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Vince Gironda's 8 x 8 Routine
by Mark Cammack September 4, 2019
The 8 x 8 Routine, or eight sets of eight repetitions, is an excellent bodybuilding training method. This was one of Vince Gironda's choice routines and he gets all the credit for developing it. I am about to share with you my observations and experiences with it after decades of training. It is in appreciation to Vince that this article is written, and I suggest that you also read his original works.
When properly performed, the 8 x 8, with steak, eggs, salad, and nutritional supplements, tends to produce quality muscle for large numbers of enthusiasts. It is not for the beginner, that is usually our friend the 3 x 8 routine as suggested by Dr. Thomas DeLorme.
How do we properly use the 8 x 8 method? We have to consider rest time between sets, number of rest days between workouts, speed of movement, nutrition including supplements, mindset including focus and visualization, and feel of the muscle while training. Usually one exercise per body part is done unless specializing to develop a specific muscle. These are the minimal number of things to think of. Let's begin...
We start not with the barbell, but with the building. The right environment is crucial. If your gym has music blasting, people idly chatting away, or horrors even TVs running, run away as fast as possible. It is not a serious training center. All of these things are immature distractions. They require the brain's energy to process, can be stressors, affect the nervous system (that can be the intent for sales, but is another article), and may even lead to injury by taking away focus.
The legitimate bodybuilding or lifting centers put all emphasis on reaching your goals. They are trainee centered, not business centered. Everything possible supports the athlete. This is what Vince's Gym with Vince Gironda, the original Gold's Gym owned by Joe Gold, and similar establishments had and have: sincerity, support, and results in a wise environment.
I heard an athlete speak once in an auditorium to a large group. His idea is worth remembering. He said that many people have eaten fast food hamburgers. It was not until they had a really good meal did they appreciate it. Then they knew the difference in quality. In his opinion, the fast food hamburgers were never the best, they were just convenient to get. Health clubs and gyms can be the same way. We need the really good ones.
Suppose we have a focused quality place with intelligent supportive people, do we immediately pick up a barbell and pump away? Not yet. You need the right nutrients to get through and benefit from the workout. As a youth, I earnestly exercised but did not get results at times. The difference was in having the right foods and supplements when obtainable. I read about Vince Gironda commenting that results appear like magic with nutrition. I then proceeded to contact him and get supplements when possible. The meals before and after workouts are very important. Likewise, keeping constant levels of protein (egg, quality meat, not whey), lysine, and vitamins including Vitamin C throughout the day, made the difference. Then results magically happened. Vince was right.
Assume we have enough first-class calories to get us through the workout, and a well-planned meal or milk and egg protein drink without added sugar ready for afterwards. Do we finally start pumping away? Not yet. We have to consider where our minds are. Positive visualization is needed. This fires neural pathways to the muscles and primes us for a better workout. Proper visualization involves a centered focus while seeing and feeling the performance and outcome you desire. For example, if you are about to do curls, you may almost experience the exercise before you pick up the bar or dumbbells. The biceps may even contract seemingly on their own briefly. You are auto-firing your nerves and muscles with the power of your mind. Brain is better than pure brawn. The strangest thing is that by visualizing successful sessions and muscle growth, it tends to happen. We can create results by doing this daily.
Are we finally ready to begin? We have a checklist of quick things to consider. You are in flexible exercise clothes, have no belts with buckles to tear equipment, are wearing gym shoes and not street shoes, have no cell phones or earbuds with music players, and drank enough water to be hydrated for the workout. Now we start.
In our example we are performing dumbbell curls. These are not alternate curls with one arm curling up as the other goes down or is simply holding a dumbbell in wait. We curl both dumbbells together. This is efficient and fires nerve pathways simultaneously. It often gives better results than one sided firing.
There is no rigid time for bringing the weights up or lowering them. Each person is unique in their bioindividuality. A general reference point for starters and good form is two seconds up and two seconds down. I have never seen anyone get great results going slow, up to ten seconds on both. The same is true for those who do half second or so jerking of the weights, using momentum and every muscle except the one they are trying to exercise. Try to focus on the biceps doing the work and not the front deltoids. What we want to do is to find a cadence that allows for a burn and pump in the muscles being worked within a few sets. The rest time between sets of 25 to 45 seconds works well. The eighth set should be challenging but not maximal.
We have just worked our biceps. Are we done now? Not quite. It is important not to jump right into the next body part or exercise. Let the body bring fresh blood and nutrients to and take waste products away from the muscles. Sit down and rest. Try contracting the biceps and holding the tension for a short while. How does that feel? Wait. After a few minutes, you may notice a different feel.
Are we finished? For the biceps, yes, we have worked them enough. This is often done two days per week or in a three day on (chest-triceps push day, back-biceps pull day, leg day) with one day off manner. A few rare people may get by with training the same muscles three days per week, at least for a while. Keep in mind that nutrition, supplements, sleep, visualization, and a low stress lifestyle must be maintained each day, and no smoking or alcohol. You do have to be dedicated to get the best results. That my friends is how to use the 8 x 8 program properly. I hope you enjoy it and get great results with it. Please say thank you to Mr. Gironda on the way out.
Mark's GYM: Routines 8 x 8 is © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.
© Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.