By: Alex Eriksson
With passion, proper knowledge, and precise execution, building muscle does not have to be an arduous task. There are many fitness routines and techniques today that people use to try to attain that perfect body; however, only a handful of these are backed by scientific evidence, and even better, decades of experience.
Of all the many bodybuilding methods used today, the practices developed by Vince Gironda are probably the ones that showed the most encouraging results, and still being used many decades after their discovery. Gironda, also known as “The Iron Guru”, has perfected the process of bodybuilding through many years of trial and error.
His bodybuilding methods can be seen in the results of the many celebrities and famous bodybuilding legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Denzel Washington, Franco Columbu, and Dave Draper. In this article we will take a closer look at these treasured strategies.
The Hormone Precursor Diet
It is no secret that proper diet goes hand-in-hand with bodybuilding. Vince Gironda also held this belief. In fact, he was often quoted as saying that bodybuilding is at least 85% nutrition, only a very small amount of work is done in the gym. Because of this, he formulated what is called The Hormone Precursor Diet to enhance body mass and muscle growth through boosting the levels of natural anabolic hormones in the body.
Gironda’s hormone precursor diet had also been developed with the goal of containing the optimal amounts of protein, fat, and nutrients needed to fuel growth. At the core of the diet was the Hormone Precursor Shake that was consumed in-between meals to make bulking easier by providing the bulk of the calories in liquid form. Here is the original recipe:
Hormone Precursor Shake
- – 12oz half and half
- – A dozen raw eggs
- – 1/3 cup milk and egg protein powder
- – 1 banana
The rest of the diet consisted of either one of these for lunch or dinner:
- – A pound of meat, preferably hamburger
- – Green salad or other raw veggies
- – 1-2 lbs. steak or roast meat
- – salad, or vegetables raw or steamed
- – cottage cheese
In the hormone precursor diet, the shake is to be taken for breakfast and up to three times in between lunch and dinner meals.
This diet is very much a low carbohydrate diet which is great to minimize fat gain. However to keep performance at top, the diet is supposed to be followed everyday, except for a one-day-a-week cheat day. During cheat days, a bodybuilder should stock up on carbs for increasing body mass as well as extra energy during the remaining workout days by refueling muscle glycogen.
The shake and burger meal is for breakfast and lunch. This is because workouts are usually done in the morning or afternoon. The egg whites and the ground beef in hamburger are relatively easier to chew and digest, which leads to a boost of energy and nutrients pre-workout.
For dinner, steak can be eaten as the body will have enough time to digest the meat all throughout the night, making sure there is always a constant supply of amino acids for muscles.
This diet’s main advantage is that it keeps a positive nitrogen balance, which is a functional component of protein. This allows for a greater nitrogen intake compared to nitrogen output. Through this, protein synthesis will be amplified, muscle gain and growth will significantly improve, and workout recovery of the body will speed up. Men who are skinny and those that experience a hard time building muscle would be better off following this nutrition plan.
The cholesterol in the diet, especially those that come from raw eggs, is also necessary as it is one of the building blocks of hormones such as testosterone. This hormone is ultimately responsible for the development of muscle and male characteristics. In bodybuilding, it sends signals to the body to direct nutrients to muscles, and speeds up the process of burning fat and getting ripped.
In the diet plan, Girona also included salads and other vegetables in meals. This is because, aside from the most common bodybuilding nutrients in animal foods, the vitamins and minerals in vegetables also aid in the overall wellness of a bodybuilder. A whole foods approach is what you want.
In addition, leafy vegetables are high in fiber which aids in the maintenance of the body’s gastrointestinal tract. With an uncompromised digestive function, the intestines will be readily available to digest food, and absorb and distribute nutrients necessary for building muscles.
Raw Eggs: An Anabolic Superfood
As seen in the hormone precursor shake recipe, Gironda emphasized eating a lot of raw eggs. But, most people would tell you that eating a couple dozen eggs every day is harmful as it may lead to high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, right? You should not worry because this is purely a myth.
