Steve Reeves: The Original Henchman
When I first got sick of being a skinny kid getting bullied and started becoming interested in bodybuilding, Arnold was my first influence. But when I was around 18 I heard about this legendary bodybuilding icon who had recently passed away. I saw photos of him in a magazine and I was completely blown away by his muscularity and the proportions of his physique.
I'd built myself up from 55kg but I was becoming a bit disillusioned with lifting because I couldn't relate to people like Arnold; as a poor kid from the north of England I couldn't afford supplements and I had no interest in taking steroids or anything like that. But here was a man who was completely natural and he achieved a physique like this with reasonably basic equipment in the 1950's! I was fascinated. I ordered his book from America, 'Building the Classic Physique: the Natural Way', and read it cover to cover.
His workout only had me training 3 times a week; total body on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It took me about 2.5 hours to do it all but I was still skeptical as to how training only 3 times a week would get me results. I stuck with his program for about 2 years and it really changed my body and laid down the foundations for a solid physique. Even though my training now is based around being a martial artist my arms, neck and calves are still all the same size. That symmetry is down to training like Reeves when I did.
The initial circuit I started with from Arnold's book (see my earlier post) was a similar idea but not as complex. They both had the same approach though: starting from the shoulders and working down the body to finish with legs. I still use this approach when training clients in a total body workout. I later learned that Arnold too was heavily influenced by Reeves, especially when it came to his desire to become an actor.
Reeves won Mr Universe in 1950 and was the first bodybuilder to transition into a successful acting career, starring in many Italian films in the 50's and 60's. His most famous role was playing Hercules and, for me, he still embodies that character to this day. In the back of my mind I'm always aiming to get my calves, arms and neck up to 18", my thighs up to 27" and my chest to 54". It might never never happen but it keeps me pushing myself that there's always more to do.