7 Unconventional Gironda Exercises

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The legend Vince Gironda once said, “I have found that man’s logic and nature’s logic are totally different.  In other words, try breaking the rules and see what happens.”

The following are some unique exercises you don’t see in the gym very often.  Vince invented these exercises and used them to get hollywood stars and his clients in top shape in record time.

His methods were not understood by many.  That’s why I’d be willing to bet if  he were alive today he would probably dedicate this article and these exercises to those of little faith and to the ones who resist change because they are the ones that need the most guidance.

Let’s get right to it.  Here are the Top 7 Unconventional Gironda Exercises.  Be sure to leave a comment below so we can vote on which one gets the #1 spot!  They are listed below in no particular order.

1)  Body Drag Curl

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart maintaining a slight bend in your knees.  Grip the barbell with a supinated or underhanded grip.

The width of your grip should be comfortable and it’s important to keep your elbows in really tight to your torso.  Lean forward just a little bit.  With a firm grip begin lifting the bar, while keeping your elbows tucked in nice and close to your torso.  The bar should lightly be touching your torso as well as you lift it up.  In order to lift the bar your elbows will need to move a bit to the rear.

Note this is not a free moving arc.  It’s called a body drag curl because there are two points of contact causing the “dragging” movement rather than the typical free moving arc of a typical bicep curl.  This is actually more of a lift rather than a curl.

2) 45-Degrees Pulley Row

The Vince Gironda 45-Degrees Pulley Row develops the teres major muscles of the back which are extremely important for overall back width.

3) Frog Sit Ups

We all know that the best way to build the abs is to contract the abdominals right?

Most people do full sit-ups and Vince says it’s a waste of time because they are only getting work in during the beginning of the exercise. They help get your shoulders off the floor and that’s it. The Frog Sit Up was Vince’s secret ab exercise.


1. Lie with your back flat on the floor (or exercise mat) and your legs extended in front of you.

2. Now bend at the knees and place your outer thighs by the floor (or mat) as you make the soles of your feet touch each other.

3. Now try pushing both soles and bringing them up as near you as possible while you keep the outer thighs on the floor (or at least almost touching it). Tip: In this position your legs should create a diamond shape.

4. Now, cross your arms in front of you by touching the opposite shoulders. This will be your starting position.

5. As you exhale flatten your lower back to the floor while curling the torso upwards. Tip: This will be like performing the first 1/4 movement of a sit up. Hold at the top position for a second.

6. As you inhale, slowly lower back to the starting position.

7. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

4) The Sissy Squat

If you really want a crazy leg pump with some serious shock to your legs this is the one for you. Here’s how it’s done.

1. I use a block of wood that is 24” long and is 3.5” thick. The size and dimensions of the
wood block is critical.

2. Position the heels on the wood block so that they extend over the top. Feet should be
about 12” to 24” apart with toes pointing slightly outward.

3. Now let your knees drop down but forward and have your upper body at an angle.
Maintain your balance by keeping your shoulders and the barbell over your heels at all

4. Once in the bottom position move your hips back over your heels in a somewhat
squatting position. Now using only your thigh muscles return to the starting position.


5) Wide Pec Dips

Vince’s students were insturced on how to do dips to create a wide pec flare that gave them a classic look.

You must use a parallel bar that is 33″ wide, if it is not you will not receive the intended benefit from this movement. Anything wider or narrower will not work the pecs as desired. The most important execution of the movement is in the elbows: They must be wide and straight out from the shoulders. The head has to be in a down position with the chin resting on the upper chest and the back should be rounded forward.

Cross your feet and make certain they are slightly in front of your face, not back. Dip down as far as possible and return as high as you can. Never change this position as it isolates the pectoral muscles and limits the involvement of the triceps. Performing the movement with the elbows in will emphasize more triceps than pecs.

Very few bodybuilders perform this movement as described. It is perhaps one of the best movements for building and shaping the pecs there is.


