Subj: Build muscle, burn fat and get ripped in record time with Vince GiRonda’s ‘Honest’ 8×8 Workout.
If you’re looking to build serious muscle mass and burn some fat, you’re in luck because this article contains the best workout for building muscle and getting shredded: Vince GiRonda’s 8×8 training method.
8×8 training, which Vince called “the Honest workout” blasts your muscles with 8 sets of 8 reps per exercises.
8×8 workouts are high-tempo, high-volume and incredibly intense.
This workout is not for the faint of heart, but is perfect for advanced trainers that want to take their physique to the next level.
The 8×8 workout routine is a rare breed that builds muscle and burns fat simultaneously. It’s a muscle-building hypertrophy workout and cardio workout wrapped into one.
8 x 8 workout is the ultimate conditioning routine designed to get you as ripped as possible in the shortest amount of time.
The 8×8 workout was Vince’s “preferred” method to get bodybuilders in top-shape because, as he put it, the routine was best for “maximizing muscle fiber growth in the quickest possible time”.
In this article, I show you the benefits of the 8×8 workout and how to perform it for maximum results.
Vince GiRonda: The ‘Iron Guru’
Vince GiRonda was the greatest bodybuilding trainer of all time.
A-list actors, high-fashion models and competitive bodybuilders flocked to Vince’s gym during the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s to train under the watchful eye of the ‘Iron Guru’.
Vince was credited with turning out more Mr. America and Mr. Universe champions than any trainer in history including Larry Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In addition to that, Vince personally trained big screen icons Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Kurt Russell, Gordon Scott (the original Tarzan).
Uncommon Wisdom from an Eccentric Mad Genius
Although many considered his methods unconventional, Vince GiRonda was a fitness pioneer. His results spoke for themselves. His knowledge and application of training principles far exceeded the understanding of science at the time.
In fact, many of Vince’s training methods where ‘proven’ by science year’s after Vince proved his methods time and time again by transforming average bodies to resemble greek gods and goddesses.
Vince walked the walk and lived the fitness lifestyle – he took the stage in bodybuilding competitions, wrote for muscle magazines and spent time promoting the sport.
The picture you see above was taken when Vince was over 50 years old – and he’s in better shape then most people half his age!
Decades of experience training 100’s of hollywood actors and elite bodybuilders made Vince the undisputed training master.
Vince GiRonda’s ‘Honest’ 8×8 Workout
Vince possessed an impressive repertoire of bodybuilding techniques and routines.
The 6×6 total body workout, the 10-8-6-15 routine, 15 sets of 5 reps scheme, and many others.
Each training method had a specific purpose. Some were meant to build muscle mass while others shaped and sculpted muscles.
The 8×8 method was designed to do both, fast.
For this reason, the 8 by 8 training method was Vince’s favorite creation:
“I have a definite preference for the 8 X 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.
Keep to 8 X 8 and your muscle fiber will plump out, giving you a solid mass of muscle density as a result.”
Vince called it the “honest workout ” because 8×8 requires strict form and tempo throughout the entire set.
Strict form means no cheating by shifting weight to muscles other than the target muscle. The tempo is a slow and controlled lowering and lifting of the weight. This way no momentum is used and maximum tension is kept on the target muscle.
He also warned that the 8×8 method is an advance technique and not suitable for beginners:
“You have to build up to the stage where you can benefit from this extremely advanced form of training. I doubt if anyone with less than two years of training experience could benefit from this method.”
So, if you’re a beginning training, stick to a linear strength program like Starting Strength to build a muscular foundation.
Or, if you can handle more volume, try my beginner weight training routine to accelerate your muscle and strength gains.
Benefits of the 8 x 8 Workout Routine
Build Muscle Fast
8×8 routines are unparalleled in terms of muscle building potential. (German volume training is a close contender.)
The 8×8 workout is intense and the large volume completed in a short time elicit muscle growth.
