This article will take you 7 minutes to read! Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!
What do aesthetics mean in bodybuilding?
Aesthetics in bodybuilding simply means having a very pleasant physique to look at. Things are proportional, the body is lean and showing graciously all body parts. Many aesthetic physiques will show a tight waist while presenting wide shoulders. This is something modern bodybuilding have lost. You often hear Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about how old-school bodybuilders were showing these aesthetic and nice looking physiques on stage. Now, it’s all about mass and the drugs which are kind of destroying the physiques.
Example of aesthetic physiques
Some examples of aesthetic physiques in the old and modern days (even if some of them might not be natural) could be Jeff Seid, Frank Zane, Connor Murphy, David Laid, Serge Nubret, Arnold Schwarzenneger, and finally, Steve Reeves. They are at least what the community would call aesthetic! They all have a tiny waist and wide shoulders. They all appear lean with great muscle definition with this grainy look pro-bodybuilders often talk about.
Is there a way to train for aesthetics? Can anyone reach aesthetics?
Genetics might come into place and might not gift you with great natural aesthetics, but nothing is impossible. There are weaknesses and strong parts for everyone’s body. Truth is, if you know how to recognise them, you should be able to do well. Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was hiding his stomach on that specific pose.
He knew he had to show the best (his biceps) and what he had to hide to overcome his weaknesses (his stomach/abs). What’s also very important is being lean enough and if you compete to be in super ripped condition on stage!
Then try and be intelligent in the way you work your muscles. If you always do super heavy squats, your middle section might for example become a bit too thick so you might want to be careful and train smartly in a way to go for aesthetics.
The example of Steve Reeves, the perfect model for any natural bodybuilder
Steve Reeves simply is the natural physique by excellence any natural bodybuilder would dream of reaching. He has got them aesthetics we talked about earlier. We will analyse his physique and then go and see how you can build a physique like Steve Reeves. Of course, you might not have the exact same physique in the end but you could have a comparable size and learn about your body morphology so you can work on your most important parts.
The program given will just be a good representation.
Was Steve Reeves natural or not?
I believe Steve Reeves was natural. Almost 100% sure. But if he was not, I believe his physique was achievable naturally. Being completely honest, this type of physique would take you almost a decade of hard work though. Being a smaller version of Steve Reeves is already exceptional. Do not forget that nowadays, you just need to build a little bit of muscle and be lean to stand out from the crowd!
Steve Reeves’ aesthetic training workout program
We will talk about the training program to get Steve Reeves’ physique. We will see how we can modify it and make it better.
Inclined curls are probably one of the best exercises you can do for your biceps! Steve Reeves had understood this.
Steve Reeves believed resting was very important. It is true. Even though I believe some natural athletes will be able to train more than what he was doing and still get on with it well.
Here is how his program appeared to be from different sources I’ve examined.
Let’s not forget Steve Reeves made his sessions very intense and there was quite a lot of volume involved each time he would train. His program could have been splitted in 5 or 6 days a week, but for him, doing full body workouts was better.
And you know what? There are always debates around what you should do and not do in bodybuilding. Truth is, everything works within the basics and good practices.
If you are not training smartly in terms of recovery or if you are overtraining for your current level, you will not grow. If you are not following the principles of progressive overload and don’t eat well or enough, you will not improve either. But whether you decide to do a split routine or full body or pull/push workout, this does not matter. As long as these main factors are respected.
Wait, here is a recap of what’s essential to follow when you decide to get going with a program:
- Understand your current level of fitness/bodybuilding
- Good exercise selection according to your body-morphology
- Understand what your diet should be for your current level
- Any training routine, as long as it’s done smartly (don’t do shoulders and triceps the day before chest if you want to grow your chest or don’t do biceps the day before back if you want to grow your back!)
- Seek progression and stick to your routine, you’ll become good at what you do the most, force it! Don’t change it every bloody week!
