He was one of the pioneers of the bodybuilding world that inspired a generation. Mr. Steve Reeves won the Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe contests with his incredible physique back in the 1950’s. He then went on to Hollywood fame by becoming the legendary Hercules. Countless kids watched him on the big screen and immediately wanted to look like him.
You don’t get that many accolades or that type of attention without a big, muscular chest. Reeves had exactly that and it wasn’t built from just doing pushups or bench presses.
In fact, Steve’s routine was very specific and a bit revolutionary for the time because he emphasized incline presses and dumbbell flyes with variable arm positions to help shape his chest. He also used the classic combination (although not classic at the time) of breathing squats and breathing pullovers to expand the ribcage and thusly make the entire chest and rib-cage larger. Lastly he liked to alternate between dumbbells and barbells for a different feel.
Hercules Chest Workout
- Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (alternate with Incline Barbell Press each workout)
- Flat Barbell Press – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (alternate with Flat Dumbbell Press each workout)
- Straight Arm Dumbbell Flyes – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Bent-Arm Dumbbell Flyes – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (arms at a 45 degree angle each workout)
Rib-Cage Exercises (following chest workout):
- Breathing Squat – 2 sets of 20 reps
- Breathing Pullover – 2 sets of 20 reps
For the squats and pullovers you perform one set of squats followed by one set of pullovers. For these exercises you perform reps while inhaling very deeply. You would perform the first 5 reps while taking in one long breath. Next you would do 10 reps while taking in 3 deep breaths. Finally you would complete 5 reps with 5 deep breaths.
The idea is to stretch the rib-cage further by exercising muscles that expand the ribs during big deep breaths. This exercise combo helps train the intercostals and muscles under the armpits as well. For the pullovers use a single dumbbell in each hand instead of holding a heavier dumbbell in both hands.
Breathing squats after a workout also help teach the body to intake more oxygen into the system which is crucial to all body processes. Some people have claimed incredible muscle growth from adding just breathing squats and pullovers to their training programs. While it is very much an old school method, it does have very practical and useful results that will benefit everyone. The lungs are powerful and used for everything that you do.