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Building the Perfect Body: A Workout Program Inspired by Steve Reeves

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Building the Perfect Body: A Workout Program Inspired by Steve Reeves

Table of Contents

In the world that we live in today, where trends come and go every year, it can be hard to sort through all the off beams to find what really works. Even though things are getting more and more complicated, our bodies' needs have still remained the same.

When you think about this, it's a breath of fresh air to look at an old-fashioned routine. Things weren't as scientifically sound, but they got to the point quickly and made things look good.

And when it comes to having a classic, old-school body, Steve Reeves is the man for the job. We'll look at how he built the perfect body and how he worked out to make his muscles look as good as possible.

Steve Reeves was an American actor and bodybuilder who lived from 1926 to 2000. He is best remembered for his roles in 1950s sword-and-sandal movies, such as "Hercules," "Ursus," and "Goliath." However, Reeves was more than just a movie star; he was also a dedicated athlete who worked hard to achieve his impressive physique.

Born in Montana, Reeves began weightlifting as a teenager and soon developed an interest in competitive bodybuilding. He went on to win the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles in 1947 and 1950, respectively.

When it comes to having a sculpted body, Reeves' was the best. He was and still is the perfect man that other men look up to. When Reeves won Mr. Universe in 1950 at 6'1" and 220 pounds, he was praised as the perfect man.

After moving to Hollywood, Reeves became one of the most popular actors of his generation. Though he largely retired from acting in the 1960s, he remained an iconic figure in the world of fitness and bodybuilding. Reeves died in 2000 at the age of 74.

The way Reeves looked was a big part of, if not the main reason for, his success. As we talk about how he trained and what he ate, it's important to remember that much of what we know about training and nutrition wasn't known or easy to find in the 1940s and 1950s.

So, even though we might question his methods now, Reeves was thought to be ahead of his time, and fitness wasn't nearly as popular as it is now.

Workout Summary

Main Goal

Build Muscle

Workout Type

Full Body

Training Level

Intermediate

Program Duration

16 Weeks

Days Per Week

3

Time Per Workout

60-90 Minutes

Equipment Required

Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells

Target Gender

Male

Recommended Supps

Protein Powder

Multi-Vitamin

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The Training Principles of Steve Reeves

Reeves was never afraid to teach anyone interested in what he had learned.

When people asked him how to improve their bodies, he always told them to follow three rules.

Attention to Recovery

Most athletes and trainees focused on training, but Reeves always stressed that recovery, both between sets and after workouts, was what let you do your best when you did train. Here are the times he took to get better.

  • 45-60 seconds rest between sets.
  • In a workout, there is a 2-minute break between each exercise.
  • 1-day rest between workouts. Reeves never thought it was a good idea to train two days in a row.

Work on Legs More As Workout Comes to an End

Reeves did a full-body training split, which you can see in the workouts listed further down in this article. He always put leg exercises in the middle or near the end of those routines because the quads, hamstrings, and glutes are the largest muscles in the body.

He thought training these parts first would make him so tired that he wouldn't be able to get the most out of his upper body training. Reeves also thought working on his lower body after working on his upper body helped him keep going and get in shape. Arm work was usually the last part of his workouts.

Goal Setting for Each Workout

Reeves thought that to reach long-term goals, one has to set smaller goals along the way to help one get better. So, to get the most out of his training, he set different goals, such as limits on time, weight, and reps.

He never stood out in the weight room and rarely talked to other people because he thought distractions would hurt his training and results.

The Steve Reeves-Inspired Workouts

The training program that comes after was written by Reeves in 1951. Obviously, he didn't train in the same way every time, but this was his favorite routine to follow.

He thought that the best way to recover was to exercise the whole body in one workout and then take a day off. You will also see that he only used barbells, dumbbells, and his own body. Back then, machines were rare, and only a few gyms had what we now call "basic" machines. 

Steve Reeves' Monday Workout

This day has ten exercises with three sets each and 8-12 reps. Keep increasing weight as you progress through the reps.

Exercise

Sets

Reps

1. Military Press

3

8-12

2. Bent Over Barbell Row

3

8-12

3. Barbell Bench Press

3

8-12

4. Standing Calf Raise

3

8-12

5. Ab Crunch

3

8-12

6. Front Squat

3

8-12

7. Barbell Squat

3

8-12

8. Romanian Deadlift

3

8-12

9. Barbell Curl

3

8-12

10. French Press

3

8-12

Steve Reeves' Wednesday Workout

This day has eleven exercises with three sets each and 12 reps. Keep increasing weight as you progress through the reps.

Exercise

Sets

Reps

1. Romanian Deadlift

3

12

2. Military Press

3

12

3. Dips

3

12

4. Dumbbell Curl

3

12

5. Seated Calf Raise

3

12

6. Lying Tricep Extension

3

12

7. Pull Ups

3

12

8. Front Squats

3

12

9. Back extensions

3

12

10. Dumbbell Lunge

3

12

11. Hanging Leg Raise

3

12

Steve Reeves' Friday Workout

This day also has eleven exercises with three or two sets and 8 or 12 reps. Keep increasing weight as you progress through the reps.

Exercise

Sets

Reps

1. Deadlift

3

8-12

2. One Arm Dumbbell Row

3

8-12

3 Dumbbell Upright Row

2

12

4. Incline Bench Press

3

8-12

5. Standing Calf Raise

3

12

6. Front Squat

2

12

7. Dumbbell Hamstring Curl

3

8-12

8. Sit Ups

3

12

9. Dumbbell Lunge

2

8-12

10. Lying Tricep Extension

2

8

11. Concentration Curl

3

8-12

Steve Reeves's Opinion on Cardio

So, if you're wondering what kind of cardio Steve Reeves did, the answer is none. He focused on lifting weights and getting stronger. This is the best way to build an impressive physique. His book Building the Classic Physique – the Natural Way says that when he wanted to get leaner, he just took less time off between sets and worked out harder. Cardio can help burn fat, but it's not necessary for building muscle. Just lift weights and eat right, and you'll build the body of your dreams.

Steve Reeves's Food and Nutrition

Reeves knew how important it was to eat well and how it would help his body and performance. He thought that a diet with 20% protein, 20% fat, and 60% carbs was best because he felt that the high carbs gave him more energy to train.

Also, he would only eat three times a day on this plan, which is very different from the 5 to 6 meal plans that are common today.

Steve Reeves Supplements

Don't forget what we said about the machines you can use to train. Well, this is also true for supplements. Outside of the vitamins and protein powder, there just wasn't much known or available.

Reeves got his performance from the food he ate and the protein powder in his shake. Reeves was always against steroids, and he said he never used them when he was competing.

Conclusion

Even though many of Reeves's ideas might seem old-fashioned now, there's no doubt that his body was way ahead of its time and could still be admired today. Many of the people who inspired us years later were influenced by Reeves's work. There's no question that he left his mark on the fitness world and changed it in many ways that are still clear today.

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