Monday, June 24, 2019

Biceps: Vince Gironda - Gene Mozee

A flexed, fully developed biceps epitomizes all that is strong and powerful in man. It goes deeper than eye appeal:The biceps was arguably the single most instrumental muscle group in the building of civilization. Man first used his biceps to climb trees, and later they built the pyramids. In ancient Greece and Rome biceps wielded the swords, spears and bows and helped conquer the world. From the legions of Alexander the Great to the forces of Julius Caesar, the mighty armies all used biceps power to the fullest. 

Severe weakness in poorly developed biceps could make you unable to perform some basic functions, like feeding yourself. Without biceps power you couldn't climb a rope, participate in rock climbing or even use a shovel. The biceps get constant use in sports like handball, racquetball and tennis. They're also used in baseball to throw curveballs and in softball for underhand pitching. Strong biceps add devastating knockout power to the hook, uppercut and especially the bolo punch in boxing, and astronauts would be unable to walk in space without them. 

Sensational biceps development can be a bodybuilder's greatest show on earth, establishing his credentials as a muscleman for the general public. It can be the margin of victory in bodybuilding. For example, when Arnold defeated the great Sergio Oliva at the Mr. Olympia contest in 1972, in the last of their epic battles, it was Arnold's colossal biceps that won the day. 

That bit of ancient history is noteworthy because the men who had the most fabulous arms in the world in that era - Arnold, Sergio, Larry Scott, Freddy Ortiz, Franco Columbu - had all trained at Vince's Gym on their way to becoming bodybuilding superstars. That was back in the days when people relied more heavily on training and training techniques than chemistry.

Aside from the many champions and famous actors he trained, Vince Gironda will probably be most remembered for having invented the most popular biceps developer in the world: the preacher bench. Scott made it famous when he won the first Mr. Olympia title with his sensational 20.5 inch arms. 

Photo Courtesy of 

Now all bodybuilding gyms and most health clubs have some version of Vince's preacher bench.

Gironda believed you have to study a muscle's anatomy in order to develop it to the fullest, and he relied on Gray's Anatomy for information. In Keys to the Inner Universe Bill Pearl describes more than 100 biceps exercises. Gironda, after years of training, observation and trial and error, had it narrowed down to eight. In his opinion the following movements are the best of the best. They work the biceps from every angle and also work the brachialis, which is located just underneath the biceps. 

While you can shape your triceps significantly by working the different heads with specialized movements, Vince said, you cannot reshape your biceps to the same degree. People who have flat biceps need to concentrate on peaking exercises, especially short-range movements like undergrip chins and seated pulley curls. You'll never get the kind of high peaks a person with the right kind of biceps structure will, but with the right exercises and hard work you can develop outstanding biceps. 

If you have so-called high biceps, which are often accompanied by a large gap near the crook of the elbow, you must do plenty of preacher curls to work the lower past of the muscle. Your bone structure and muscle attachments dictate which movements are best suited for you. 

Larry Scott on this subject, here:

The Big Eight

1) Barbell Preacher Curls (lower biceps and brachialis), 8 reps.

Take an underhand shoulder-width grip on a barbell. Stand behind the preacher bench holding the barbell over the bench, with your elbows resting near the top of the bench. Stand fairly straight and start curling the barbell slowly. Don't lean backward, or cheat, as you curl the bar to your neck and touch. Lower and repeat. 

2) Incline Alternate Dumbbell Curls (biceps belly and outer head), 4 alternate reps plus four simultaneous reps per arm. 

Pick up a pair of dumbbells and sit on an incline bench with your head and shoulders not touching the bench. Perform alternate curls, looking at each dumbbell in turn as you raise it. Curl the dumbbell to the outside of your shoulder to work the outer biceps head, which also improves the peak. Alternate 4 reps per arm, then finish the set by curling both arms together. 

3) 90-Degree Preacher Curls (biceps belly), 4 partials plus 4 full reps.

Hold a loaded barbell and lean over on the 90-degree side of the preacher bench (the reverse side of a regular preacher bench). Without straightening or fully contracting your arms, work on the middle range of the movement. Do 8 reps total, on the last 3 or 4 reps have someone assist you in getting maximum 90-degree contractions. 

