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Building the ideal body: a training program inspired by Steve Reeves

Der Aufbau des idealen Körpers: Ein von Steve Reeves inspiriertes Trainingsprogramm

Develop the ideal body using the same principles used by the pioneer of bodybuilding. This 12-week training program inspired by Steve Reeves will help you build muscle.

While the world has changed in many different ways over the years, there has been a common thread over the course of the last half century. Many people wanted to look like the leading man in Hollywood and spend a lot of time studying the methods of these epic stars.

Today, the most popular actor in this regard is undoubtedly Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. His clips on Instagram are liked and shared by millions of his fans.

Our parents and others from the previous generation looked up to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Terminator and Rocky movies showed how much their bodies were ahead of their time. But even though Arnold and Sly played a crucial role in the fitness movement, they weren't the first.

There was a man who was active before them and competed as a bodybuilder before he became one of the most popular men in Hollywood and that man was the great Steve Reeves.

Who was Steve Reeves?

Steve Reeves (1926-2000) was of Italian descent, but was born in Montana. After the death of his father, Reeves and his mother moved to California when he was 10 years old. His interest in training and building muscle was born in high school and he began training at Yarick's Gym in Oakland.

His bodybuilding endeavors were interrupted when he joined the Army and served in the Philippines during World War II.

After the war, he returned to the U.S. and immediately began preparing for the 1947 AAU Mr. America competition. After winning this title, he began to pursue an acting career.

His acting career was off to a great start after he was selected for the lead role in "Samson and Delilah" in 1948, but he ended up turning down the offer. The reason? Reeves would have had to lose 15 pounds for the role and he felt it would hurt his rankings in bodybuilding competitions.

This decision may have seemed foolish at the time, but Reeves was on the verge of winning the Mr. Universe competition and eventually did so in 1950. Since the Mr. Olympia competition had only been around since 1965, this meant that at the time, Reeves was considered the No. 1 bodybuilder in the world.

Reeves received global acclaim for his roles in Italian films including "Hercules" in 1957 and "Hercules Unchained" in 1959. His full-time acting career continued until he suffered a shoulder injury while filming a stunt that forced him to retire in the late sixties.

Steve Reeves' body

One of the reasons - if not the main reason - for his success was his body. As we examine how he trained and ate, keep in mind that much of the training and nutrition information we have today was not known or readily available in the 1940s and 50s.

Although we might question his strategies today, Reeves was considered ahead of his time back when fitness was still a subculture that wasn't nearly as popular as it is today.

Steve Reeves training principles

Reeves was never shy when it came to sharing his experience and knowledge with anyone who cared to listen. There were three principles that he always practiced and preached when asked how to improve his body.

1. Steve Reeve's attention to recovery

While training is what most people pay most of their attention to, Reeves always emphasized that recovery - both between sets and between workouts - is what allows you to perform at your best when you train. His recovery times were as follows:

  • 45-60 seconds rest between sets
  • 2 minutes rest between the different exercises of a training session
  • 1 day break between training sessions. Reeves never advocated training two days in a row

2. Steve Reeves trained his legs closer to the end of his training sessions

As you'll see in the workouts later in this article, Reeves followed a full-body program. He always trained his legs in the middle or closer to the end of his workouts because the thighs contain the largest muscles in the body - the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the gluteus.

He felt that training these areas at the beginning of his workouts would exhaust him to the point where he could no longer maximize his upper body training. Reeves also believed that focusing on the lower body after the upper body workout would help his endurance and conditioning. Normally his training sessions ended with arm training.

3 Steve Reeves set himself a goal for each training session

Reeves believed that in order to achieve your long-term goals, you need smaller goals to continuously improve. He therefore set different goals including time limits, weight used and repetitions performed to maximize his training.

He always kept a low profile in the gym and rarely spoke to others because he felt that distractions would affect his results and training.

The workouts inspired by Steve Reeves

The following training program is Reeves' most popular program and was created by him in 1951. Obviously, he did not perform the same program every time he trained, but this was considered his favorite program.

He believed that training the entire body during a training session on a day's rest afterwards maximized recovery. You'll also notice that the only equipment he used included barbells, dumbbells and his own body weight. Machines were rare in those days and few weight rooms had what we would call rudimentary machines. Machines only became more popular from the late sixties onwards.

Steve Reeves Monday training session

Exercise

Sets

1st barbell shoulder press standing

3

8-12

2. barbell rowing bent forward

3

8-12

3. barbell bench press

3

8-12

4. standing calf raise

3

8-12

5. crunches

3

8-12

6. squats

3

8-12

7. ATG squats

3

8-12

8. Romanian deadlift

3

8-12

9. barbell curls

3

8-12

10. triceps press lying down with a SZ bar

3

8-12

Steve Reeves Wednesday training session

Exercise

Sets

1st deadlift

3

12

2. dumbbell shoulder press

3

12

3. dips

3

12

4. alternating dumbbell curls

3

12 per arm

5. seated calf raises

3

12

6. tricep press lying down

3

12

7. pull-ups

3

12

8. front squats

3

12

9. hyperextensions

3

12

10. dumbbell lunges

3

12

11. hanging leg raises

3

12

Steve Reeves Friday training session

Exercise

Sets

1st deadlift

3

8-12

2. one-arm dumbbell row

3

8-12

3. upright rowing

2

12

4. incline bench press

3

8-12

5. standing calf raise

3

12

6. front squats

2

12

7. Nordic leg curls

3

8-12

8. sit-ups

3

12

9. dumbbell lunges

2

8-12

10. tricep press lying down

2

8

11. concentration curls

3

8-12

Steve Reeves' thoughts on cardio

You might be wondering what kind of cardio or aerobic training Reeves did. Well, he didn't do anything like that. According to his book Building the Classic Physique - the Natural Way, he simply reduced the time between sets and trained harder when he felt he needed to get leaner.

Steve Reeves diet and nutrition

Reeves knew the importance of nutrition and how it would improve his body development and performance. He believed in using 20% protein, 20% fat and 60% carbohydrates as he felt that he had more training energy when he ate more carbohydrates.

He also followed his plan by eating only 3 meals a day, which is very different from many of the 5 to 6 meal a day diet plans we see today.

Supplements that Steve Reeves used

Remember what I said about training machines? Well, supplements fall into the same category. Back then, there weren't many supplements available aside from vitamins and protein powder.

Reeves relied on real food and protein powder to meet his needs. As for steroids, Reeves has always spoken out against their use, claiming that he never used steroids when he was still competing.

Steve Reeves' body

What did all this mean for Reeves in terms of his results? What did his body look like? Reeves was 185 cm tall and weighed 98 kilos.

He always wanted to make sure his body was not only muscular and bulky, but also pleasing to the eye in terms of shape. He believed that there were specific standards for what the body should look like.

For example, Reeves believed that your thighs should be half the size of your chest, your waist should be twice the circumference of your neck and that your neck, upper arms and calves should all be the same circumference. As for Reeves' body, he came close to his standards and his waist was even narrower than he advertised.

Speaking of his body measurements...these were his stats:

  • Weight: 98 kilos
  • Upper arm, calves, neck - 47 centimeters each
  • Thigh - 68.5 centimeters
  • Chest - 137 centimeters
  • Waist - 76 centimeters

Conclusion

While many of Reevee's philosophies may seem archaic today, there is no doubt that his body was ahead of its time and would be considered impressive even today.

Reevee's work inspired many of the people who have inspired us years later. There is no doubt that he left his mark and influenced the fitness world in many ways that are still visible today.

Source: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/steve-reeves-inspired-workout

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