Thursday, August 27, 2009

Steve Reeves and Reg Park: Waist Comparisons and Individual Variation!

(Photos Above: CPB Champ Reg Park above and middle, CPB Champ Steve Reeves below)

OK...since the last post generated a bit of discussion regarding Steve Reeves waist measurement, I thought these photos above would help inform the discussion further.

I hope no one minds the "art photos" of Reg and Steve (but such photos were common in the more classical-oriented, pre-roid Golden Age of the 1940s and 50s). But these photos are similarly posed and allow us to examine Reeves' and Park's waist depth from the side.

In the photo above, Park is doing a "stomach vacuum" - trying to hold his stomach in. This is similar to what Steve is doing in the bottom photo. In the middle photo, Reg is tensing his abdominals. In both photos of Reg, his waist (to my view) seems deeper and thicker than Steve's. Nothing wrong with that! Both CPB Champs are in good form. The difference in waist thickness is probably simply a structural and genetic one.

This is very instructive in understanding the phenomenon of individual (genetic) variation. We are all different in the combination of our height, bone structure, muscle attachments, tendon lengths, etc. So when we strive to build a classic physique naturally, we will build a classic version of ourselves. Although we may greatly admire Reeves or Park or others, our classic physiques will look different from theirs just as theirs look different from each other. This is simply due to natural, individual variation. The great thing is that a classic physique will look great no matter what!

When we train naturally, these normal individual variations are developed and can be easily seen by the eye. Training under steroids exaggerates natural anatomy and thus has a tendency to "cover up" natural individual variation. That is why roid-users all look the same! The more exaggeration of anatomy there is (due to greater roid use), the more normal anatomy is "covered up" and more similar they all look!

Going back to natural training and classic physique building - if you want to build a classic V-taper, then you must approach your training in a way that will minimize your waist measurement and maximize your shoulder, chest, and lat width. If you like the thicker-waist, Greek classic ideal look, then your waist training will be different (and you can incorporate training with heavier weights along with the progressive resistance principle). Both looks (the classic Reeves physique and the classic Greek ideal) are fine and it is a matter of personal choice.

So just remember, we are inspired by photos of our favorite CPB Champs, but because of individual genetic variation, you will build a classic version of you - and that will be great!


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 actual address), state/province, and country to That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone. You won't get on any unwanted lists or receive any unwanted email (even from us)!


Johnny G said...

you are Hell bent wanting to be so right aren't you Anthony - Steve is a lot lighter then Reg in these pictures - I think Anthony that I'll give you and your readers a break from me - you are so fixated on Reeves and his measurements and when confronted you seem to have to get in the final word - - to bad this blogg is more about you and your views then to what is the truth - Everytime when some one questions the Golden Era boys from the past either you or Casey Butt shoots us down with the fact that you are the true authorities - well as I said before Reeves is my favorite bodybuilder,but I guess I don't put him on such a high enough pedestal as you do - His waist measurement was 31 inches for the 1947 Mr. America and that folks are the facts - have a nice life

UK Steve said...

I have noticed that Steve Reeves does look very different in different photos - even if you just look at the bodybuilding era. I think the physique he had in the photos taken when he was in France for Mr World in 1948 look the best - but it doesn't say how much he weighed at that point in his book.

If I could push a button and have the physique of my choosing I would probably choose Reg Parks physique - but with 6.75 inch wrists I think I will have to settle for a bit more of a slight build! Not sure if I could afford his diet either - 2 kilo steaks twice a day! His best friend must have been a butcher!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I don't mind the artful photos at all. It's just that having a super tiny waist like Steve Reeves had makes him look kinda emaciated. It's still good to have some meat(not fat by the way) in your waist while at the same time being able to still do a nice vacuum pose. Reg Park's waist is fine by me.

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny G,

Sorry you took it that way. It wasn't meant that way at all. You raised many good points on this blog which are all appreciated. I hope this is just a friendly exchange of views. my last reply to you, I said you might actually be right about your weight estimate! :)

I just thought that the issue raised (about waist development) was a good springboard to discuss the important point regarding individual variation. As I said before, their actual measurements don't really matter - they both look good.

However, the issue of individual variation is instructive - especially for beginners. Often times beginners will try to emulate their favorite champs without realizing that there are structural and genetic differences between people. So, perhaps, someone might want to look like Reeves, yet their structure is more like a Park.

If beginner's (and even intermediates) can accept this concept of individual variation, then it will set them on the right path of appropriate expectations and greater success (and less frustration).

So please take the posts in the spirit that they are meant. They are meant to be instructive & informative - within the context of a good-natured exchange of views (we all have our opinions and hopefully we can be respectful of that). And you have contributed greatly in sharing yours and it has been and is very much appreciated!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Ibrahim said...

I also think that both physiques look good. I mean who would really care about a few inches more or less when someone would look like Reg Park or Steve Reeves.
The most important thing to me is not how much the exact measurements were, but to achieve something akin to their physique or the CPB ideal.
Everyone has there infos & opinions.
There´s no matter to do a aggressive discussion. If Steve Reeves had a 29 inch waist that´s fine to me. If he had a 31 inch waist thats also fine to me.
But what is important to me is the overall physique and their diet, training to achieve it.

Anonymous said...

insane pics,
the previous pic of reeves in the other post is insane
I read somewhere that reeves never trained his abs directly, anyone that can refute this?

Anonymous said...

A lot depends on bone structure and genetics as to how small your waist can be. A person with a wide bone structure is going to be disallusioned by trying to get a 29 inch waist when it is genetically impossible. People need reallistic goals.

Jim said...

I have found that all the ab work in the world doesn't matter if your body fat is just too high. Get the fat down , train hard, maybe moderate cardio, and the abs will show. I wrote the previous entry and forgot to put my name. I am a friend of the notorious Johnny G.

Dzenan said...

Whydoes it matter what the actual measurements are? Reeves's waist looked incredibly small compared to his wide shoulders. Bodybuilding is about looks, not measurements.

Anonymous said...

Hey, How were the old time bodybuilders able to achieve definition without even doing cardio back in those days? it's amazing cause today's trainers say that you have to do cardio to get muscle definition but when I look at old bodybuilders like Steeve Reeves, John Grimek, Reg Park etc...etc...they have great definition(although not shredded)kinda like the old greek statues without being too veiny. How were they able to achive that?

jim said...

I think they probably trained faster, did higher reps, more sets , more exercises, cut calories and bad carbs and were more active than when training for mass. Myself, I do some moderate 20-30 minutes 3-5 times a week for overall health purposes.You only have so much energy reserve abf if you ude too much on cardio, you won't build muscle.I found too much cardio makes me soft.

reeves ab work said...

In response to anonymous question about reeves and Ab work. In an interview for a muscle mag in the late 90's he listed his entire routine and said he never did ab work. His abs stayed lean from diet and the weights and exercises like tricep push downs.

Johnny G said...

doing some abs training helps your back, an extra set of back muscle are abs, but I agree to much can knock off your nervous system - When in top shape NO ONE LOOKED BETTER THE REEVES, NO closed!!!