6) The Perfect Curl

As described by Paul Becker of Truly Huge. Vince described how to do “The Perfect Curl” (or complete curl). The first part of “The Perfect Curl” (using a straight bar and a shoulder width hand spacing) begins with the elbows resting on the pelvis or hip bones with the arms hanging straight and the upper torso inclined with the head and shoulders just back of the hips. This particular starting position will actively stimulate the lower insertion of the biceps as the barbell is curled upward the first 10-12 inches.

The second part of “The Perfect Curl” kicks in as the barbell is continuing to be curled upward and the upper torso (head and shoulders) begins to travel forward to an erect (or vertical) position. This part of the curl involves the belly of the biceps.

The third part of “The Perfect Curl” concludes with the upper torso (head and shoulders) moving slightly forward from an erect (or vertical) position and the bar is curled upward to completion. When the torso is slightly forward from vertical at the completion of the upward phase of the curl it creates a maximum peak contraction in the biceps.

7) Gironda Sternum Chins

Thankfully for us Vince invented this exercise which has been coined the single best lat exercise ever developed.

1. Grasp the pull-up bar with a shoulder width underhand grip.

2. Now hang with your arms fully extended and stick your chest out and lean back. Tip: You will be leaning back throughout the entire movement. This will be your starting position.

3. Start pulling yourself towards the bar with your spine arched throughout the movement and your head leaning back as far away from the bar as possible. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: At the upper end of the movement, your hips and legs will be at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.

4. Keep pulling until your collarbone passes the bar and your lower chest or sternum area touches it. Hold that contraction for a second. Tip: By the time you’ve completed this portion of the movement; your head will be parallel to the floor.

5. Slowly start going back to the starting position as you inhale.

6. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.


Join the conversation and leave a comment below. Which of these 7 exercises should be crowned the best exercise that Vince Gironda invented?

Do you know of any other secret Gironda exercises that many people have the privilege of knowing about? Please…speak your mind.


36 Comments Add yours

  1. Terrill
    September 11, 2010
    9:24 pm

    Possibly the sternum chin may be the best of Gironda’s 7 best exercises. It appears to challenge and benefit the largest groups of muscles at once.


    Larry Reply:

    The frog curl: I really learned something here, the frog curl will now be my prefered sit up exercise.


    leanhybr Reply:

    You mean the frog sit up? Hey what the heck lets add teh frog curl to the list, not sure how to perform it :) MIKE


  2. Andrew LeClair
    September 11, 2010
    9:40 pm

    The sternum chinups for sure. Its an awesome exercise for anyone from athletes to bodybuilders.


  3. Ron
    September 11, 2010
    10:02 pm

    Man Dude, all Gironda’s stuff you showed here is absolutely awesome, but I’d have to say am a bit partial to the “Perfect Curl” though. It’s way cool!


  4. gabe
    September 11, 2010
    10:05 pm

    Definitely gonna give the wide dip pecs a challenge and the 45 degree pull downs once i redress the imbalance in left rotator cuff rhomboids and supra/infraspinatus, I’m all twisted outta shape at the mo


    Christine Reply:

    try concentrating on stabilizing your shoulder blades by pulling them slightly up and back and keeping them there when you do your exercises. the reason your shoulders are out of balance is because you probably lift more with your arms, front delts and tris as apposed to using your lats and chest. Think squeeze your elbows for chest keeping the chest up as completing the movmt and think drive your elbows back while squeezing your ‘back fat’ and not taking your elbow past the seam on your shirt for a while. should help calm down the imbalance.


  5. Bill Ogden
    September 11, 2010
    10:42 pm

    I have trained with the IronGuru several times. Have tried many of his techniques and sometimes implement them in my personal training practice (since 1983). On some movements I’ve made adaptions according to individual needs. Vince accepted my tweaks due to different body mechanics etc. Regardless of what many said about Vince; he was open-minded and receive intelligent feedback.
    It is great to see that you are branching out into the bodybuilding arena. Next year I will be entering the NPC Mr. Pittsburgh 50 and over…keep pumping iron and sweating steel brothers and sisters of iron.


