Friday, August 31, 2007

Steve Reeve's Beginning Workout Routine for Building A Classic Physique

When Steve Reeves started weight training, he was 16 years old and weighed 156 lbs. Here is his beginning workout schedule that he followed for his first 4 months of training. For the first the first 3 months, he did one set of each exercise (with as much weight as he could handle). For his 4th month, he did two sets of each exercise. He trained 3 days a week. When he could get up to 12 reps, he would increase the weight.

Warm up: Dumbbell Swings (20 reps)
Cleans (10 reps)
Military Press (10 reps)
Bench (Supine) Press (10 reps)
Rowing (10 reps)
Reverse Barbell Curl (10 reps)
Regular Barbell Curl (10 reps)
Squats (10 reps)
Breathing Dumbbell Pullover (10 reps)
Good mornings (10 reps)
Breathing Lateral Raise (10 reps)

After 4 months training in his garage, he moved to Ed Yarick's Gym. Ed (a well-known bodybuilding coach in the 1940s) put him on an intermediate schedule. But in his beginning and intermediate workout schedules, Steve did not train his calves. Why? Because when he began weight training, his arms were only 13 1/2" and his calves were aleady 16". So with the intention of balancing his physique, he did not train his calves until his arms were 16". Then he built up his arms, neck, and calves up together. So Steve recognized the importance of having a balanced, symmetrical physique from the beginning!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Joe Weider on Building a Fantastic Body Naturally!

"People who don't believe you can build a fantastic body without spending a fortune or - I have to say it - taking dangerous drugs, should pick up my magazines from the 1940s and '50s. You see some mighty, mighty men on the covers and inside pages. The drugs those men took were great big, heavy iron pills. They didn't swallow them; they loaded them up on Olympic bars and dumbbells and lifted them using tricks that Joe Weider taught them. They bulked up eating steak and hard-boiled eggs and drinking enough milk to suck whole dairy farms dry. They didn't have any of the scientific foods and supplements and specialized knowledge and equipment available today - mostly because I made it all available - but look at what they did. Look. And be inspired. Those iron men inspired me when I worked with them. Looking at the old pictures, I'm inspired all over again" - Quote from Brothers of Iron by Joe Weider & Ben Weider with Mike Steere.

Joe's right! Just take a look at 5' 7", 195lb George Eiferman (Mr California 1948, Mr America 1948, Mr Universe 1962) on the cover of Joe's Your Physique magazine (vol. 11, no. 2 - May, 1949).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Twilight of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Buildling: Harold Poole (Mr Universe 1963, Mr America 1964)

The Golden Age of Classic Physique Building did not end ubruptly in 1960 with the advent of steroids, but it did fade away rapidly. Nevertheless, it took some time before steroids permeated the field. During the 1960s, natural bodybuilders like the great Harold Poole competed with those who began to use steroids such as Dianabol. Unfortunately, as time went on, natural bodybuilders like Poole realized that they could not match the unnatural development of the steroid-users. So, the "naturals" gradually left the competitive field as the 1960s wore on.

This is exactly what happenned to Harold Poole. He competed with Larry Scott at the first two Mr. Olympia contests in 1965 and 1966 and placed 2nd each time. In 1967 he competed against Sergio Oliva and placed 3rd. After that he realized he could no longer compete with those who had an unfair advantage due to steroids. So he gradually left the field, but occasionally reappeared to test himself against the steroid-users.

Harold typifies the 1960s as the "Twilight of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building." He had an amazing drug-free classic physique that anyone would be proud of! For those who have no interest in steriods, isn't it inspiring to know that a physique like Harold's can be built naturally?

You can read a great interview with Harold Poole by David Robson at this site:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Classic Proportions of Grimek and Reeves

In a previous post, we put forward the basic characteristics of a classic physique: Broad shoulders and chest, narrow waist & hips, straight thighs, and arms, claves, and neck that measure the same. This is a simple description and there is more to than that (e.g., how large should the forearm be in relation to the upper arm, etc) that we shall discuss in future posts. However, this is enough to get us started.

