Donnerstag, 24. Juli 2014

IRON AGE - Steve Reeves, the Demigod of the ancient Iron Age of Bodybuilding.

Dear readers, here in Germany in the center of old Mother Europe the temperatures are heating up one more time again and you are starting to sweat even when you do nothing else than just hang or sit around in your office or in my case "your" classroom, hm, so nothing better to do than to get motivated for working out and lifting heavy weights later today, right, and while also the summer weather burns in its full prime out there I do thankfully have a lazy day at work with only two pupils being here today while the rest is in their companies today for an extra pratise day at work this week, and so to avoid any kind of boredom I think and feel like this would be a great time to come up with the motivation for the which means my mentioned work out later today and to bring for you a new post up here, a brandnew IRON AGE posting series post. Hm, and thinking about it then I don't know how long it's been since a month up here was that active like this current month...  (And compared to the first three years of the existence of this very blog this very month right now would be still a very lame one... don't ask me from where the hell I got the time and motivation back then... it's all about how times and things in your life change  over time... at least I guess so...) Okay, so Old School Bodybuilding will be the order of the day for now finally again, and I think this posting, especially personally for me, okay, also: This very post here will be a very cool and pretty intersting one to continue the IRON AGE posting series with up here, as well as important and inspiring one, because with this post I will pay tribute to another one of my Boldybuilding idols of old. And also beside this personal stuff it makes also a lot of sense to come up with this post right now after the tributes to Eugen Sandow and especially the one to John Grimek and the views on the Old School and Classic Bodybuilding days from the 1930's/1940's to the 1970's/1980's, because with this post we now finally will come to no one else than the man most guys into that golden age of Iron Sports and Bodybuilding name first and perhaps as the biggest of who and what had been, the man who would gave life to Hercules and Goliath as well, the man with the physique, the charisma, the heart, the soul, and the intellect to become one of the greatest of all times, the man who conquered on the Bodybuilding stages of the world as well as in the cinemas of the world, too, the unforgotten philanthropist, athlete, and actor Steve Reeves. So, that's it for the introduction words, okay, and now: Let's roll!!!




Steve Reeves was born as Stephen L. Reeves in 1926 at the 21st January in Glasgow, Montana/U.S.A., and too many if not the very most he should become what is named today: The Ultimate Classic Bodybuilder. Even that particular definition, the ultimate classic Bodybuilder depends beside the cold hart truth photos and pictures do show also for good portions on personal taste and preferations as well as on pure greatness, and without discussing the question if something like this nearly mythological ultimate classical Bodybuilder ever existed or not and if it is anyhow anyway possible to ask and discuss such a question, it's easy to say that Steve Reeves was without a doubt one of the greatest of his times and also one of the greatest ever and of all times, beside or together with icons and legends like the unbeaten and also unrivaled John Grimek (against whom Steve Reeves lost, no shame in that), the phenomenal Bill Pearl, and the british giant Reg Park (in case you don't them already by now I can calm your mood with saying and promising here and now to you that the last two mentioned will hopefully soon be no strangers anymore to you, just wait for the next IRON AGE posts up here) the groundbreaking Steve Reeves deserves a and also his famous ranked place on this larger than life Bodybuilding legends list for sure. He was born to his mother Goldie Reeves and his father Lester Dell Reeves a son, and grew up as the son of a hard working farmer family in Glasgow, Montana/U.S.A. where he was also born (just look/read above). At the age of ten years he finally moved together with his mother to the U.S. American federal state of California after many years of moving from place to place with his mother who desperately looked for work more or less succesful right after his father tragically died in a working accident at his farm when Steve Reeves himself still was just a very little child. In California his interest in and for Bodybuilding and iron sports awaked and he started to work out and train in Oakland, where he lived in this times, in the "Ed Yarick's Gym". In Oakland, California/U.S.A. he was at the right time, in the right moment, and with him it was for sure the right guy in this great position. And so there it all should finally take its start, so there it all began...