This puts tremendous stress on your muscles and forces them to grow.
8 sets of 8 has you moving constantly for 45 consecutive minutes of hard work.
You your heart rate will hit 140 beats per minute and stay there. 140 BPM (Beats per minute) is ideal for buying fat.
Build Muscle Definition and Density
Muscle definition is created by having low body fat and dense muscles. Muscle density is build by keeping muscles under tension.
The slow, controlled movements in 8×8 training keep muscles under constant tension.
The fast pace and rapid fire reps make the The Honest workout perfect for conditioning and building endurance.
Your cardiovascular and respiratory systems will get stronger and more efficient.
How to Perform the 8×8 Workout
Minimize Rest Between Sets
8 sets of 8 is not enough to ensure muscle gains. Perform the workout fast is critical. Therefore “Minimum rest between sets is a must“.
Your goal is to reduce your rest intervals to 30 seconds or less, ultimately cutting them down to just 15-20 seconds between each set:
“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.” – Vince GiRonda
Short rest periods ensure high intensity. Keeping your muscles working without full recovery and pushing beyond their normal limit is how you reach hypertrophy.
After a while you’ll need just five to ten deep breaths between each set.
30 seconds is extremely quick. If you time it, you’ll realize 30 seconds feels like nothing. Focus only on recovering as from your previous set and focus on your next set.
Don’t fiddle with your phone, or get lost in wondering thoughts or sidetracked by conversation or distracted by the baddie in yoga pants.
Pick your workout playlist ahead of time to eliminate distraction and put your headphones on to discourage conversation. Get into a meditative state during this workout.
Use Perfect Form
There’s a few pointers you must follow to get the muscle building benefits of 8×8.
Appropriate Lifting Tempo
Each rep should be a controlled and deliberate movement. Eliminate momentum to maximize results.
Keep the muscle under tension by adopting a 2-0-2-0 tempo (2 second eccentric/ lowering, no pauses and two second concentric/lifting).
Constant Muscle Tension is Key
Constant whsle tension is key for muscle growth.
Focus your mind entirely on the muscle you’re working. You should have laser focus throughout the entire set.
Keep the full weight on your target muscle at the top and bottom of each rep.
Keep Workouts Short
Push your self to finish workouts in under 45 minutes. Taking more than 50-60 minutes to compete this workout is too long.
If you take more than an hour your not going fast enough to benefit from this type of training. Work on your conditioning or focus on reducing rest periods and try again.
8×8 Workout Starting Weight
To perform the workout you pick 3-4 exercises and perform 8 sets of 8 reps for each exercise. Pick a weight that’s about 60% of your 1 rep max for the given exercise.
When doing this workout make sure you keep rest periods between sets to less than 30 seconds.
Pick the right weight. A good starting point is to use 60-70 percent of your 1 Rep max.
You might start to fizzle out around sets 5,6 or 7 but DO NOT LOWER THE WEIGHT. Even if you can only do 3-4 reps, use the same weight.
Tips about using the right weight and weight progression:
If you can complete all 8 sets by doing 8 reps, you need to increase the weight next time.
You complete 7 sets fully but struggle on set 8 only, you can increase the weight a little bit next time.
If you complete 6 sets fully but maybe do 5-6 reps on the 7th set and 3-4 reps on the 8th. You have found a good weight. You can use that same weight next time you train. This is the ideal weight. Once it becomes easier to do, then increase the weight for future workouts.
If you complete 4 sets fully but can’t get all 8 reps on sets 5, 6,7 or 8. You shoulder reduce the weight slightly or use that weight until it becomes easier.
Adjustments will almost always need to be made when starting out the 8×8 workout for the first time. Lift as heavy as you can while still getting the workout while adjustments are going to need to be made. Always try to add weight each workout. Drop reps not weight!
