Saturday, July 25, 2009

Steve Reeves on Classic Definition and Reducing!

(Photo Above: CPB Champ Steve Reeves on the cover of the Reg Park Journal July 1958 issue)

OK...we learned some new tools from Vince Gironda about obtaining "Maximum Definition" - but here is the Steve Reeves approach to classic (not maximum) definition - another tool. It worked for Steve.

As you can see from comparing Steve's photo above to Vince's in our previous post, Steve had definition all right - but not the "maximum" or "extreme kind" that Vince was going for (and Vince still didn't get quite the same level of definition as a steroid user such as Frank Zane). But Steve's level of definition is what we call "classic definition" - meaning he had muscularity & muscle separation, but his skin still had a healthy glow and he looks full of natural vitality. This is because he had a higher level of body fat than Vince (or those that go for extreme definition).

Here is what he said about "training" for definition (we will follow this with some of his diet advice). This comes from his book "Building the Classic Physique - The Natural Way" (1995: p. 154)

"Question: When you were training for your Mr. America and Mr. Universe wins, did you ever include any aerobic training along with your bodybuilding workouts in order to become more defined?"

"Steve Reeves: No, I never had to. I was always in fairly good shape all year around. If there was a contest coming up, I would simply train a little harder. In other words, I would just train a little bit faster and increase the intensity of my workouts by having less rest time in between sets and muscle groups."

"The whole key to acquiring a Classic Physique lies in the proper balance of intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. If you work out at too high an intensity, you can't work out very long - which means you may stimulate some muscle growth but you'll not burn off much body fat. If, on the other hand, you train with an intensity that is too low, you can go on for long duration - and burn some body fat - but it's too low an intensity to stimulate much increase in muscle size. Training to either extreme is not desirable. It's a waste of time unless you have a balance of both intensity and duration in your workouts, as well as adequate rest periods in between workouts to enhance your recuperation from training."

CPB Commentary: The bottom line is that Steve had no special routine for definition. He used his same routine, but just increased the intensity of the overall workout by going through it a bit faster - by reducing the time between sets and between muscle groups. His normal time between sets was 45 seconds and normal time between muscle groups was up to 5 minutes. So he is reducing these times.

Now, let's look at his diet advice regarding reducing - which can also be used for those needing a bit more definition. It is based on his typical diet and is very simple.

Breakfast: Steve Reeves Power Drink

Lunch: Steve Reeves Power Drink

Dinner: One huge salad (with rice vinegar & olive oil dressing - 1 tablespoon each), turkey, fish, or chicken, and one of the following carb sources: whole wheat bread, potatoes, corn, pasta, beans or rice.

In case you forgot how he made his power drink, here is the recipe again:

14 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon of knox gelatin
1 tablespoon of honey
1 banana
2-4 raw eggs (pasteurized)
2 tablespoons of high protein powder (Steve's custom mix) is how he made his protein powder:

Combine 1/2 lb of powdered egg whites, 1/2 lb of powdered skim milk, and 1/4 lb of powdered soy protein. That's its! Then use 2 tablespoons of this in the power drink above.

CPB Commentary: Steve believed there was nothing magical about losing body fat - just take in less calories than you need (to maintain your weight) and you will start losing. He recommended not losing more than 2 lbs a week - otherwise, he felt you would start losing lean muscle tissue.

His protein drink probably has about 40 grams of protein. So the overall protein intake of this diet is still high (although it seems that it might be less than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight for him and most people - unless you are eating quite a bit of meat for dinner).

For those that can't take or don't like low carb dieting, Steve's approach here is another tool. You probably won't be able to achieve "extreme definition" on it, but then for classic physique builders, that is not our goal. You should be able to attain "classic definition" - a much healthier look in our book!

If you find that you cannot lose fat on this diet, then cut back a bit on the portion of your carbs at dinner. If that doesn't work, then you can cut out all the carbs at dinner except for the salad. You will still have carbs in the orange juice, honey, and banana. If you still need to cut more calories, then go down to 1/2 banana and use 10-12 ounces of orange juice instead of 14 oz.

In any case, you can make adjustments as necessary for your situation!


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 of Bodybuilding (the 1940s and 50s) - just email us your name, the name of your city (not your address), state/province, and country. That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone. So you won't get on any unwanted lists and you won't receive any unwanted, automated email (even from us)!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vince Gironda's Definition Routine for a Classic Physique!