Again, what matters is progression, and there are many ways to do so. Steve Reeves was progressing with a full-body work-out, no problem.
Steve Reeves was also probably a fan of the mind-muscle connection and perfect form.
It’s not something I would particularly say is true or not. What matters again is progression and sticking to the same routine as explained in this article.
What matters is that Steve Reeves was sticking to his perfect form and each time he’d work out would make sure he was super focused. This means that in a way, he was always sticking to his routine and way of doing things.
People will also often ask “Should I do slow or fast reps?”. The truth is, you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t keep changing the way you do things. You need to stick to a way of doing things so you become good at it and have landmarks.
When I say perfect form is not always something to follow, it’s just that I am talking for those who find it as an excuse not to push a bit further! Most of the people who force it are highly motivated and that’s what they are trying to transmit to others when they say perfect form is a bit overrated.
You do what you want. Good form is great, but sometimes you can force a bit. With age, you might want to go the safer way as your body is not invincible.
If you want to carry on with your set without cheating, use techniques like rest-pausing to get a few more reps out of your set!
Steve Reeves’ diet
Steve Reeves’ diet was pretty straight forward. He had his Power Drink which he ate twice a day.
He was consistent with his diet so he knew what to expect from it. His diet mostly consisted in eating 60% carbs and 20% of fat and protein respectively. It is not what most of the natural bodybuilders will do these days but it worked for him. To be honest, high protein plans are often overrated nowadays in the fitness industry. The most important is to understand the calorie surplus/deficit and be pretty moderate in the nutrients repartition.
We could take a guess that for a 225lbs guy, he would need a good 2500-3000 daily calorie intake.
Steve Reeves probably was not counting his macros, or if he did so, he would then stick to the same diet as seen above. When you stick to your diet like you stick to your program, it is easier to have landmarks and know what you are doing if you want to start cutting – just try and burn more calories by training more intensely than usual.
Steve Reeves would mention he would go for more intense sessions in times he needed to cut or he would do more powerwalking. This makes sense. If he was sticking to the exact same diet, the calories intake stay the same. He would then just have to do more intense sessions to start seeing cutting results.
Example of modified Steve Reeves’ aesthetic training workout program for you to reach bodybuilding aesthetics
Your turn to become an aesthetic beast.
Unfortunately, you can’t always just follow someone else’s program and hope for the best. One thing that we can learn from Steve Reeves is that he followed this program which worked for him and probably can do for thousands of people.
The only thing is that you might have your own traits and body-morphology so you will have to adjust it to yourself. If you are a beginner, you also probably have to take a step back. You won’t be able to do as much volume as Steve Reeves did in that program.
So here is how to proceed!
Answer these few questions:
- What level are you at now?
- How many hours a week are you comfortable training at?
From there whether you decide you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced – you can follow Steve Reeves aesthetic training workout program’s as following.
If you are starting, a full-body program like Steve Reeves can be great. Try and start by doing 2 sets instead of 3. This should shorten your session and not put too much pressure as someone who is starting. Stay within the 8-12 reps as in the program. Make sure you are learning the movement well and if this feels like too much, reduce the overall volume. Go to one set. The goal really is to get used to it until you can become an intermediate.
Respect the same principles just like for beginners and if you feel like you can gradually increase, go for it. As an intermediate, you might know yourself better and your body better. Try and see what exercises might fit you best than the ones explained in Steve Reeves routine. Keep the same training scheme but modify exercises if you think some will benefit you better or if some exercises were hurting you.
You can try the program as it is but feel free to modify exercises which you think won’t benefit you or that have shown in the past to not be good for you. At an advanced level, you surely know what kind of body morphology you have. You have to find the most efficient exercises for your body shape to train smartly and more efficiently. If Steve Reeves program is not enough, feel free to make it more intense. Add a few sets. Alternatively, switch to a 5 days split routine and try to keep some similarities with Steve Reeves program!
Thanks for reading this piece. Any questions, ask them below!