Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Classic Physique vs Hulk-Like Physique: Waist Size

(Photos Above: Steve Reeves - Mr America, Mr World, Mr Universe on the cover of Your Physique magazine Jan 1949 issue; Below: Ronnie Coleman - Mr Olympia)

Another big difference between the classic physique of the Golden Age (the drug and hormone-free 1940s and 50s) and the "Hulk-Like" physique of mainstream bodybuilding is in the waist size. For classic physique builders, the ideal was to have broad shoulders and narrow waist and hips. They placed particular importance on this in achieving their classic symmetry.

For the drug and hormone-using mainstream bodybuilders of today, this ideal is gone. In the quest for sheer, extreme size, the amounts of drugs and hormones taken cause all muscle in the body to get larger - including that of internal organs in the gut. The consequence is "roid gut." As you can tell from the photo of Mr. Olympia (Ronnie Coleman) above, the huge waist is not because of fat. He has more muscular definition (lower body fat) than Steve Reeves. Yet the waist is huge because of the hypertrophic internal body organs (which have smooth muscle which grows in response to drugs and hormones).

In this post, we are focusing on waist size. But there are other differences in abdominal rectus size and shape between classic physique builders and mainstream (drug & hormone using) bodybuilders that we will save for another time.

So looking at Steve Reeves and Ronnie Coleman above, which body would you rather have?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Are Protein Supplements Necessary for Building A Classic Physique?

(Photos Upper Left: Clancy Ross - Mr America 1945; Upper Right: Steve Reeves - Mr America 1947; Lower: George Eiferman - Mr America 1948)

Today, in the mainstream bodybuilding and natural bodybuilding mags, there is a lot of hype about supplements. Each advertisement tries to convey the message that if you take their supplement, it will give you a physique like the one in the advertisement. What they don't tell you is that the physique in the ad is most likely a physique which got that way by using drugs and hormones (not by using their supplement). Nevertheless, the hype works and people spend hundreds of dollars in supplements that produce marginal effects at best.

But what about modern protein supplements (powders, drinks, amino acids, etc) for classic physique builders? In bodybuilding circles, there is a lot of discussion concerning the various types of protein supplements (whey concentrate, whey isolate, cassein, etc) and which ones are best. But what is the truth? Are they necessary for building a classic physique?

The truth is "No - they are not necessary!" And we have the proof!

Protein powders and tablets were first introduced in the early 1950s (the second decade of the Golden Age). First, there was a product called "44." This was followed by Bob Hoffman's "Hi-Proteen" and Weider's "Hi Protein." These were all low quality, soy-based protein powders and tablets. Very few people today would even think of using a soy-based protein supplement for serious muscle building. Now remember, these were introduced in the early 1950s and it took a few years to become popular and widespread. So protein powders were not used by most of the Golden Age (1940s and 50s) champs.

Now look at the physiques above of Clancy Ross (Mr America 1945), Steve Reeves (Mr America 1947) and George Eiferman (Mr America 1948). These classic physiques were built BEFORE the invention of protein powders! So there is the answer. We could have posted more photos of other classic physique building champs of the Golden Age prior to 1950 as added proof (but we are limited in trying to keep our posts short and readable).

These Golden Age champs had no commerical protein powders to rely on, so what did they do? They ate high protein diets to be sure. Drank lots of milk. There was also, at the time (shortly after WWII), powdered milk, powdered eggs, and powdered soy, that they could mix into a drink with juice, raw eggs, and other ingredients (to create their own protein drink). Steve Reeves is known to have done this. But this was not a universal practice.

So what does this tell us? Modern protein supplements are not necessary for building a classic physique!

But does that mean we (at CPB) are saying not to use them? No. In our fast-paced world, it is often difficult to find the time to eat properly during the day (note that Steve Reeves was on the 3 meals a day plan, not the 5-6 meals a day plan that is more common today - both plans work). Also, it may be harder for some to digest the amount of food required to get sufficient protein for muscle building. So, we acknowledge that protein powders and drinks may be more "convenient" than eating the equivalent amount of protein in food.

Does the type of protein powder matter? Should we be concerned about the difference between Whey protein isolate by cold-microfiltration versus ion-exchange or micellular cassein protein, etc? No. The difference is marginal and probably not noticeable. Any decent protein powder will do. A homemade milk, egg, and soy drink worked fine for Steve Reeves. So don't worry. Whatever is more digestable for you is a better guide than obsessing over the results of scientific studies showing that this or that protein powder mix is absorbed better or quicker than another. But try to get the majority of your protein in your food.

In a previous post, we looked at Steve Reeves diet. But to briefly recap, he had his homemade protein drink for breakfast. For lunch he had cottage cheese, raisins, nuts, and a couple pieces of fruit. For dinner, he had fish or some other meat and a large salad. At times, he also included goat milk and carrot juice in his diet, and would snack on figs. If you estimate his protein intake, it was probably less than 200 grams. He was 6 ft. 1 in. and weighed 215 lbs. So he was probably getting less than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. You can see by this diet that the quantity of food he was eating was not overwhelming either.

So save your money and use protein supplements sparingly and for convenience. A good multivitamin is also helpful. To build a classic physique, you need proper training, proper nutrition, and proper rest. You don't need expensive, modern, high-tech supplements (which will decrease your pocket book size and not substanitally increase your muscle size)!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Classic Physique Building vs. Natural Bodybuilding

(Top Photo: Modern Natural Bodybuilding Competition; Bottom Photo: Reg Park and Steve Reeves in a relaxed posed during a Golden Age Competition)

If you have been following our CPB Blog, you might have asked yourself "What is the difference between "classic physique building" and "natural bodybuilding?" "Are they the same thing?" Our answer is "unfortunately - no."

To better understand our answer, it might be helpful if we list what we like and what we don't like about "natural bodybuilding" as we find it today. Before we do, however, we must say that natural bodybuilding is the one bright spot on the fringes of mainstream bodybuilding. So we are sympathetic, in general, to their movement. But natural bodybuilding is not, in general, the same as the "classic physique building" of the Golden Age (1940s and 50s).

What we like about natural bodybuilding (NB):

1. NB promotes drug-free weight training and lifestyle.

2. NB preserves and provides contest opportunities for those interested in drug-free competition.

3. NB can act as a kind of "half-way house" to rehabilitate former drug & hormone-using mainstream bodybuilders who want to give up the "juice" but still compete in bodybuilding competitions.

What we don't like about natural bodybuilding:

1. NB over-emphasizes the use of supplements and their mags feature the same drug & hormone enhanced physiques in the same supplement ads that appear in the mainstream bodybuilding mags.

2. NB does not have the "classic physique ideal" in terms of body symmetry and definition.

3. NB competitions try to mimick the mainstream bodybuilding competitions and so there is an abundance of "classics" and "internationals" and "championships" instead of the Golden Age "Mr. City", "Mr. State", "Mr. Regional", "Mr. America" - type system. So it is hard for the general public to follow NB competitions and to have a sense of the hierarchy of "who is best."