(Photo Above: Classic Physique Builder Vince Gironda - The "Iron Guru")

Here is the classic "Definition Routine" by Vince Gironda. Despite being the trainer of some well-known 1st generation steroid users (like Larry Scott) in the 1960's, Vince tested all his methods on himself - he was 100% natural! Although during the pre-roid, Golden Age (of the 1940s and 50s) there were other methods of pursuing definition or "muscularity", this routine of Vince's can be considered as one of the last, classic definition routines since Vince himself was one of the last classic physique builders.

Now, it should be mentioned that Vince, even with this natural method, took definition to an extreme in the eyes of the pre-roid, Golden Age judges (who were not impressed by the cadaver look). This is why, on some occassions, he didn't place higher in physique competitions. Nevertheless, his method is very effective and it is easy enough to stop well before one looks like a cadaver!

His method, of course, includes an exercise routine and his classic "maximum definition diet." The exercise routine was a 6 day-a-week split, doing upper body on 3 days, lower body on 3 days and resting for one day.

Upper Body Exercises (eg., M, W, F):

1. Wide Parallel Dips (with hands 32" apart, chin on chest, feet under face)
2. Seated Rows
3. Biceps Preacher Curls (with wide grip and elbows close)
4. Triceps Overhead Pull
5. Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise
6. Wrist Curls (with rolling bar to finger tips)

Lower Body Exercises & Abs (e.g., T, Th, Sa):

1. 1/4 sit up or roll (essentially ab crunches), superset with following exercise
2. stiff leg raise
3. Hack Slides (up on toes with heels touching and knees 20" apart)
4. Donkey Raise (with knees slightly unlocked and toes on 4" block"

The rep scheme was as follows: first 3 weeks do 8 sets of 8 reps, next 3 weeks do 6 sets of 6 reps, last 3 weeks do 4 sets of 12 reps. The only exception is calves for which you always do 20 reps per set. This was a 12 week course. Presumably there was a week layoff after each training period of 3 weeks (Vince liked to train for 21 days, then take 7 days off - so these instructions fit that pattern). Between sets, Vince prescribed hyperventilating - or taking 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Of course, Vince had special instructions for each of his exercises. So to really understand the routine, you can still purchase a copy of Vince's original booklet at Ron Kosloff's NSP Research Nutrition site ( Ron carries on Vince's legacy and makes available to the public all of Vince's courses in their original form. When you get to his site, just look for the online shop section and click on "books and courses."

Now, Vince stated very clearly that he felt that gaining definition was 85% nutrition. So that tells you the importance of his "maximum definition diet" that he recommended to go along with his exercise routine. The diet is a zero-carb diet where you have a total carb meal every 72 hours or 4-5 days (in order to restore the glycogen in your system & muscles). The details of the diet are spelled out in his booklet. But the general idea is this:

eggs & meat, fish, fowl only (no limit)

eggs & meat, fish, fowl only (no limit)

same as breakfast and lunch (note: in one version of this diet, Vince allowed a tossed green salad with oil & vinegar dressing with dinner)

Carb Meal
every 72 hours

Use butter and cream (this is the only dairy products allowed)

e.g., liver tablets, kelp tablets, amino acids, enzyme tablets, vitamin & mineral tablets, glandulars, wheat germ oil w/ every meal, arginine-ornithine, etc (see Vince's booklet for details). He stressed the importance of taking calcium since it will counteract the "nervousness" that the high protein diet will cause.

An important issue with this kind of diet is the lack of fiber and, thus, potential constipation. One solution is to take a psyllium husk fiber drink (which should have no digestible carbs). Another thing that might help is to take probiotics daily to make sure your gut has all the beneficial bacteria needed to ensure optimal digestion (this is our suggestion, not Vince's).

In any case, there you are! One of the last methods of gaining classic definition from one of the last, true representatives of the pre-roid Golden Age. Vince's ideas probably represent the "high point" in terms of the pre-roid, Golden Age supplement methods.

This routine and diet will definitely work! It is really for the advanced trainer and requires major discipline! Zero carb diets are not easy to follow, but they sure burn fat quickly and allow you to retain more muscle mass! If you plan to try out Vince's routine, we recommend getting the original, full course from NSP Research Nutrition at the site we indicated above.


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 of Bodybuilding (the 1940s and 50s) - just email us your name, the name of your city (not your address), state/province, and country. That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone. So you won't get on any unwanted lists or received unwanted, automated emails (even from us)!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Classic Physique Building vs. MD (Muscle Dysmorphia)!

(Photos above: left - MD magazine cover Aug 09 issue; right - classic physique builder John Grimek, Mr. America 1940, 1941, Mr. Universe 1948, Mr. USA 1949)

We just couldn't pass this up! In the recent (Aug 2009) issue of Muscular Development magazine, they have an article on "Muscle Dysmorphia in a Young Woman" in their Research: Health section.

