Sunday, May 24, 2009

Classic Physique Building: Muscle Recovery & Workout Frequency!

(Above Photo: John Grimek, Mr. America 1940, 1941)

If you have been following Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine and CPB Blog), you know that full body routines were a standard method of training in the pre-roid, Golden Age (1940s and 50s). In the muscle mags of that age, you can find article after article of full-body routines for beginners and intermediates (and even advanced trainers) that were to be done "3 days a week." That would mean training at the same time on each workout day on either Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or perhaps Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Most of the time, the articles would just say "Do this routine 3 days a week." However, although this 3 day a week training frequency was indeed standard in the Golden Age, it was also recognized that this might have to be modified for some people. Why? Because muscle recovery time is not the same for everyone. We are all a bit different depending on our circumstances and genetics.

For example, a beginner who has not yet learned to push himself to his limits might be able to recover in 48 hours and so will have no trouble with a 3 day a week schedule. Others, even though they push themselves to the limit, simply have great recovery ability and are able to do it. But, everyone is a bit different. Some will be able to do 3 days a week, some will find that they cannot recover in time to stick to this schedule.

If you find that your muscles are not recovering on a 3 day schedule, don't worry! Listen to this advice from Peary Rader (taken from his Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System - which was a Golden Age Course of the 1940s and 50s):

"Most fellows following this [full body] course find three exercise peroids best. A great many gain best on but two exercise peroids per week. It is SELDOM advisable to have four such strenuous workouts per week. We advise the pupil to start out with two periods per week such as on Tuesday and Friday. Later on you may, if you find it desirable, change to three periods per week. If you are working at hard physical labor you will find two per week enough, but if your work is light then you probably can stand three per week. You should always have one or two days rest between workout peroids."

You see, there was acknowledgement that people are different and adjustments need to be made according to your situation. So, if you are trying to follow a 3 day per week, full body routine and you find that your muscles aren't fully recovered by the next workout, then don't hesitate to do the same program for 2 days a week instead! This advice applies to any 3 day a week, Golden Age routine.


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

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mainstream Bodybuilders Flee Unexpected Drug Testers at NABBA Belgian Contest!

(Above Photo: Classic Physique Champions Steve Reeves, NABBA Mr. Universe 1950 - on the left; Reg Park, NABBA Mr. Universe 1951 - on the right)

Here is the sad news story, directly from AP News, of what transpired this last Sunday, May 17, 2009:

BRUSSELS - Ready to flex their pecs and strike a pose, bodybuilders at the Belgian championships scattered when doping officials showed up.

After a spate of positive doping tests in recent years in Belgium, the event had been moved across the Dutch border to Vlissingen for the weekend competition.

“They must have felt safe out there,” doping official Hans Cooman told the Associated Press on Monday.

But Cooman and two colleagues got the necessary papers to check the tournament in the Netherlands. And when they identified themselves just before the event — with the 20 bodybuilders weighing in and preparing themselves — the testers drew quite a response.

The bodybuilders got up and left, preferring to quit rather than submit to doping tests. Some grabbed their gear and headed straight out the door.

“They must have been flabbergasted,” Cooman said.

Bodybuilders usually take months to prepare for such championships, yet the sight of controllers was too much for them.

“I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see anything like it again,” Cooman said.

Bodybuilding has a long history of doping, and Cooman said this latest flap “didn’t do its reputation any good.”

Last year, 22 of 29 tests were positive, either for steroids or for refusing testing, a failure rate of a staggering 75 percent.

“This was the first time though we turned up in the Netherlands,” Cooman said.

Minutes before the start of the championships, before even one gleaming pose was on display, organizers had no option but to tell a few hundred fans that had come to the Arsenaal theater that there was not point in staying.

Now Cooman and his colleagues will report the case to the disciplinary committee, which will have to decide whether the bodybuilders can be punished because they refused to be tested.

A man who refused to give his name at the NABBA Belgium bodybuilding federation could not explain why the competitors had suddenly rushed off and would not discuss the matter.


CPB Commentary: Doesn't this news story illustrate so well what a sad, laughable, pathetic state mainstream, roid-based bodybuilding has fallen into since the end of the pre-roid Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s)? Doesn't the mainstream, roid-based bodybuilding world know how ridiculous they look? It's not bad enough that they have thrown away the healthy, classic physique ideal of the Golden Age and embraced drugs in order to develop unhealthy, cartoonish, "Hulk-like," cadaver-ish physiques. But now, the public sees them "fleeing" from their own contests when unexpected drug-testers show up! Don't they realize that true bodybuilding in the Golden Age was all about perfecting one's health and physique? (Can you imagine a Steve Reeves or Reg Park "running away" from drug testers? They were proud of their health!)

