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But before these greats came what many consider to be the godfather of bodybuilding, Steve Reeves.
As a pioneer of the sport, Reeves would naturally build a physique that many to this day consider to be the most aesthetically impressive.
So, how did Reeves achieve such an iconic build without chemical enhancements?
Today, let’s go through the Steve Reeves workout routine and diet plan. We will cover his training fundamentals, his beginner workout, and a three-day workout plan to help you sculpt an incredible physique.
Let’s dive in.
Steve Reeves Current Bio and Stats
Caption: Steve Reeves in the Film Athena (1954)
Stephen Lester Reeves was born on January 21st, 1926 in Glasgow, Montana. He moved to California at age 10 following the tragic death of his father.
Steve’s interest in bodybuilding came while attending Castlemont High School. He began his training at Ed Yarick’s gym in Oakland, California.
After graduation, Steve’s bodybuilding aspirations would be put on hold. He enlisted in the United States Army during World War II, where he would serve and be deployed to the Philippines.
Once Steve completed his service, he returned to the United States and attended the California Chiropractic College in San Francisco.
During this time he would return to bodybuilding before winning titles of Mr. America (1947), Mr. World (1948), and Mr. Universe (1950).
With major success onstage, he became known for his incredible physique. Steve capitalized on the publicity and moved to New York to pursue a career in acting.
It wouldn’t be long before he would return to California as there were few parts for men of his build at the time.
His first audition came from Samson and Delilah (1949). However, he would decline when told he was too muscular, with the director requesting he should lose 15 pounds.
Following this, Steve would land minor roles in film and TV for the next few years before being spotted by Pietro Francisci in the film Athena (1954). The Italian director decided to cast him in his film Hercules (1958).
This would launch his career, reprising his role in Hercules Unchained (1959) before starring in many films including Morgan the Pirate (1960), Duel of the Titans (1962) and The Avenger (1962).
- Height: 6’1” (185 cm)
- Weight: 215 lbs (97.5 kg)
- Birthday: January 21st, 1926
- Death: May 1st, 2000
- Occupation: Actor, Writer, Philanthropist
- AAU Mr. Pacific Coast (1946, 1947)
- AAU Mr. America (1947)
- Mr. World (1948)
- NABBA Mr. Universe (1950)
- Chest: 52”
- Waist: 29”
- Biceps: 18.5”
- Thighs: 26”
- Calves: 18.5”
Steve Reeves Workout Fundamentals
Read More: John Krasinski Workout Routine
Steve Reeve workout fundamentals have a range of nuances that you rarely hear from an elite bodybuilder today.
He would train three times per week, targeting opposing muscle groups. This was widely adopted and even later used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in his famous chest and back day workout.
What was interesting about Steve’s approach is that he performed full-body workouts to help build symmetry.
He believed that training lower body first took a great deal of energy and would leave him fatigued and unable to perform his upper body training at his peak.
Steve trained for 1.5 to two hours each session, with 30-60 second rests between each set and two minutes rest between exercises, prioritizing his recovery after each exercise.
This style of training allowed him to push with maximum intensity every set.
Steve Reeves Workout Routine
Steve Reeves 3-Day Workout Routine
Steeve Reeves Workout Weekly Schedule
|Upright Row||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Behind Neck Press||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Bent Over Lateral Raises||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Bench Press||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Incline Press||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Flys||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Chin-Up or Lat Pulldown||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Low Pulley Lat Pulldown||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Single-Arm Row||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Standing Barbell Curl||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||3||12||30-45 secs|
|High Pulley Bench Curl||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell French Press||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Bench Tricep Extension (Skull Crusher)||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Prone Single-Arm Tricep Extension||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Half Squat||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Hack Squat||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Front Squat||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Front Squat||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Assisted Leg Curl||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Leg Press Calf Raises||1||20||30-45 secs|
|Good Morning||3||8-12||30-45 secs|
|Partner Assisted Neck Flexion||2||15||30-45 secs|
Steve Reeves Beginner Workout Routine
In his beginner workout, Steve would train full body, hitting each exercise for a single set with many containing upwards of 20 reps.
