Steve Reeves Workout Routine and Diet Plan

Updated on  February 26, 2023

Riddhi Rayekar ‧ Nutritionist & Health Coach

Riddhi is a certified nutritionist with more than a decade of experience of changing people's lives with nutrition and diet. She loves to help her clients achieve their personal goals. 

Have you ever wondered what Steve Reeves's workout looks like and what steps he took in building muscle?

Known as the best-built and most handsome man of the era, Steve Reeves was born in Montana, USA, in 1926.

He also served in the military during World War II. Steve has held multiple roles throughout his lifetime, including Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe. He was a popular name, and Arnold Schwarzenegger came into the picture after him.

Steve Reeves also paddled his way into acting by doing small roles initially around 1954. Later his breakthrough film Hercules portrayed him as a hero, highlighting his tiny waist.

He was also up for a role in Samson, but he lost to Victor Mature due to some weight issues. He is known amongst a few bodybuilders who have enjoyed international fame based on their muscles.

He followed a healthy diet plan and meticulous exercise regime throughout his life that kept his body in good shape. Bodybuilding is way more than just lifting weights. You can take some pages out of Steve's fitness book if you want to follow the same path and entertain a healthy lifestyle.

This article will go over Steve Reeves's workout and cover his diet and supplements.

Steve's Body Measurement At His Peak

At the height of Steve Reeves bodybuilding days, he stood at the following metrics:

  • Height: 6 feet 1 inch
  • Body weight: 216 pounds
  • Hips: 38 inches
  • Biceps: 18.25 inches
  • Waist: 29 inches
  • Chest: 52 inches

He mostly used free weights and took all the proper steps integral to building the classic physique.

Steve Reeves's Attitude Towards Training

A perfect silhouette was the philosophy of Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves's workout emphasized having wide shoulders and a perfect slim waist, and every part of the body should be proportionate.

Some aspects of his training regime were not supported by some bodybuilders, such as he used to do breathing squats and pullovers to increase his rib cage size.

He did not want his waist to widen, so he would not do any oblique exercises. Steve also included several exercises in his routines aimed at enhancing certain body parts.

Some of those exercises include power walking and neck press, which most people do not include in their workout plans.

Overview of Steve Reeves's Week

Steve believed that having a workout regime for three days a week would be better for building a classic physique. Steve Reeves workouts were intense, and the gap between workouts allowed his body to rest and recover from extensive workouts.

He understood the importance of resting and giving some breaks to his muscle fiber and muscle recovery. Spread across the entire week, at some point, Steve Reeves's workout regime looked like no rest Monday, no rest Wednesday, and no rest Friday.

He would train on Monday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and Friday mornings.

As explained above, he used to hit the gym three times a week. His every workout would have exercises for the full body, instead of upper body work or lower body. Moreover, his routine was different from modern bodybuilders.

One to two exercises for muscle groups.

  • Three sets for each exercise.
  • Each set would have eight to 12 reps.
  • Abs and calves would have 20+ reps.
  • Opt for a heavyweight in between eight and 12 reps.
  • Rest for two minutes when making a transition from one muscle group to another.
  • 30 to 45 seconds rest between sets of a different muscle group.

Let's explore Steve Reeves workout schedule for weekdays in full detail.

Steve Reeves Workout Routine for Monday

Looking at the photos of Steve, you will notice he had perfectly sculpted shoulders and his biceps triceps quadriceps hamstrings were all in good shape. He went through different sets of multiple rep range to achieve that look.

  1. Military press – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  2. Triceps extensions, overhead – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  3. Triceps extensions, lying – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  4. Lat pull downs – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  5. Upright row – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  6. Light Dumbbells – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  7. Concentration curls – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  8. Incline bench press – Three sets of six to eight reps.

Steve Reeves Workout Routine for Wednesday

His routine for Wednesday was more focused on muscle growth in the upper body. He was a fan of the form and slow movements.

  1. Dumbbell curls – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  2. Standing military presses – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  3. Weighted pull-ups – Three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
  4. Back extensions – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  5. Barbell curl – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  6. Sit-ups – Three sets of 40+ reps.
  7. Bench press – Three sets of six to eight reps.

