Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Steve Reeves' Arm Training


Steve Reeves built a balanced body but even still his arms stood out. He had a very impressive pair of upper arms, crowned with perfect peaks. He got there by putting over six inches of muscle on his arms. When he started his arms were only a little over 12 inches. 

With determined work he added inch upon inch of muscle to each arm. All the while he was more concerned with the proportionate look of his physique and undoubtedly could have pushed his arms up to a larger size if that was the goal.

One of the more amazing aspects of Steve's upper arm development is that he primarily used just one exercise for working his biceps. Instead of many different exercises that most bodybuilders employ for biceps work over the course of time, Reeves stayed with one approach for working the biceps.

Incline Dumbbell Curls

The primary exercise that Steve Reeves used to transform his biceps was the incline dumbbell curl. Reeves found this movement to be very productive for building super arms.

However, he didn't just start throwing the weight around -- he performed this movement in a specific manner: 

He would use a bench set at approximately a 45-degree angle and would extend his body straight out. From this position he would let his arms drop to his sides. As he curled his arms up, he would keep the upper arm stationary and would not allow it to move during the movement. He also lowered the bells almost twice as slow as he would raise them. Reeves believed in and utilized the negative portion of the movement in almost all his exercises.

One of the key factors in getting the most out of a bodybuilding exercise is to remove any influence that momentum plays. Reeves did this in two ways -- he kept his upper arm stationary, and he lowered the weight at half the speed he raised it. This combination for the dumbbell curl insures that momentum will not play a role in raising the weight. All of the work is forced on the biceps, which benefit tremendously. The manner in which Reeves performed the incline dumbbell curl keeps constant tension on the biceps, an important factor in eliciting growth in them.

The incline bench is particularly effective for working the biceps in a DB curling exercise because it allows for a deeper stretch of the muscles than if one were standing up. Reeves was able to dial up this deep stretch for a full range of motion exercise for the biceps. 

What is really impressive is the amount of weight he worked up to using the incline dumbbell curl -- 70 pounds for 6 reps, and even heavier weight for a lower rep count. Anyone who has tried to curl a dumbbell in strict, slow, deep fashion can appreciate the amount of weight that Reeves was using.

Steve Reeves was able to build incredible biceps from a single exercise approach. You can put this exercise to work for your biceps as well. Make the dumbbell curl on an incline bench the feature exercise of your biceps routine, and consider doing what Steve did -- making it the only biceps exercise in your next training cycle. This will have a two-fold benefit -- it will allow you to see how well you respond to the exercise, and it will help you concentrate all your efforts into a single movement.

Learning to perform the incline dumbbell curl in a productive manner will require a commitment to good form. This means keeping the upper arms motionless for the entire movement. This is not as easy as it sounds. There is a tremendous temptation to let your elbows drift forward  in the the ascent, and backward in the descent, but either/or will take away from your growth. Keep those elbows pinned tight in one spot. 

Equally challenging is the controlled descent. A slower than normal descent of the dumbbells is not an easy task to pull off, especially during the hardest, final few reps. At this point, deliberately focus on keeping the weight at a slower pace, even though the biceps burn. That burn indicates that the muscle is getting essential stimulation.

How many sets and repetitions should you perform? The rep range should be 6 to 10. Start off with just a couple of sets. However, since this is the featured exercise for the biceps, work up to 6 sets of the exercise over the course of several weeks.

If you want to build  great pair of guns, look no further than the biceps routine of Steve Reeves.

For his triceps, Steve also kept it fairly minimal as well. He favored the pressdown on the lat machine for this triceps workouts.   

He would perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps for the triceps. Remember he was also performing pressing movements and working the whole body fairly frequently, three times each and every week.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

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