Steve at age 16 - Yarick's Gym

Many people have asked me why and when Steve got into bodybuilding. What motivated him to take that direction in his life? Well, it's somewhat complex and it happened over a period of many years.

Steve's father Lester died when Steve was only 18 months old. Goldie, Steve's mother would tell her young son what a great man his father was and what great shape he was always in. Steve's father was a rancher and was always in great shape. This left an enduring impression on Steve, I believe.

In addition, Steve's mother was an excellent cook and nutritionist, which gave him the foundation on proper foods and nutrition.


One summer when Steve was 10 years old, he spent a couple of months on this mother's friend's ranch. The oldest son of the family, Vernon Hall, was splitting logs with a huge axe. Steve would help by picking up the wood and take it back to the cabin.


Steve told me "I really became interested in bodybuilding because of Vernon's great physique. When Vernon would take off his shirt and swing that hefty axe his muscles flexed with every move."

After moving to Oakland, Steve met Joe Gambina, who lived on Steve's paper route. Joe and Steve did some arm wrestling, which Joe won. Steve could not believe how Joe could have beaten him. Joe then introduced Steve to weight training in Joe's little garage gym. Steve spent a few months working out in the garage and achieved a good physical base. His interest grew apace. He found out about noted bodybuilding coach Ed Yarick - who owned a gym in the Oakland area. After Ed explained his training methods and nutrition guidance to Steve - the young man decided it was time to workout at Ed's gym instead of the garage.

Mr Pacific Coast - May 24 1947

Read the complete bodybuilding story in the Steve Reeves member's sections of this site.

Learn how Steve first found out just who John Grimek was and how Steve competed in all his contests. Find out where he trained for each contest, plus look at the contest results and personal entry forms.

Steve's Book "Building the Classic Physique – the Natural Way" is an excellent way to read his story and understand his training and nutritional methods.

-- George Helmer

Bodybuilding Titles

Though Steve's competitive bodybuilding career was relatively short (1946-1950), he did win many major titles. The following is a year-by-year listing of how Steve did during his bodybuilding days.

Winner Other

Mr America - June 29 1947

  • 1946 - Mr. Pacific Coast (This contest would remain the Mr. Pacific Coast, Contest held in Portland Oregon)
  • 1947 - Mr. Pacific Coast (This would become the Western America the following year. Contest held in Los Angeles)
  • 1947 - Mr. America (Contest held in Chicago)
  • 1948 - Mr. World (Contest held in Cannes France)
  • 1950 - Mr. Universe (Contest held in London England)
  • 1948 - Mr. USA (2nd place)
  • 1948 - Mr. Universe (2nd place)
  • 1949 - Mr. USA (3rd place)

Steve's Best Measurements

According to Steve himself, these are his best measurements during his bodybuilding days. These measurements were taken "COLD" - without being pumped before the days workout.

Steve's Recommended Order of Training

  • Height: 6' 1"
  • Weight: 216
  • Shoulder Breath: 23 1/2"
  • Neck: 18 1/2"
  • Chest: 52"
  • Waist: 29"Mr Universe - June 24 1950
  • Hips: 38"
  • Biceps: 18 1/4"
  • Forearms: 14 3/4"
  • Wrists: 7 1/4"
  • Thighs: 26"
  • Calves: 18 1/4"
  • Ankles: 9 1/4"
  • Deltoids
  • Pectorals (chest)
  • Lats (mid and upper back)
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Hamstrings (back of legs)
  • Calves
  • Lower back
  • Abdominal (midsection)
  • Neck

Even more information on Steve's bodybuilding days can be found in the Members' area of the site - click here for more information!

Press Releases

Steve and George doing liftBelow are a few of the hundreds of press clippings we have on Steve's bodybuilding career. We will add to this collection in the coming months.