Steve Reeves over the decades became a true sort of an icon and ideal to many that look for the ideal male physique and body, and if you ask a lot of folks into iron sports and especially into Bodybuilding and that are into it for a while and that are not only or even not a single bit interested in the growth hormon fueled and by steroids and diuretics, medics and performance enhancing drugs pumped up (and by what the hell ever else as well...) monster muscle mutants of today when Bodybuilding became since the 1990's more and more Massbuilding instead of Bodybuilding then very big portions of this folks asked by you will pretty sure exactly name you this man and name first or at least very and I mean really very early: Steve Reeves. Without performance enhancing drugs, so without steroids, growth hormons, and what the hell else ever he manged "just" by and through hard work, dedication, passion, and a straight and clean nutrition to put really high quality 215 pounds of strong, powerful, aesthetic, and defined muscles on his 6,1'' tall body. The starting point for all of this, for him moving into iron sports and becoming one of the few very best Bodybuilders and iron aesthetic athletes of all time, was a to him shocking defeat in an just for fun arm wrestling contest against a much smaller kid of the name of Joe Gambino. The secret behind his defeat was him not doing work outs with iron weights, the secret behind the victory of the smaller kid against him was that this kid did iron lifting in a (home made) gym. This defeat to the little boy of the name Joe Gambino launched and unleashed a fire in him, a fire that finally should lead him to win every major title in Bodybuilding of his time, and from then on pushed him further to live in its whole a life that totally fits to his nearly perfect physique. He truly became a real iron legend, but also far and much more than only this. But step after step, so we now move onward and go to the next station in the life of Steve Reeves.

In such times Steve Reeves also saw his first ever Bodybuilding magazine with the larger than life unforgotten and undefeated John Grimek (in case you really shouldn't know him than just read the tribute post to honour him up here) on the cover of it, and he was totally fixed by it, by something that he had never seen before. Bodybuilding. Great Bodybuilding. Pure Bodybuilding. Honest Bodybuilding. Great pure honest Bodybuilding. Something lifechanging. Something groundbreaking. Something real. John Grimek displayed and demonstrated a total dominant physique with strong and muscular legs, wide and broad shoulders, bulky and massive biceps, and a concrete chest like a brickwall, and it was exactly at this point due to the photos of the almighty John Grimek that Steve Reeves finally knew that however he wanted to become it he definitely wanted to be a Bodybuilder. And what a Bodybuilder he  should became. What a Bodybuilder he was. He started working out at first togeher with Joe Gambino, but this only for a short time, and soon he started to settle together his very own Gym at his home. He started his quest for muscles and gains in the garage of his stepfather which he filled up with weights and lifting equipment and then he did what needed to be done, full duty. And he gained fast and made quickly big steps forward and very soon his garage wasn't anymore enough and couldn't satisfy his needs and it was time for him to step out and join a real Gym. And so he did. That he lived in Oakland at this time was a great play of destiny since the Oakland area was around this time the definite Mecca of Bodybuilding and Steve Reeves should move up to join Ed Yarrick's Gym which was based on the eastside of Oakland. It was a true through and through REAL Bodybuilding Gym, HARDCORE we would say today, with everything a future "Mr. America" and "Mr. Universe" could or would need on his quest. Ed Yarrick was a Bodybuilder himself and he promptly noticed the immense potential and the firy bright burning will of Steve Reeves and very soon took him under his wings and putting him on massive whole body full work out routines three times a week. And beside this he became to or for Steve Reeves a father figure, a father figure that he never ever had before in his life. And also Ed Yarrick and Steve Reeves became lifelong good friends, too. He entered the Yarrick Gym at weighing 163 pounds, and after four full hard months full of whole body routine work outs he was already weighing 193 pounds with incredible strong and massive muscles. And this all natural and drugfree. You see, this is just phenomenal and amazing. The genetics of Steve Reeves had been damn fantastic and phenomenal for Bodybuilding. And also his will and passion to the work outs, the nutrition, and the lifestyle had been awesome. Keep in mind that the by far most other guys couldn't dream of such impressive gains in such a short while, instead of four months they would need four years or something so like this. If you think you can do it like him and stand a true Steve Reeves work out, then go and check this link: for a example and put it on with heavy weights and bruning intensity and see if you can stand it... and see what you will gain out of it. The big knowledge of his mother about good and healthy full-value nutrition surely helped him immense to gain and gain like no other else. Also he kept it simple, ate lots of fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Nothing complex, nothing crazy, nothing weird, just powerful healthy balanced foods and a strong appetite. After a full year of working out hard he reached 203 pounds and he started to make and leave a big and especially a strong impact on the local Bodybuilding scenery. And this was all still in his highschool days.