4. NB mags ("Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness" and "Fitness & Physique") are too "contest-oriented" (thus they have limited ability to attract a wider audience).

5. NB history seems to begin with Chet Yorton. In the NB mags, there seems to be no acknowledgement or "connection" with the Golden Age. The Golden Age seems as little valued in the NB mags as it is in the mainstream mags.

6. NB tries to exist within the mainstream bodybuilding world and so you might find an NB article or column here or there in some of the mainstream mags, or you might find an NB forum here or there among the mainstream bodybuilding websites. But the reality is that NB'ers are "marginalized" within the mainstream BB world. They are referred to as "natties" (a diminutive) and are tolerated, but not really valued in that mainstream BB world.

So while we (at CPB) are sympathetic to the NB movement, we have to say that natural bodybuilding and classic physique building are not the same thing. Among the things discussed above, perhaps the clearest difference is in the ideal that each holds with respect to "physique." From our perspective, the NB ideal seems to be a smaller version of the mainstream bodybuilding ideal. So among NB'ers we often see (from our perspective) over-developed traps, quads & adductors, the same air-brushed tans, and the same "ripped, cadaver"-overly defined look which doesn't give the skin that "healthy glow" look of the Golden Age champs.

Despite everything, our hearts go out to the NB'ers. They, at least, have the courage to forsake the drugs and hormones. We wish, however, that instead of trying to exist within the fringes of the mainstream world, they would divorce themselves from that world, adopt the classic physique ideal, and help us rebuild a new Golden Age of Classic Physique Building.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ben Weider: Classic Physique Builder and Golden Age Giant (1923-2008)

(Photo above: Ben Weider - Classic Physique Builder and Golden Age Giant)

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Ben Weider, who passed away (in October, 2008) from an undisclosed illness at the age of 85 in Montreal, Canada. Ben, along with his brother Joe, was instrumental in establishing the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building in the 1940s and 50s.

Although others (like Bob Hoffman, Perry Rader, and all the champs, etc) also played an important role in the Golden Age, no one can deny that Joe and Ben Weider, with their magazines (Your Physique, Muscle Power, Muscle Builder, Mr. America, etc), exercise equipment, supplements, muscle building courses, their federation - the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders), and their tireless promotion of the benefits of weight training played an important and even pivotal role in sustaining the Golden Age through two decades.

Joe and Ben were a team. Joe was the creative force and Ben's role was promotion - in particular, the promotion of their federation (IFBB) founded in 1946 and bodybuilding (then, it was truly classic physique building) in general.

Although Joe and Ben would preside over the downfall of classic physique building with the advent of steroids (in the 1960s), we (at CPB) nevertheless recognize their great achievements in the Golden Age - which never would have been the same without them.

Ben was also a Napoleanic scholar and made important contributions in historical studies. We are truly sorry to see him pass and salute his good work and accomplishments! He was a classic physique builder (as you can see from his photo above) and truly a giant of the Golden Age.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Look Good in Clothes with a Classic Physique!

(Above: Four Mr. Americas in Clothes (from left to right): Alan Stephan 1946, Clancy Ross 1945, George Eiferman 1948, Steve Reeves 1947)

Here is another big difference between the classic physiques of the Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s) and the hulk-like physiques of today - classic physiques look good in clothes!

Take a look at the above photo of the four Mr. Americas from 1945-48. They look great whether in suits or more casual clothes! If you saw these men in person, they would certainly look big & strong. You could definitely tell that they "built." Yet, they still present an attractive appearance.

This is the great thing about building a classic physique. You can look great in and out of clothes. Whether you are at the pool, on the beach, working out, or at school, work, or formal occassion - a classic physique is a winner in all circumstances!

During the Golden Age, as we have pointed out before, the mags promoted the ideal of building an attractive, healthy, classic physique that would increase your "sex appeal" and athletic abilities. What a difference that is from today's muscle mags that glorify the extreme physique!

So keep motivated and know that by building a classic physique, you will not have to sacrifice looking good in clothes! With a classic physique, you can indeed "have your cake and eat it too!" - CPB

Monday, October 27, 2008

Golden Age Advice for Hardgainers!

(Above photo: Golden Age Mag - Muscle Builder Magazine, July 54 issue)

Are you a beginner interested in gaining muscular weight? Have you been training for a few months and yet have seen no results? Well, you are not alone. Many in the Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s) experienced the same thing. Here is some classic advice from the Questions and Answers column of Joe Weider's Muscle Builder Magazine (July 1954 issue):

Question: Dear Sir, I've been exercising for 3 1/2 months now and have made good progress, so far as strength and muscularity are concerned. But I've not gained weight. I maintain a good protein diet and still no results. Please advise me on what to do. D.L. Brooklyn. N.Y.

Answer: Donald, you are an example of what the Weider Research Clinic has always taught...Each man is a law unto himself where bodybuilding is concerned. One man will make great gains in bodyweight, but little in strength, during his beginner's peroid in weight training. Another man will get powerful and muscular in his first training months, but make little gains in weight. But these physical qualities gradually reach the point of balance with each other. Progress in power...bulk...muscularity, is made in a series of steps...a little gain, then maybe a slight drop or a leveling off, then a slight gain once more. You appear to have gained first in strength and delineation. I am not too concerned with your failure to gain weight at this present stage of training since you have only been bodybuilding for 3 1/2 months. If you had been weight training for a year without any great bodyweight gains, then I'd say you had something to worry about. My advice to you is this. Cut down slightly on your upper body work such as the various curls, presses and rowing motions. Shorten your routine to the bench press, barbell curl, squat and breathing pullover. Use as heavy a poundage as possible in the squat and alternate each set of squats with a set of breathing pullovers. Rest up completely on your non training days. Get at least eight hours sleep each night and at least 10 hours in bed! Don't hurry. Don't worry...and buy the Weider Gaining Food Supplement.

CPB Commentary: So there you have it - a classic, abbreviated routine to kick start some muscular weight gaining. In a nutshell, here is the routine again:

1. Bench Press
2. Barbell Curls
3. Squats - superset with
4. Breathing Pullovers

Use as much poundage as possible (so that you can barely squeeze out the last rep). Keep pushing the weight up as you get stronger. It wasn't specifed, but fewer sets (e.g., 2-3 sets per exercise) and low reps (e.g., 6-7 reps) were usually recommended for such routines.

Note how important a lot of sleep and rest are as well as not worrying & hurrying. The Weight Gaining Food Supplement that was recommended was really a vitamin B complex supplement that acted as an appetite stimulant.

So if you are having trouble gaining weight, you can give this classic routine from the Golden Age a try! It's worked before and may well work for you! - CPB

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Steve Reeves' Favorite Classic Physique Workout Routine!

(Above: Steve Reeves doing dumbbell incline presses)

It is very instructive to look at the routines of the Golden Age champs to see what training without steroids was like. Below is one of Steve Reeves' favorite routines. It appeared in an article that he wrote in the May 1951 issue of Joe Weider's Your Physique magazine.

