10 Days To A Steelworker’s Body: Redux

by Tom Furman

Back in the day, there were far fewer gyms and fitness facilities. One of the most popular ones in the greater Los Angeles area was Vince’s Gym in Studio City. Due to it’s proximity to the film studios, it was populated by not only bodybuilders, but actors and stuntmen. Most everyone who was anyone in the rugged world of 60’s and 70’s TV and movies, trained there. Vince Gironda, the legendary owner, did not mince words. If he hated you, it was apparent from the first few moments you met. In fact when Vince met Arnold Schwarzenegger the first time, the dialogue supposedly went like this-

“My name is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I am going to be the greatest bodybuilder who ever lived.” Vince replied, “You look like a fat f*ck to me!”

Based on that exchange, we can solidly bet Vince Gironda was a Norman Vincent Peale graduate. However, Vince’s reputation of getting action stars in shape, quickly, was well known in Hollywood. Studios would send actors to him and expect miracles in as little as 10 days. Vince would come through.

The Iron Guru, Vince Gironda

The method was called, “Peripheral Flushing”. Basically circuit training with the goal being a visually aesthetic physique. He had other programs for athletes, but this was about looking good on camera. He later consolidated it into a course, “A Steelworkers Body in 10 Days. That program’s roots are from the 60’s and the technology or methodology is a bit dated. It still works, but it is severe in terms of diet and perhaps other exercise choices would be more broadly applicable outside of Vince’s.

Here is the original program I pulled from an online board. Remember those?

Line up equipment so you can proceed uninterrupted. Don’t go to heavy in the beginning or you will have to pause. Do not rest between exercises or circuits.
Day One. 1 circuit AM. 1 circuit PM
Day Two. 2 circuits AM. 2 circuits PM
Day Three. 3/3
Day Four. 4/4
Day Five. 5/5
Day Six Through Ten. 4 circuits once per day. Keep resistance as heavy as possible.
Diet for days 1–5 is, are you ready for this?
A SALAD
.
Spinach or Lettuce
Sliced Zucchini
Raw Mushrooms
Carrot Sticks
Sliced Celery
Sliced Cucumbers
Water Chestnuts
Cherry Tomatoes
Bean or Alfalfa Sprouts
Cauliflower Heads
Avocado
Green Bell Peppers
Raw Beets
Parsley
Watercress
Toss with olive oil, vinegar and garlic. First three days, take
a light dose of Cascara Sagrada.
Other than water, drink Black Cherry Juice.
Diet for days 6–10
Breakfast: Steak and Soft Boiled Eggs with Black Cherry Juice.
Lunch: Raw Finger Salad of any vegetable. Vinegar and Oil. Black Cherry Juice.
Dinner: Same as Breakfast
Supplements: Digestive Enzymes, Kelp, Vitamin C, Choline, Inositol.
TEN Desiccated Liver Tablets every THREE hours.
Exercises-
Bench Press to the Neck.
Alternating Dumbbell Bent Over Row
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Lying Triceps Pullover
Seated Dumbbell Curls
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl
Concemetric Double Up. [Elbows to Knee Crunch, don’t relax between reps]
Frog Squats. [Knees out, feet 22” wide. Front squat with NO lockout]
Standing Heel Raise. Knees slightly unlocked.
ALL exercises are done for 12 reps. Calves are 20 reps.

It’s fun to look back, especially when discussing, “Bro Science”, since currently the Bro’s say that they invented everything that the, “White Coats” publish on PubMed. I guess that includes a pound of salad with a laxative? (Cascara Sagrada)

Upgrading or modernizing this program is more akin to streamlining it. Use exercises that can be done in a spartan garage gym and a diet that is less insane. Address posture, range of motion, hypertrophy and safety as well. This program is ideal if you have a photo shoot, acting job, wedding, date or just a pool party where you have to take your shirt off and not be called, “Gut Stephens”, by the neighborhood ladies.