In 1944 after graduating from highschool he made the decision to enter the U.S. Military, and he served his fatherland in the second world war. He went through the basic training and was send off out to fight at the Japanese Front. He managed to get his hands on a 100 lbs. York barbell set and as often as it was possible for him he sticked with and by his work outs, whenever this was possible for him to do. It was also around this time when he got sick due to a malaria he caught and for quite some time he remained ill and sick. It lead him to a loss of around 25 pounds of body weight, to being not able to work out, and to his body suffering through it until the end of the World War II. But then during the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II his body was finally getting better again  and he could also get his hands on more weights for working out and so that was what he began with again, working out. And very quick he gained 20 pounds back again, 20 pounds of muscles, and that's a statement. (Keep in mind that our muscles remember everything and tend to react quickly to what they once have learned and had been.) When he left the Army after did his patriotic duty he was weighing pretty much the same as when he entered the Army. And with this he was finally back on track again. And so as soon as he was back home in Oakland, California/U.S.A. he entered Ed Yarrick's Gym finally again and he started to work out heavy, hard, intense, and excessive. this lead him quickly to impressive 215 pounds, for the first time ever, and a great shape and so he thought it was really about time to go on stage and conquer as what he wanted so badly to be, a Bodybuilder. He decided to start at the "Mr. Pacific Coast" championship in 1946. He and a friend of him travelled by train to Oregon to do the contest and Steve Reeves conquered by any means. He won the show in a unrivaled way, it wasn't even close in the end, not even a little bit. With that title win he started to become more and more better and better known outside of Oakland, and with that success as a massive heat-up he decided to work out to go out and win the big one, the biggest one back then the next year, the "AAU Mr. America" championship contest in 1947. In the mean time he traveled again to Oregon and again easily won the "Mr. Pacific Coast" and defended his title in 1947. And he not only came out to be the victor of this championship, but he also won the categories of "Best Chest", "Best Legs", and "Best Arms", and every trophy he won was more than deserved, every win was more than justified. And then he set sails for bigger things, the "Mr. America" in 1947. Back then the biggest stage of them all.
In 1947 the young phenomenon that Steve Reeves was for sure reached out for the top with aiming at the "Mr. America" championship competition and with wanting to win this major title, the biggest of that certain Bodybuilding era. So he flew to Chicago, Illinois/U.S.A. and he competed against most of the very best Bodybuilders of that era at this day, with the "Mr. America" had been the most important and highest reputated title in Bodybuilding back then. He should came out on top of the field, with initially tying with his well known rival on stage Eric Pedersen, who he used to beat before at the 1947 "Mr. Pacific Coast" contest. Both of them gained 72 points and it was a tie between them, so a pose off was set to decide who would be the victor, who would be the 1947 "Mr. America". Eric Pedersen came out first and started to pose, wowing the crowd. And then Steve Reeves entered the stage and it was clear that Eric Pedersen could start to pack up his things and go home for good, with being no rival to him, a nearly perfect Steve Reeves, perfect bronzed, reached new peaks of his development, and with a breath taking posing routine, so he easily and clearly took the win. And was it a tie before, due to what reasons ever, at the end of the day it wasn't even close... again. The measurements of Steve Reeves at this day had been:
- Height = 6'1"
- Weight = 215 pounds
- Biceps = 18,5"
- Chest = 52"
- Neck = 18,5"
- Calves = 18,5"
- Waist = 29"
That lead him to his rise to the top of the world of Bodybuilding back then in his day,s and he was strong, muscular, and aesthetic by any means. And if you read these set of data with a little bit attention then you will or should already have noticed that his biceps, neck, and calves are of equal measurements, and that was intended by him. Like the larger than life Eugen Sandow years before Steve Reeves also he was a disciple of the Grecian Ideal and this equal measurements of that certain body parts were the fullfillment or realization of this Grecian Ideal on or in the form of a symmetric human body, an alive and real and not artificial made totally symmetric human body, a living body, not a lifeless statue. And that was just amazing and is it also today. Maybe even more than ever. He also did everything to make his shoulders as broad and wide as possible, while at the same time he tried and worked hard to keep his waist incredible athin nd as small as possible. He did this in order to exaggerate his upper body width and to gain a nearly perfect V-form or you can also also say a Y-form of his body.