Steve's routine is a full-body workout which he did 3 days a week (e.g., M, W, and F). He used a great deal of concentration when doing the exercise and performed each set "all out" (or to failure). Each exercise was done in a strict style, resting 45-60 seconds between sets and 2 minutes between different exercises.

1. Incline dumbbell press - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (using descending poundages)
2. Breathing front squat - 3 sets, 15 reps (superset with the following exercise)
3. Dumbell laterals/flyes - 3 sets, 15 reps
4. Seated barbell curls - 3 sets, 12 reps (getting the negative reps on the way down)
5. Alternate dumbbell forward raise - 2 sets, 15 reps
6. Bent over rows - 2 sets, 12 reps
7. One arm rows - 2 sets, 12 reps
8. Splits with barbell - 1 set, until breathless
9. Alternative raise lying - 2 sets, 15 reps
10. Good morning exercise - 1 set, 15 reps
11. Dumbbell french press - 3 sets, 12 reps
12. Leg press machine calf raises - 1 set, 30-40 reps
13. Bench press - 2 sets, 12 reps

That's it! This is a routine that he used at his advanced level! So it is not for a beginning or intermediate classic physique builder.

Look at the total number of sets he is doing for each body part:

1. Chest - 8 sets
2. Thighs - 4 sets
3. Biceps - 3 sets
4. Deltoids - 4 sets
5. Lats - 6 sets
6. Lower Back - 1 set
7. Triceps - 3 sets
8. Calves - 1 set

Of course, some of the compound movements like bench presses also hit the triceps and anterior delts as well as chest, so the situation is a bit more complicated than outlined above. Nevertheless, we can still see that the total number of sets for each body part is much lower than is typically seen today (just open any modern muscle mag).

Why? First, Steve was not on steroids, so muscles under natural conditions are easily overworked if too many sets are employed. Second, he is using a great deal of mental concentration and focusing intently on the muscle fibers being worked (instead of talking, listening to music, getting distracted, etc). Third, he is using weights heavy enough to cause failure at the reps indicated. Fourth, he is getting the negative reps on the way down.

Joe Weider was so impressed by Steve's ability to concentrate and get results that he said in his book, Brothers of Iron, that Steve "could get more, out of less, than anybody I knew. He'd go to the gym and make phenomenal gains with shorter workouts than the other guys, lifting only medium heavy, and beat fellows who lifted huge and trained until they fell over. To his credit, Steve trained very efficiently with no down time and no wasted motion."

Our point is that training under natural conditions is very different than training under steroids This can be seen easily when comparing the relatively low volume (low sets) workouts of the Golden Age (1940s and 50s) to the high volume (high sets) workouts of the Chemical Age (the 1960s to the present). So, if our goal is to build a classic physique naturally, then we can learn best from the champs of the Golden Age (like Steve Reeves) who knew best how to do it! - CPB

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eugen Sandow: Founder of Modern, Classic Physique Building!

(above left: Eugen Sandow; above right: Farnese Hercules)

If we were to look to a founder of modern, classic physique building, our search would take us back to Eugen Sandow. Sandow was a very popular strongman of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who lived most of his life in England. Unlike some other strongmen of his era, his physique was not rotund or ponderous, but instead was muscular, symetrical, and well-defined. He soon realized that his popularity was due as much to his classic physique as it was to his feats of strength.

With Sandow, we see all the elements that would later flower in the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s). He started his own magazine, Physical Culture (later renamed as Sandow's Magazine of Physical Culture), published books and courses on training, sold exercise equipment, opened his own gyms (Physical Culture studios), posed for physique photos, and even sold his own supplements (Sandow's Health and Strength Cocoa). He also sponsored the first, large-scale, national physique contest called "The Great Competition" (in 1901) which involved a series of qualifying contests at the regional level.

In the photos above, it is significant that you can see Sandow (left) recreating the pose of the Farnese Hercules (an ancient Greek sculpture). This demonstrates Sandow's clear recognition and promotion of the classic ideal in physical development. From this beginning, classic physique building would flower in the Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s) and then decline and dissappear in the 1960s as chemically-enhanced bodybuilding took over the scene.

It is our hope that through our efforts, and with your help, we can bring about a Renaissance of Classic Physique Building in the 21st century! To learn more about Sandow, please visit and - CPB

Monday, October 6, 2008

Classic Physique Appeal in the Golden Age!

(Above photo: Cover of a Joe Weider "Course/Catalog" circa 1958)

How different was the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s) from today's mainstream bodybuilding world! Some of the differences are captured above on the cover of Joe Weider's 1958 "Course/Catalog" - Eating for Super-Muscles, Super-Vitality. Look closely at the images on this cover. What do you see? How was Joe able to market the classic physique of the Golden Age?

First, we see Joe Weider himself depicted with a classic physique holding a trophy - the image of a champion. You can even see a light glow about him - almost a "halo" type of effect indicating "greatness." Below him are images of a discus thrower, a weightlifter, two football players, and a boxer - in other words, various representatives of athletics. At the bottom right is a well-built man (with a classic physique) holding an adoring female in his arms at the beach.

So what is the message here? The message is directed to "everyman" or "every teenager" that if you build a classic physique, you will not only follow in the footsteps of the champions, you might even become one yourself AND your classic physique will make you better at athletics AND give you "sex appeal."

When you look at the classic physiques of the 40s and 50s (like those of Steve Reeves, Clancy Ross, Armand Tanny, George Eiferman, Alan Stephan, etc), this message is totally believable! First, it was not a major stretch of imagination to believe that with a few years of working out, you too could have a physique like the champions. Second, a person with a classic physique certainly did look like he could excel at practically any sport. Third, it was completely believable that a guy with a classic physique could more easily attract members of the opposite sex.

So Joe's message/marketing was right on target. How many guys in those days sent away for muscle building courses because they wanted to look like the classic physique champions, be better at sports, and be more attractive to women? Quite a lot! Of course, in the Golden Age (before steroids), there were many muscle building courses available through the muscle mags.

For those interested in building a classic physique today, those messages and motivations still hold true. With a few years of proper training, proper nutrition, and proper rest, a person today can still build a classic physique like the Golden Age champs! Such a physique will certainly make a person better in sports. Women today do find such a physique attractive! And the best thing is that building a classic physique will make you healthier, more confident, and happier!

So stay tuned to CPB! If there is enough interest, CPB will collect and organize the info from the Golden Age into courses and make them available soon next year (please see and take our poll on the sidebar). In doing so, we can side-step the "muddy pool" of the chemically-spoiled mainstream bodybuilding world and drink directly from the "pure fountain" of the Golden Age! It is still there for the taking! - CPB

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Steve Reeves' Intermediate Workout Routine

(Above: Steve Reeves doing incline presses)

In a previous post, we discussed Steve Reeves' beginning workout routine (click on the sidebar label "beginning workout routine"). It was a routine that he put together, at the age of 16 (in 1942), after doing a lot of reading in magazines such as Bob Hoffman's Strength and Health. Steve said that it was a good routine and that he gained about 8 pounds on it in about 4 months.