4) Bentover Barbell Curls (biceps peak), 8 reps.

Sit on the end of an exercise bench with your legs shoulder width apart and bend over, holding a barbell between your knees with a shoulder width grip. Straighten your arms, extending the barbell to the bottom, then curl the bar upward to a contracted position under your chin without moving the angle of your upper arms. Lower and repeat.

5) Lying Bench Curls (biceps belly), 8 reps per arm.

Lie on your back on a high flat bench, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands, with your arms straight down. Keep your head up throughout the set as you alternately curl one dumbbell at a time, looking at and inclining your body toward the weight being curled. 

6) Dumbbell Preacher Bench Curls (lower and middle biceps), 10 reps.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest your elbows comfortably on the preacher bench, near the top. Lower the dumbbells until your arms are straight, then immediately curl them up. Lower and repeat.

7) Incline Dumbbell Curls (outer head, biceps belly), 8 reps.

With a dumbbell in each hand, lie back on an incline bench that's set at 35 to 50 degrees. Your elbows should be touching the sides of the bench, with the dumbbells about 10 inches away from your body. Start with your arms hanging down and slowly curl the dumbbells until your biceps are fully contracted. Don't let the weights drop on return to starting position - maintain strict control without bouncing. Just lower slowly and repeat.

8) Narrow Grip Chins (biceps peak), 8 reps.

Take a knuckles down, palms-under grip on a chinning bar with your hands about four inches apart. From a hanging position slowly pull up until your chin is above the bar. Holding your elbows high and together, lower only 4 to 5 inches, then pull up again until your neck touches the bar. Lower and repeat. The movement should be slow, rhythmical and controlled. When bodyweight reps become easy, load that diaper. 

Gordon Case, a bodybuilder who appeared in the movie "Muscle Beach Party" along with Larry Scott and several other well-known men, had sensational high-peaked biceps, and the only exercise he ever did for them was narrow grip chins. 

Who's the guy to the left of Larry Scott?
I don't know, honest.
Is that Tug?
That was the character Mr. Case played. 

Vince's Tips for Building Big, Shapely Biceps

1) Select the exercises that work the area of your biceps that needs the most improvement.

2) The biceps respond best to a maximum of 12 sets. Select two appropriate exercises from the above and do 6 sets of each, or do 4 sets of 3 exercises.

3) Don't neglect your triceps. Do an equal number of sets for them.

4) Work your arms three times a week with at least a day of rest between sessions.

5) Proper nutrition is vital.

6)  Set a goal and maintain a positive attitude. Focus on what you want to look like and put 100% effort into achieving that goal. 

Advanced Arm Blaster

Here's an advanced arm program that Vince designed for Larry Scott, that fellow standing next to Tug. Is that Tug? It enabled Scott to build his fabulous arms and win two Mr. Olympia titles. See the September installment of this series for descriptions of the triceps exercises. 


Dumbbell Preacher Curls, 6 x 6
Barbell Preacher Curls, 6 x 6

Reverse Preacher Curls, 4 x 8 


Lying Barbell Extensions, 6 x 8
Long Rope Pulls, 6 x 8

One-Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks, 4-6 x 8-10

Scott performed the routine three times a week, taking no more than 30-45 seconds rest between sets and no rest between the two exercises in a superset. 

Note: The burns, don't forget the burns. 

 - "Burns are small movements done at the top of the movement. Let the weight down just to the point it is going to "fall through", bring it up, and repeat." 
 - Larry Scott.
4 to 5 burns following the regular reps in each set, Soldier. 
Sailors can follow the same plan. 
Members of the Air Corp can instead do 5 or 4 burns. 

Gironda's exercises really do work. When I trained at his gym my arms were big but not especially cut up or well shaped. After specializing on Vince's exercises, I developed chiseled peaks that greatly enhanced my arm posses, er, poses. Give these exercises and tips a fair trial, and I'm sure your results will be as gratifying as mine were.  



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