|Barbell Cleans||1||7||30-45 secs|
|Bench Curl||1||15||30-45 secs|
|Leaning Row||1||10||30-45 secs|
|Bench Press||1||10||30-45 secs|
|Back Bend||1||20||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Lateral Raises||1||30||30-45 secs|
|Upright Row||1||10||30-45 secs|
|Front Raises||1||10||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Press||1||10||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Tricep Extension||1||15||30-45 secs|
|Stomach (Abs)||1||20||30-45 secs|
Steve Reeves Dieting and Food Preferences
Reeves’ food preferences that would inspire man lifters in the golden era of bodybuilding. His choices consisted of shakes, cottage cheese, and lean meat. His macro ratios were 60% carbs, 20% protein, and 20% fat.
Below is a list of Steve’s food preferences.
|Meal 1||Protein Shake (Protein Powder, Eggs, Banana, Orange Juice, Honey, Knox Gelatin)|
|Meal 2||Cottage Cheese, Nuts, Raisins, Fresh Fruit|
|Meal 3||Lean Meat (Swordfish, Turkey, Tuna, Beef), Large Salad|
Steve Reeves Diet Plan
To give you guidance and add variety, we have created the Steeve Reeves diet plan to help you build an aesthetic, natural physique.
- 4 Egg Omelet (cheese, spinach, red pepper)
- Protein Shake (1 Scoop Protein Powder, Banana, Honey, ½ cup Oats)
- Grilled Chicken Salad Wraps (Tomato, Red Onion, Lettuce, Light Mayo)
- Cottage Cheese
- Mixed Nuts
- Pan Fried Swordfish with Lemon and Garlic
- Italian Salad (Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, Red Onion, Garlic Croutons, Pepperoncini, Italian Dressing)
- Brown Rice
- Protein Shake
- Protein Ice Cream
Steve was a natural bodybuilder his entire life. He believed the sport was about optimizing his health for longevity, which he aimed to achieve through exercise and nutrition.
If you are thinking of trying Steve’s training plan we highly recommend you do the same to ensure that you are hitting your calorie and macro targets.
To do this, we recommend using our advanced calorie and macronutrient calculator.
Just enter details such as your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level to receive a precise calorie and macro breakdown.
This will ensure you are getting enough protein to build muscle, carbs for fuel, and fats to absorb essential nutrients.
Steve Reeves Supplement Preferences
Steve’s nutrient-dense food preferences provided him with the vital nutrients to pack on muscle and build his aesthetic frame.
Here is a list of Steve’s supplement preferences.
|Knox Gelatin (Collagen)||Maintain optimal balance of amino acids|
|Whey Protein Isolate||Build muscle and improve recovery|
Steve’s achievements in bodybuilding inspired an entire generation of lifters, with many regarding him as one of the greatest of all time.
His natural, lean physique and his dedication to overall health shows the world that you can achieve incredible results on your own.
Combining these three factors will help you build a physique more like Steve.
So, are you considering trying Steve’s workout routine?
Let us know in the comments.
What was Steve Reeves workout?
Steve Reeves would perform a full-body workout three times per week for 1.5 to two hours each session. In many of these sessions he would train both upper and lower body, which he believed would help him maintain symmetry.
How long were Steve Reeves workouts?
Steve Reeves workouts were 1.5 to two hours long. This is due to the sheer number of exercises. He would rest between 30-60 seconds between each set, and two minutes between each exercise to prioritize recovery.
How many days did Steve Reeves workout?
Steve Reeves trained three days per week. This allowed him to recover and hit his session with a greater intensity.
How to get a physique like Steve Reeves?
To achieve Steve Reeves’ physique you need to eat a nutrient-dense diet and perform resistance training exercises. Perform exercises that target the shoulders and back to increase upper body width. Adding squats and lunges to increase lower body lean muscle mass will help you sculpt an aesthetic physique.
How much would Steve Reeves squat?
Steve Reeves could squat 400 lbs for 20 repetitions. This was a testament to his training style, which placed his leg training at the end of his workout. It required him to work through high levels of fatigue to build his incredible lower body strength.