After that, Steve started to train in Ed Yarick's Gym in Oakland, CA. This was one of the premier gyms on the West Coast in the early 1940s. Ed put Steve on an intermediate workout routine that Steve called his "Second Workout Schedule." In just four months on this routine under Ed's supervision, Steve gained 30 pounds!

Now, we must remember that Steve was 16 and so he had a lot of natural, high levels of testosterone circulating in his system. Under Ed's supervision, he was also resting and eating properly. But, that being said, this is a great, full body routine of 14 exercises that can produce results in a short period of time for the intermediate classic physique builder!

Here is the routine (amwp = as much weight as possible):

Warm-Up: Dumbbell Swings Exercises

1. Upright Rowing - 3 sets, 15-20 reps (use moderate weight)
2. Bench Press - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
3. 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
4. Dumbbell Flyes - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
5. Incline Press - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (decreasing weight each set)
6. Triceps Pushdowns - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
7. Barbell Curls - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
8. Seated Dumbbell Curls - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
9. Full Squats - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
superset with:
10. Pullovers - 3 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
11. Breathing Squats - 1 set, 20 reps (amwp)
superset with:
12. Breathing Pullovers - 1 set 20 reps (amwp)
13. Deadlifts, 2 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)
14. Good Mornings - 2 sets, 8-12 reps (amwp)

So there you have it! This is a full body routine that Steve followed 3 days a week (e.g., M, W, and F). Today, there is scientific research that shows that exercises such as squats release a substantial amount of testosterone. So doing a full body routine with squats can result in an extra boost of growth for the entire body. In the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s), they didn't have this research, but they knew this from their own training experience. Certainly, Steve made great gains on this routine in 4 months!

For complete exercise descriptions and other insights into his training, see Steve's book Building the Classic Physique the Natural Way which is available through the Steve Reeves International Society at It is a great book that we highly recommend.

We report Steve's intermediate routine - without any changes - for historical purposes. This is indeed the routine that he actually followed. However, CPB does not recommend doing the "Good Morning" exercise because we feel it is too easy to get injured. We believe Steve's routine would be just fine if this one exercise were dropped.

This isn't the only type of intermediate training schedule that we find in the Golden Age. There are many other routines. However, this one certainly worked for Steve. So if you are an intermediate classic physique builder, perhaps it can work for you as well! - CPB

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Classic Physique Building Inspiration: The Films of Reg Park!

(Photo above: Reg Park; Mr. Britain 1949; Mr. Europe 1950; Mr. Universe 1951; Mr. Universe - Pro 1958, 1965)

Need some more classic physique building inspiration? Check out the films of classic physique building champion Reg Park! After Steve Reeves opened the way with his "Hercules" and "Hercules Unchained" films in the late 1950s, others took over the role of Hercules in a variety of classic muscle movies in the early 1960s. Reg starred in 5 films:

1) Hercules and the Captive Women (1961)
2) Hercules in the Haunted World (1961)
3) Hercules, the Prisoner of Evil (1964)
4) Maciste in King Solomon's Mines (1964)
5) Hercules the Avenger (1965)

The films are all available today in DVD format and there are many places, such as, where you can purchase them.

Reg had a more "rugged look" than Steve Reeves, but like Steve, he was "all natural." Check out our new clips from his film "Hercules in the Haunted World" (on the sidebar). He was and still is a great inspiration to any aspiring classic physique builder! - CPB

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Classic Physique Builder Zine? Please Take Our New Poll.

(Photo above left: modern muscle mag Muscular Development, above right: Golden-Age mag Your Physique)

Are you frustrated with the modern, mainstream bodybuilding mags? We are. Just to find the table of contents, you often have to wade through 20+ pages of supplement ads! Then, of course, there is page after page of images of steroid-enhanced bodybuilders - despite the fact that most weight trainers have no desire to emulate that kind of physique.

In some mags, there is the open promotion of steroid use - to the point where they even devote a section of their table of contents to "Drugs." This preoccupation with steroids is reflected in ads for supplements that have steroid sounding names or are touted as "legal steroids."

Try reading any article on nutrition and what do you find? Half the time, the "article" that poses as a "research report" is really an ad for some supplement. And whether it is really an ad or a legitimate article, it seems that you need a degree in biochemistry to understand it! A lot of scientific studies may be cited to impress, but these articles often leave you wondering what their "findings" actually mean in terms of any real effect in making gains.

Now, when you get to an actual training article, the steroid-enhanced bodybuilders depicted are often posed with "grimacing," "growling," or "scowling" expressions, perhaps to emphasize the "monstrous" or "freaky" nature of their physiques. The photos are rarely attractive, inspiring, or uplifting. If you read the article and training advice that they give, you are left to wonder whether this advice, which works for steroid-users, will actually work for those who aren't on the "juice!"

Then, there is the shear volume of the ads! We have regularly counted the pages of the ads - which often add up to be more than half the total pages of the modern muscle mags! It is tough to locate the articles among all the ads!

This is not what the mags of the Golden Age (1940s and 50s) were like! Back then, the table of contents was typically on the 3rd page (just after the cover). The photos were of inspiring, classic physiques that were attractive and attainable. The articles were up front and center... easy to locate and read. The training advice was simple and straightforward and was based on what really worked in the gym. You could actually apply the advice and see the results for yourself - and you didn't need a degree in biochem or exercise physiology in order to understand it! There were no steroids back then, so you never had to wonder if the advice would work for a non-steroid user. The ads were far fewer and were mostly for barbells & dumbbells and training courses (ever see a weight training course advertised in a modern muscle mag?). It was impossible to confuse an "ad" for an "article." The goal promoted and valued was to attain a classic physique - one that was healthy and full of vitality.

Our frustration with the modern muscle mags has led us to the idea of putting our own muscle mag together - Classic Physique Builder Zine. A zine (rather than a magazine) is a grass roots magazine that anyone can put together. We would base Classic Physique Builder Zine after the mags of the Golden Age (like Your Physique and Muscle Power) and fill it with more in-depth articles on the methods of the Golden Age and inspiring photos of the Golden Age champs. We would put it into .pdf format and email for free to anyone who is interested. You could then print it out, put 3 staples in it, and have your own copy of a modern, Golden-Age type muscle mag! We are thinking of perhaps starting with bi-monthly issues (one issue every 2 months).

We think Classic Physique Builder Zine would fill a void for those of us that are put off by the modern bodybuilding or fitness mags and who just want to focus on getting simple and straight information about how to build a classic physique. We have an incredible archive of material from the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building that we would like to share with like-minded individuals. This zine (which would complement our CPB Blog) just might be the way to do it!

