2]

Well, with a few useful tricks, some good information, and a bit of determination, you can create all the right conditions for building an impressive physique without ever leaving the house. Here’s a few things to have in mind:

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Fixing your posture and getting limber

The biggest issue most beginners have when they start working out is the fact that their bodies are so used to sitting scrunched up in front of a screen that they have trouble moving around freely. The human body can be amazingly limber and assume all kinds of positions, but for most people, this is going to require extensive work.

Start by gradually improving your posture over a few weeks, using small exercises, more ergonomic furniture, and just being mindful of how you stand, walk, and sit.[3] You can combine this with a short and sweet stretching routine, done about twice a day, to get your body ready to perform the basic exercises correctly.

Learning the basic movements

While there’s a lot of science behind both getting stronger and getting leaner, it can all be boiled down to a few core concepts and a number of the most effective exercises. Here are the best movements for overall development that you’ll need to master (you can find examples of how to perform all the exercises mentioned here on Bodybuilding.com):

  • Squats: the king of all exercises, the squat builds most of your leg muscles with an emphasis on quads and glutes, if you go nice and deep like you should. It can be a good core and thoracic extension exercise if you hold some weight in front of you, as in the Goblet and Zercher squat variations.
  • Lunges: a great exercise for the quads and glutes that also targets the hip extensors. It also teaches you to keep your balance.
  • Pushup variations:[4] the pushup is so versatile that some call it “the poor man’s gym”. The standard close grip pushup works the triceps, front shoulders, and chest, while wider variations put more emphasis on the chest. Raising your legs pushes the focus towards the shoulders and the upper chest, while the handstand pushup is predominantly a shoulder and triceps exercise.
  • Dips: another great exercise for the lower chest and triceps, this is an incredibly fun movement that can slap mass on you quickly when done correctly.
  • Pull-ups and chin-ups: grab a bar, hang from it with arms almost fully stretched out, and then pull yourself up until your chin raises above the bar. This is a fairly straightforward, yet difficult movement that builds a big back, biceps, and forearms. Position your hands facing the head for more bicep activation, and go a bit wider with palms facing away from you to target the lats better.
  • Rows/inverted row: a horizontal pulling motion that will add slabs of meat to your back and while improving that often lagging back head of the shoulder muscle. It even improves posture by strengthening the spinal erectors to an extent. You can bend over with the back straight and row a weight from the ground, with one or both hands, or you can grab the underside of a horizontal bar, feet on the ground, and pull yourself into it.
  • Glute bridges: a great way to really isolate and work the butt. It also gets the hamstrings, which are often neglected by people working out at home.
  • Floor hip extensions: a good addition that also focuses on the glutes and hamstrings, resulting in well-toned and balanced legs.
  • Calf raises: the calf is a small muscle but an important one, especially for the ladies who want to look great in heels. It’s also easy to just throw in at the end of the workout.
  • Planks, leg raises, and ab wheel rollout: of course, the abs need some attention too, but go for planks, hold for time, side planks, hanging or lying leg raises, and ab wheel rollout for the best results.
  • The Superman: the spinal erectors need to be strong if they are to keep your back healthy, balance out those abs, and keep you nice and tight during most of the other exercises on the list, so definitely give this one a go.

Take a few weeks to just get the form down pat on all these movements and make sure that you are doing a full range of motion and slower, deliberate movements. Don’t just bounce all over the place. Establish and build momentum. You can use a good bodyweight strength training program to make sure you hit all the muscles, keep progressing, and get enough time to recover.[5]

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How to progress on bodyweight exercises

Now, if you want to have a great and lean physique — and this goes for ladies as well — you need to build some muscle to give your limbs that lovely shape you are after, before you can lose the excess flab, and expose that Greek statue of a body. Don’t try to combine endurance work with your strength exercises. Focus on building strength with the exercises above and dedicate some time every other day for things like swimming, jumping rope, or cycling to burn some calories and improve your cardio.

