Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Classic Physique Builders!

(Above Photo: Steve Reeves pose highlighting his 29 inch waist and V-taper)

The intent of this post is to make clear to CPB Readers how we use the terms: beginner, intermediate, and avanced trainer. In planning/selecting a course of training for yourself, it is very important to understand your status or level and to follow an appropriate routine for that status or level.

Perhaps one of the most common mistakes that weight trainers make is to follow routines that are not appropriate for their level. How often have you been in the gym and seen someone who is clearly a beginner or intermediate trainer try and follow an advanced routine? In Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine), we indicate for each routine, whether it is for beginners, intermediates, or advanced trainers. So it is important to understand these terms as we use them.

Beginner CPB Trainer - is someone who: (1) has never trained with weights before, or (2) has never followed a systematic course of training - like a Golden Age muscle building course or routine.

Intermediate CPB Trainer - is someone who has followed a systematic course of training for a minimum of 3 months and who is not yet close to attaining his ideal classic physique measurements. Many trainers may spend most of their time as "intermediate trainers."

Advanced CPB Trainer - is someone who: (1) has attained their ideal classic physique measurements, or (2) is very close to attaining their ideal classic physique measurements - and thus need to specialize on one or two body parts.

So if, by these definitions, you are a Beginner CPB Trainer, then you should follow a proper beginner's routine or course. If you are an Intermediate CPB Trainer, then you should follow a routine or course for intermediates. If you are an Advanced CPB Trainer, then you can follow the advanced/specialization routines.

This simple advice, if followed, can help you avoid months and even years of frustration, and can help keep you focused on a proper course of training!


P.S. For a free, 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf "zine" (do-it-yourself magazine) patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid, Golden Age of Bodybuilding - just email 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 unwanted automated email (even from us)!


Ibrahim said...

When i started i did the exactly opposite. If you would say something like: I do 1 set per exercise and only Bench, squats, rows (like Rader) they would laugh loud at the gym i trained. I remember the gym owner said that i have to do at least 5 sets on all exercises of the "Super Squats" program. I worked out in a small gym back then. But if you work out at a big gym i think nobody would ask something like this. Because there are too many people.

Anonymous said...

much as i like Steve Reeves this got to be the gayist picture I have ever seen - is this a gay website

- CPB - said...

Hi Anonymous,

CPB Blog is a site devoted to the pre-roid, Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s).

We are only interested in the Golden Age champs and their training methods, and Golden Age history. We treat all people with respect and have no other motives but to share our knowledge of the pre-roid Golden Age.

In the 1940s and 50s, it was commonplace for bodybuilders to pose for photos like this. You will see this in all the major muscle mags of that period (e.g., Your Physique, Muscle Power, Strenth and Health, etc).

There were also some pictorial mags that featured bodybuilders of the era (there was no money in bodybuilding in those days, so sometimes they would pose for art photos which they either sold themselves or would find their way into these pictorial mags). Since these pictorial mags were not devoted to training, we don't cover them here on CPB Blog.

But the bottom line is that the style of photos of this nature was far more common in the Golden Age muscle mags than it is in today's mainstream mags. That is not surprizing, styles change over time. Compare the posing trunk styles of the 40s and 50s to those of today - you will also see a difference.

The reason I posted the photo was because someone (another Anonymous poster) doubted whether Reeves really had a 29 inch waist. I think this photo (despite being of a more artistic nature) shows that whatever his measurement was, his waist was truly narrow! Given the photo, I think it is entirely believable that he did have a 29 inch waist. Contrast this with the roid-guts we see today for mainstream, roid-enhanced bodybuilders!

So let's stay focused on classic physique building and please take the photos in the spirit in which they are offered.

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Dzenan said...

you can tell his waist was very thin from other pictures as well, especially the one from the muscle control and concentration article you had on here

brendon patrick said...

I have seen these photos of Steve before. While they are not of today's mainstream bodybuilding scene, they are not crude nor gross in any way.