Copyrighted Steve Reeves International Society

News Report from the Mr. Pacific Coast 1946

Mr. Pacific Coast 1946Among the many contests that have been held throughout the nation, last year the "Mr. Pacific Coast" event ranks as one of the most important. This sectional contest took place in Portland, Oregon 21st. In this trio of impressively developed athletes we see the three finalists as they appeared at the conclusion of the contest. The body builder at the left is Mario Gregor from Vancouver, Canada representing the Western Sports Centre. Mario placed third. The winner, Herculean Steve Reeves, is standing in the center. Steve is from Oakland, California and trains at Ed Yarick's studio there. He will be a serious contender for the 1947 "Mr. America" title. Standing at the right is Don Malucci from Portland, Oregon. Don, who placed second, represented the studio operated by Williams & Cahill."

Promotional Place card

Promotional Place cardPromotional Place card for the Mr. Pacific Coast contest (click to see larger view).

Signing Autographs from Cannes France

Signing AutographsSteve Reeves made a great hit with the youth of France during his recent trip there when he won the "Mr. World" title. Here he is shown busy signing autographs for some of his admirers. Note how his powerful arm and shoulder can be seen even in this informal pose.

Steve Helping a Future Mr. America at Ed Yaricks gym

Future Mr. America at Ed Yaricks gymOn the left Steve Reeves instructing a youthful body builder. Steve devotes many hours to helping others learn the secrets of real strength and development. Naturally he teaches the bar bell way, which is the best way.

The Detroit NewsTuesday, July 1, 1947

The Detroit NewsTuesday, July 1, 1947Vet Is Mr. America of 1947 Steve Reeves, Oakland, Calif., veteran, poses for his first picture as Mr. America of 1947. Acme Relephoto.

Bulging Biceps to Ripple Here In California Muscle Match

Muscles will ripple in Oakland's Auditorium Theater Friday night when the International Federation of Body builders conducts a "Mr. California" contest starting at 8 p.m. Among famous biceps and torso men slated to appear are Oakland's Steve Reeves, "Mr. America" of 1947, and Clancy Ross of Alameda," Mr. U.S.A." of 1948. Competition for the "Mr. California" title is open to any physique culturist in the state with prizes and trophies for winners and runners up. Weight lifting and balancing sets will be presented in conjunction with contest for "Mr. California" honors.

Angela Lansbury and Cobina Wright, Apple Valley Inn sojourners, take a poke at "Mr. World's" biceps.

Angela Lansbury and Cobina Wrightstaring on still another cup of tea) the Apple Valley Inn's publicity director asked her if she and Peter would mind taking a picture with Mr. World, who was also weekending at the hotel, mostly on a horse. Rides 'em bareback, like an Indian. Steve Reeves is a Montana boy who became Mr. America of 1947. He went to Europe and became Mr. World at Cannes in 1948. MGM was all for signing him for "Quo Vadis" before it went on the shelf -- even though he'd make those other gladiators (Gregory Peck, for example) look just a little spindly around the gams. In case you ever want to try out for Mr World you should have his measurements: height six feet one inch, weight 210 pounds, biceps 18 inches, chest over 50 inches, waistline 29 inches.

Mr. America Likes to Cook!

Mr. America Likes to Cook!When lovely girls pass by Steve Reeves, Oakland, Calif., they're the ones who whistle. For Steve is the winner of a recent "beautiful man" contest sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union and bears the title, "Mr. America".

Mr. America Helps City of Hope, Duarte California

Mr. America Helps City of Hope, Duarte CaliforniaFrom the desk of Harry L. Lechtman City of Hope.

6/11/52 Fritz: Here are a half dozen copies of the house-organ I put out here ( In addition 20 20,000 other things.) Your boy Steve might like a few copies. You might tell him that at least 40,000 people around the country see this-- and more important--read it cover to cover. I'm writing I'm a thank-you note for coming down to the pier Sunday to work with the kids--but meanwhile, you can tell him in person how much we all appreciated his fine cooperation. Harry L.

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