If you look around on many of the mainstream bodybuilding blogs, the reaction of the roid-users and supporters is to question the legality of the drug testers and whether or not they had proper jurisdiction in showing up and trying to test the contestants. Can you believe that?! They are so blind, they just can't see how pathetic the whole of mainstream bodybuilding looks to the world because of this.

This is why there is no hope for mainstream, roid-based bodybuilding. It is destined to die under its own excesses as a laughable, marginal pursuit of extremists. Their contests are not about health. They are not about choosing the ideal of masculine, physical perfection. They are not about providing positive role models to the public. They are about pharmaceutical-based, body-abusing extremism and "doing anything to win" - pure and simple!

It is sad to note that the contest in the news story was sponsored by the Belgian wing of the NABBA. The NABBA is the same organization that crowned Steve Reeves Mr. Universe in 1950 and Reg Park in 1951. What a disgrace the NABBA (and IFBB) have become!

This news article is another illustration why we separate ourselves as "Classic Physique Builders" and no longer place ourselves under the banner of "bodybuilding." Classic physique building is the true heir of the pre-roid Golden Age! It is classic physique building, and not modern bodybuilding, that upholds the value of pursuing natural physical perfection and health through weight training!

So if you are a natural, drug-free "bodybuilder," consider joining our ranks as a "classic physique builder" and disassociate yourself from the farce that modern, mainstream bodybuilding has become! The term "bodybuilding" has become irreversibly tainted by steroids and drugs! So let's leave it to the drug users. Don't support the mainstream, roid-based bodybuilding world with your money! Instead, help build a new, healthy movement of classic physique building - a movement that will benefit you and that the public can accept, embrace, and be inspired by!


P.S. If you would like a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the pre-roid, Golden Age muscle mags (of the 40s and 50s), just send your name, the name of your city (not your address), state (or province), and country to Any info you send us is strictly confidential - we don't share it with anyone. You won't get on any lists and you won't receive any unwanted, automated email (even from us)!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alan Stephan's "Gaining Bulk is Easy" Routine for Building a Classic Physique!

(Above: Classic Physique Builder Champ - Alan Stephan, Mr. America 1946)

Here is a no nonsense, classic routine for beginners by Alan Stephan for building mass that is right out of the pre-roid, Golden Age!

In an article in Your Physique magazine (Sept 1950 issue), Alan talks about the general rules for a beginner to follow in putting together a bulk building program. He said "All you need to do is follow the right exercises, eat plenty of nourishing food and get as much rest and relaxation on your non training days as you possibly can." So, in other words, he is talking about proper training, proper nutrition, and proper rest! Notice that he doesn't say anything about needing special supplements (no NO boosters, pump enhancers, creatine, or even protein powder)!

In talking about mass building programs, Alan goes on, "Let's deal with the right exercises first. If you build a schedule around either the deep knee bend or the dead lift and take it from there, you are on the right track." So in 1947, they knew well that including the big exercises like squats and deadlifts in a routine kick started the growth mechanism! They didn't have to wait until scientific studies showed that such exercises increased the level of testosterone in the blood! They knew it worked from their own experimentation and results!

Alan continues, "The fundamental movements such as the supine press or any of its variants - bench presses of incline presses - , curls, rowing motions, squats, or dead lifts or leg presses combined with sets of bent arm pullovers, are the best." What Alan is describing here is basically the approach advocated by Peary Rader (the founder of Iron Man magazine).

Peary Rader and many of the Golden Age champs (like Ed Yarick, Steve Reeves, and George Eiferman) were big believers in the high repetition breathing squat-pullover combination. They believed that this combination really kick started the growth mechanism and also expanded the rib cage. It is such training that gave the Golden Age champs that more massive upper body impressiveness that you don't see among most of today's drug-free, natural bodybuilders (ever notice how shallow their upper bodies look these days?). If you look at Steve Reeve's beginning and intermediate routines (which we have posted previously), you can see that Steve employed this breathing squat-pullover combo in his training.