To illustrate the point that people of different heighths and builds can still embody the ideal of a classic physique, we can look at the measurements of two Golden Age bodybuilding champions: John Grimek (Mr. America 1940, 1941, Mr. Universe 1948, Mr. USA 1949) and Steve Reeves (Mr. America 1947, Mr. World 1948, and Mr. Universe 1950). John Grimek was shorter (5'8") and had a relatively thicker bone structure (wrist size = 8.0"). Steve Reeves was taller (6'1") and had a relatively sleeker build (wrist size = 7.9"). Nevertheless, they both illustrate perfectly the characteristics of a classic physique.

Grimek's measures were: neck (17 in), arm (17 in), calves (17 in), chest (47), waist (31 in), thigh (25 in), forearm (14 in), and weight (195 lbs). Reeves measurements were: neck (18.25 in), arm (18.25 in), calves (18.25 in), chest (52 in), waist (29 in), thigh (26 in), forearm (14.75 in), and weight (215 lbs). Notice how the neck, arms, and calves have the same measurement.

Genetics certainly places some constraints on how narrow the waist and hips can be relative to the shoulders and chest. Reeves certainly excels in this area. However, both Grimek and Reeves, being of different heights and builds still embody the ideal of a classic physique. Why? Because they held it as an ideal and trained for symmetry and proportion - not for "freaky size at all costs."

So, when you are in the gym, pay attention to total body symmetry and don't just work the "t-shirt" muscles. There is nothing impressive about having a huge upper body with "toothpick" legs. Think "symmetry" and train to attain it! There is no reason why you can't have the symmetry of a Grimek (above photo: right) or Reeves (above photo: left)!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The "Golden Age" of Classic Physique Building!

What was the Golden Age of Bodybuilding? Well...that depends on who is defining it. For some, it was the era of "Muscle Beach." For others, it was the 1960s and 1970s - a time when bodybuilding came more into the public consciousness. For many, it is simply refers to the generation of bodybuilders that inspired them.

However, we maintain that there was truly a Golden Age of Classic Physique Building. It began in 1940 with the publication of Joe Weider's Your Physique Magazine - the first magazine dedicated solely to bodybuilding. It ended with the passing of 1959. Why? In 1960, steroids were introduced into bodybuilding. From that point in time, they gradually permeated the field. The Golden Age had passed and physiques became increasingly unnatural in size, proportion, and muscularity.

So to find our inspiration, we look to that time between 1940-1959 - when physiques were built by proper training, proper nutrition, proper rest, determination, and persistance. This was a time when supplements consisted of protein powder, vitamins, minerals, brewer's yeast, and gelatin. Yet, even without today's sophistication in costly supplements, bodybuilders were still able to build healthy, classic, symmetrical physiques. Seeing the pictures of the bodybuilders of this Golden Age says volumes about what can be achieved naturally!

Here is a shot of John Grimek, Mr America (1940, 1941), Mr Universe (1948), and Mr USA 1949 - who inspired many including Steve Reeves and Joe Weider!

What is a Classic Physique?

In short, a classic physique is one which is muscular, symmetrical, yet not over or under-developed. Shoulders and chest should be broad with waist and hips narrow - producing a nice "V-taper." The arms, calves, and neck should measure close to the same size. Thighs should be straight rather than "carrot-shaped."

There should be reasonable muscle definition and separation without the extreme "shredded" or "ripped" look of a dissecting room cadaver. A glow of health should radiate from the skin. These are the basic elements.

There is no better embodiment of the classic physique than that of Steve Reeves, Mr. America 1947, Mr. World 1948, Mr. Universe 1950, film star (e.g., "Hercules" and "Hercules Unchained"), author (Building the Classic Physique the Natural Way and Dynamic Muscle Building), and rancher. You can visit the official page of the Steve Reeves International Society at

In future posts, we will see other classic physiques from the Golden Age of Drug-Free Bodybuilding (1940-1959).

Welcome to Classic Physique Builder!

This blog is dedicated to those who want to build a classic physique naturally - without the use of drugs, growth hormone, insulin, and other health-destroying substances. Our major goals are to: (1) promote the ideal of developing a classic physique, (2) demonstrate what kind of body can be developed naturally, (3) preserve & learn from the history of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building, and (4) serve as an inspiration to all to develop an attractive, healthy, natural, classic physique.