Before we go on in time and in a chronoligical way we will now have a look at his training schedule. Like already said, he trained (mostly) in full body schedules three times a week, and he worked out briefly, infrequently, and with an amazing intensity. For each excercise he did he did usually three sets, and he used to choose mostly basic exercises for the body part he was aiming at with the certain exercise. A example work out schedule could have looked like the following one:
- Shoulders: Press Behind Neck
- Thighs: Hack Squat (with heels closed and toes pointed at ''ten and two'')
- Calves: Toe Raises (on a block)
- Chest: Dips on parallel bars
- Back: Chin behind neck
- Triceps: Press down at or on Lat-Machine
- Biceps: Incline dumbbell curl
He normally was of the opinion that twelve repetitions per set were the ideal repetition number respectively the ideal amount of repetitions, but never at the expense of good form and correct training technique. And surely he had great if not the greatest genetics, but he also did train the right way for a pure and natural Bodybuilder. Also in this context some few words about or to his nutrition or diet. He kept it simple and healthy, effective and tasty. And it worked out just damn right. Just look at his triumphes, and just look at his photos shown here in and with and through out this very article. Here are some examples for meals he could have eaten this or in a pretty equal way:
- Breakfast: A protein shake consisting out of 14 oz OJ, one tablespoon of Knox gelatine, honey (one tablespoon), one banana, two to four (raw) eggs, two tablespoons of high protein powder (or high energy cereal) + one cut apple, grated small carrot, one quarter cup of raw oatmeal, one quarter cup of bran, two teaspoons of bee pollen, one quarter cup of wheat germ, one quarter cup of almonds, one teaspoon of honey, and one cup of milk
- Lunch: Cottage cheese w/ a handful of nuts raisins, and all garnished with two pieces of fruits
- Dinner: A huge salad, one swordfish steak or turkey, tuna, or lean ground beef
That's an example of daily diet plan of a nutrition that strongly helped building one of the very best physiques ever to walk the earth. Simple and effective, healthy and tasty, and it worked out in a fantastic way, point and fact, just take a look at the photos of Steve Reeves.

With the win of the "Mr. America" title in 1947 Steve Reeves was standing high on top of the Bodybuilding world and he was still only 21 years old. Something that is even today totally amazing and deserves all the respect of the world. But what would be up next? A question that also popped up in one way or another in the mind of Steve Reeves himself as well. Especially if we keep in mind that back then there was pretty much no money in the sport and so also no money to make out of it. And so with his future in sight he started acting classes in New York. And like the future would show this was the perfect decission. He also started working out at Sig Klein's Gym after his victory and made here and there from time to time guest posings as the newly crowned "Mr. America". And he still competed. In 1948 then he made his decision to enter the "Mr. America" and defend his title in the last minute, so to say, and this was, so the rumours go and say, pretty much and especially due to the 1.000,00 $ winning price pay check. That was all good and fine, but he had no real preparation for it and no real time to do so. Then while rushing a tan he also then burned himself badly and so his performance was affected in a negative way. Anyhow and without any excuses 1948 wasn't the year of Steve Reeves and he clearly lost to a phenomenal Clancy Ross, a former "Mr. America" (read here for more about him), and he never questioned this lost. It was his first defeat in Bodybuilding, and truly a well-deserved one and he knew it best. For sure Clancy Ross was by any means the better man that day and his triumph was more than deserved and justified.