What do you think? Let us know! So far, in our first poll, there seems to be great interest in CPB classic physique training courses (based on info from the Golden Age) - so we will do our best to offer these in the near future. But, please take our new poll (that you will find on the sidebar) and let us know if a modern, Golden Age-type muscle zine (Classic Physique Builder Zine) would be something that you would be interested in. By the way, we have not tried to publicize our CPB Blog. We are hoping that "word of mouth" recommendations will grow our ranks and attract more readers. So if you like our CPB Blog, then spread the word! Eventually, together we can create a Renaissance of Classic Physique Building! And you can play an important part of that movement! - CPB

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Classic Physique Champion - Clancy Ross!

Meet Classic Physique Champion Clancy Ross (photo above) - Mr. America 1945, Mr. Pro America 1946, Mr. USA 1948. Clancy was known as "King of the Bodybuilders" back in the Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s). He was born in 1923 and passed away this year at the age of 85.

There are many good things we could say about Clancy. In addition to being a champion, he owned his own gym and wrote articles for Joe Weider's Your Physique, Muscle Power, and Muscle Builder mags. He competed against the likes of Alan Stephan, George Eiferman, and Steve Reeves and was one of the few to beat Steve Reeves in a contest.

Just look at his classic physique! It is powerful, muscular, symmetrical, and yet attractive. There is no hint of over-development or extreme definition. He is in no way fat. He has muscular definition, yet he doesn't look like an "airbrush-tanned, dissecting-room cadaver". Instead, his skin and entire physique has a healthy glow! His physique is reminescent of a classical Greek god! It is in no way "cartoonish." He is a great role model for aspiring, classic physique builders of today!

Now take a second look at his incredible physique and realize that at the time of this photo, modern nutritional supplements (like creatine, NO and testosterone boosters, pump enhancers, anabolic agents, fat burners, etc) did not exist! Even protein powders did not exist at that time. The first protein powders for bodybuilders didn't appear until 1950-51! All they had, up until that time, was proper training, proper nutrition, and proper rest. How's that for an "eye-opener?"

There is something else you can see in the photo. He is pictured holding a classical Greek column. This shows you that the classical ideal was clearly valued in the Golden Age. It was a healthy ideal which inspired the Golden Age and one which can still inspire us today! - CPB

Monday, September 8, 2008

Alan Stephan's Abbreviated Beginners Prep Routine for a Classic Physique!

(photo above - Alan Stephan, Mr. America 1946)

Are you an absolute beginner? Would you like to build a classic physique? Are you confused by all the mainstream muscle mags as to what kind of routine you should follow? Don't worry! We have a nice, absolute beginner's routine from the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s) that can help get you started! It was offered by Alan Stephan, Mr America 1946 in Joe Weider's Your Physique Magazine (Feb, 52 issue).

This routine is, what we would call today, an "abbreviated" routine - a very short workout of only 4 exercises - that is designed to get the absolute beginner started out in the right direction. The 4 exercises are compound (or basic) exercises which work multiple groups of muscles at the same time. This program was meant to be followed for 2 to 3 months prior to beginning a more comprehensive bodybuilding course.

If you have never lifted a weight before and have lived a sedentary life, then Alan recommended 3-4 weeks of conditioning doing walking, running, push ups, and deep knee bends before starting this program.

For this program, he recommended getting plenty of rest (9 hrs of sleep each night) and relaxation and a high protein diet consisting of meats, milk, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Alan said that you can see great improvements in a few weeks, in following such a program, but don't let anyone tell you that you will get a "Mr. America Physique" in a few months. It will take persistence, hard work, and following a good, comprehensive course of training.

But great things begin with the first few steps! So here is the program:

1. Bench Press, 8-12 reps, 1 set
2. Breathing Squats, 8-12 reps, 1 set
3. Bent Over Rows, 8-12 reps, 1 set
4. Press Behind Neck, 8-12 reps, 1et

Each exercise is to be done for 1 set. Pick a weight that allows you to complete only 8 reps. Then, each workout, try to increase your reps until you reach 12. When you can complete 12, then increase the weight at your next workout. Continue in this way for the course of the program. Do this program 3 days a week (e.g., M, W, F or T, Th, Sa),

For the bench press, make sure you have friends to act as "spotters". Or, these days, you can do bench presses on a Smith Machine where you can set the locks so that the bar will stop before hitting your chest.

For the breathing squats, between each squat, take 3 deep breaths. Breathing squats really kick up the metabolism and natural growth mechanisms!

For the bent over rows, keep the knees slightly bent and grasp the bar with a wide grip. Use a strict form.

For the press behind neck, perform it in a seated position. Warm-up your shoulders before hand and be careful not to use too much weight in the beginning until you know how much you can really handle.

Don't worry about doing multiple sets! By fighting to increase your reps and weights at each workout, you will be getting stronger and getting bigger. After 2 or 3 months, when you notice the gains (in strength and/or size) coming to a halt, then it will be time to switch to another beginner's program. There are many good beginner's programs to follow up Alan's Prep Routine (e.g., see Steve Reeve's beginning program by clicking on our "beginning workout routine" label on the sidebar) that will introduce you to the "set system" soon enough!

Also, don't worry that you are not doing direct exercises for each body part. The bench presses work your chest, shoulders, triceps, and even forearms. The breathing squats work your lower body. The bent over rows work your back and biceps. The press behind neck works your shoulders, triceps, and trapezius. So most of your body - and all the large muscle groups - are getting worked in this program!

CPB recommends starting a training log to keep track of your reps and poundages for each exercise. Don't rely on just your memory. It is critical, for making gains, to increase your reps and weights each workout if you can. So you really need to know what you did at your last workout. You need to be very systematic in your training. You don't want to be one of those who wonders around the gym, doing endless numbers of sets and reps, and getting nowhere. We are sure you want to use "Golden Age Methods to attain a Golden Age Physique!" - CPB

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Classic Physique Goal Setting - Train for Proportion & Symmetry, Not Just Size!

(Photo above: Steve Reeves, Mr. America 1947, Mr World 1948, Mr Universe 1950)

Once you've decided to embark on your destination of building a classic physique, the next step is to have a good "road map." It is critical, at the outset, that (1) you have a clear understanding of what a classic physique is, and (2) clear goals in terms of size and symmetry.

In previous posts (click on the Classic Physique Ideal and Classic Physique vs Hulk-like Physique labels on the side bar), we have reviewed the characteristics of a classic physique. The basic symmetry and proportion goals for a classic physique are:

1) neck, arms, and calves measure the same (or very close)
2) broad shoulders (without overdeveloped traps),
3) narrow waist and hips (with broad shoulders to create that "V-taper")
4) straight legs (without overdeveloped adductors)

In terms of size goals, a good place to start is by becoming familiar with the measurements of the Mr. America champions of the pre-steroid, Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (1940-1959/60). You can find an article at the musclememory website that lists their measurements by clicking here: Look at their height and compare it to your own. Look at the size of their neck or arm. That will give you a good idea of what you can shoot for in terms of size. Now, perhaps you might have larger bone structure and can be a bit bigger, or perhaps you have smaller bone structure and will be a bit smaller. But it gives you a good, ball-park starting size goal. Once you see their arm or neck measurement (for your height), then you have a general size goal.