Alan is also describing the basic, "compound exercise philosophy" of having a short routine consisting of compound exercises (multi-joint exercises that work large groups of muscles) rather than a longer routine using isolation exercises (exercises which work only a single muscle or muscle group across a single joint). This philosophy was also a centerpiece of the Rader approach.

Here is the example routine that Alan provides:

1. Bench Press 8-12 reps
2. Barbell Curls 8-12 reps
3. Breathing Squats 20 reps (1st set), 10 reps (remaining sets)
4. Bent Arm Pullovers 20 reps (superset with each set of breathing squats)
5. Bent Over Rows 8-12 reps

That's it! However, we (CPB) would add a sixth exercise: calf raises for 20 reps.

Rest between sets: 2-3 minutes! (Yes, that's right! You'll need that much time to recouperate between sets so that you can use heavier weights)

This is a classic abbreviated routine for mass building! Abbreviated routines are routines with a relative small number of exercises that work most of the body. This type of full-body, abbreviated routine allows you to use maximum energy in your workout and get more recovery time between workouts (you will have more total non-workout days for complete rest than modern, exotic split training that keeps you in the gym 4-6 days per week).

For the beginner - do 1 set of each exercise for the 1st month, 2 sets the second month, 3 sets the third month. Workout twice a week (e.g., Tue and Sat, or Mon and Fri). For the 1st workout, use light weights just to get used to the exercises. For the second workout, try to determine for each exercise the amount of weight you can handle to complete 8 reps (with good form) and no more. Then, at each successive workout, try to increase your reps by 1 or 2, until you reach the top of the rep range. At that point, add a little weight to the bar. Continue in this fashion for the course. Keep your focus on this process of increasing reps, then increasing poundages. This is how you use the principle of "progressive resistance." It is this process of gradually increasing your strength and poundages that will result in larger muscles!

For the breathing squats, use proper squat form, take one breath between each of the first 5 reps, then after that take 2-3 deep breaths in between repititions until you reach 20 reps. By the end of the set, you should be panting! In month 2, your second set of breathing squats should only be 10 reps. The same for month 3 (only the first set is ever done for 20 reps). Each set is to be immediately followed (supersetted) with light barbell pullovers. Use no more than 20 lbs total (including the bar weight). The point is to stretch the rib cage (not to use maximum weights to exercise the muscles). Bend the arms slightly and try to really stretch your rib cage.

Here's Alan's advice on diet: "Don't forget to drink lots of milk and eat plenty of good food such as fresh vegetables and meat, eggs [whole], cheese, and butter. Fruits and salads are also good.

On rest, he advises: "An important factor in a weight gaining programme is to rest all you can on non-training days. Whatever you do, don't play other games [sports] and expect to make progress. You must rest completely between workouts and get a good night's rest each and every night of the week.

Alan's final advice: "Work hard on your schedule [routine], be persistant and determined and you are going to have little or no trouble in gaining bulk!

For the intermediate - This program of Alan's is also good for intermediate CPB trainers. If you are an intermediate trainer (have more than 3 months experience following a proper course but have not yet reached your size goals), then you can use the above program as well. Just start with 3 sets for all exercises following the guidelines above and stay with 3 sets for the duration of the course. Take a week lay off between each month. Your major goal for this course is to concentrate on increasing your poundages - this is the key to growth! By the end of each month, you should see a significant increase in strength (indicated by your training log records of reps and poundages) and this will correspond to a noticeable increase in muscle size!

So there you have it - a classic, Golden Age Bulk (Mass) Building Program - straightforward, no nonsense, - just a train big, eat big, rest big, and grow big approach!


P.S. For a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the pre-roid, Golden Age muscle mags (of the 40s and 50s) - just email your name, the name of your city (not your address), state (or province), and country to That's it! Any info you send us will be strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone, so you won't get on any lists or receive any unwanted, automated emails (even from us)!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Classic Physique Builders - What You Should Weigh and Measure!

(Photo Above: Classic Physique Builder Champ - Floyd Page, Mr. Pro America 1948)

For those of us interested in building a classic physique, one of our first questions is "What should we weigh and measure?" Usually, if we are young or new at classic physique building, we might find out that some champ we admire, like Steve Reeves or Reg Park, had 18 inch arms and a 50 inch chest. So, we might think that in order to look like them, we too should strive to build 18 inch arms and a 50 inch chest! But, what a minute...not so fast!!! Steve and Reg were over 6 ft tall!