The 1948 "Mr. America" was the starting point for a tempestuous time period of many ups and downs for Steve Reeves. The man with definitely one of the best and perhaps even the very best genetics in and for Bodybuilding ever he was really having a hard time with it, with Bodybuilding. He participated at the newly "NABBA Mr. Universe" contest in London, U.K. and there he took second place and lost to the outstanding John Grimek. After this he flew on  to Paris for the "Mr. World" contest, where he finally triumphed again. In 1949 a the "Mr. U.S.A." then he lost again to the unrivaled and unbeaten one: John Grimek. And he not only lost to Grimek but just scored in third, lost also again to no one else than Clancy Ross. After this he took a time off from competing in Bodybuilding and started to think more precise of what would or should be coming next after Bodybuilding. And while all the world discussed the end of the career of him with 1950 arriving and the 1950 "Mr. Universe" contest dawning on the horizon he shocked the world with deciding to give it another run. The "Mr. Universe" contest of the NABBA, the then and for a long time most important contest in Bodybuilding who topped the "Mr. America" of the AAU as well as the "Mr. U.S.A.". Anyhow. And so Steve Reeves was giving it another run. And he wanted that title badly.

Working out and training for this competition he did at the highly reputated York Barbell Club in York, Pennsylvania/U.S.A. together with his very close and good friend George Eiferman. He wasn't ranked as a favorite anywhere. He had lost a lot of his former muscles due to his time off, and no one was betting on him to come in shape again before contest time. But however, his phenomenal genetics and his great muscle memory did what they always did, and like always they did it in a pretty short time. And so he added a lot of massive muscles to his body. And he also got a bonus motivation to compete and win this contest, and for that to work his ass off in the gym. And this bonus motivation was plain and simple the fact that the new Bodybuilding sensation from England competed also there, no one else the mighty Reg Park, who we will pay our tribute to in the (hopefully soon) future of this very blog and this particular IRON AGE named posting series. He wanted to beat him and show the world and proof to the world who the real king of Bodybuilding was. So well prepared and in great shape he flew to London for competing, confident of his victory in the contest. But Reg Park did the same and had the same in mind, and he was the local champ. An epic battle on stage emerged and it was very close, it could have ended the one or the other way with nobody could bitch around because of the result and outcome. And so it was a tie for the first place, like in 1947 when Steve Reeves won the "Mr. America" for the first time ever. Steve Reeves and Reg Park were finally called out for a final pose down. At the end it was Steve Reeves who took the title and trophy home, not Reg Park. You may can say that Steve Reeves' more aesthetic look triumped over Reg Parks more massive look at the end of the day. So finally in 1950 Steve Reeves gained the top price in Bodybuilding again, and with that he was once again on top of the Bodybuilding world. Also he was handed over a very special victory trophy, a bronze statue of Eugen Sandow. (The IFBB should adopt this later on, and so the winner of the annual "Mr. Olympia" is handed out a Sandow trophy, that is also named just the Sandow, as his victory gift.) After the contest he announced and declared his farewell from the Bodybuilding sport respecively from competing, other things had been on his mind and needed to be finally pursuited. Like already said back then no real money was in the sport and so also not to get back or out of it, and so he was up to other things. Acting was it, what was this other stuff. With just being 24 years old in 1950 he was one more time again the best Bodybuilder in or of the world, a icon, a legend, an immortal iron age champ, a statement of his very own, and his future laid bright and shining right infront of him. And so very soon he should become by far more famous to the whole world as being one if not the best payed actor of his time and age, and also not at least as the mythical demigod Hercules. Something, that he had already archieved in Bodybuilding, the becoming of the immortalized somehwhat mythological iron age demigod, one of the greatest of his and of all times.

