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Forum Home > Body-weight and Self Resistance Exercise > The Steve Reeves Dumbbell Routine

Lionquest1
Site Owner
Posts: 4152

I thought I'd throw this out there. This is a routine I wrote up recently for one of my son-in-laws. People who understand weights, you guide through the iron.


Now I make no claim as to this being a Steve Reeves routine. Based on Steve Reeve's bio, I'd call this a Steve Reeves "like" routine. Reeves has always fascinated me for two things. One is that he used a lot of cramping and tension with relatively light weights. Two, is that he said that when he was in Europe making movies, he only had access to two 50 pound adjustable dumbbells to train with. 




These days I've seen a lot of people claiming that he trained heavy, but if you've ever read any of John Grimek's articles on Steve from back in the day, and there are a few scattered around the internet, you'll read Grimek commenting on Reeves not doing a lot of heavy lifting. Not that Reeves couldn't, but that he didn't choose to do so.


This is also a routine I did for several years during my late twenties based on a two part interview with Steve from Muscle Mag International. I did it two days a week. Three days I practiced Hapkido. Two days a week I chased girls and got into a lot of foolishness I regret now. But, as the old saying goes, why is youth wasted on the young?


At that time I stayed in the 165-170 weight range. The mistake I made at the time was trying to push the weight too heavy thinking I was going after size. I actually had a version of this routine published In Exercise For Men Only during this period. Later I got into heavy lifting and 20 rep squatting, but that is another story.


The key thing to this routine is the tension and feeling the muscles you are wanting to work. The weight is secondary to deep concentration and contraction. Also you don't want any momentum to carry the weight.


Neck Rotations - each direction - 10, 8 and 6

45 degree incline press - 10, 8, and 6 - 50 pound dumbbells.

Flat dumbell press - 10, 8, and 6 - 50 pound dumbells

Superset with  the presses - one arm dumbbell row - 50 pound dumbell - 6X6 each side - stretching the muscle and using tension

Seated dumbell raise - 10, 8 and 6 reps - 10-15 pound dumbells

Incline dumbbell curls - 10, 8, and 6 - 35 pounds

Superset curls with three sets of 6-8 inch (hand spacing) pushups for 10-20 repetitions.

Step-ups on a low step (6-8 inches) - 50 pound dumbbells - 20 reps each side

or do 6 sets of 60 yard hill sprints


It is not a long routine, but something someone could get in well under an hour. You also won't get huge, but you can augment a sport or activity by doing this routine two or three times a week. I did more weight than listed back in the day, but these days I'd recommend not exceeding 3/4's of your body weight, for the combined weight of the dumbbells. 


It is something different and might give some of you some ideas to incorporate.


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August 12, 2017 at 6:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Michael
Administrator
Posts: 3530

I remember as a kid watching Steve on a black and white TV. I would like to read a book that talks about his training. What one do You recommend? Did he always train the same? Reps,sets, volume?


Having not lifted weights in years besides KBs, for me tension and feeling the muscle is the way to go. If I knew back then what I know now I'd probably would have never stopped. This way is so much easier on the joints. I tend to respond pretty good with tension and feeling the muscle. Good ideas Greg with dumbells!


Although I have been experimenting for like 3 months with progressive calisthenics I played with some 5 lb dumbells with tension. But not the same reps scheme, although I really like the 10,8,6. After I finish my upper body workouts wo days a week I've been doing 1 set of each exercise: front,side, bent laterals and bicep curls for 12 to 15 reps with tension. 


Greg if I was to use this routine I would change it to fit my needs but it is a nice routine. Thanks for sharing I enjoyed the post.


--

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,

because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

August 12, 2017 at 7:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lionquest1
Site Owner
Posts: 4152

There are a couple of bios on Steve out there. I had the one co-authored by John Little, which was good, but a little light on content. There is supposed to be a better one out there, but I don't have any info on it. Also his last wife wrote a tell all book recently about Steve that gets trashed by his fans.


The thing about weights that has me try them for awhile and then drop them yet again is the temptation to go heavy instead of concentrating on form and tension. 

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August 12, 2017 at 8:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Michael
Administrator
Posts: 3530

Thanks Greg I'll check them out. Hey Greg because of the daily pushup thing I did in the past ( mostly the Atlas 3) I'm not a big fan anymore of alot of chest work. Unless I do the self resistance exercises Fred mentioned in the past like the wall chest flye or the Prayer chest press.Because these work the upper and inner part of the chest( I could be wrong about that so correct me if I'm wrong). 


If Your interested or someone else is I have a little trick for dumbell bench presses. I have done these with KBs and they work with dumbells also. Instead of using a bench use a floor.With the tension and feeling the muscle as You described it definetly is much safer on the shoulders. For the floor is even safer.


Here is how You do it if anyone wants to try it. Whatever You use dumbell or KB do one side at a time until You get the feel.Lay on the floor with legs straight. Keep Your elbow close to your side with palm facing your feet. Press with tension and feel the muscle. I'm not sure if this is correct anatomy but this hits the muscles more in the upper and middle chest. I think this would build a deeper chest. If anyone tries this let me know what You think. It's not my idea but I can't remember exactly where I read about this exercise.

--

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,

because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

August 12, 2017 at 8:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Prowler
Moderator
Posts: 578

Funny enough I went Jamaica recently for holiday they had a Dumbbells that only went went to 50 pounds. I need actually weight train bit over there, it was a nice change use the gym bit.

For overhead pressing 50'pounds is a good weight, for curling its a good weight. For Benching chest and Legs it may feel light to many men plus rowing but if you slow it up and squeeze the muscle you can make it work though me thinks. 

I think that routine 2 to 3 times a week could be effective and it's not stupidly heavy weight. 

August 13, 2017 at 12:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

MikeNY
Member
Posts: 235

Years ago I read that early Bodybuilders/Weightlifters used light barbells and some used just light dumbbells!  The Dumbbells shown in old photos look like 1 to 3 pounds (sometimes). Dumbbells and Barbells were not adjustable then in the early days. But they used "internal resistance" ie Isometric Resistance and it sounds like Steve Reeves used the same method; Greg noted "One is that he used a lot of cramping and tension with relatively light weights"!

August 13, 2017 at 5:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

machinehead
Member
Posts: 38

Some Steve Reeves history and detail here:


https://physicalculturestudy.com/?s=reeves

August 14, 2017 at 8:23 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Det206
Member
Posts: 162
Of course there is also the Universal brand multi-station gym that Steve tweaked and had modified for use later in life. This is part one of three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxDkEnyogmk
August 14, 2017 at 10:02 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Michael
Administrator
Posts: 3530
Thanks Machinehead and Det! That was a cool video Det. Goes to show you there's more than one way to skin a cat.
--

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,

because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

August 14, 2017 at 3:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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