  6. Chris
    September 11, 2010
    11:39 pm

    Theres a better video of Vince really explaining the drag curl, while he instructs a woman to do it. Its on Youtube and he says that it should be brought up all the way to the neck. The guy in this video up top is only doing half reps


  7. Chris
    September 11, 2010
    11:39 pm

    great info..thanks!


  8. Christine
    September 12, 2010
    1:12 am

    the whole curl would be to bring in the front delt after the bicep has be contracted, giving you the ‘cut’ between the bi and front delt.


  9. Christine
    September 12, 2010
    1:17 am

    I have been doing these exercises for years. I guess I know now who invented them.


  10. Steve
    September 12, 2010
    2:12 am

    I love doing Vinces 8×8 workout, if you want to really burn this will absolutely blow your mind, just google Vince Gironda 8×8 workout. I only know of the sternum chin ups which I have been doing for about 18 months with fantastic results.


  11. Randy
    September 12, 2010
    7:42 am

    Het that’s awesome you pulling up Vince’s golden nuggets. His diet info was also awesome. A friend of mine is the Vince rep. He has and knows everything about and from Vince. Get hold of Ron xxxxxx in Detroit. I f you haven’t contacted him let me know. He is the man on Vince period.


  12. mike
    September 12, 2010
    8:26 am

    Ha! I’ve been doing “Sternum Chinups” for some time now. Just seemed right, in terms of posture. And I actually find this style easier and I have more power than normal chins… I don’t mean to blow my trumpet or anything… I never heard of Vince Girondo before reading your great blog. Good stuff guys, keep it coming.


  13. nelson
    September 12, 2010
    9:44 am

    ive been doing the sternum chin ups for while because they are in my current program and i think thats the best exercise from vince gironda because is involves a pull and a row movement all in one to give u a better back


  14. steve d
    September 12, 2010
    10:16 am

    can you tell me the why drag curls are effective or should i say more effective i have never heard of them befor what are they doing to my muscles say more so than a regular curl sorry if it sounds like a stupid question


  15. Bob
    September 12, 2010
    11:35 am

    Used to work out at Vince’s gym in the early sixties as an actor in need of physical reeducation. Vince was a hard task master and if you didn’t follow his principals to the letter he would tell you to go somewhere else. The anecdote most interesting is about his first meet with Arnold and he called him a fat slob or something to that effect after Weider sent him to Vince for some special training.
    My favorite of the exercises is the bench press to the neck or throat as Vince did not like bench pressing. Try it some time I also have his workout routines and his book the wild physique (sp) He had some great ideas but like he said he was a bodybuilder not a weight lifter he believed in balance and symetry


  16. Dennis
    September 12, 2010
    12:25 pm

    I have used drag curls to reduce stress on my elbows. Other than that, I don’t know what the advantage is. I liked the frog sit ups and especially the sternum chins which were easier than it sounded like they would be.


  17. Michael H
    September 12, 2010
    7:07 pm

    Definitely the sternum chin ups! Have never heard of those but they sound great and were harder for me than normal chins. I chose this exercises because I love working my back!


  18. Craig
    September 13, 2010
    12:05 am

    Interesting to see Gironda techniques on a predominately based athletic development website. I am almost 60 and have been reading and using Gironda concepts for about 25 years. He was “the man” when it comes to physique development. Keep up the good work.


  19. Russ
    September 13, 2010
    1:31 am

    All are realy great stuff I like the perfect curl the best


  20. Robby Bartcher
    September 13, 2010
    8:51 pm

    My Weight is 195.2 and 193.4 I’m trying to keep it on get my six pack abs I have lunch honey bbq wings and banana.