What was up next for Steve Reeves is simple to name: Becoming one of the most famous actors outta there and gaining tremendous success as Hercules, Goliath, as well as with and in other epic movies. Also he proofed over and over again that he was true philanthropist and in his later life he sworn himself to the good fight for drug free Bodybuilding, as well as he bred horses. I will keep this last section close, after this here should be more about Bodybuilding than all his other archievements, due to the topic and idea of this post and posting series, but anyhow this post wouldn't be complete if I would not give it a little room as well. And I could imagine that most of you outta there didn't know already that it was Steve Reeves who played Hercules first, before Reg Park, before Arnold Schwarzenegger, before Lou Ferrigno, and also and especially long before Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who will join this ranks later on this year or with one of his new movies. Anyhow, Steve Reeves played in many epic and today classic(-al) movies, spanning at least over the distance of two decades, over the 1950's over the 1960's to the 1970's. Perhaps his most famous movies had pretty sure been "Hercules" (1957) and "Hercules Unchained" (1959) as well as "Goliath and the Barbarians" (1959), and not to forget "The Giant of Marathon" (1959), the "White Warrior" (1959), and "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1959, too). Also "Morgan, the Pirate" (1960) and "The Thief of Baghdad" (1960) should be mentioned, as well as "The Trojan Horse" and "Duel of the Titans" (both from 1961) and "The Avenger" (1962) and especially "Sandokan the Great" (1964). Also worth mentioning are his early works "Athena" and "Jail Bait" (both from 1954) and his late work "A Long Ride From Hell" (1967). In his time he became one of the best payed actors if not the best payed actor, at least over here in Europe for quite a while and his movies had been huge successes, as well as his amazing physique should have had a big impact on future developments of movies and cinema. Beside this he also wrote the lyrics to the song "Sweet Transvestite" of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" that was performed by Tim Curry. Also he was a active writer of books and he even sort of invented Powerwalking with his book of the same name and title in and from 1982. He was married two times, with Sandra Smith from 1955 to 1956 (divorced) and with Alina Czartjarwicz from 1963 to 1989 (when she died). Steve Reeves himself died in 2000 at the 1st of May at the age of 74 in Escondido, California/U.S.A. but he is and will be this forever on immortalized as iron sports and iron age demigod, as one of the best and greatest guys with also one of the very  best and greatest physiques ever to walk our mother earth.
R.I.P. Steve Reeves, forever the unforgotten and immortalized "Hercules" demigod of classical true Bodybuilding.

Okay folks, that's it for this very one here and now. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and maybe you've found out things that so far had been (pretty) new to/for you. In the future of this IRON AGE series up here on your dear "MANSLAUGHTER THUG LIFE" blog we will move on from the early beginnings of Bodybuilding and the first modern real Bodybuilding kings into the times of modern old school Bodybuilding from the 1950's to the 1970's, will have step by step more precise and detailed looks on this times and will for sure pay honour and give respect to some of the greatest athletes ever like for example Reg Park, Bill Pearl, and also Larry Scott, the first ever crowned "Mr. Olympia" will also cross our ways in the more or less soon future. So you see, a lot will be coming in, so stay tuned for more.(And all the other stuff up here beside the IRON AGE series for sure as well, too, so stay tuned for more and keep calm;-)............!!!)
And for so long already a big "THANKS!" for your interest and time and simply for you reading through this very long article and hopefully the whole articles of the IRON AGE series so far.
And more coming very soon.
Stick to the iron.
Keep on pumping.
Your dear Manslaughter Andy.

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