Plan bodybuilding training and the glamorous story of Steve Reeves

When analysing a sample of people who start bodybuilding using heavy weights in the gym, you will notice that there will be a few who see their physique change substantially. Moving from a sedentary lifestyle to one that includes 2 or 3 workouts per week is normal to have initial improvements, both in body composition and in strength.
What is difficult to do is to see certain adaptations stabilize or improve. The main reason for the lack of results is the lack of programming in most of the training of people who do bodybuilding in clubs.
Rope training
People most interested in the subject of bodybuilding are instead constantly looking for the best training program to maximize their results. Over the years, there have been many different methods and theories on bodybuilding, each of which promised to be the ultimate answer for every need. The reality is that if there really was a complete methodology and absolutely the best for everyone, you would only do that and there would be no different points of view.
Muscoli dorsali ipertrofici in tensione
This article will show the main training methods for bodybuilding that have followed one another over the years trying to make people think about which one is best suited to their needs. Finally, we will discover the story of one of the founding fathers of bodybuilding, Steve Reeves, and his brilliant career in film.

Weider principles, the father of bodybuilding

Outdoor flexing
Joe Weider is considered the father of Bodybuilding: he was the co-founder of IFBB and creator of events such as Mr. Olympia.

He didn't create a real method but thanks to the continuous dissemination made in specialised magazines he has created a guide that allows you to create custom routines based on your training experience, weaknesses and strengths and goals. Anyone who has trained in the weight room has certainly drawn on at least one of these principles, even without being aware of it.

Moving from a sedentary lifestyle to one that includes 2 or 3 workouts per week, it is normal to have initial improvements, both in body composition and in strength.

Weider's principles can be grouped into three main distinct categories, each of which develops into various training techniques, all of which are impossible to mention because they are numerous and differently articulated.
Training methods in bodybuilding
  • Pre-exhaustion

Pre-fatigue a larger muscle before an exercise in isolation: crosses on a flat bench followed by stretches on a flat bench.

Crosses on flat bench
    • Super set

Consecutively train muscle groups considered to be antagonistic to each other: chest/back, biceps/triceps, etc.<

  • Muscle priority
  • Train the weakest muscles first

Planning bodybuilding training

  • Cyclical. Organize your training according to cycles of mass, strength, etc.
  • Split.
  • Grouping of certain muscle groups: upper part, thrust muscles, etc.
  •  Progressive overloading: Increase the load in the final series or decrease the recovery time.
Vertical traction on Selection

Advanced techniques for bodybuilding training

  • Cheating. Use the momentum of the body, limbs or bounce the weight
  • Forced repetitions. The spotter helps to complete series that would not have been completed by themselves.
  • Peak Contraction. If at the end of the concentric phase the weight is not completely discharged on the joints, force the muscle contraction for a few seconds: for example, in the curl biceps or in the pectoral machine.

BIIO method

A strong shock to the programming method came with the BIIO method through a book published in 2001 under the name The Science of Natural Bodybuilding. This training system is named after 4 fundamental principles whose acronym forms the acronym BIIO.

BIIO Brief

When studying the behavior of hormones during training in bodybuilding, it was found that testosterone drops after about 40-45 minutes of activity, whereas cortisol (the excess of which contributes to muscle catabolism) rises considerably after 80-90 minutes. From this data, the authors of this system recommend doing training sessions for bodybuilding ranging from 45 to 90 minutes maximum.
Squats and stretching above the head

BIIO intense

In order to respect the principle of brevity, training with a few repetitions and series must be carried out with high intensity.

BIIO Infrequent

Following the principle of super-compensation, adequate recovery time is needed for both the muscles and the neuromuscular system before repeating a new bodybuilding session in the gym.

Since the sessions are very intense, it is advisable to assume the following time sets.

  • Newbies: 3 times a week
  • Intermediate: 2 times per week
  • Advanced: 2-3 times every 15 days

The intention would be to arrive twice a month as well.

 BIIO Organised

The authors believe that with this method for the first-time bodybuilding has at its disposal an organised scheme that allows avoiding stalls in improvements.

The BIIO tables provide for different cycles based on the greater or lesser presence of certain hormones in the body:

  •  October - November: The tables in bodybuilding will focus on strength due to the increased presence of testosterone.
  • December-May: Bodybuilding training should be particularly short and intense due to the peak of cortisol.
  • May to the end of summer: better time for mass due to the presence of high levels of both insulin and testosterone (anabolic hormones).
Rope training with Omnia
Criticism of this method stems from the fact that in addition to hormonal cycles there are many other factors that can influence training periods in bodybuilding. In addition, super-compensation is a theoretical concept known to all, but which is difficult to apply in practice, since depending on whether you are talking about the neuromuscular system, glycogen, muscle recovery, etc. you have different times for optimal recovery.
At the scientific level, many studies, including recent reviews, show that the greatest improvements in hypertrophic level in bodybuilding are obtained thanks to volume and not intensity, and it has been shown that 2 sessions per week in bodybuilding give more improvements than a smaller number, making the principles of BIIO invalid.
Pulling to the barbell
In contrast to the principles of BIIO, there is the multi-frequency training, praised by many and poorly seen by lovers of mono-frequency: who is right?

