Steve Reeves – The Natural Bodybuilding Superstar!

Steve Reeves (1926-2000) was a natural bodybuilder from the Silver Era, which is the era of bodybuilding prior to the 1960s and before the introduction of steroids to bodybuilding. He is famous in bodybuilding for winning the Mr Universe title, among others. His aesthetic and well proportioned physique has led him to be the inspiration to bodybuilders the world over, and still to this day. He is considered to be the first bodybuilder to crack the mainstream, appearing in movies such as “Hercules”. On top of that, Reeves was a strong advocate for natural bodybuilding, and as such here at NatBod we believe he deserves the title of “Natural Bodybuilding Superstar!”

steve reeves movie star
Reeve’s muscular physique made him a popular choice for roles like “Hercules” in movies

I don’t believe in bodybuilders using steroids. If a man doesn’t have enough male hormones in his system to create a nice hard, muscular body, he should take up ping pong.

Steve Reeves

Bodybuilding Titles

steve reeves front relaxed
Steve Reeves in a relaxed front pose
  • 1946 Mr Pacific Coast – Winner
  • 1947 Mr America – Winner
  • 1947 Mr Pacific Coast – Winner
  • 1947 Mr Western America – Winner
  • 1948 Mr USA – 2nd
  • 1948 Mr Universe – 2nd
  • 1948 Mr World – Winner
  • 1949 Mr USA – 3rd
  • 1950 Mr Universe – Winner

Movie Titles

  • Athena (1954)
  • Jail Bait (1958)
  • Hercules (1958)
  • Hercules Unchained (1959)
  • Goliath and the Barbarians (1959)
  • The Giant of Marathon (1959)
  • The Last Days of Pompeii (1959)
  • The White Warrior (1959)
  • Morgan the Pirate (1960)
  • The Thief of Baghdad (1960)
  • The Trojan Horse (1961)
  • Duel of the Titans (1961)
  • The Slave (1962)
  • The Avenger (1962)
  • Sandokan the Great (1963)
  • Pirates of Malaysia (1963)
  • A Long Ride from Hell (1967)
steve reeves goliath
Steve Reeves starred in “Goliath and the Barbarians” released in 1959

Steve Reeves Training Routine

In the Silver Era most bodybuilders trained three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) with full body routines. This is an excellent way of training, as it combines both volume and frequency with adequate rest. Steve Reeves followed this style of training split and below is an example of a routine Reeves used. You can use this framework to customize the exercises to your personal choice, whilst still staying true to the Steve Reeves style of training.

  • Wide Grip Bench Press: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • 45 degree Incline Bench Press: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Lateral Raises: 2 sets, 10 reps
  • Dumbell Overhead Press: 2 sets, 10 reps
  • Wide Grip Pulldown: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Cable Rows: 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Front Squats: 3 sets, 15 reps
  • Leg Press: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Calf Raise: 6 sets, 20 reps
  • Incline Dumbell Curl: 6 sets, 10 reps
  • Single Arm Dumbell Tricep Extension: 3 sets, 12 reps
  • Two Arm Dumbell Tricep Extension: 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Leg Raises: 3 sets, 30 reps
steve reeves tricep exerise
Steve Reeves performing two handed Dumbell Tricep Extensions

Steve Reeves Measurements

Steve Reeves was famous for his proportionate and symmetrical physique. Reeves believed proportion and symmetry were extremely important to creating a great physique, in fact more important than sheer mass, and had guidelines for how to achieve this. Reeves believed that the upper arms, calves and neck should all measure the same, and this has been followed as a guideline for bodybuilders ever since. Reeves measurements were:

  • Arms: 18.5 inches
  • Calves: 18.5 inches
  • Neck: 18.5 inches
  • Thighs: 27 inches
  • Chest: 54 inches
  • Waist: 30 inches
steve reeves measurements
Steve Reeve’s amazingly proportionate physique

Steve Reeve’s Legacy

Steve Reeves left behind an impressive legacy for natural bodybuilding. His ability to popularize the sport and the appreciation of the muscular physique to mainstream audiences paved the way for a bright future. Reeves represents the ideal for what a great natural physique should look like. Every natural bodybuilder who believes in the Reeves philosophy of not only building a proportionate physique but a healthy body as well can appreciate that Steve Reeve’s was the first “Natural Bodybuilding Superstar”.

Read more about Steve Reeves in our article “Silver Era Bodybuilders – Legendary Physique’s from a time before Steroids“. More Silver Era content can also be found here. Also, make sure to follow our Silver Era Instagram page @silver.era.bodybuilding

Ryan Norman

Ryan is the owner and editor of NatBod. Bodybuilding has been a major part of Ryan's life since childhood, both his parents are successful competitors and coaches. Ryan owns Moruya Gym with his partner Becky, has himself achieved competitive bodybuilding success and he promotes Natural Bodybuilding through the NatBod platform.

Leave a Reply