The article describes a case, published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research (2009, vol 23: 988-995), where a 23 year old woman bodybuilder met the psychological profile for someone having "muscle dysmorphia." The conclusion of the MD writers (Steve Blechman and Thomas Fahey) was to "spin" this finding into something acceptable by saying "While many people undoubtedly have unrealistic body images, extreme focus and dedication are required to reach championship levels. In champions, preoccupation and dedication are considered admirable, but are classified as psychological disturbances in less-accomplished people."

So in other words, Blechman and Fahey are trying to say that "less-acomplished people" (apparently referring to academic researchers who study muscle dysmorphia) are simply "jealous!"

Now, here is the interesting thing, earlier in the article, Blechman and Fahey describe muscle dysmorphia in the following way: "An increasing number of men have a similar condition called muscle dysmorphia where they become overly obsessed with muscle mass and body composition and have a compulsive need to work out and diet. They will evade important social and work responsibilities to maintain their workout schedule. They OFTEN TAKE DRUGS AND SUPPLEMENTS THEY KNOW ARE UNHEALTHY IN ORDER TO ATTAIN THEIR GOAL." [the caps are ours]

So going by the above definition, it is not the preoccupation, extreme focus, or dedication that are the problem. Anyone who is successful in any field will have an abundance of those. It is the fact that those suffering from this condition are WILLING TO ENDANGER THEIR HEALTH BY TAKING DRUGS that is the main problem.

Hmmm....then by their own description, doesn't muscle dysmorphia describe the whole of the mainstream, roid-based, bodybuilding world?! Doesn't it exactly describe what they engage in and what they promote and value? Perhaps MD magazine should rename itself "Muscular Dysmorphia!"

What a sad state modern, mainstream bodybuilding as become! But fortunately there is a better way - classic physique building (which is pre-roid, Golden Age bodybuilding)! In the editorial of our last issue, we put forth a CPB "Credo" that really separates classic physique building from the insanity of the mainstream, roid-based bodybuilding world. We said:

We believe in:

1) cultivating health above all (of body and mind)
2) building a classic physique
3) using pre-roid, Golden Age methods
4) setting a good example for others

Are we dedicated? - yes! Are we focused? - yes! Are we a bit pre-occupied? - yes! But are we willing to damage ourselves with unhealthy drugs and substances for the sake of a physique? - no! Classic physique building is a healthy form of physical culture. The same cannot be said for the mainstream, roid-based bodybuilding that MD promotes.


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 (the 1940s and 50s) - just email us your name, the name of your city (not your address), state/province, and country. That's it! Any info you send us will be strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone. You won't get on any unwanted lists or receive any automated email (even from us)!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The CPB Muscle Confusion Principle & Varying Your Rep Range!

(Above: Autographed Photo of Steve Reeves in his 1961 film - "Duel of the Titans")

If you follow a good routine that is giving you gains for any length of time, you will find that the gains will slow down and eventually stop. Why? Because, in time, your muscles will adapt to any exercise or routine. So what can you do?

You can use the CPB "Muscle Confusion Principle." This principle was known by the pre-roid, Golden Age champs, but was given its name by Joe Weider. It essentially says that in order to prevent your muscles from fully adapting, you need to "confuse" them by doing something "different" - something that they are not used to - in order to provide them with the stimulation they need for growth.

The Muscle Confusion Principle can be implemented by changing an exercise - substituting another exercise that challenges the muscle from a different angle. Or, you can change your routine - by either including some new exercises or even just changing the order in which you do the exercises. You can also change the number of sets you do - by either adding or reducing sets. One can even take a "layoff" of a week - which allows the muscles to rest, recover, and lose some of its "adaptation."

But what if you don't want to change your routine, or the number of sets, and you don't want to take a layoff? If that is the case, then you can do what Steve Reeves did and vary your rep range!

In his book, Building the Classic Physique the Natural Way, Steve recommended varying your rep range monthly. So one month, your range might be 8 - 12 reps. The next month, you can change your range to 5 - 7 reps. Then the following month, you change to 11 - 15 reps. Then repeat.

By changing your rep range monthly, it results in using different poundages. For example, you can use much greater poundages when doing from 5 - 7 reps than you can if you are doing 11 - 15 reps. So the varying reps and, necessarily, the varying poundages keep your muscles from adapting and thus, keeps the gains coming!

Varying your rep range monthly can extend the productive time of a given routine and even potentially reduce the need for layoffs. So keep this method in your arsenal of Muscle Confusion techniques!


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 Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s), just email us your name, the name of your city (not your address), state/province, and country to That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share info with anyone. So you won't get on any unwanted lists or receive any automated email (even from us)!