Mono-frequency vs. multifrequency in bodybuilding

It is necessary to specify that improvements in bodybuilding will be obtained both with mono-frequency and multi-frequency sessions, therefore there is no better methodology than the other. Each has its merits and weaknesses that, if known, can help maximize results.
Supporters of single frequency bodybuilding sessions justify their choice by specifying how training a muscle to exhaustion will take days before they can repeat a training session of equal intensity. It is certain that the main stimulus to increase muscle mass is the volume of training rather than the intensity, this information would make you prefer a multi-frequency training: obviously, to train the same muscle district 2-3 or more times a week, it significantly increases the volume at the expense of the intensity of work.

In bodybuilding there is no perfect session, there are instead methods to which the body of each responds better.

The downside of multifrequency in bodybuilding is precisely this: not being able to manage the intensity in the various training sessions. For this reason, it is a methodology that should be proposed to newcomers only by an expert in the field who can set up a carefully customised training program.

Steve Reeves, the bodybuilder and cinema star

by Egle Damini / LUZ
Steve Reeves was born in 1926 in Montana. Still remembered today for his career as an actor in the '50s and '60s, he was also an incredible bodybuilder who with innovative training has helped to perfect and modernize this sport.
He began to develop his muscles unknowingly during his school years in California when to earn a few dollars he delivered newspapers by bike pedaling up and down the hills of Oakland. He's not a mosque boy, but if there's something to fight, he doesn't back down: he fists with his peers, legend has it that he only loses once, against a companion much smaller than him.
Steve Reeves in a 1940s photo. (c) public domain via Wikipedia
The ko upsets him to the point that he decides to spy on the opponent, discovering that he trains with weights. He must do it too: that's how Steve knows bodybuilding. He starts to train constantly and, in a few years, already when he attends high school, he achieves surprising results.
Raising a truck tyre
In the middle, however, there are years complicated, not only for Steve, for all humanity. The Second World War broke out and he was forced to stop training, but once the hostilities were over and back from the front, he was ready for the first important competitions: in 1946 he won Mr. Pacific and the following year he won the title of Mr. America.

Steve Reeves' unparalleled physique

In the 1940s, bodybuilding followed the guidelines theorized by Eugene Sandow, considered the father of modern bodybuilding, but Reeves added new ones to the "classic" exercises, concentrating on strengthening certain specific muscle groups. The result is surprising: his body has a plastic appearance and a definition never seen before, so much to be still today a point of reference and a model, often unreachable.

Steve Reeves retired in 1968 and as the decades passed he left history to enter the myth: a point of reference for bodybuilding, the fight against doping, a symbol in the flesh, bones and muscles of a golden age of bodybuilding and cinema.

Years go by and Steve continues his unstoppable climb to success: in 1948 he wins the title of Mr. World and the following year he becomes Mr. Universe. At the height of his success as a bodybuilder, he began his career as an actor almost by chance. The directors discover it thanks to the fame he has earned through sport and for his sculptural features, so much so that they choose him to act in films set in ancient Rome.
But Reeves is a bodybuilder before being an actor, and every time he is asked to lose mass for script reasons, he refuses the part. It was only in 1958, when he met Italian director Pietro Francisci, that he convinced him to leave the gym and choose Cinecittà, where he played a peplum movie destined to become the backbone of an entire film genre, Le Fatiche di Ercole. The role of the Greek hero of Le Argonautiche, endowed with superhuman strength, consecrates him and becomes his trademark.
The choice to dedicate himself to acting, however, will also have less pleasant consequences than fame: on the set of The Last Days in Pompeii (1959, the first director of Sergio Leone's career) he dislodges his shoulder falling from a chariot. An injury, all things considered, not serious, but that hits the Achilles heel of the giant Steve. He can't get back to full speed with the training and in time he can't even stay on the set anymore.
He retired in 1968 and as the decades passed, he left history to enter the myth: a reference point for bodybuilding, the fight against doping, a symbol in the flesh, bones, and muscles of a golden age of bodybuilding and cinema.

Fonti e bibliografia
  • Sports Med. 2016 Nov;46(11):1689-1697. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8. Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
  • Body building natural science – BIIO System by Claudio Tozzi
  • Joe Weider's ultimate bodybuilding by J. Weider, B Reynolds

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