Vince was known as The Iron Guru for a reason. Not only did he produce the first Mr Olympia champion in the late Larry Scott, but he was the trainer to the stars !

Vince Gironda was recruited by Hollywood executives keen to ensure their leading actors and actresses were lean on film. Vince’s list of actors and singers where the real who’s who of famous movei stars.

From the 1950s to the closure of his gym in the early 90s, Vince oversaw the transformations of Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, James Garner, Brian Keith, Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong), David Carradine, Cher, Carl Weathers, Michael Landon, Kurt Russell and Erik Estrada amongst many others.

Vince had the ability to get the movie stars in shape so fast it was almost uncanny, and not in months, but in weeks or even days ! One such transformation will be the subject of this article, and that is of Erik Estrada.

Erik Estrada

Erik Estrada is a prolific actor who has been making movies for almost 50 years. Erik went on to capture the hearts of many millions of fans across the world resulting from his 6 year run as lead role when he starred in “Chips” as a California highway patrol officer called Francis (Frank) Llewelyn «Ponch» Poncherello.

Erik’s first movie he made was a block-buster called “The Cross and the Switchblade” which was made in 1970. Besides a few TV series parts, he played over the years Erik has stared 28 different movies. His latest movie made in 2016 is “El Americano: The Movie”.

The Erik Estrada Diet

When Vince was given the job of training Erik, he realized that Erik genetically put on weight very quickly so he had Erik eating more often to speed up his metabolism and help him lose fat. Erik was also put on a high protein low carb diet to reduce his body-fat percentage.

The diet that Vince put him on is as follows :

Breakfast :

Every morning 6 raw, fertile eggs, blended (slightly) with 2 ounces certified raw cream

Mid-morning :

6 liver capsules and 6 amino acid capsules

Lunch :

Raw zucchini, celery, mushrooms, carrots and raw green peas mixed with certified raw cottage cheese. Sour cream as dressing.  Beverage is black cherry juice concentrate mixed with water (50% juice: 50% water)


Tuna salad consisting of water packed white albacore tuna mixed with minced cucumbers, minced onions, minced celery, garlic powder and safllower mayonnaise


Cold roast beef slices, cold green beans with minced onion and olive oil dressing

Mid-Afternoon Snack :

6 liver capsules and 6 amino acid capsules

Dinner :

Raw tartar steak and raw mixed green salad, consisting of bed of spinahc leaves, bean sprouts, avocado, raw beets, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers. Salad dressing is garlic or onion pwder blended with certified raw cream and safflower mayonnaise.

Substitute broiled steak for raw steak if desired.


Chicken breast (1/2 pound), baked in unsalted butter. Sliced tomatoes, minced onions with red italian vinegar and olive oil


Baked fish in unsalted butter, and lemon juice


Knox unflavoured gelatine, modled with unsweetened pineapple chunks, heavy whipped cream topping.

For a «ketogenic diet», this sounds absolutely AWESOME!!! Vince really knew how to keep the weight off his clients by making their menus ketogenic, yet tasty and down-right delicious!

The Erik Estrada Workout

In Vince Gironda’s opinion, the best program for shaping up fast was circuit training, which was otherwise known back then as Peripheral Heart Action (P.H.A.) training which was advocated by Bob Gajda. There is no doubt that this style of training was prescribed and adopted  by Erik Estrada, as Vince recommended this method in his book How I train the Movie Stars. Vince used this method on all movie stars because typically, he was given anywhere between 10-14 days to transform a movie star to a lean mean fighting machine!

The PHA routine was typically divided into two phases, each lasting 5 days, for a total of 10 days. The exercises where to remain the same in each of the two phases, but the way in which they were utilized was different. This PHA style training produced an natural and athletic look, not like the overdeveloped physique of a bodybuilder.

One exercise was selected per body part with only twelve reps per circuit, and the following Routines were followed:

Phase 1:

  • Day 1 –  1 circuit
  • Day 2 –  2 circuits
  • Day 3 –  3 circuits
  • Day 4 –  4 circuits
  • Day 5 –  5 circuits

For Phase 1, you were to perform the workout both morning and evening. It was recommended to use a light weight to accelerate the workout and produce a cardiovascular effect.

Phase 2:

  • Day 6 –  4 circuits
  • Day 7 –  4 circuits
  • Day 8 – 4 circuits
  • Day 9 – 4 circuits
  • Day 10 – 4 circuits

For Phase 2, you were to train only once a day. Therefore, it was recommended to use as heavy a weight as possible to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.

This method of PHA training was an excellent calorie burner. It increased the heart and forced the practitioner to hyperventilate, increasing the person’s metabolism and fat burning capability in the process.

In regards to exercise selection, any of Vince’s favourite exercises were used, for example :

  • Chest : Decline Pulley Hug
  • Lats : Short Pulley Row
  • Delts : Lateral Raise
  • Triceps : Triceps Pushdown
  • Biceps : Barbell Body Drag Curl
  • Forearms: Seated Wrist Curl
  • Quads: Leg Extension
  • Hamstrings : Leg Curl
  • Calves: Calf Heel Raise on Machine
  • Abs : Crunch

Vince Gironda said of Erik,

Erik Estrada is the most generous man I have ever trained. He is never so busy that he doesnt have time to talk to his fans.

Vince Gironda


How I train the movie stars:

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