Okay, so the main question is, how does one progress on bodyweight exercises, short of gaining more weight to make them more challenging? Well, there’s a few things you can do. The first thing to do to challenge yourself is to add more reps.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that when you can easily perform 15-20 reps of an exercise and still have a few reps left in the tank, it’s time to make it more challenging by doing one of the following:

  • Add an additional set. If you started at 3 sets of 5-6 reps and you’re now comfortable with 3 sets of 15-17 reps, then you can simply throw in a fourth set into the mix.
  • Do it slower. Busting out 20 quick reps isn’t quite the same as doing 10 slow and controlled reps, where you can even add a short pause when your muscles are fully relaxed before contracting them for the next rep.
  • Shorten the rest period between sets. 60-90 seconds is the sweet spot for resting between longer sets of 10-20 reps, but when things get easy, you can shorten this rest period progressively by 10 seconds, until you are only resting about 30-40 seconds between sets, to make it more difficult before moving on to a more challenging variation or adding weight.
  • Move on to a more difficult variation. When you get comfortable, focus on a variation of the movement that provides a bit of a challenge, e.g. one arm on ball pushups and then single arm pushups, pistol squats, and so on.
  • Add some weight. While you might not have access to barbells, you can always get a fairly inexpensive dumbbell set, a few different sized bags filled with sand, a backpack with some rocks, and even big water bottles and milk jugs will do the trick, just as long as you keep adding weight.

Work hard on your form, then try to go as hard as you can each session without overdoing it. I’d say stop a rep short of failure and rest until you feel you can go for another full set.

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Determining the type of cardio you need to do

Cardio is not that difficult to figure out and it basically boils down to a few simple rules, depending on your shape and goals:

  • If you’re skinny and want to get sexy and muscular: Do light and steady cardio, like a brisk walk for an hour, 5-6 minutes of jump rope here and there, or even just 10 minutes of shadow-boxing or dancing every day. Don’t let it cut into your calories too much.
  • If you’re a little overweight and want to lose 10 pounds or less and build muscle: It’s the same as the previous example, just add 2-4 more intense sessions of running, swimming, circuit training a week into the mix to cut the weight first. Revert to the previous example once you have lost the weight and recenter your focus on building muscle.
  • If you’re seriously overweight and your main concern is cutting 20+ pounds: Again, it’s the same as the previous example, only you can go with even more intense workouts, or daily moderate cardio sessions of about 20-30 minutes for a while. Once you’ve lost most of the weight, revert to the previous example, and then to the first example when you’ve shed all the extra pounds you’d like to get rid of.

You can choose any activity that you like, from jump rope, cycling, and swimming to hiking and and other high-cardio sports.

A look at diets and keeping them reasonable

As far as the diet goes we’ll keep it extremely simple:

  • Try to eat diverse vegetables with every meal
  • Eat fruit, seeds, and nuts instead of sweets
  • Go for lean meats instead of processed meat and cooked food instead of fast and fried food
  • Start counting your macro nutrient intake[6]
  • Cheat if you must, but keep these meals small, few, and far between

As long as you can stick with the program for about 80% of the time, you’ll be on your way to better health and an amazing body!

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DIY home gym basics

Some essentials that can help you get better results at home include:

  • A dumbbell set
  • Pull-Up bar
  • Ab wheel
  • Big ol’ sturdy bags filled with sand

You can do tons of great exercises with these simple tools, but if you can’t shell out for them right now, good alternatives include five gallon milk jugs filled with water, a bunch of books stacked in a backpack, using a friend/partner to lay on you, push, or pull to provide extra resistance, or just lifting heavy furniture and moving it around the room.

It pays to be creative. Look at how certain exercises are performed and on what type of equipment, and try to replicate it using household items. For example:

  • Two chairs = dip station
  • Anything that you can hang off = pull up bar
  • A stack of large blankets on the floor = bench
  • Stick and some rope = forearm exercise machine
  • A towel wrapped on a bar or dumbbell grip = thick grip for hand and forearm strength
  • Car = prowler device for pushing to build endurance and power in the legs

It’s all fairly cheap and you can get as creative as you like, just remember to be consistent with your training in order to see the results you wish to see.

All it takes is a little ingenuity and elbow grease, and you’ll set up a decent home “gym” and adopt some great habits along the way. It’s all about being consistent and trying to progress on each session, or at least each week, as you keep adding reps, using more complex movements, and adding weight, all while eating right for your current goals. Give it a shot and always remember, 90% of all this is your commitment and the intensity with which you attack these positive life changes.

Featured photo credit: Minna Hamalainen via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Atlantic: Study: Less Than 3 Percent of Americans Live a ‘Healthy Lifestyle’
[2] Men’s Fitness: 6 Not-So-Obvious Newbie Training Mistakes
[3] Perfect Postur: Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics
[4] Men’s Fitness: The Top 15 Pushup Variations
[5] Men’s Fitness: 6 Bodyweight Workouts That Actually Build Momentum
[6] On the Regimen: How To Count Your Macros – A Comprehensive Guide

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