How can you apply these symmetry and size goals? Let's give an example. First, measure your neck, arm, and calves. Which of these three is the largest? Let's suppose that your neck is the largest measurement. Perhaps arms are next, with calves being the smallest. In that case, the first step would be to bring your arms and calves up to your neck measurement. Because your arms are larger than your calves, they will probably reach the goal first. After that, then you would focus more on your calves (backing off a bit on arms) - until all 3 (neck, arms, and calves) finally have the same measurement. Then, with your body in symmetry, you would adjust your training to bring up the mass for all three until your reached your overall size goal. The point is that your goal, at the outset, should be proportion & symmetry, not just size.

When Steve Reeves began building his classic physique as a beginner, his calves were already 16 inches, while his arms were only 13 inches. So he didn't even train his calves at all until his arms and neck matched his calves. Then, when they all measured 16 inches, he then brought up their mass together until they all measured 18 1/4 inches. So, as a beginner, his goal was proportion and symmetry, not just size.

By the way, Steve did not directly train his abs! Why? He didn't want to make his waist larger - which would reduce his shoulder-waist "V-taper". We all have "six-packs" already (that is the way the rectus abdominis is naturally constructed) and it is a proper definition diet that will bring them out. Exercising the abs and obliques will only make the waist larger - which is not desirable for a classic physique. So think twice before you do all those side bends! If your waist is not naturally narrow, it is even more important not to increase the size of the muscles of the waist! Ab training is really "in" these days, but just be careful. Keep a close eye on your waist measurement, and if ab training is making your waist larger, then you will probably want to "back off" if you want to build a classic physique.

So keep your symmetry and size goals clearly in mind at the outset. Adjust your training to achieve those goals. With a clear "road map" of these goals, you will reach your destination more easily and won't fall into the trap of just building the "T-shirt" muscles (biceps and chest) while walking around on "tooth-pick" legs - a common site in today's gym's and fitness centers!

There is much more that we could say here, but this is perhaps enough to get you going in the right direction! - CPB

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Classic Physique Definition

Above left photo: Rich Gaspari - mainstream bodybuilder. Above right: Steve Reeves - classic physique builder

There is a real difference between in definition between the classic physique builder and a mainstream, chemically-enhanced, bodybuilder.

In the Golden Age, muscular definition was valued, but it was also expected that the skin should have a healthy glow and look about it. As Vince Gironda once found out in a competition he lost, the judges were not impressed with an "overly-defined" physique. According to their standards, it was in-fact possible to have "too much definition." Here is what Joe Weider said in an article on "Bulk and Cuts for the Legs" regarding definition in 1961 "The 'cuts' must be carved where they will enhance the esthetic appearance of the leg without making the bodybuilder look like a skinless cadaver used for anatomical instruction in a Medical College."

With the advent of steroids and other pharmaceuticals (e.g., diuretics), it was possible to achieve paper-thin skin with a very low percentage of body fat. This led to the "shredded" or "ripped" look where every muscle striation and every cutaneous vein could be seen. So what happenned? Mainstream, drug-enhanced, bodybuilders began to go to the extreme in definition (as they did with size) so that the "healthy glow of the skin" (which is due to a healthy degree of body fat) was lost and "the more ripped they were the better." So they all began to look like dissecting room cadavers. (See above left photo of Rich Gaspari - mainstream bodybuilder).

For classic physique builders, muscular definition is valued, but not the overly "ripped" or "shredded" look. Muscles should be well-defined, with muscle separation, and some natural vascularity. But the skin should have a healthy glow - which cannot be achieved with excessively low levels of body fat. The classic physique ideal embodies the look of "radiating health and vitality." This is not the dead look of a dissecting room cadaver. (See above right photo of Steve Reeves - classic physique builder).

Classic physique builders are not impressed with seeing striations in someone's gluts. They are not impressed with seeing every cutaneous vein popping out. They have no need of NO boosters to increase vascular size to the extreme. The classic physique builder look is a natural, vital, muscular, powerful, symmetrical, and atractive one. They may carry a higher degree of body fat (than modern mainstream, chemically-dependent, bodybuilders) - but that is what is necessary and desirable to truly have a classic physique that radiates with "health and vitality!"

Muscular definition - yes! Overly "ripped" and "shredded" - no need! - CPB

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mainstream Bodybuilding Ideal - Cartoons!

Above: Ronnie Coleman - Mr Olympia (Left), He-Man Cartoon Character (Right)

Check out our new video on mainstream bodybuilding's ideal (see the video side bar)! We weren't kidding in our last post when we said that the goals and ideals of classic physique building are totally different from that of mainstream, drug-enhanced, bodybuilding. Hear for yourself that the drug-users' idols are cartoon characters like "He-man," the "X-men," and "The Thing" (from the Fantastic Four).

No wonder their physiques look "cartoonish" (see photos above)! And to think that the only way they can achieve this worthy (?) goal is by pumping their bodies full of steroids, HGH, insulin and other health-destroying drugs! What are they thinking?

At the beginning of the clip, you can see the large "roid guts" of the top contendors. At the end of the clip, you get a few seconds of the tradegy of women's mainstream bodybuilding and fitness competition.

To our point - classic physique building and modern, mainstream bodybuilding are very different in their ideals and goals! It is said that Steve Reeves not only aspired to attain a classic physique, but he also wanted to be the healthiest man alive! By the way, his idol was John Grimek - another classic physique champion. What a difference indeed! - CPB

Monday, August 18, 2008

Classic Physique Building vs Bodybuilding

Photos above: Flex (mainstream bodybuilding mag) and Muscle Power (classic physique building mag from the Golden Age)

If you visit the mainstream bodybuilding sites, blogs, and forums, you certainly find many people who value the classic physique ideal and long to see a return to it in the world of mainstream bodybuilding. However, sad to say, that will most probably never happen!

Since the advent of steroids, mainstream bodybuilding has evolved into what is now an EXTREME SPORT. It has succumbed completely to the spectre of GIGANTISM that was warned against by the magazine writers of the Golden Age. The main value of modern bodybuilding has become "SIZE AT ALL COSTS." Thus, mainstream bodybuilding can no longer be considered a healthy activity. How can it be healthy to carry so much body mass and to ingest/inject steroids, HGH, insulin, etc, in order to do it? Yet all of the mainstream bodybuilding mags hold up and promote this value! Apparently the SHOCK and ENTERTAINMENT value of GIGANTISM over-rides all other considerations.

Certainly, the mainstream bodybuilding mags may occasionally give lip service to the classic physique ideal. But even those who try to engage in "natural bodybuilding" are marginalized. The "juicing affecionados" in the mainstream forums will easily tell anyone "this is not the 1940s or 50s anymore" - as if the mainstream, drug-ridden world of bodybuilding is so much of an improvement! Perhaps in their eyes, it is. each his own. If this is what the mainstream bodybuilding world has become and will continue to be, then so be it. We do not have to follow. We should perhaps grant them the term "bodybuilding" because this term has now become so closely associated with "steroids and drugs" - so much so that "bodybuilding" is now perceived by the public as an unhealthy activity.