If you’re just trying 8 sets of 8 for the first time it might be wise to pick 1 or 2 main exercises and do 8×8 for only those lifts. for the other lifts do 4 sets of 10 reps or something like that. This workout is a killer so you might want to test the waters first.
8×8 Workout Splits and Training Frequency
Vince Gironda recommended training each muscle group every forth day.
Each muscle group should get about 12-15 sets per workout but this method is an exception were you do 20+ sets for each muscle group.
I like to train back and shoulders together, legs and chest, and arms (biceps/triceps/forearms). But it’s completely up to you. I provide the tools for you to create your own workouts below. Experiment with the volume you can handle and with what fits your needs.
For training frequency, 2 days on 1 day off is a good starting point. if that gets to be too much, you can workout every other day.
This is an extremely taxing workout so take a rest day if you need it!
Sample 8×8 Workout Routine
For the 8×8 workout it’s best to stick to one multi-joint exercise as the main part of your routine for a particular muscle group. Single joint movements are OK but the big multi joint lifts will get you the best results overall.
It’s best to pick two muscle groups and do two exercises per muscle group. For example, if you want to do a back and shoulder workout it might look like this:
EXAMPLE 8×8 WORKOUT A (Back and Shoulders)
- Pull Ups 8×8
- Seated Row 8×8
- Shoulder Press 8×8
- Lateral Raise 8×8
EXAMPLE 8×8 WORKOUT B (Legs and Chest)
- Back Squats 8×8
- Leg Press 8×8
- Incline Bench Press 8×8
- Flat Bench Dumbbell Press 8×8
That’s the whole workout; Two muscle groups, two exercises each. Below are the exercises that work best for the 8×8 training method. Build your own workouts, mix and match the exercises to get some variety:
The Best Exercises for GiRonda’s 8×8 Workout
Best Back and Lat Exercises
- Pull ups
- Lat Pull Down
- Seated Row
- T-Bar Row
- Dumbbell Rows laying on bench
Best Chest Exercises
- Flat/Incline Bench
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Weighted Pushups
Best Leg Exercises
- Back Squats
- Leg Extensions
- Leg Press
- Hamstring Curl
- Calf Raise
Best Shoulder Exercises
- Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Standing Barbell Shoulder Press
- Push Press
- Barbell Upright Rows
- Lateral Raises (Both arms at the same time)
Best Arm Exercises
- Tricep Pressdown
- Close Grip Bench
- Floor Press
- Dumbbell Overhead Press
- Chin Up
- French Press
Vince didn’t recommend training deadlifts, bent over rows and front squats using 8 sets of 8.
The high volume is very taxing on the lower back (deadlifts and bent over rows) and rhomboids (front squat). You’re likely to compromise form and not get a good workout plus risk injury.
You can absolutely do deadlifts, bent over rows and front squats just use a different rep scheme than 8 x 8 or increase the rest between sets.
Also avoid unilateral movements (one limb at a time) with this workout. It doesn’t work your body hard enough for this workout as it allows too much rest.
Get Plenty of Good Food and Rest
Poor diet and lack of rest are saboteurs of progress in bodybuilding. Check out my Shopping List for healthy food options and give meal prep a try to ensure you have healthy meals available and ready to eat when you’re hungry.
Nothing kills your progress like burn out. The easiest way to avoid burnout is to stay energized by eating right and getting restful sleep.
If you’re really hardcore you can try Vince Gironda’s old school steak and eggs diet for maximum results! This is the same diet Vince used to build massive muscle and get that shredded look.
Enjoy Your New Muscles
Upon completing a cycle of 8×8 training I guarantee you will gain bigger, fuller and more defined muscles.
This workout is an absolute grind at times but once you start seeing results it’s easy to stay motivated and be hungry for more!
There will be days where your heads just not into it. You need to force yourself to have a great workout. Focus everything you’ve got into your training and workout with a purpose!
Keep those abs of steel envisioned in your mind – that’s what you’re working for and don’t forget it!
Train hard. Train Often.