This workout and diet routine IS NOT for men who haven’t trained in years, or have been designated as clinically obese and have some malady that would prevent hard training. It is not a gradual program. It’s for those within striking distance of good shape, but took a detour with naps and sweets versus iron and beef steak. As well, ten days is ten days. There are no cheat days filled with shotgunning Oreo's or double fisting Banana Barge ice cream. This program is like a powerful bullet. One shot, one kill.

You can kill him from that far away?

At a mile and a half the bullet’s gonna strike with more energy than a .44 magnum, point blank. Yeah, I think you can kill him. -Bob Lee Swagger, The Shooter

First, Diet. The meal plan will be boring but bold, with two liquid meals and one standard meal. The use of liquid meals as replacements is a consistent theme and has some PubMed studies going for it. (Many of which are financed by the manufacturers of the liquid meals, btw.) However, with one regular meal, you get to chew and get satiated properly, so it’s not about soft boiled eggs and black cherry juice.

Breakfast: Liquid Meal

Lunch: Liquid Meal

Dinner: A large piece of meat, fish, fowl or game and a salad with olive oil.

Beverages are coffee, tea and water.

Supplements are a generic multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D/K, magnesium and 5 grams of creatine if it agrees with you.

As per liquid meals. With a quick view of Amazon, Met Rx canned protein is 51 grams and supported with extra vitamins and minerals in a variety of flavors. Of course dairy is not for everyone and mixing your own drink with powder is fine. Just don’t load it with bananas, vodka and cream. Keep it stark. Some extra berries for nutrients, unflavored Metamucil and that’s about it. Use water and focus on vegetables during your evening meal and not putting powdered pond scum in your breakfast and lunch drinks.

The workout is 9 exercises and done in a circuit fashion as per Vince’s original pattern. That means before work and before dinner on the first five days.

Day One. 1 circuit AM. 1 circuit PM
Day Two. 2 circuits AM. 2 circuits PM
Day Three. 3/3
Day Four. 4/4
Day Five. 5/5
Day Six Through Ten. 4 circuits once per day. Keep resistance as heavy as possible.

  1. Ring Push Up. It is probably a good idea to elevate the feet on a low box. Do not exceed your range of motion at the bottom and keep your arms near your sides and not flared out. At the top, or lockout, supinate your palms and pause. 12 reps.

2. Lock Off/ Negative Pull Ups. Start at the top of the pull up in the, “lock off”, position. You need to stare at a timer. Hold this position for 15 to 60 seconds. Then do a slow negative or eccentric repetition of 15 to 60 seconds. Record the singular movement with a notation of seconds. “40/35”. This way you will understand your progress as time under tension increases.

3. Slide Lunge. Normally the realm of female trainees, this intensifies time under tension, balance, focus and sheer will. It is a reverse lunge where the non working leg moves, back. You don’t need a slide board. An old sock or wash cloth and a tile or wood floor will be fine. These are to be done without lockout of the working leg. Do 12 and 12. Add weight if they are easy.

4. Suspension Bridge and Curl. This compound movement has a great effect on the backside of the body. It really fires up the hamstring and hits the lumbar area and butt too. The image says it all. Keep your hips locked out at the top and once you start the exercise, don’t let your butt touch the ground until you are finished. Do 12 repetitions. This can be done on a stability ball as well if straps are not in your arsenal.

5. Fat Gripz Curl. The use of Fat Gripz will stimulate the forearms and add variety to your curling. This particular curl requires slow movement. 3 seconds to curl, 3 seconds to squeeze at the top and 3 seconds to lower. Keep your arms pinned to your side, extend the arm fully at the bottom. Don’t let the elbows creep back as you start the curl as well. Do 12 reps.

6. Rear Raise. This is a weak area for most. It’s taken from gymnastics. It not only works the upper back and deltoids, but the triceps in a unique manner. You will need a broomstick and a small barbell plate for resistance. Stand bolt upright with the stick behind your back. Do not lean forward or look down. Look straight ahead and brace your butt and abs. Now raise the bar as high as you can, slowly. Cramp for a second at the top to fire the triceps and all those undeveloped muscles. Lower under control rather than dropping it. Do 12, well controlled reps. Your range of motion will increase with diligence.

