Standing over six feet tall with a massive 52 inch chest, powerful 18 inch arms and a tiny 29 inch waist, you can see why Steve Reeves was one of the greatest bodybuilders to walk this earth. Very wide shoulders and diamond shaped calves were outstanding muscles on his almost flawless physique. Even in these modern times with so much scientific knowledge and easy access to information, building a perfectly proportioned and symmetrical body like Reeves’ would still prove to be a major achievement!
Steves Reeves’ training routines were straightforward and highly effective. Just simplicity coupled with hard work. He favoured full body routines and used essential training tools such as barbells, dumbbells and cables. Military presses, bench presses, bent over rows and squats were all valuable basics which were regularly used in his routines. Reeves trained hard with perfect form and intense focus and rest times between sets were as low as 45 seconds. “I would concentrate deeply on the exercise I was doing and the muscle I was working”, he said. He believed that training three times a week was the ideal . Completing each routine took him anywhere from 2 to 4 hours!
Most bodybuilders of the pre-steroid era had strength levels to match their muscular development and Reeves was no exception. Incline presses with 120lb dumbbells, incline dumbbell curls with 90lb dumbbells and multiple sets of squats with 400lbs were typical lifts in his routines. Cleaning 225lbs while on his knees no less is one of Reeves’ incredible strength accomplishments. Deadlifting almost 400lbs by the rims of the plates on the barbell made for a spectacular display of his grip strength (this unique deadlift style is used in some modern day hand-strength competitions). In an even more unconventional test of strength, Reeves could teeth lift his regular training partner George Eiferman!
Reeves’ disciplined and rigorous training produced an unflappable work ethic and this earned him success in other areas as well. He worked as an actor during the 1950’s and 60’s, playing characters such as Hercules and Sandokan. He was well paid in his film roles and achieved the status of the highest paid actor in Europe. Successful actors such as Sylvester Stallone and Lou Ferrigno name Reeves as an inspiration to them.
Steve Reeves was physically active throughout his entire life. He had a youthful outlook on life and even in his sixties he continued to weight train, go power-walking and horse riding. He wrote bodybuilding books and spoke openly about the benefits of drug free training.
Present day bodybuilding may be dominated by 300lb mass monsters but Reeves remains an enduring and hugely influential figure. He is an excellent role model for natural bodybuilders and athletes. Larry Scott, winner of the first ever Mr Olympia, described Reeves as “The best-looking, best-built man God ever created.” Very few would disagree.