Find Out How Hollywood Legend Steve Reeves Built His All-Time Classic Physique

The Steve Reeves All-time Classic Physique Training Regimen

Reeves’ favorite training routine was his ‘Classic Physique’ routine, first printed as an article for the May 1951 issue of magazine ‘Your Physique’ which was published by Joe Weider. In this article we present a variation of the same routine.


Exercise Sets Reps
Incline bench dumbbell press 4 10-12 (decrease the weight as you progress in sets)
Breathing front squat supersetted with the exercise below 4 12
Dumbbell lateral raises or flyes 4 12
Seated barbell biceps curls 4 12 (slowly lowering the weight on the negative part)
Dumbbell forward raise(alternate hands) 3 12
Barbell bent-over rows 3 12
One arm dumbbell rows 3 12
Splits with barbell 1 As many reps as you can
Alternate raises (lying position) 3 12
Good mornings 2 12
Dumbbell french press 4 12
Calf raises (leg press machine) 2 40-50
Barbell Bench Press 3 12


Important points to consider

Frequency of training

As is the case with most full-body workout variations, the workout above should not be done more than three times a week, so as to avoid overtraining and allow the body a lot of time for recovery and resting. One thing a lot of people nowadays would consider a con is that the workout would take you about two hours to finish.

However, that is exactly the point of a full-body routine, namely the workout sessions should be intense and hard, along with the rest intervals between sets, which will allow the muscles plenty of time in order to repair themselves and grow. For optimal recovery, Steve advised resting at least a day and a half between workout sessions. For example, training Monday morning means that the next session will be on Wednesday evening and the one after that on Saturday morning.


Focus and concentration

Reeves’ dedication and training ethic were nothing short of amazing. When he was training for the Mr. Universe contest in 1950, another legendary bodybuilder John Grimek was reported as saying that Steve rarely sat around wasting time and he put everything he had in every workout session and concentrated on every rep execution, only going to rest after he had finished his workout and had a shower.

Always make sure that you have your game face on before entering the gym ready to smash the weights and leave the socializing for after you’ve finished the workout.

Execution tempo

Always make sure you execute the exercises with a proper form with a tempo consisting of 3 seconds for the concentric part of the exercise and 4 seconds for the eccentric part, putting a bigger emphasis on the latter.


All the sets listed above must be done to complete failure until you cannot do anymore.


Rest interval

Limit your rest interval to 40 to 60 seconds between sets of the same exercise and up to 2 minutes between each exercise.


Explanations on some of the exercises

Breathing squats

Breathing squats are slightly different from regular squats in that they require you to take a pause and a deep breath between each rep. In the 50s bodybuilders tended to put a great emphasis on developing their ribcages. The logic behind this was that they thought that expanding the ribcage by doing breathing squats and dumbbell pullovers will ultimately lead to your torso being able to support more muscle mass.

Seated barbell biceps curls

This was one of Steve Reeves’ favorite exercises. When performing this exercise, you should focus on performing the eccentric part of the movement as long as possible. John Grimek reported that Steve would usually kick the barbell with the knees and then gave all he had to resist as long as possible as he lowered it.

Splits with barbell

These are the same as lunged with the difference being holding the barbell on your back as if you were doing a squat.

Alternate raise (lying position)

The same as a standing dumbbell raise, only this time done lying down on a bench.



The Classic Physique routine is a proven full-body training regimen that will demand maximum effort on your part but will also give you exceptional results. This routine isn’t for those who are not willing to put in the work and it can be a real ball buster since it originates from a time when men were strong and bodybuilders crafted their bodies through hard work and sweat, rather than putting s******s in themselves, puffing like balloons and posting pictures on Instagram.

Despite the obvious benefits of allowing you to build an aesthetic and functional body, power and strength, this old training method will be beneficial to your overall health and mentality and will instill a greater self-confidence.

Train and rest hard, eat a lot of meat and see yourself become Hercules.


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