Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Steve Reeves - Mr World 1948 French Documentary!

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

We just posted the French documentary (called "The Most Beautiful Man in the World") showing Steve Reeves at the time of the 1948 Mr. World contest (see our sidebar to the right of your screen). The documentary is shown in two parts. Part 2 is the only one with Steve Reeves in it. It is at the top of the video bar. Part 1 is just below it (but does not have Steve Reeves in it). The bottom two clips (of the Long Beach City Council) we couldn't remove - so please disregard it.

In the Part 2 clip, Steve is shown beginning at 2:41 minutes and for the rest of the clip. He is first shown oiling up for his exhibition. Then he demonstrates some exercises (military press, french press, rowing, pullovers, and some exercises with rocks). After that, he does some posing and then the events of the Mr. World contest are shown.

It is a great clip and it is rare to see film of Steve during his competition days. So we hope you enjoy it! Once you click on the top box for the Part 2 clip, it may take a while to load - so just be patient.


P.S. If you would like a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder zine (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid, Golden Age (1940s & 50s), just send us an email at with your name, the name of your city (not your address), state or province, and country. That's it! Your info is confidential. We don't share our info with anyone, so you won't get on any lists and won't receive any unwanted, automated email (even from us)!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Classic Physique Builders - Stop Obsessing Over Body Fat %!

(Above Photo: Classic Physique Builder Bob McCune - 1947 Mr. Muscle Beach - 2nd, 1949 Pro. Mr. America - 2nd, 1949 Mr. California - 2nd)

These days, it seems that many weight trainers immersed in the mainstream bodybuilding world obsess over their % body fat! On many internet forums, you can even see beginners discussing their body fat % goals (trying to get it down to single digits) - even when their accompanying photos show that they are no where close to attaining a classic physique in terms of mass and proportion! This is nothing new. In the Dec. 1952 issue of Your Physique (one of Joe Weider's Golden Age muscle mags), Reg Park said this: "In fact, it is common to hear many novices talk of definition development before they have even built the foundations of a good physique"!

For some perspective, in the pre-roid, Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s), % body fat was never discussed! Steve Reeves, Reg Park, George Eiferman, or any of the other Golden Age champs never obsessed over their % body fat! There were no articles in the Golden Age muscle mags discussing % body fat! Yet, look at how fantastic their classic physiques looked!

Of course, they did discuss "muscular separation," "definition," and "skin thickness." They certainly knew that in order to look their best before a contest, they would have to increase their definition by changing their diet and their training routine. This brings us to our main point: build your physique to classic size and proportions first, then strive for classic definition! Again, here is Reg Park (same article) making the same point:

"A programme which is designed to produce greater muscular separation is what is commonly known as a 'SPECIALIZATION' programme. It is NOT for the newcomer to bodybuilding. It IS for the advanced man, the guy who has a couple of years training under his belt and wants to IMPROVE his appearance."

And even when they undertook specialized training and changed their diet for increased definition, they still did not obsess over % body fat. So what did they strive for? It wasn't single digit body fat % or extreme vascularity! They strove for classic muscle separation and defined abs. They knew that their skin was expected to have a "healthy glow" about it, so they didn't strive for an extreme cadaver-like look. They probably had no idea what their body fat % was, yet look at how fantastic their physiques were!

For most of us non-competitive, classic physique builders, what can we learn from this? If your body weight is fairly normal then strive to build your overall mass to classic physique size and proportions first. You will probably gain some weight around the middle (it's tough to gain mass without gaining some fat), but don't worry unless it is excessive. Once your neck, arms, calves, chest, and thighs have reach classic size and proportions, then work on classic definition. When you get to that point, don't obsess over body fat %! Who cares?! It doesn't matter whether your body fat level is 10%, 13% or 15% - as long as you have that classic, Golden Age look of health, vitality, muscularity, power, and symmetry! Let the mirror be your guide! Chances are very good that if you can see your "six pack" and don't have a "spare tire" around the middle, then your definition will be just fine!


