Are you looking for a workout routine that will help you achieve the chiseled physique of Hollywood’s Golden Age? Look no further than the Steve Reeves workout routine! This program is based on the workout routines used by bodybuilding legend Steve Reeves, and it is sure to help you build muscle and lose fat. So, if you’re interested in learning more about this iconic fitness figure and his workout routine, keep reading!
Who was Steve Reeves?
Steve Reeves was an American bodybuilder who is widely considered to be the greatest of all time. He won the Mr. America (the precursor to Mr. USA) and went on to win all of his titles with the NABBA – The International Bodybuilding Association. However, he is primarily known for winning the title five times (in the years 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952), as well as ten times at the Mr. Olympia (in 1954-1960 and 1962).
He had one of the most symmetrical bodies of all time – he was tall (6 ft 1 in or 185 cm), had great size, but also impressive definition. And his physique was not only famous for its aesthetics, it was also famous for its strength. It made him a star in the bodybuilding and film industry, where his chiseled physique helped to inspire many men (and women) around the world to get into fitness and healthy living.
This is why he is often referred to as the “The King of Bodybuilders” and the “The Father of Modern Bodybuilding”.
The Early Years- Athens and Bodybuilding
Born in America, Steve Reeves got interested in bodybuilding after seeing the legendary Eugen Sandow – a man who was known as “the greatest of all time” for his amazing physique and impressive strength. And it is said that Reeves became so inspired by him that he would save his money to attend a public show of Sandow.
After he finished high school, he moved to London and studied pre-law at the American College. He also trained to become a boxer and did some modeling work for a while. But due to his love of bodybuilding, he eventually relocated to Vienna where he turned out to be pretty successful in local strength shows.
He then went back home and began training at a local YMCA. However, his trainer discouraged him from bodybuilding due to the fact that he thought it was a sport for small men. He then moved on and trained with Vince Gironda, after which he opened up his own gym that featured some of the most popular weightlifting equipment of its time – including an entire wall of dumbbells that were sized from 50 lbs (23 kg) all the way up to 100 lbs (45 kg).
Apparently, his gym quickly became very popular and attracted some of the best weightlifters in the area. And it is said that Reeves was already on the road to building his famous physique while he trained at this gym – which many people believe to be a myth.
What is known for sure, though, is that Reeves did train very hard, and he did work extremely hard on his posing routine since he entered a number of competitions in order to help him pay off some debts. He quickly became successful even at local levels, but it wasn’t until 1948 when Steve Reeves won the Mr. America title when he truly started making a name for himself in the bodybuilding industry.
Steve Reeves was so successful at winning titles that they eventually created an organization called the NABBA – The International Bodybuilding Association, where he would go on to win his first Mr. Universe title in 1950 (the very same year when Arnold Schwarzenegger started his career in bodybuilding).
After that, he won a number of titles in a row and was then invited to compete at the Mr. Olympia – the highest title in the world of bodybuilding. He went on to win it four more times after 1954, with his last three consecutive wins being against Frank Zane (who is widely considered to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time).
The Golden Years- Hollywood and the World of Movies
After all of his success at the competitive level, Steve Reeves was offered to appear in films. And he quickly became one of the most popular actors for playing Hercules in a number of sword-and-sandal movies. The first one was called “Hercules” and it premiered in 1958, which also happened to be one year after Steve Reeves retired from competitive bodybuilding.
However, the movie that made him a star was called “Hercules Unchained” – which came out in 1959. And after that, he starred in another 16 films all of which were related to the Hercules character (although many people also remember him for playing Marcus Superbus – who was an extremely popular character in the 1960 Italian movie called “The Last Days of Pompeii”).
Steve Reeves was very athletic and had a great deal of charisma – which is why he quickly became so famous for playing Hercules in movies. He also had an extremely popular physique that many people believe to be one of the best in history. This is why he has his own fan base to this day and many people all around the world aspire to look like him.
He had some issues with his back after he turned 40, but they never seemed to have a negative impact on his work until 1965 when he made a mistake while doing an action scene for the movie “Hercules vs. Maciste in the Valley of Woe”.
The same year, he retired from film work and moved with his family to America where he became a successful businessman by opening some fitness equipment shops. He also worked as an actor in some low budget movies, but this was nothing compared to what he achieved before.
His Workout Routine
If you want to get a Steve Reeves-like physique, it is crucial that you follow his workout routine to the letter. That’s why we put together this guide for you! This article will talk about what types of exercises he used in his workout, as well as how he split up his workouts and what type of sets and reps he performed on a regular basis.
It is important to note that there are some discrepancies regarding the specific workout routine that Steve Reeves followed. Some sources say that Steve used an upper/lower body split (training six days in a row, with four days of upper body training and two days of lower body training). Others say that he trained each muscle group three times per week (with Monday/Wednesday/Friday being leg day, Tuesday/Thursday being back day and Monday/Thursday/Saturday being chest day). And others still say that Steve performed full-body workouts on a daily basis.