Photo by Gymnasticbodies

7. Weighted Dislocate. Using the broomstick again with a small barbell plate for resistance to do the pronated grip, dislocate. Be generous with how wide you grab the bar. In fact, warm up with 8–10 non weighted dislocates to prepare your shoulders. If you have an injury, perhaps skip this and do dumbbell lateral raises for 12 reps. However the dislocate, while not an incredible source of hypertrophy, will allow a long, time under tension. The stretching is extremely profound. It will restore the hunched posture that is associated with endless bench presses, curls, beer and barbecues. Move slowly and perhaps watch yourself in a mirror for uneven tracking despite what some evil Russian might say about mirrors. Be careful of your junk and your tail bone at the ends of movement. Do 12 slow repetitions. Add weight very slowly.

Photo by Gymnasticbodies

8. Stir The Pot. This is a rugged core exercise that, due to the balance and stability ball, keeps you challenged. Start on your knees near the ball. Elbows and forearms rest on the ball. Dig your toes into the ground and focus on posterior pelvic tilt. In other words, tip your pubic bone towards your jaw and lock it there. Engage your lats and pectorals to keep the shoulder girdle packed. Now start tracing the numbers, 1 through 12 with your forearm movement. The instability fires up the core musculature and keeps your focus.

Image from bodybuilding.com

9. Fiver Calf Raise. Use any elevated step with a weight in one hand and holding onto to anything with the other hand for balance. Keep the knees slightly unlocked. Lower the heels to a 5 count. Do it out loud if it helps. When you reached the stretched position, hold the stretch for a 5 count. Then reverse the action and come to tip toes, focusing on the big toe side of the foot. Again, 5 seconds to raise. Hold the top position like a ballerina for 5 seconds. Now repeat this 4 more times for 5 total repetitions.

The above exercises comprise the whole workout. When you build up to 5 rounds in the morning and 5 at night, you will be doing considerable work. I’d skip the Booty Yoga and Prison Pilates classes. You can rest from aerobics too. There will be plenty of time, when you return to proper, sustainable workouts to do the things that provide long term adaptation, health and fitness. This program is a short term, intense, solution to a problem. It is not sustainable.

Some basics to help -

  • Sleep 8–9 hours if you can. Nap if you need to.
  • Drink water, but don’t focus on some mythical amount.
  • Caffeine from coffee can help during the short term for energy.
  • Vary protein types from Chilean Sea Bass to Butt Steak to Pork Loin
  • Use lots of variety in the salad. If you get gas, try some probiotics or just eat some sauerkraut.
  • Move back to real food as soon as the event happens. Don’t go nuts though. No reason to binge like a Fasting fanatic. Carbohydrates will be welcome after 10 days.
  • The liquid meals should have ample protein. 50 grams for the Met Rx times 2 cans is 100 grams. Add in a 12 oz sirloin in the evening and that is around 200 grams of protein.

Don’t put off this program for months or years. Look at the next big thing on your calendar and do it.

The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. — Ghost Dog

If you try this program, please take some measurements, weight, waist and before and after photos. You can ask questions about the program at Physicalstrategies@gmail.com

Tom Furman has been involved in martial arts and conditioning since 1972. With an early background in wrestling and a student of the methods of the York Barbell Club, Tom immediately separated fact from fiction growing up outside Pittsburgh. Eleven members of his family were combat veterans, the most famous one being “Uncle Charlie” (Charles Bronson) His down to earth training methods are derived from his decades long practice of martial arts and his study of exercise science. The application of force, improvement of movement and durability rank high on his list of priorities when training. He gives credit to hundreds of hours of seminars, training sessions, and ‘backyard’ workouts, including training time with many martial arts legends. He also credits his incredibly gifted training partners who came from varied backgrounds such as Exercise Physiologists, Airborne Rangers, Bounty Hunters, Boxing Trainers and Coast Guard Rescue Divers. His best selling ebook, “Armor of War’’, is available at tomfurman.com. His guide to mobility, “Bamboo Gods, Iron Men and Rubber Bands’’, is available on Amazon.