Steve Reeves Friday Workout Routine

After upper body workout on Fridays, Steve Reeves mainly focused on legs. It consisted of the following:

  1. Breathing squats– Three sets of six to eight reps.
  2. Barbell squats – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  3. Romanian deadlift – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  4. Standing calf raises – Three sets of six to 15 reps.
  5. Leg extensions – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  6. Hamstring curls – Three sets of six to eight reps.
  7. Hanging leg raises – Three sets of six to 12 reps.

Steve Reeves's Off Days Routine

Weekends would have rest Saturday and Sunday. When Steve Reeves was not working out, it did not mean he was a couch potato.

He would often go for a hike or a swim or engage in power walking to loosen up the rigid muscles or ease up due to muscle soreness, the natural way, and that would be a great body workout as well.

Diet Principles Followed By Steve Reeves

Diet Plan

As far as the issue of diet is concerned, Steve Reeves was quite advanced in his understanding of a healthy diet and its importance. He acknowledged the importance of protein and how essential it is for optimum muscle building.

Steve Reeves used to consume homemade protein powder, which had ingredients such as egg white protein, skimmed milk, and powdered soy protein. Many notable nutritionists agree with the diet of Steve Reeves, and after making some minor changes, they would even recommend it to other athletes.

Steve Reeves's Ideal Diet Plan

Let's dive into the diet plan of one of America's favorite bodybuilders – Steve Reeves.


Steve Reeves would opt for a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, which would consist of Knox gelatin. Along with this powerful liquid, he would have four to six scrambled eggs with the side of brown toast.

He would top it with one tablespoon of honey and bananas to make it more healthy. He would be very smart about his breakfast, the first meal of the day. It was fully loaded with minerals and electrolytes.


Steve Reeves would love to consume a large bowl of fruit salad with cottage cheese on it. It will be along with a cup of mixed vegetables as well. His lunch would be super light but nutritious.


Steve Reeves would end the day with dinner. Dinner would consist of a bowl of fresh salad, multiple vegetables, a large filet of swordfish, and potatoes. Sometimes, swordfish steak would be swapped for beef, chicken, tuna, etc.

His diet consisted of all the nutrients needed by the human body and was perfect for the strength he needed to carry out all his workouts. At the competition, he would opt for the same foods, but just in less quantity.

Did Steve Reeves Use Any Supplements?

Building the classic physique is not a walk in a park. Steve Reeves took all the proper steps. Steve didn't believe in taking steroids to gain muscles.

He thought that bodybuilding is not for you if you have to inject your body with anabolic steroids and don't want a muscular body through natural bodybuilding. Steve was a natural bodybuilder, and back in the 50s and 60s, taking supplements was not a trend.

All you have to do is observe Steve Reeves's body, and you will realize that he wasn't relying on anything artificial, and every muscle was getting proper attention. As we mentioned above, he came up with his protein powder, which was an ultimate source of nutrients.

Besides making his own protein powder, he aimed to cook up a drink high in amino acids, so after multiple trials and errors, he succeeded. He efficiently combined egg protein and soy protein and made a power drink. This provided him with a complete BCAA profile and gave him enough strength to recover from muscle failure and gain muscle mass.

Steve Reeves would avoid added sugar, extra salt, empty-calorie foods, fast food, junk food, preservatives, chemicals, and artificial flavors at any cost and opt for a natural way.

Conclusion – What is There For You?

If you are trying to cut fat and lose weight, want to tone up your body, or wish to take a step towards building a classic physique, you can learn a lot from Steve Reeves's workout regime.

It can offer you excellent results and even a slim waistline. Less trained and even professionals can learn a lot from his excellent natural bodybuilding gym, as it doesn't focus on altering the skeletal structure.

After consulting with your physician, you should try out the Steve Reeves workout, as it has realistic fitness goals for an aesthetic physique.

You may also rely on free weights, upright rows, barbell curls, dumbbell swings, etc., and be one of the bodybuilding champions in a few weeks. Stay away from any artificial method, as you are loaded with enough male hormones to help you build muscle by engaging in full body workouts and other exercises.

Steve Reeves workout was smartly planned to make his name in the bodybuilding community. He was true to his craft, and he made sure all muscle groups in his body had his attention to have a classic physique.

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