If you are 5 ft 6 in. in height (and are starting out with 12.5 inch arms), you might find it very difficult, if not impossible, to build 18 inch arms naturally! But don't get disappointed! You don't have to have 18 inch arms to have that classic physique look! Instead, you probably only need a 16.5 inch arm! How is that?

Well, this is the good news - classic physique body measurements are proportionate to height, weight, and bone structure! There were many articles in the pre-roid, Golden Age mags (of the 1940s and 50s) which talked about "what you should weight and measure" and they always pointed out that your measurements were dependent on your height, weight, and bone structure.

Now, it is easy to understand that your measurements must be somewhat dependent on your height and weight. It makes sense that if Steve Reeves, at 6 ft 1 in and 215 lbs, had 18 in. arms, then someone 5 ft 6 in. tall, at 175 lbs, might only need a 16.5 inch arm to look proportionately as large as Reeves.

But, height and weight aren't even the full story. There is still "bone structure." In the Golden Age, a common way of looking at bone structure (the size of your bones at a given height) was to classify people as "small-boned", "medium or average-boned", and "large-boned" on the basis of wrist girth (circumference). According to an article by Joe Weider in his Mr. America magazine (March, 1959 issue), if your wrists measure 7 inches or under, then you are "small-boned." If it is between 7 and 7.5 inches, then you are "medium or average-boned." If it is greater than 7.5 inches, then you are "large-boned." Why is this important?

Your bone structure (in addition to height and weight) helps determine what your measurements need to be for a classic physique. Someone with small bone structure doesn't need the same mass as someone with large-bone structure to achieve that classic look!

So, in building a classic physique, absolute measurements aren't important! But relative measurements are (measurements relative to height and bone structure)! In other words, rather than focusing on what Steve Reeves' or Reg Park's absolute measurements are (unless you are as tall as they are and have the same bone structure), you should, instead focus on what your measurements and body weight should be given your height and bone structure! That's why in Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) we regularly print the measurements of the Golden Age champs - because sooner or later you will find a Golden Age champ of your height and bone structure which will help you visualize what your physique can look like!).

How can you find out "what you should weigh and measure" for a classic physique given your height and bone structure? Well, in the Golden Age mags, tables were commonly printed that gave classic physique measurements at various heights (notice how the modern, steroid-oriented muscle mags don't do this anymore). The measurements in these tables were given for those of "medium or average-bone structure." Then they would tell you to lower (by ~5%) or raise (by ~5%) the body weight and measurements depending on whether you were "small-boned" or "large-boned." In our CPB Courses (once they are available), there will be similar charts showing classic physique measurements at various heights (and taking bone structure into account).

However, if you would like to know right now what your classic physique measurements should be, we recommend Dr. Casey Butt's body calculators at his site. Casey is a fellow scientist, researcher, academic, classic physique builder, and CPB participant. He did an extensive statistical study of the measurements of the pre-roid, Golden Age champs and drug-free, natural bodybuilders and was able to come up with body calculators that can predict what your classic physique measurements and body weight should be given your height, wrist, and ankle measurement. These body calculators are pretty accurate (since they can predict the Golden Age champs measurements quite closely when their heights, wrist, and ankle measurements are put into them). The description and results of his extensive study are available in his ebook "Your Muscular Potential" - which we highly recommend (especially if you want to see the science behind his approach)!

To get a list of your classic physique measurements, simply click on this link to Casey's body calculator page: On this page, you will find links to two calculators. The top link (Your Muscular Potential) gives you measurements that the typical classic physique builder can expect to achieve. The bottom calculator (Maximum Muscular Potential) gives you measurements that a superior classic physique builder can expect to achieve. So, using these two calculators will give you a good idea of the measurements that you should shoot for in building your classic physique.

Knowing what your classic physique measurements and body weight should be will help you in setting your long term goals. Now, you have a precise target to focus your efforts on! Just don't forget to set appropriate short term goals in order to get you there!


P.S. For a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the pre-roid, Golden Age muscle mags - just send your name, the name of your city (not your address), state (or province), and country to That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share info with anyone and you won't get on any lists or recieve any unwanted, automated email (even from us) because of your free subscription!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Classic Physique Building Supplements - Simple and Safe!

