E25 - 3 Foundational Training Books for a Classic Physique

E25 - 3 Foundational Training Books for a Classic Physique

On this solo episode I unpack the three most useful books I've studied over the years to build the physique I have today and unpack the principles I will be using over the next 8-10 years before I step on stage with the purpose of earning a professional bodybuilding title. 


The first two books are timeless, old-school classics that should really be a part of any athlete's library. The third book is an essential to bodybuilding competitors but will have little benefit to those who have no wish to ever compete. In this case you can sign off after the first 30 minutes and I won't be heart-broken.

This audio is a compilation of three Instagram live streams so you can hear me interacting with some friends here and there. The original videos can be found on individually on my personal Instagram profile @coltmilton or on our YouTube channel Skullbellz TV (1) Skullbellz TV - YouTube.


  1. Steve Reeves. (1996). Building the Classic Physique the Natural Way. Steve Reeves International Inc.

OVERVIEW: A memoir compiling Steve’s childhood up through the beginning of his bodybuilding career, his perspective on the science at the time (some of which is outdated by modern exercise science, but still timeless nonetheless), approach to strategically and artistically building muscle for ideal CLASSIC PHYSIQUE proportions, comprehensive training methods and considerations, answers to questions asked by fans worldwide.

MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE: There’s two for me on this book.

  1. “A classic physique is one that is in perfect proportion—or as close as possible to it. And by proportion, I mean the calves, the neck and the biceps should measure exactly the same. Also, you should strive for wide shoulders, small waist and hips and everything else in proportion.” (p.66) Steve has a chart on the following page that gives suggested body weights for those who wish to build a classic physique that has enough muscle to create the desired aesthetic shape but not too much to become too large and unpleasing to the eye.
  2. “When someone comes into a gym to build a classic physique, he/she should not be concerned with simply adding size for the sake of adding size, or in lifting heavy weights simply for the sake of lifting heavy weights. You must have a purpose or a reason for your training and that reason should be tempered with only one word—PROPORTION.” (p.67)



  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger. (1985). The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.


OVERVIEW: A comprehensive, detailed guide of Arnold’s training methods, nutrition, posing, and everything you can think of regarding the sport and art of bodybuilding that resulted in seven Mr. Olympia titles and three Mr. Universe titles, as well as the methods of many other highly-renowned bodybuilders such as Lee Priest, Sergio Olivia, Franco Columbu, Reg Park, Steve Reeves, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Frank Zane, Tom Platz, Lou Ferrigno, and Flex Wheeler, to name a few. I’ll stop listing the names because I’ll forget someone important! Arnold walks you through his whole career in detail through his competitions so vividly that you feel like you’re training with him, being coached by him, and that you know all the other great ones as well as he does. This book is like watching a movie. Follow up reading it with Pumping Iron!

MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE:  “My back is a weapon I use to destroy my opponents,” says two-time Mr. Olympia winner Franco Columbu. “I place my thumbs in the small of my back and begin to spread my lats. It doesn’t all come on at once. First I flex them a few times and then begin to let them extend their widest. Each time the audience and the judges think that is all, I flex harder and they come out farther. And just when everyone is gasping with surprise that a human being could achieve such development, I lift my arms into a powerful [rear] double-biceps shot, displaying enormous muscularity, thickness, and separation. Only the very best of bodybuilders can stand beside me when I do this without being blown offstage by the shock wave.”


  1. Layne Norton, PHD & Peter Baker. (2018). The Complete Contest Prep Guide. (2018). Layne Norton Publishing.

OVERVIEW: Perhaps the most detailed, current, thorough breakdown of how to compete as any athlete under the “bodybuilding” umbrella (bikini, women’s bodybuilding, men & women’s physique, figure, classic physique, natural or enhanced, etc.). It covers EVERYTHING. And I mean EVERYTHING. Macros, psychology, refeeds, diet breaks, scheduling your prep, peak week, posing, tanning, travel…EVERYTHING! The only PROBLEM with this book is that it’s only an e-book ☹ Science shows we retain little of what we read but much more of what we write or speak out loud; therefore I don’t read books. I study books. And something as specific and valuable as the content in this book requires lots of different colored highlighters, sticky notes, tabbed dividers, etc. to make sense of it and retain the information the best I can and also to flip back to for quick reference. So I printed the whole thing out and put it in a 3-ring binder with tabbed dividers and it sits on my book shelf like any other normal book. It’s monotonous work but it’s worth it for this book. It’s world-renowned and an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to step on stage.

MOST MEMORABLE QUOTE: “What I will tell you is that if you enjoy eating some sugar and “junk” food, you can do so without it derailing your ability to get lean, but you must understand that it comes at a cost. Eating a Snickers may taste great, but it’s not very filling and takes up a large amount of a macro budget for the amount of food volume you get. As you get lower and lower in Calorie intake through the prep (discussed later) you will likely want to select foods that are more voluminous to help keep you full. In fact, many flexible dieters end up eating pretty “clean” by the end of a contest prep because it’s the only way you can really get a large food volume in while Calories are low.”


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