It is instead on a par with the shots of the classic greco-roman sculpture portraying ideal masculine proportion and physique (some posted on CPB), or the shots of Sandow or the other old-time strongmen.

I have noticed the photos in most of the mainstream muscle mags recently; gortesque poses with mouths as wide open as possible,(as though screaming??). If given the choice I would rather see Steves portrayal of a symetrical MASCULINE physique, than the somewhat monstrous poses seen in the popular magazines.

I appreciate the postings and articles about the pre-roid era. I also appreciate the graceful posing and photos from that era.

Ibrahim said...

Not only the waist.
Steve also had very broad shoulders.

He had 23-1/2" wide shoulders !

Anonymous said...

As much as I like the classic physiques I kinda prefer more the classic greek ideal where the waist is not too small....

- CPB - said...

Hi Anonymous and Everyone,

Just a historical note - while we today recognize the pre-Reeves Mr. Americas like Grimek (Mr. America 1940, 1941) and Ross (Mr. America 1945) as classic physique builders, when Steve Reeves won the Mr. America title in 1947, it was widely recognized in the Golden Age muscle mags, that his physique represented a "new ideal" which did depart from the thicker waist classical Greek look.

Reeves did consciously pursue that classic V-taper look and he did try to minimize his waist measurement and maximize his shoulder, chest, and lat width. He said that he was actually inspired by Jack LaLanne who had a nice V-taper.

All in all, I think that from today's vantage point, Reeves, Grimek, and Ross were closer to each other physique wise than they were to the classic Greek ideal. But this is a fine point. In my view, they all had great physiques and most of the difference between them I think was due to individual genetic variation!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Johnny G said...

Steve has to be about 185lbs or a tad above that - you mentioned to me Anthony that his all time low waist measurement was 29inches - so for me he had to have it measured at his lowest weight - I have a chart where they measured all the former Mr. Americas from the first into the 80's and Steve Reeves was measured of having a 31inch waist line - I'm still impressed with that since he weighed 214lbs for that Mr. America title, but just look at one of your own articles with the title (Reg Park's Diet for a Classic Physique) Reg's waist line looks as small or smaller then Steve's at this point of time, but yet Reg said himself the smallest he had his waist was 33inches - Steve always seemed to me to be underweight(185lbs to 195lbs) when not competeing, so by looking at this picture I stand by what I said earlier he went about 185lbs or tad above.

Anonymous said...

@individual genetic variation:
Yeah, that's the point. Those days there *were* different styles of athletes.
Today in mainstream bodybuilding there is nothing individual anymore: They all look the same.

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny G (and Everyone)!

I've seen a lot of photos of Steve and Reg. Photos can be a bit difficult to assess sometimes because of angles, distance, etc. But to my eyes, Reg had a blockier and thicker build than Steve (a fine difference perhaps - but they both look great!). I have never seen a photo of Reg that comes close to the narrowness of Reeves' waist in the shot I posted above.

When you see a shot of Steve and Reg from the front, their waists may look similar (in width), but when you look from the side (remember the waist is 3 dimensional), that is where the biggest difference shows up (in depth) in my opinion.

As far as Steve's weight goes, he had difficulty losing weight for his acting roles - he said the muscle just stays with him! According to him, his lightest weight for any of his movies was 190 lbs (for Giant of Marathon and A Long Ride from Hell). His weight was usually higher than that during his competitive days.

The photo above looks like a shot done during his competitive bodybuilding days - but I'm not quite sure. Perhaps someone knows the date that this shot was taken.

You might be right, perhaps his weight here is about 190lbs. But, again, it can be hard to tell from photos.

In any case, a good point for us to take away from this photo is that, for classic physique building, we should strive for that classic V-taper - which is produced by a combination of a narrow waist and hips (within your genetic limits) and broad shoulder, chest, and lats.

Regardless of the measurements, I'm sure we all would be happy with either the Reeves or Park look as opposed to the Hulk-like look of today!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)