(Above Photo: Classic Physique Building Champ Jack Delinger - Mr. Western America 1948, Mr. America 1949, Mr. Universe - Pro 1956)

By now, everyone has heard about the recent recall of 14 Hydroxycut products. Apparently, according to the F.D.A. (Federal Drug Administration in the U.S.A.), there were 23 cases of liver damage and 1 reported death in association with the use of some of the Hydroxycut products. In light of this, the company responsible for Hydroxycut agreed to recall the 14 products.

What is Hydroxycut? Without going into a lot of biochemical detail, it is a modern, high-tech, "fat-burning" supplement which (according to their ads) blocks certain cell receptor sites to manipulate levels of enzymes and hormones to increase thermogenesis and fat-burning. Their ads are presented and couched in "scientific" terms (with pictures of intracellular molecular interactions) and the product is endorsed by several Mr. Olympias. In fact, the wording of some of the ads seems to make Hydroxycut responsible for bodybuilding competitors' victories. For example, one of their ads makes the following claim: "This [hydroxycut] formula is responsible for countless pro victories, and it's used by millions all over the world."

One might say that the reported cases of liver damage (and 1 death) represent a rarity, a small percentage of all hydroxycut users. Perhaps. On the other hand, how many hydroxycut users have liver damage and simply don't know it yet? Whatever the case turns out to be, we will leave the details of all this to be sorted out by the appropriate individuals, agencies, and companies involved.

Our point in drawing your attention to this is a simple one. The best physiques of the pre-roid, Golden Age (1940s and 50s) were built WITHOUT ANY SUPPLEMENTS whatsoever! Yes, that's right! That's the truth! Steve Reeves, Clancy Ross, George Eiferman, Jack Delinger (see photo above), Armand Tanny, and countless others all built their physiques even BEFORE protein powder was invented (let alone all the other supplements which followed)! They were all champions in the first half of the Golden Age (1940-50). Protein powder didn't come onto the scene until 1950-51. And during the first half of the Golden Age (before the Golden Age mags started to sell vitamins), there were plenty of articles in the muscle mags saying that you could get all the vitamins you needed from a good diet (they were big on recommending lots of fruits and vegetables!).

During the second half of the Golden Age (1950-59), protein powder and vitamins became the major supplements. The first protein powders were soy-based and were not of good quality. In the late 1950s, milk-and-egg protein (a very good protein powder) became available. To round out the supplements of the late 1950s we can add dessicated liver tablets, brewer's yeast, wheat germ oil, and gelatin. But clearly you can see that these late Golden Age supplements were not responsible for the classic physiques of the Golden Age champs (who had built their physiques earlier - before even these later supplements appeared). Even so, the Golden Age supplements are safe and simple! No need to worry about some unforeseen side-effects.

So how does a classic physique builder think about supplements? Start with a simple multivitamin. Why? It is good to be sure that you aren't suffering from any deficiency (given the poor quality of today's foods and diets). Also, muscle building might require higher levels of certain vitamins than you would normally need. Then, if you have trouble eating (because of your appetite or because of your schedule), think about using a basic protein powder supplement - so that together with your food, you are getting about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, classic physique builders use protein powders for convenience (not out of necessity)! But if you get enough protein in your regular diet, then you don't need protein powder! It's as simple as that! If you want to try wheat germ oil, brewer's yeast, or liver tablets - that's fine, but don't expect these to make a dramatic difference.

So don't be fooled by modern, high-tech supplements that appear to be backed by "science" and endorsements! Science is only as good as the "scientist" behind it and scientists are people and people make mistakes all the time. NO Boosters, pump enhancers, HGH stimulators, fat-burners, creatine, "legal steroids", etc, - all promoted by modern supplement companies - were not needed by any classic physique builder of the Golden Age! If they didn't need it, neither do we. That should be a relief to you and your pocketbook!

For classic physique builders, the "tried and true" is the "Golden Path to a Golden Age Physique." The Golden Age champs had their own approach to "science." They had their hypotheses about muscle building, they tested their hypotheses (ideas), collected their data (their own responses), analyzed their results (did it work or not), and either rejected, modified, or accepted their hypotheses! That's empirical science! That's how the muscle building knowledge of the Golden Age was obtained. They may not have known all the minute details of the biochemical pathways involved, but their physiques showed the results of their science! Now, that's something you can believe in!

We are happy to note that most Golden Age champs lived a long and healthy life. That is another good endorsement for their approach. Let's follow their example and keep it simple and safe!


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 - just send your name, the name of your city (not your address), state (or province), and country to The info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone, so you won't get on any lists and you won't get any automated, unwanted email (even from us!).