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Vince Gironda’s Bodybuilding 8×8 Training System

Vince Gironda, Way Ahead of His Time

Not many of today’s young trainees know of Vince Gironda. Gironda was years ahead in his conceptualization of training methods, as well as the creator of a few exercises used throughout the bodybuilding world today, the most famous is the bodybuilding 8×8 program.

Some of the exercises that Gironda thought up were unconventional in their time, and perhaps even today. He created the Guillotine Press, where the barbell is lowered down to the neck when bench pressing, hence, its name “guillotine.”

a bodybuilder performing the guillotine press

He also suggested performing chin-ups by touching the bar with your chest, sissy squats, and drag curls, which if you’ve never done, is quite something at targeting the outer head of the biceps as well as involving rear deltoid development.

Vince was an advocate for high volume training. He birthed the concept of it long before German Volume Training was ever a thing.

However, out of all the brilliant madness that came out of this man’s head, the 8×8 was his favorite when it came to adding on unfiltered muscle mass.

8×8 Only Meant for Advanced Bodybuilders

Although Vince would advise the 8×8 routine purely for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (the increase of cell volume, not strength), and not only that, he wouldn’t suggest that novice lifters perform the 8×8 workout. He created it purely with the advanced lifter in mind.

Vince said; “I have a definite preference for the 8×8 system of sets and reps. I come back to this high intensity ‘honest workout’ more often than any other for maximizing muscle fiber growth in the quickest possible time for the advanced bodybuilder.”

This training system is designed to increase the cell volume of the muscles. It could be called a “shock” routine if you will.

“Keep to 8×8 and your muscle fiber will plump out, giving you a solid mass of muscle density as a result,” said Vince.

Fat Burning Benefits

Not only is the 8×8 system highly effective at building muscle mass, but could also provide great benefits in the weight loss department.

arnold schwarzenegger performing incline chest presses

Due to the exertion of all the lifting, you increase your EPOC levels by a great amount. If the workout is intense enough, which the 8×8 is, you’ll be able to increase your metabolic output for more than 36 hours at a time.

This will result in an extra 100+ calories being burnt throughout your day, simply because your body is trying to catch up on its oxygen deficit.

How the 8×8 Works

As mentioned earlier, the 8×8 system is a high volume training system. This is not meant for strength gains, instead, it’s meant to increase muscular size and development.

The reason that Gironda said this form of training isn’t meant for novice lifters, is because of the sheer amount of sets and reps that will be performed during the workout.

Sets and Reps

For your workouts, you will only need to perform 3-4 exercises per muscle group, and you will perform 8 sets of 8 reps for each exercise.

If you do the math, that’s around 24-32 sets that you perform per body part and around 192-256 reps per body part. Do you now see why this training system is only advised for the advanced bodybuilder?

Rest Periods

As for resting in-between sets, you’ll need to rest for 15-30 seconds. This is very short compared to other routines.

By resting for such a short time period, you’re really putting your body in an oxygen “debt” that needs to be paid off in the following hours. That means an increase in your resting metabolic rate.

With the rest period between sets is so short, and if you adhere to it, your workout shouldn’t last longer than an hour.

arnold take a break in between sets

“To 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 resistance and is more important than raising your weights.

This principle of overload explains why sprinters have bigger muscles than distance runners. Although it’s more work to run a mile than it is to run 100 yards, the sprinter is doing more work per second. Consequently, his muscles will become larger,” said Vince Gironda

Some people might think that by performing such high volume training, you are doing more harm than good. This simply is not true.

Essentially, what you are doing is condensing more training into less time.

When it comes to building muscle mass, contrary to popular belief, the best way to add size to your muscles is not through training with heavy weights, instead, it’s through stimulation.

That’s exactly what the 8×8 training system does and that’s why it works so well for bodybuilding too.

How Often Should You Use 8×8

the 8×8 training isn’t a training style or system that you should be doing every day for the entire year. This format of training should be reserved for when your muscles need a little kick in the ass to grow. If your goal is to maintain muscle mass, then the 8×8 routine isn’t for you.

This training style is meant purely for making all kinds of gains.

8×8 Split

Vince recommended that the advanced bodybuilder performs the 8×8 routine three days a week.The reason being that by getting sufficient rest in between each workout, it would allow the lifter to attack his next training session with a refreshed intensity.

Vince also advises that a muscle group is trained twice a week. However, if you’re training three days a week, you won’t be able to train every muscle group twice a week.

On the other hand, if you choose a four-day training split, you’ll be able to hit most muscle groups twice a week.

Some muscle groups don’t need to be trained twice a week, so if need be, reserve that second training session for any weak or lagging areas. By using the 8×8 system on weak areas, you’ll be able to bring that body part up to speed real quickly!

Which Weight Should You Use

Seeing how this system is so high in volume, training with heavy weights are out of the discussion.

a bodybuilder doing heavy dumbbell presses

This form of training requires you to use a weight that challenges you. The weight might not be overly challenging for the first 2-3 sets, but after that, your muscles will begin screaming at you.

It’s suggested that you lower the weight you use to about 40% of your 8-rep max of every exercise that you perform.

If you know what your 8-rep max is, great. If not, then maybe you should do that first before diving in head first.

Example 8×8 Routine

The routine laid out below is based on a four-day split. Training days are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

However, you can change the training days and exercise based on your own personal preference.

Monday — Chest, Biceps

  • Flat BB Bench Press / Wide Grip — 8 x 8
  • Incline Cable Flyes — 8 x 8
  • Incline Dumbbell Press — 8 x 8
  • Parallel Bar Dips — 8 x 8
  • BB Preacher Curl / Wide Grip — 8 x 8
  • Concentration Curl — 8 x 8
  • BB Reverse Curls — 8 x 8

Tuesday — Shoulders, Triceps

  • Seated Behind-the-Neck Press — 8 x 8
  • Side Lateral Raises — 8 x 8
  • Cable Upright Rows — 8 x 8
  • Front DB Raises — 8 x 8
  • Seated Overhead Extensions — 8 x 8
  • Rope Pressdowns — 8 x 8
  • DB Skull Crushers — 8 x 8

Thursday — Back, Abs

  • Underhand Pull-ups — 8 x 8
  • Bent-over DB Rows (with two hands) — 8 x 8
  • Seated Cable Rows — 8 x 8
  • DB Pullovers — 8 x 8
  • Reverse Crunches — 8 x 8
  • Weighted Knee Raises — 8 x 8

Friday — Legs

  • Back Squat — 8 x 8
  • Hack Squat — 8 x 8
  • Sissy Squat — 8 x 8
  • Lying Leg Curls — 8 x 8
  • Seated Leg Curls — 8 x 8
  • Standing Calf Raises — 8 x 8
  • Donkey Calf Raises — 8 x 8

Conclusion

When Vince Gironda started the bodybuilding 8×8 training system, he wasn’t fooling around. This method of training comes close to being insane, but so are the gains that accompany it.

If you’re fairly new to training and don’t have the years or physical experience that it takes to endure this method of training, then don’t even bother trying, as you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

Get at least a few solid months worth of training under your belt before taking on this challenging endeavor.

As for the gym-goer who’s been training but who hasn’t been seeing the results that they’ve wanted, maybe you should try the 8×8 workout to light a spark within your physique.

Not only will you benefit from muscle mass gains but you’ll also reap the benefits of lowering your body fat levels. Give it a go, and see what happens!

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