Instead, we will use the term CLASSIC PHYSIQUE BUILDING to describe our activity. For us, it is still effectively the 1940s and 50s (the Golden Age) - because we today (as in those times) endeavor to build our bodies naturally to achieve a healthy, aesthetically-pleasing, classic physique. The human body has not changed since the Golden Age, so the methods they perfected then to build classic physiques can be used just as well today!

Some of the tools (e.g. "weights") and principles (e.g., progressive resistance/overload) of "classic physique builders" may be similar to those of the mainstream "bodybuilders," but our training and ultimate goals are very, very different. We have our own classic physique goals, role models, training methods and tools. They have theirs. We lay claim to the Golden Age when bodybuilding was truly "classic physique building." They have all but forgotten their own history and see little value in it.

So let there be no confusion. We are interested in CLASSIC PHYSIQUE BUILDING not mainstream bodybuilding! The mainstream bodybuilding world has little to offer us. Let them go their own way! Together, we followers of the classic ideal must create our own sane and healthy world. We offer Classic Physique Builder as a first step toward this goal! - CPB

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Joe Weider - Some Regrets?

Photo Above: Joe Weider on the cover of Your Physique Magazine (Nov 1947)

Recently, Joe gave a revealing interview which leads us to believe that indeed he does have some regrets about the direction that modern mainstream bodybuilding has taken. You can find the entire article here: . But here are some selected quotes:

Interviewer: You mentioned on several occasions that while you are happy to see how bodybuilding has progressed over the years, you feel that your original message never reached the public in its entirety.

Joe: ...From the very start, I wanted bodybuilding to be seen not just as a way to build massive muscles, but also as a way to get healthy. I'm afraid that message got lost, and I still want to get it out there.

Interviewer: Do you feel that people's perception of bodybuilders must be changed for them to accept that message?

Joe: Sure. Who wants to look at a guy who is lumbering and doesn't look healthy? They want to see guys and girls who are beautiful to look at. People should look at a bodybuilder and say, "Hey! There is someone I'd like to look like." You know, bodybuilders are heroes to a lot of people, and they should look like heroes...

CPB's Take on Joe's Comments: Well...we might be misunderstanding Joe here, but if you look at all the back issues of Joe's magazines (Your Physique, Muscle Power, Muscle Builder) in the Goden Age (1940s and 50s) before steroids appeared, the bodybuilders indeed had classic physiques and looked like heroes! They often posed like the classical statues of ancient Greek hereos and gods. They received the admiration of women and guys wanted to be like them!

There is no better proof of this than Steve Reeves. Most guys would be more than happy to look like him. Most women would find his physique attractive. Now compare that with today's mainstream top bodybuilders. How many guys would honestly want to look like a Jay Cutler or Marcus Ruhl - whether on or off-season? How many women are really attracted to "Hulk-like" physiques?

Modern bodybuilding has truly lost the classic, heroic ideal and now has become an EXTREME SPORT - designed to shock and entertain perhaps - but mainstream top bodybuilders are certainly not "beautiful to look at." Yes...Joe's original vision and message has indeed been lost in mainstream bodybuilding. But, here at Classic Physique Builder, we hope to keep that original vision and message alive!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Classic Physique Mass Building Principles

Take a look at Jack Delinger (Mr Western America 1948, Mr America 1949, Mr Universe 1956) above. He was a champion of the pre-steroid Golden Age of Classic Physique Building. He (and the other champions you see here at CPB) is a shining example that it is possible to build classic mass without resorting to health-destroying drugs. In fact, during the height of the Golden Age (between 1950-59), the principles of building mass naturally were defined. These principles worked then and still work now! We will discuss them in this and other upcoming posts.

To understand some of these principles, let's take a look at Joe Weider's classic "Power and Bulk Routine" from 1954. Here are the exercises:

1. Shoulder Bridge (it was like a decline bench press)
2. Cheating Barbell Curl
3. Deadlift Off Boxes
4. Cheating Standing Lateral Raise
5. Bench Squat
6. Cheating Standing Triceps Barbell Curl
7. Cheating Bent Over Rows
8. Power Prone Press (this is basically a bench press lock-out)

Each exercise was to be performed for 2 sets of 6 reps only. The emphasis was on using heavy weights such that you could barely complete the 6th rep of the 1st set. Then after resting for 2 minutes, you might be able to complete 4-5 reps on the second set (going to failure). After a workout or two, once you could complete the 6th rep of the 2nd set, then you would increase the weight at the next workout. This process would continue as you strive to keep pushing up the weight used as you get stronger. This workout was to be done 3 days a week (e.g., M, W, and F) and all other sports activity was to be avoided. Also, getting more rest, more sleep, and eating a high protein diet was recommended. This program was to be followed for 3 months.

So what are the principles we see in this program? We can't discuss them all in this post, but here is a partial list:

1) full body workout - doing a full body workout, which includes testosterone-releasing exercises like squats and deadlifts, has a global anabolic
2) low volume, high intensity - using only a few sets (low volume), yet training to failure (high intensity) allows maximum muscle stimulation without overtraining
3) training heavy - training for power/strength stimulates a greater number of muscle fibers which results in greater muscle growth
4) cheating exercises - using a cheating style allows heavier poundages for greater muscle stimulation
5) lock-out exercises - doing a "lock-up" (just doing the last few inches of an exercise) allow much heavier poundages to be used which results in greater muscle stimulation
6) no cardio - avoids unnecessary drain on body's recuperative powers, thus more resources are channeled into muscle growth
7) compound exercises - stimulate more muscles than isolation exercises and allow for heavier poundages to be used
8) no abdominal work - diet is the key to great abdominals, not exercise
9) longer rest between sets - allows more muscle recovery which allows heavier weights to be used
10) progressive resistance (overload) - increasing the weights as muscles get stronger is key in stimulating continued muscle growth.

Compare this program to the one you are using! Are you performing a lot of reps with lighter weights? Are you following a split program and are in the gym everyday? Do you do a lot of isolation exercises and tend to use the same poundages each workout? Do you simply stop at a set number of repetitions or do you train to failure (or almost failure)? Does your exercise program consist of more than 8 exercises? Have you been doing more and more sets, but not gaining any mass? If so, then study the principles above and apply them to your routine if you want to gain mass.

In the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building, they really knew, from their own experience, what was needed to build mass! And they could do it without drugs and even without all the high-tech nutritional supplements we have today. What supplements did they have? Try this: protein powder and multivitamins! That was about it! Yet, they perfected the art of building powerful, heroic, classic physiques by discovering the principles that really work - naturally!