  21. Stephen Lymburner
    September 13, 2010
    11:18 pm

    I have been a follower of Vince since the early 70′s and he would freak at the video of a supposed drag curl !!!! First the meathead is using an E-Z Curl bar a BIG NO NO,second the drag curl MUST go all the way to the neck with no back arch and this guy is going half way and then does a half shrug ????? Low weight until the technique is perfect and you feel the biceps working then slowly move up in weight. Please get a video of someone doing a true drag curl that Vince would be proud of and repost. Thanks


    Elliott Hulse Reply:

    You’re probably right!!


  22. keng
    September 14, 2010
    4:38 pm

    Pec dips, drag curls and sternum chins are personal faves. Vince has always been an inspiration! Thanks for keeping Old School Real School!


  23. Gilbert
    September 14, 2010
    10:15 pm

    I like the Gironda Sternum Chins its like a complete upper body workout!! Awesome!!!


  24. wrestling workout
    October 10, 2010
    6:18 pm

    Great exercises. I’m definitely going to be hitting some of these Frog Situps later. Those super wide dips look great too!! Thanks guys!


  25. wrestler strength
    October 22, 2010
    11:42 am

    I’ve never seen these 45-degree pulley rows before. Definitely going to give them a shot later; they look fantastic!


  26. Oliver
    February 25, 2011
    3:23 am

    I don’t like the look of the sissy squat diagram with the knees so far out over the toes, especially when you’re using weight. Also, I’m not sure about the frog crunch with the flat back while crunching. I see recommendations for flat backs, and also that in any exercise, you should always keep neutral spine which is usually true. I’d be interested on Elliot’s take on flat backs vs neutral spine for crunches.

    The top 2moves should be the chin variation and dip variation. I think I ‘d put the chin move top because you’re limited in achieving ideal hand placement with wide dips and it’s a lot easier to stress your shoulders if your form isn’t right. I’m not sure if Vince came up with the best chin variation, the only reason I have some doubt is because I’ve seen this variation before, and the ideal set up isn’t exactly like the picture demonstrates, in the ideal set up, you go further out actually moving your upper body not just your head, away from the bar so a decent portion of the torso itself is parallel to the floor. The move resembles a lat tower pull down where you bring the bar not to your chin, or even upper chest, but to the sternum. You can think of it as vaguely the opposite move to flat bench with a tight arched back. Maybe Vince came up with the idea, and it was later improved upon, or maybe the pic just doesn’t do it justice, but the best variation would finish with the chin bar at your lower chest/sternum. It’s funny how this came up today, today, I’ve been looking at gymnastic training with rings and the specialised chin kinda reminds me of some of the moves performed.

    How you doing Elliot? I’ve been watching your vids and it dawned on me you sound like Mr T in places :)


  27. Oliver
    February 25, 2011
    3:26 am

    LOL. Scrap that bit on chins, it’s not in the pic but I just noticed it says in the text to go to the sternum afterall!


  28. Michael - The Underwear Body
    July 5, 2011
    10:58 am

    Really great to see some more recognition for Vince and everything he did. I thought I was in decent shape, but Vince’s techniques have really helped me improve. I think his philosophy of building a better physique, not just a bigger one, is really useful for people who want to work out and improve the look and shape of their bodies without pursuing pro-bodybuilder size.



  29. Joseph H. Roach
    October 16, 2011
    6:21 pm

    vince was way ahead of his time.


  30. Brock
    May 16, 2012
    7:41 pm

    In doin the sissy squat how is the barbell being held? Can you hold it with crossed arms as in a traditional front squat? It almost seems as though this exercise would be easier barefoot. Did he recommend that?


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  32. Steff
    March 1, 2013
    10:43 am

    Those are all good exercises. But one I really like is the long pull, it’s a kind of row but you’re
    something like 8-10′ away from the pulley(the high pulley). Hit’s the lat like hell!


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