Regardless of what type of split he used; all the sources agree that Steve performed multiple sets for each body part. They also agree that his typical rep range per set is between 6 and 15 reps per set (with some variation). Now, let’s take a look at how Steve usually broke down his weekly workout schedule:
Monday – Chest and Back
1. Barbell Bench Press – Sets 4-6 Reps 6-12
2. Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 x 8-10 reps
3. Bent Over Two Arm Dumbbell Row / One Arm Dumbbell Row (alternating) – 3 x 10 reps/arm
4. Parallel Bar Dips – 3 x 8-10
5. Chin Ups – 2 x 12-15 reps
6. Crunches – 3 x 15 reps
Tuesday – Leg Day
1. Hack Squats – 4 x 6-8 reps
2. Front Squats – 4 x 8-12 reps
3. High Pulls – 3 x 8-10 reps
4. Lunges – 3 x 10 reps per leg
5. Calf Raises on Leg Press Machine – 4 x 6-8 reps
6. Crunches – 3 x 15 reps
Wednesday / Thursday Off
Friday – Shoulders, Arms and Back
1. Military Press Behind Neck – Sets 4-6 Reps 6-12
2. Dumbbell Press – 3 x 8 reps
3. Two Arm Lateral Raise / Upright Row (alternating) – 4 x 10 reps/arm
4. Bent Over One Arm Barbell Row / Incline Bench One Arm Dumbbell Row (alternating) – 4 x 10 reps/arm
5. Biceps Curl – 3 x 8-10 reps
6. Triceps Pushdown – 3 x 8-10 reps
Saturday / Sunday Off
The best thing about Steve Reeves’ workout routine is that it follows this model to a tee. Sure, he trained each muscle group more than once per week, but he stuck to a relatively low number of sets and reps per workout (which leaves you plenty of time to build muscle).
Another thing that I love about Steve’s workout routine is the fact that there were times when he followed full body workouts with no rest in between exercises. That means he worked his lower body one day, then his upper body the following day, and he would train them both together – which is a great way to shock your muscles into growing larger!
As for his training split, Steve became famous for training each muscle group three times per week (on Monday/Wednesday/Friday he worked legs, Tuesdays/Thursdays were for back, and Mondays/Thursday were for chest).
If you are a beginner, I would stick with a 3 on 1 off schedule working each muscle group once per week. This will be a very effective way to build the necessary foundational strength that you need before advancing further into more advanced training programs.
- Steve Reeves believed in training each muscle group multiple times per week but sticking to a low number of total sets per workout.
- Workout using the 6-15 rep range with relatively high volume.
- For best results, stick to full body workouts with no rest days in between exercises when working legs and back together.
Steve Reeves’ Secrets to Building the Perfect Physique
Everyone wants to know the secret behind Steve Reeves’ incredible physique. Well, there are two things that he did differently than 99% of bodybuilders in his day.
The first thing that Steve did was to concentrate on building quality muscle mass. He didn’t believe in overtraining or trying to do too much (“less is more” was one of his favorite expressions).
The second thing that he did was to focus on building his back first. Many bodybuilders make the mistake of trying to build their “mirror muscles” before their backs, but Reeves believed that you should always work your back first – then train everything else after.
Here’s how it was done effectively:
- You should be training each muscle group at least twice per week, but no more than four times.
- Pick a weight that you can handle for 6-15 reps and perform three sets of this exercise per workout.
- Make sure to train your abs just as hard as everything else. This is where Steve Reeves believed 80% of the size came from.
- You are not required to train your legs, or any other muscle group for that matter, more than three times per week!
Steve’s Famous Workouts Today
Here are two workouts inspired by Steve Reeves himself. Remember, the goal is to get in, hit your target number of sets per workout on a consistent basis , and then get out of the gym so you can recover properly.
Workout #1 – Monday/Wednesday/Friday
- Barbell Bench Press – 6-12 reps / 3 sets
- Incline Dumbbell Press – 6-12 reps / 3 sets
- Wide Grip Pull Ups – 8-15 reps / 3 sets
- Two Arm Dumbbell Row – 8-15 reps / 3 sets
- Standing Barbell Curl – 5 reps / 3 sets
- Crunches – 15 reps / 2 sets
Workout #2 – Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
- Barbell Squats – 6-12 reps / 3 sets
- Leg Press Machine – 8-15 reps / 3 sets
- Lunges – 12-15 reps / 2 sets
- Standing Calf Raises – 15-20 reps / 2 sets
- Barbell Curls – 8-12 reps / 3 sets
- Triceps Pushdowns – 10-20 reps / 3 sets
How to Get Big Like Steve Reeves?
If you’re looking to get big like the Golden Era of bodybuilding greats, it’s important that you pick a variety of exercises and have a solid foundation in the basics.
Remember, if you want to build a physique like Steve Reeves you need to make sure that your training program is effective for building the necessary strength and muscle mass required to do so. Using this variation of his training split will allow you to do just that!
Now, keep in mind that this is not an excuse to use bad form. So, make sure that you are always using good form on every rep. If you have problems with any of these exercises, ask someone who knows what they’re doing to help you out!
Steve Reeves changed bodybuilding forever!
His physique was unbelievable and his passion for training motivated other bodybuilders to do what he did. If you are looking to build a respectable physique, the idea of not following his routine is almost blasphemous.
His workout routines were simple, effective, and easy to follow. I hope these workouts will inspire you to get in the gym and start building your own perfect physique!