Steve Reeves (Images via muscleandfitness & muscleandstrength)

The Original King of Aesthetics - Steve Reeves’ Bodybuilding Routine

Steve Reeves, also known as the Original King of Aesthetics, was a huge name in the world of bodybuilding, right from the 50s all the way to his demise in early 2000. He was known to have the most aesthetic physique of all time. After winning Mr. Universe in 1950 at the age of 24, he landed small roles in Hollywood. The release of Hercules in 1959 shot him to international fame. Following that, he was cast in multiple European sword-and-sandal films. Soon, everyone knew who Steve Reeves was.

Steve Reeves was born in Montana in 1926. After moving to California at the age of 10, he developed an interest in bodybuilding in high school. It was after his schooling that he enlisted in the US Army, serving in the Philippines during World War 2. Shortly after, he secured the titles of Mr. America in 1947 and Mr. World in 1948 before eventually winning the title of Mr. Universe in 1950.


As a bodybuilder and the Original King of Aesthetics, Steve Reeves has been looked up to by aspiring bodybuilders for years, even after his passing. And why not? With a physique to be remembered by, his workout routine sparks great interest amongst enthusiasts.

Steve Reeves’ bodybuilding routine

Steve Reeves swore by working out thrice a week. Not only was this because his rep ranges were so high for each exercise, it was also to ensure that his body got adequate rest and recovery after training. And this is a very important, often overlooked factor when it comes to weight training.


Steve Reeves was also very particular about his forms. He never performed an exercise with bad form. With such heavy lifting, form can never be ignored. And it was this discipline that helped ensure he obtained maximal gains from his workout. He also used tempo to slow down his movements, building more tension in his muscles and making him not only bigger but stronger.

Another aspect Reeves was mindful of was progressive loading. He never picked up weights that would hinder his form and stuck to adequate resistance to carry out each exercise flawlessly. While he enjoyed challenging himself, he also made a note of his workouts so he could progressively load more weights or resistance.

Reeves’ training days didn’t involve one particular muscle group. Instead, he trained his entire body during these three days of the week. He would start with the upper body and eventually move to the lower body toward the end of the routine. This prevented him from becoming overly tired too soon from training the largest muscles of the body. He would start his routines with a few minutes of walking or cycling.


Here’s a glimpse of the exercises he used to perform:

• Military press

• Bench press

• Dips

• Chest flies


• Incline press

• Pullovers

• Skullcrushers

• Tricep extensions

• Barbell curls

• Concentration curls

• Bent-over rows

• Back extensions

• Deadlifts

• Back squats

• Front squats

• Leg curls

• Romanian deadlifts

• Calf raises

Phew! With such complex exercises, it’s no wonder he was able to develop the physique he is so well-known for. Of course, his diet and lifestyle habits had a huge role to play in this success, but let’s not neglect the physical hard work! Reeves performed each exercise for anywhere between 8 and 12 reps, usually for 3 sets each.

If you’re an aspiring bodybuilder who looks up to Steve Reeves, you’ve got the right inspiration. Obviously, it's challenging to compete with the Original King of Aesthetics, but perseverance always pays off. Workout regularly, eat well, and get plenty of rest. Keep the grind up!


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Edited by
Babylona Bora
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