Steve Reeves Intermediate Full Body Workout Variation

I’ll have a writeup soon on various ways in which you can work these two programs. There is a lot that can be done with these routines by making small changes as to how you work them.

This is Reeves own intermediate routine.

Steve Reeves’ Intermediate Routine!

Dumbbell Swings (warm-ups) 3 – 15-20

  • Upright Rowing – 3 x 8-12
  • Bench Press – 3 x 8-12
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows – 3 x 8-12
  • Dumbbell Laterals/Flyes – 3 x 8-12
  • Incline Press – 3 x 8-12
  • Triceps Pushdown – 3 x 8-12
  • Barbell Curls – 3 x 8-12
  • Seated Dumbbell Curls – 3 x 8-12
  • Regular Squats – 3 x 8-12 (superset with following exercise)
  • Light Barbell Pullovers – 3 x 8-12
  • Breathing Squats – 1 x 20 (superset with following exercise)
  • Breathing Pullovers – 1 x 20
  • Deadlifts – 2 x 8-12
  • Good Mornings – 2 x 8-12

As you can see, that is a lot of work for one session. I’ve taken the basics of that routine, and split it up into a weeks worth of work that can be done in more reasonable time frame for a single fullbody session. This is still a lot of work and is not for a beginner. You should have several months of fullbody conditioning before attempting this program.

The Reeves Classic Physique is a solid program that can take you a long way. I would recommend utilizing the Reeves Classic for at least 3-6 months before attempting the intermediate program. Realistically, if you’re a beginner you could use the classic program for a few years, and make good gains, if you kept progression moving.

This is the the Reeves Classic.

Reeves classic physique

  • Squat – 3 x 8-12
  • Barbell/Dumbbell Row – 3 x 8-12….Deadlift – 3 x 5* see note
  • Behind the Neck Press – 3 x 8-12
  • Bench Press – 3 x 8-12
  • Barbell/Dumbbell Curl – 3 x 8-12
  • Dips – 5 x 10 @ BW (bodyweight).Β  Try for sets of 10.
  • Barbell Calf Raise – 3 x 15-20
  • AB work

Perform M-W-F

**On Friday drop BB row and do 3×5 deadlifts** Deadlifts are to be done Reg Park style. 2 warmup/ 1 heavy work set.


Transitioning to this program. Even if you have been doing fullbody for several months this will be a huge workload increase during your week. If you have been doing well on your previous program the last thing you want to do is stall. I would work into this program a little easier at first over the course of a few weeks to a month.

One way to do this is to only do one set of the superset moves for a few weeks.

For instance:


3×8-12 /superset pullovers 25lbs
On Monday following squats
1×8-10 Stiff Leg Deadlift


Barbell/Dumbbell rows 3×8-12/ super set wide grip chins.
2×8-12 row
wide grip chin BWx10
1×8-12 row
Drop this last set of chins


BHP Shoulders superset
2×8-12 Behind the neck press
1×12 upright row, light flush
1×8-12 bhnp
Drop this last set of upright rows

The variable rep scheme has been around for a long time. It offers the advantage of a built in deload after you reach the top rep range. If you’re not familiar with how to work it, this is one way.

Pick a weight that you can just get a 3×8 set-rep completed.

Each session try to do at least one more rep total than you did the last time. Continue building reps until you are doing 3×12 set-rep completion.

At this point you add weight. Generally, I would add 10lbs for lower body moves, and 5lbs for upper body moves. You will have actually increased your strength to the point that those increases will not feel like very much weight. You still want to go back to doing 8 reps, and build back up. You may find that you can add a rep or two for each set after adding weight. This is fine, but I would not do more than a two rep increase per set. The deload is an important part of not stalling.

You will build back up to the 12 rep set fairly fast after adding weight, and be adding weight again within a couple weeks. It is not uncommon to follow a pattern of a slower hard climb in reps, followed by a faster easier climb, and then again a slower harder climb.

Going up by smaller weight increases can be a very valuable way of working this set-rep scheme.

You could choose to only go up by 5lbs for lower body work, and 2.5lbs or even less for upper body work. Even these seemingly very small weight increases are actually a lot of weight lifted during the course of a weeks worth of lifting.

The worst thing you can do is let your ego have you make too big a weight jump. You will kill your momentum if you increase your weight too much.


The Routine


Legs Section


Squats – 3×8-12 /superset pullovers 25lbs

On Monday following squats – 2×8-10 Stiff leg deadlifts

On Wednesday following squats – 1×20 squat flush set.

Back Section

Do this on Monday

Barbell/Dumbbell rows 3×8-12/ super set wide grip chins.
2×8-12 row
wide grip chin BWx10
1×8-12 row
wide grip chin BWx10

Do this on Wednesday – Barbell/Dumbbell rows – 3×8-12 row

On Friday – 2×10. medium weight deadliftss, and chins.

Would look like:

  • 2×10 deadliftss
  • 3x BW sets wide grip chins

Consider doing both DB and BB rows throughout the week. Find what feels comfortable for you, and alternate which days you do the DB and BB rows on. You might find you like to do DB rows as the superset row move, and perform BB rows on Wed. Find what works best for you.

Shoulders Section

Do this on Monday-Friday – Behind the Neck Press – 3×8-12

On Wednesday do this – Behind the Neck Press shoulders superset
2×8-12 bhnp
1×12 upright row, light flush
1×8-12 bhnp
1×12 upright row, light flush

Performing upright rows.

Use a wider than shoulder width grip, and only pull until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. With your arms at the correct width at the top of the pull your arms should be roughly bent at 90 degrees. This is a medial delt move more than anything, but you will have some trap involvement.

Other Exercises


  • Bench Press – Barbell/Dumbbell – 3 x 8-12
  • Barbell/Dumbbell Curl – 3 x 8-12
  • Dips – 5 x BW sets
  • Calf Raise – 3 x 15-20
  • AB work

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Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw | Writer

Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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