P.S. For a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid Golden Age (1940s and 50s), just send us an email to and give us your name, the name of your city (not your address), state or province, and country. That's it! All info you send us is strictly confidential and you won't find yourself on any spam lists, etc. (you won't even get automated emails from us)!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Classic Physique Building and the "Art of Doing Nothing!"

(Photo above: Classic Physique Building Champs Steve Reeves and Clancy Ross)

We have said previously that the 3 pillars of classic physique building are: proper training, proper nutrition, and proper rest. And we could add a fourth pillar - persistance!

Of all these, proper training gets the most attention as we often talk about what kind of routines to do, how many sets and reps to perform, how much weight to use, etc. Proper nutrition is usually the next thing on our minds. We realize that we have to eat properly to make gains and so we are concerned with what kind of foods to eat, how many calories to consume, how much protein/carbs/fats to include, whether or not to take supplements and, if so, what kind, etc. Of course, we know that we won't make consistent gains unless we persist in our training.

But the "pillar" that gets the least attention is proper rest. But this one is perhaps the most important because without it, we cannot grow. Indeed, if we want consistent gains, then we must actually "work hard" at resting! That is, we must pay attention to the need for getting more rest and have a conscious strategy for doing so.

The general advice from the pre-roid Golden Age is to get more sleep (usually, anywhere from an extra 15 minutes to an hour or two is recommended) and also to take naps during the day. But here is the advice on Sleep, Rest, and Relaxation from Peary Rader (founder of Ironman magazine) in his Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System Course (circa 1956):

"Sleep is the great restorer. Without it, we could not live long. Man can go without food for from one month to three months, but he would soon die without sleep. Men who work at a heavy barbell program need lots of sleep. This need varies with different people. I have known barbell men who did well on 7 or 8 hours sleep per night. Most athletes require 9 or 10 hours. Only the pupil himself can determine the correct amount in his case. Sleep until you feel rested and refreshed. You cannot make proper gains without sufficient sleep."

"You should take every opportunity to rest and relax. Don't walk when you can ride. Don't stand when you can sit down. Don't run when you can walk. This applies to men who are working out with barbells and wish to gain weight. To gain weight you must CONSERVE ALL THE ENERGY POSSIBLE. It is advisable that you take a short nap in mid-day. Many prefer to do this after the mid-day meal. Take advantage of every opportunity to relax. Relaxation is in large part mental. You cannot relax your muscles unless your mind is at ease and relaxed. You must eliminate worry from your life. It helps matters not at all. It is just a parasite on your energy."

"Most barbell men find it easy to go to sleep or to relax. You should, however, practice relaxation at every opportunity. You can do this while seated, lying down, or at work. If you are working try to completely relax the muscles not used in your work. Be conservative of your movements. Do not make two movements if one will suffice. When seated do not allow yourself to fidget. Relax all your muscles. When lying down concentrate on relaxing every muscle in the body, even those of the face. Deep breathing often helps in this."

Well - there you have it! A bit of a longer post than usual. But, this is an important topic that should be at the top of your attention if you are looking to make gains. So "work hard" at getting proper rest! This will do more for your gains than worrying over the difference between this or that protein powder!


P.S. For your free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a zine patterned after the pre-roid Golden Age mags of the 40's and 50's, just email your name and the name of your city, state (or province), and country to That's it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Maurice Jones - Inspiration for Classic Physique Builders!

(Photo Above: Maurice Jones)

Perhaps one of the most unknown, old-time, classic physique builders is Maurice Jones. Although he was not a physique contest competitor, he was regularly featured as an example of a well-rounded weight trainer in John McCallum’s writings. (John was a well-known gym owner, trainer, journalist who wrote for Strength and Health magazine in the 1960s and is known for his “Keys to Progress” column and book. John was an advocate of the lifting big, eating big, and getting big approach).

Maurice stood 5´9 and weighed 200 pounds in his prime (all natural, no drugs). He started weight training in the 1930´s at the age of 17. In an interview in 1997, he stated “As a kid I was sickly. I can remember the awful colds I used to have. I wasn’t that healthy, so that’s what made me embark on some kind of training regimen, and one thing led to another.”