Scientific research has explained that almost all of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver. The food that one eats has nothing to do with excessive accumulation of cholesterol; hence, eating dozens of eggs a day will not lead to any heart disease.
In terms of bodybuilding, eggs are very beneficial as they contain a good amount of protein, healthy fatty acids and cholesterol, in which the benefits are discussed before. In addition to being a great protein source, eggs also contain the water-soluble vitamins A, E, and K. These vitamins serve as catalysts in the metabolism and breaking down of fats.
Another less known advantage of eggs in bodybuilding is that it is a natural source of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Basically, CLA is an omega fatty acid that functions to burn excessive fat and boost testosterone, thereby leading to increased strength and lean body mass. You can also get CLA from supplements.
Girona was also an advocate of the use of liver tablets for building muscle. This supplement is actually powdered beef liver which are then pressed into tablet form.
Probably the most important purpose of using liver tablets is to increase a bodybuilder’s physical strength and resistance. Many of those who take these tablets claim that they have observed a surge in physical resistance when they supplement their meal with it. Liver has long been known as a superfood and contains more nutrients than any vegetables of fruits on this planet.
In addition, liver is also a good blood builder, which promotes healthy circulatory functions. When the body’s circulation is well, nutrients, as well as vitamins and minerals necessary for growing muscles will be delivered more smoothly all throughout the body.
An enzyme called cytochrome P-450 is also contained in liver tablets. This protein enzyme helps in the regulation of steroid hormone production. Moreover, it is also involved in the process of detoxification of bodily wastes.
So is nutrition the end all, be all, when it comes to building a muscular physique? No, of course without training, none of these nutrients will ever be prioritized by your body for muscle growth. However, there are also other aspects to consider such as working with what you got handed to you since you were born, your unique body composition!
Human bodies are not all the same. People are blessed with different body types which require different approaches when it comes to bodybuilding. Most people have no knowledge regarding this so many put in their best effort at the gym but still don’t see any results. To see significant results, bodybuilders must know their body type to be able to adapt the most accurate workout and nutrition plan.
There are three types of body types:
Men with this body type are lean and with a light build. They have a relatively faster metabolism which makes it harder for them to bulk up and gain weight. People with this body type should focus on intense workouts, resistance training big muscle groups. Workouts must also be short and cardio exercises must be avoided to prevent muscle breakdown. In regards to diet, calorie intake should be upped and eating an extra meal just before going to bed is highly recommended.
The second body type, which is the:
Mesomorph is the athletic build. People with this body type show quicker gains in muscle mass. They also show larger muscle and bone structures naturally. As for working out, a balanced ratio between cardio and weight training is recommended to maintain the athletic body.
The last body type is called:
This is the opposite of ectomorph. People who have this body type have a slower metabolism, making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. To build muscle mass without excessive fat, endomorphs must first focus on extensive cardio training to keep fat percentage at the optimal level. Weight training can be introduced after the fat level desired has been achieved. As for diet, it is best to consume fats for energy instead of carbohydrates. Good meal plans for Endomorphs are the ketogenic diet, which consists of 80% of calories from fat.
Bodybuilding is not about spending the majority of your waking hours at the gym. You have to work smart, eat well, and develop a lifestyle that both you, as well as your body will enjoy. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle, not only a sport.
Knowing the science behind why you are eating a certain way, spending money on a supplement, or tiring those muscles can help you to stay persistent towards your goals. Tracking your progress is crucial for success.
When a plan is laid out and followed thoroughly, any bodybuilder can achieve the body he has always dreamed of, in less time, and with the minimal effort. Old-school bodybuilders proves to us that eating well and keeping up a regular training routine is the fountain of youth.
About the author:
Alex 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 his guide on The Ultimate Guide to Manly Cooking or follow him on Twitter or Facebook
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