1. Training

10-8-6-15 Routine

Vince Gironda’s bodybuilding system included both unusual exercises, as well as different routines which varied in the rep and set scheme, ie the 5 x 5, the 6 x 6, the 8 x 8, the 10 x 10, and one particular routine called the 10-8-6-15. Unlike the other routine that Vince advocated, this routine was unusual in that it used a variety of rep schemes, and incorporated the pyramiding scheme.

The 10-8-6-15 routine

Vince Gironda’s 10-8-6-15 routine was designed to accelerate muscle gains for those who:

  • Have slowed down in gains
  • Have reached a Plateau and are stuck in rut
  • Have a limited amount of time

Besides breaking plateau’s, the 10-8-6-15 routine was great for bodybuilders who have limited amount of time to give to their workouts, as the trainee would only have to perform 4 sets per exercise and per bodypart. This means shorter times at the gym. The frequency of training for this program means you will be training each body part at least twice a week, and stimulating hypertrophy. Another important key to this program is that it essentially uses the Golden Era Bodybuilding Principle of Pyramiding.

Pyramiding Schemes

Although Vince would advocate programs such as the high rep 10 x 10 or the low rep 5 x 5, these programs tap into and stimulate single motor unit types and eventually a trainee would reach a plateau. By combining the rep scheme to contain both low and high reps, the trainee would respond better to a pyramiding rep scheme, therefore breaking the plateau! Genius! By not staying in one rep range for too long, the trainee will not overwork one particular type of motor unit. By using the pyramiding scheme, the trainee can instead tap briefly into an increased number of motor units from set to set without over working them. This also allows the first sets to act similar to a warm up sets with higher reps, before tackling heavier and heavier weights with lower reps. And heavy weights are on occasion necessary to gain size.

Muscle Confusion, another Advantage of the 10-8-6-15 routine

One could also state that this kind of workout uses the principle of muscle confusion, ie it keeps your muscles guessing and prevents them from adapting to a particular style of set and rep scheme.

The Approach to the 10-8-6-15 routine

Vince’s approach on this program is dependent on utilizing percentages of 6 rep maxes, perfect exercise form, using only one exercise per bodypart, with the workout split into three upper body workouts per week and two lower body workouts per week. It is also the only routine for which Vince recommended longer rest periods — up to 60 seconds. This differs from his other routines which only recommend 30 second rests.

Maximize Intensity and Progression

The 10-8-6-15 routine allowed for increased muscle hypertrophy, because only be increasing the intensity of a workout can you stimulate hypertrophy. Intensity in this case was increased by increasing the load, as opposed to increased cumulative fatigue which is stimulated by other routines such as the 8 x 8 and the 10 x 10. Because the 10-8-6-15 routine has you increasing the weight used in each exercise during the program, the increased load should stimulate hypertrophy. It essentially has you performing three sets of progressively heavier weights and lower reps, ie 10, 8, 6 which is then followed by a lighter “pump” set with 15 reps. Once you can perform all the required reps and sets with the prescribed weights, it is time to increase the load.

Explanation of the Set and Rep Scheme

As with most of Vince’s routines, the ego has no place, ie one is supposed to use perfect form and absolutely no cheating! One calculates the 6 rep max for a given exercise and this becomes “100%”. The 10 rep set is performed with 50% of that number, rest of “up to” 60 seconds is allowed then the 8 rep set is performed with 75% of the 6 rep max, rest up to 60 seconds and go with the 100% for 6 reps, finishing off with 15 reps at 35% of 6 rep max. For a bench 6 rep max of 200 lb, this would mean 10×100 8×150 6×200 15×70.

To some, this program might at first glance appear to be “easy”, and with the usual poor exercise form most trainees utilize nowadays, it likely would be. But following Vince’s recommendations on perfect exercise form with total focus and concentration on the muscles being worked is the key to getting the most out of this program.

  • The first set is performed 10 reps with 50% of your maximum
  • The second set is performed 8 reps with 75% of your maximum
  • The third set is performed 6 reps with 100% of your maximum
  • The fourth set is performed 15 reps with 35% of your maximum

What ever weight you can handle with effort, 6 reps is considered your maximum. Rest between sets should be no longer than 60 seconds. Also, deep breathing through the mouth should be employed (Hyperventilation) between sets.

This program calls for 3 upper body workouts per week and 2 leg workouts per week.

Do not add weight oftener than one a week. Raising weights too fast only produces bad form.

If abdominal work is performed, it should be done on leg days.

The success of this program depends on doing the exercises outline with no additions. This program calls for maximum form, so if it seems less than you have been doing and too easy, be honest with yourself and ask am I doing the exercises to the best of my ability, which means do your reps slower. In other words, make it hurt and don’t start cheating when it does. Remember a workout that does not hurt doesn’t build.

Constantly try and shorten the rest period between sets. This is another form of progressive resistance, and is more important than raising your weights.

The Workout

  • Chest: The Wide Grip Neck Press
  • Lats: The 45 degree Pulley Pull
  • Deltoids: The Barbell Upright Row
  • Triceps: The 2 Dumbbell Tricep Pullover
  • Biceps: Standing Thumb Under Dumbbell Curls
  • Abdominals: The Barbell ¼ Roll Up
  • Calves: The Alternate Calf Heel Raise
  • Quadriceps: The ¾ Smith Machine Squat


So if you have already tried several of Vince Gironda’s routines and want to try something new, give the 10-8-6-15 routine a try. The increased intensity and frequency of training, combined with the pyramiding scheme and muscle confusion is sure to stimulate new hypertrophy in your physique!

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