He was an advanced trainer, who used more abbreviated routines and strict exercise style. The following is one of his typical training routines:

Warmup: Calisthenics, bending, arm waving, and pushups on the steep board.

Workout: Military Press - 3 sets, superset with
Curls 3 sets (rest a minute between supersets)
Rowing - 3 sets, alternate with
Bench Press – 3 sets
Squat 1 set 12 reps (he would use 400 pounds).

In between Sets : He would rest a minute. He would not sit down.

He also did hiking on the weekends and would have an additional 30 or 40 pounds in his Rucksack. So he got plenty of leg work. Sometimes he reduced the weight on the squat and increased the reps. Maurice always used a strict style while training.

Maurice used to do presses behind the neck with 200 pounds for 12 reps and dumbell curls 70 lbs. x 12 well before World War II – a figure what that’s worth in today’s terms, and it would just take your breath away. He also was able to squat with over 500 pounds.

Asked about his diet, Maurice said it “was just very plain. I’m afraid that I just qualify as a meat and potatoes man.”

He included running a couple of times a week. Maurice attributes his high level of muscular and cardiovascular endurance to a combination of his weight training, running and his mountain hiking.

When the interview was done in1997, Maury was 85 years old. He still did some weight training with 50 pound dumbbells (curls, presses) and still did hiking at that time.

Asked what he’d say if a young kid came up to him and said, “Mr. Jones, do you think I should take drugs to get bigger muscles or to get stronger?”: “I would say, don’t become a fanatic, although I must have appeared that way to a lot of people. If you get fanatical about something, it spoils it. You have to recognize the line – that’s the trouble.”

CPB Blog Contributor

Friday, April 3, 2009

Classic Physique Building and Squats!

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

Our last post on Vince Gironda brought something to mind that you might have heard about him. That is, Vince was very much opposed to doing heavy, regular (butt out), back squats for classic physique building. It is said that he did not even have squat racks in his famous gym (Vince's Gym)!

Why was Vince so opposed to regular back squats? First, let's remember that in building a classic physique, the idea is to keep the waist and hips as small and narrow as possible. Large hips (and waist) destroy the classic V-taper that classic physique builders are interested in developing. So you can see that you don't want the mass of the glutes (gluteus maximus) to increase.

So what do the glutes do? And what do they have to do with squats? When you do a regular back squat, you go from a standing position to a "seated" position as you bend the knees and lower the body. This movement at the hip joint is called "flexion." So you flex at the hip on the way down. OK...that's no problem, gravity is doing most of the work on the way down. But to go back to a standing position, you have to "extend" at the hip on the way up. What muscles are the main extensors of the hip? The glutes! So heavy, regular back squats can greatly increase the mass the glutes. Vince called this "spreading the hips." Large glutes and hips are exactly what you DONT want to build in a classic physique! This is why Vince opposed heavy, regular back squatting so strongly.

However, that being said, we have to mention that we think that the degree to which regular squats will increase hip size (to the point of ruining a classic physique) probably has a large genetic component. There have been champion classic physique builders, like Steve Reeves (see photo above), who did regular back squats. But because, genetically, they were endowed with structurally narrow hips, the regular back squat was not a problem for them. On the other hand, a classic physique builder with structurally wide hips (genetically) might do well to heed Vince's advice and avoid heavy, regular back squats. Otherwise, the increased mass from doing squats, on top of already structurally wide hips, may ruin the symmetry of the classic physique you are trying to build.

But Vince wasn't against all squatting. He did favor other kinds of squats like hack squats, sissy squats, front squats, thigh squats, and squatting on a press (or Smith) machine with feet forward and back straight.

So this is something to definitely think about if you are striving to build a classic physique. If you have naturally broad hips (in terms of your bony structure), then it may be best to avoid heavy, butt-out, regular back squats. Instead, do other kinds of squatting (as mentioned above). On the other hand, if you have structurally narrow hips, then heavy, regular back squats are probably OK for you. In all cases, strive to keep the hips (glutes) toned, but not massive (unless you are really thin and need to build them up).