This should give us a lot of encouragement! You can build all the mass you need for a classic physique. The champions of the Golden Age have already laid out the path for us. All we have to do is re-discover that path and follow it! - CPB

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Leroy Colbert - Classic Physique Mass

Not convinced that you can attain a massive, powerful, yet still classic physique? Take a look at Leroy Colbert (above). He was Mr. New York City, 1952 and Mr. Eastern America, 1953 and was well on his way to other titles until a motorcycle accident cut his competitive carreer short. He is credited as being the first bodybuilder with 20 inch arms. His physique is classic, yet massive. But, no "roid gut" here. No "hulk-like" cartoonish body. He was all natural, drug-free, and developed his physique well-before steroids reared their ugly head in the bodybuilding world. Leroy remains a great inspiration to all those who value and seek to build classic physiques! - CPB

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Classic Physique Supplements - Harold Poole

What kind of supplements did the champions of the Golden Era of Classic Physique Building use to build their great physiques? In the current issue of MuscleMag (July 08), there is a great interview with Harold Poole (Mr. America, Mr. Universe), one of the last non-drug users of the Golden Era, who placed 2nd in the first two Mr. Olympia contests against Larry Scott (1965, 1966 - some say he should have won in 1966). In the interview, he states the following: "I took wheat-germ oil, dessicated liver tablets, protein powder, and brewer's yeast." That's it! More evidence that one can build a spectacular, classic physique, without steroids and with a minimum of nutritional supplements. - Classic Physique Builder

Friday, May 30, 2008

Reg Park - Classic Physique Mass

Do you think that you cannot build mass naturally, without steroids? Take a look at Reg Park above. Reg built his mass naturally, before the use of steroids, and before the use of all the modern nutritional supplements we have today. Reg was 6'2" at 225lbs. He won the following titles: Mr Britain 1949, Mr Europe 1950, Mr Universe 1958, 1965. He went on to star as Hercules in 5 movies in the early 1960s. He competed up until the early 1970s and placed well against steroid-using bodybuilders half his age (e.g., placed 2nd in the Tall Class of the Mr. Universe NABBA 1973 Contest). He had plenty of mass, and yet still retained a classic physique! He should serve as an inspiration to us all! - Classic Physique Builder

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

So What is a Zeller Curl?

In our last post, we gave you Marvin Eder's favorite arm routine for breaking through "ruts." One of the exercises he recommends is the "Zeller Curl." These days, most bodybuilders probably don't know what a "Zeller Curl" is. So here is some background. This curl is named after Art Zeller - the famous physique photographer - who in his early years, was a classic physique builder (i.e., a bodybuilder before the advent of steroids) who popularized this curl.

The curl is basically a "cheat & negative rep" curl with dumbbells. Here is Marvin's description of it (as told to Barton Horvath) from Joe Weider's Your Physique Magazine (Dec. 1951 issue):

"Zeller Curl. This curl is named after Artie Zeller who popularized it some years back, and is now widely used by New York City bodybuilders. Take a heavy dumbbell, heavier than you can curl to the shoulder in good form, and swing this weight to the shoulder. Hold the elbow against the side, on the hip if possible. Now, lower the weight, leaning back while doing so, fighting the downward movement of the weight every inch of the way. When it is down all the way, swing it up to the shoulder again and repeat... It may take a little practice to master this movement, but since Marvin feels that it is one of the very best, it will be worth a little special attention."

So there you have it - the "Zeller Curl" - another gold nugget from the Golden Era of Classic Physique Builders! - Classic Physique Builder

(Above photo: Art Zeller on the cover of Joe Weider's Muscle Builder Magazine, Jan 1955 issue)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Favorite Arm Routine of Marvin Eder

Marvin Eder (Mr New York City 1949, Mr Eastern America 1950) was a young, rising star in the early 1950s world of pre-steroid bodybuilding. He was known for his 18 1/2" arms (an impressive accomplishment back then) and great strength. At the age of 19 (at 5' 8" and 203 lbs), he benched 430 lbs, did standing presses with 285 lbs, and did curls with 100 lb dumbbells. This clearly demonstrates that one can attain a classic physique that is both aesthetic, yet powerful.

In the December 1951 issue of Joe Weider's Your Physique Magazine, he was interviewed about his favorite arm routine for breaking through ruts and making further gains. Keep in mind that this is/was a routine for advanced, natural bodybuilders (lets say with more than 2 years of training) who hit a rut in making gains in their arm development or perhaps needed to undertake some arm specialization in order to bring them up in proportion to the rest of the body. This arm routine hits the biceps and triceps from 3 different angles. Here it is in a nutshell:


1. Standing Barbell Curls - 3 sets, 10 reps (5 strict, 5 cheating)
2. Zeller Curls - 3 sets, 10 reps
3. Bent-Over Concentration Curls - 3 sets, 10 reps


1. Lying Barbell Triceps Curls - 3 sets, 10 reps
2. Seated Triceps Curls - 3 sets, 10 reps
3. Rear Triceps Extensions - 3 sets, 10 reps

That's a total of 9 sets for biceps, 9 for triceps. Remember, this was for the advanced bodybuilder.

What if you are in a rut, but you are an intermediate bodybuilder? If so, then this routine can be modified with good effects as follows:

If you have more than 1 year, but less than 2 years of consistent training - perform 2 sets of each of the above exercises. If you have more than 6 months, but less than 1 year of training - perform 1 set of each exercise. Total beginners with less than 6 months of training should not try this rountine. - Classic Physique Builder
Check out this interview with Marvin Eder at

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Classical Look

The tradegy of modern, mainstream bodybuilding is that it lost the ideal of the classic physique in favor of the gargantuan, "hulk-like" physique.

Before steroids, bodybuilders were inspired by the great classical sculptures of the ancient greeks which were muscular, proportionate, and yet attractive. Read the following excerpt from an article written by the great Reg Park (Mr Britain 1949, Mr Europe 1950, Mr Universe 1951, 1958, 1965) for Your Physique Magazine (Nov '50):

"The Classical Look for Physical Perfection

by Reg Park, Mr. Europe

When I first became interested in bodybuilding I took a new interest in not alone my own body, but in any statue or photograph which portrayed a well developed physique. I spent many hours studying the statues of the great masters at the Tate Gallery at Millbank in London, as well as at the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. There, enchanted by the sculptural grandeur of Apollo, Discobulous, Hercules and others representative of the great Grecian art which has endured the years and remains even today the accepted peak of physical perfection, I received my first education in physical proportions and impressiveness.

I was quick to notice how each body part blended perfectly with the rest of the anatomy in these masterpieces. How Hercules, thick, powerful and heavily muscled retained this massive proportionate development throughout his entire body..." (end of quote).

Can you imagine that article having been written by today's Mr. Olympia? So the classic ideal has been lost by mainstream bodybuilding. But we don't have to follow their lead. Bodybuilding can be natural, healthy, and lead to classic, muscular, and attractive physiques. We would do well to follow the example of Reg Park! (photo above is Reg Park on the cover of Your Physique Magazine, Jan 1951). - Classic Physique Builder