Steve Reeves’ Competition Diet

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For many Steve Reeves was the epitome of bodybuilding. Alongside John Grimek, he helped to define a mid-century Iron Game obsessed with beauty, strength and uncompromising health. Though undoubtedly blessed with fantastic genetics, Reeves was known for his work ethic and attention to detail when it came to his diet. Coming from the Steve Reeves Cookbook, a book that’s currently distracting me from my own PhD work, today’s post looks at Reeves’ Competition diet which saw him through the Mr. World, Mr. Universe and Mr. America.

Safe to say then we may learn a thing or two from it!

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Guest Post: The History of Marijuana Use in the Fitness Industry

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There’s no denying that professional athletes hailing from every sport have tried supplementing with everything and anythingover the years in order to get a head start and surpass their competitors. Being the star athlete of your generation and rising up the proverbial ladder to a prominent and profitable sports figure is definitely not an easy thing to achieve, so you can’t really blame your favorite athletes for doing everything to achieve the results they need.

Sig Klein’s Beginner Workout

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Earlier this year I had the great fortune to visit the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports in Texas. Founded by Jan and Terry Todd, the Stark Center is a playground for anoraks like me. Containing the collections of Bernarr MacFadden, Professor Atilla, Bob Hoffman and several other Iron Game legends, Stark holds the history of the Iron Game.

So gushing praise aside, part of time there included a search through Sig Klein’s own personal papers. For those unaware, Klein ran one of the most popular and revered gymnasiums in New York from the 1930s to roughly the 1970s. Famed for his strength and amazing physique, Klein’s best known motto was to train for shape and the strength will come.

Though an advanced lifter in his own right, Klein was always keen to encourage the beginner. With this in mind today’s post details Klein’s beginner workout given to those new to his gymnasium. No tricks, no gimmicks, just simple hard work and consistency were Klein’s twin pillars for success.

Alan Palmieri, Gaining Weight And Adding Muscle Mass (2003)

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Although sometimes people take up bodybuilding to lose weight, the majority take to the sport in an attempt to add weight and gain muscle size to their frames. This is especially true for teenagers and young adults. As one matures with age it is usually much easier to gain weight, sometimes too much weight. Individuals who are extremely thin go through just as difficult a time as those that are excessively overweight. Being extremely skinny was the reason I took up bodybuilding in the first place.

Bradley Steiner, ‘ON GAIN WEIGHT SUPPLEMENTS’, The Hard Gainers Bible (1988)

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I don’t believe in the heavy use of food supplements. Not for anyone. ESPECIALLY (and perhaps, surprisingly so to many) in the case of hard gainers, of all people! Why?

Hard gainers need COMPLETE, BALANCED NUTRITION. They need ir more definitely and more direcrlv than their easy-gaining brothers. THEY DON’T HAVE THE EXTRA-EFFICIENTMETABOLISMS NEEDED TO ASSIMILATE BOT-H THESUPPLEMENTS AND THE FULL, BALANCED MEAI,, INGREAT AMOUNTS. Far better for these people to use a small judicious amount of one or two really important supplements (like vitamin-mineral tablets and wheat germ oil) than to stuff their mouths with powders, pills and concoctions.

Charles Gaines, ‘Cutting Some Fancy Figures, Sports Illustrated, 10 July (1972).

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Outside the auditorium, or Pavilion, as it’s called, it is a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the Mountain Park amusement center in Holyoke, Mass. A roller coaster clatters up and down a wooden trestle. Children fly around in little whirly things that look like boats with wings. There are clam bars, pizza stands, dart throws, cotton-candy booths, a commando machine-gun stall. The sky is raucous blue, the sun is hot and a lot of people are laughing. Outside Mountain Park, on all sides, stretches Holyoke suburbia, big homes and fine lawns that make the place feel mischievous and isolated, an island of gaudery in the midst of all that yawning green. Especially today. Today in the Pavilion a body contest is going on, a “Festival of Flesh”—maybe the gaudiest of all sporting events and strange as a llama race to the average suburban fan. Leon Brown, who works in a laundry in New York, is in there posing for the 1972 Mr. East Coast title.

John Balik, Total Muscularity: SuperStar Nutrition (Santa Monica, 1979)

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Describing himself as Arnold’s Seminar Nutritionist, Balik opened his short pamphlet on gaining muscle with the often forgotten law that ‘nothing beats persistence.’ Produced alongside a pamphlet on gaining muscle, which we’ll be discussing in a future post, Balik’s Total Muscularity represents a great insight into the training philosophy of 1970s Muscle Beach bodybuilding. Sparing myself the task of typing out his pamphlet word for word, which I suspect would infringe on some form of copyright law, I decided that a brief synopsis of the book would suffice. At the very least it would pander to our ever decreasing attention spans.

So in today’s post we’re going to look at Balik’s theories on individual body types, the type of diet he recommended and also what we can learn from it nearly forty years after its publication.

T.C. Luoma and Bill Phillips, ‘Muscle Media 2000 Exposes 30 of Bodybuilding’s Biggest Myths That Stand Between You and Success!’, Muscle Media, (October/November, 2000).

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1 — You can get as big as a pro bodybuilder without taking steroids; it just takes longer.

Despite what many of the magazines say, all professional bodybuilders use either steroids or steroids in combination with other growth-enhancing drugs. Without manipulating hormones, it just isn’t possible to get that degree of muscularity, the paper-thin skin, and the continuing ability to pack on mass, despite sometimes having poor workout habits and relative ignorance of the principles involved that many pro bodybuilders have. Many supplement distributors, in order to sell their products, would have you believe otherwise.

Still, that’s no reason to give up. By using state-of-the-art training principles, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, and by getting proper amounts of rest, almost every person can make incredible changes in his or her physique. The competitive bodybuilder circuit may not be in your future, but building the kind of physique that gains you respect is certainly achievable, as are self-respect and robust health.

2 — In order to get really big, you have to eat a super-high-calorie diet.

Well, that’s true; you’ll get really big if you eat a super high-calorie diet, but you’ll look like the Michelin Man’s fraternal twin. However, if you want to get big, lean-tissue wise, then super-high- calorie diets are probably not for you unless you are one of those very few people with metabolicrates so fast you can burn off these calories instead of depositing them as fat. Unfortunately, studies show that, in most people, about 65% of the new tissue gains brought about by high-calorie diets consists of fat! Of the remaining 35%, approximately 15% consists of increased intracellular fluid volume, leaving a very modest percentage attributable to increased lean muscle mass.

According to Dr Scott Connelly (MM2K, Spring 1992, p. 21), only about 20% to 25% of increased muscle growth stems from increased protein synthesis. The rest of the muscle growth is directly attributable to increased proliferation of the satellite cells in the basal lamina of muscle tissue, and dietary energy (calories) is not a key factor in the differentiation of these cells into new myofibres (muscle cells).

Of all factors determining muscle growth, prevention of protein breakdown (anti-catabolism) seems to be the most relevant, but adding adipose [fat] tissue through constant overfeeding can actually increase muscle proteolysis (breakdown). Furthermore, additional adipose mass can radically alter hormone balances which are responsible for controlling protein breakdown in muscle. Insulin balance, for one, which partially controls anti- catabolism in the body, is impaired by consistent overfeeding. So much for the eat-big-to-get-big philosophy!

Stay away from the super-high calorie diets unless you’re a genetic freak, or you’re woefully lean and don’t mind putting on fat [or you’re using appropriate pharmaceutical supplements].