When discussing the most influential bodybuilders of the ‘golden age’ of bodybuilding, the name Steve Davis is inevitably brought into the conversation. Steve is arguably one of the most muscular and symmetrical bodybuilders of any generation.
Throughout his illustrious bodybuilding career, Steve competed at the highest level from 1968 until 2002, competing in 2 Mr. Olympia’s (1979, 1981); 3 Masters Olympia (1997, 1999, 2002); 2 IFBB Mr. America’s (1975, 1977); 10 IFBB Pro circuit contests (including Canada Pro Cup, Grand Prix World Cup, Grand Prix California, etc.); NABBA Mr. Universe (1977); IFBB Mr. World (1977) and more.
In terms of his peers, Steve’s list looks as though it was drawn straight from the Bodybuilder Hall of Fame roster and included: Frank Zane; Chris Dickerson; Franco Colombu; Boyer Coe; Dennis Tinerino; Robby Robinson; Mike Mentzer; Tom Platz; Serge Nubret; Casey Viator; Ed Corney; Roger Callard; Jim Morris; Warren Frederick; Dave Johns; Eddie Guilani; Danny Padilla; Pete Grymkowski; Harold Poole, and many others.
An interesting fact about Steve is that he transformed from a very powerful 285-pound powerlifter to a 200-pound IFBB Mr. World—without using dangerous performance enhancing drugs. His transformation was in fact, legendary. Steve attributed his successful transformation to the highly methodical approach he used to achieve his goal of being a world champion bodybuilder.
Once he decided that he wanted to be a successful competitive bodybuilder the transformation began. The first step in the process was performing an honest assessment on his nutrition, diet, supplementation and training programs. Afterwards, Steve sought out the best among his peers and put a plan together to reach his goal of being Mr. World by building his body to its full genetic potential.
And as I said, the most amazing part of Steve’s transformation is that he was able to achieve his goal without the use of drugs. This is a significant challenge in that natural drug-free bodybuilders are not as equipped to handle the same workloads as bodybuilders who rely on anabolic steroids or other potentially dangerous performance enhancing drugs.
The bodybuilders who rely on performance enhancers are able to handle super heavy workloads only because of the large quantities of artificial chemicals and enzymes that are acting in conjunction with the person’s natural abilities to add muscle size and increase strength. Consequently, the anabolic steroid bodybuilder’s training frequency ratios and intensity factors are much higher than that of natural bodybuilders.
When Steve set his mind to becoming Mr. World, he turned to his peers for guidance, one of whom was the legendary Vince Gironda. Vince played a critical role in helping Steve to put his ‘Mr. World’ plan together and then carry it out. Overall, Steve trained with Vince for 3 decades. In reality, their relationship was symbiotic—with both men helping each other.
For example, Steve was there when Vince’s 8 x 8, 6 x 6 theories were being implemented. Steve was among the first to try out these strategies first-hand and was actually was part of the development process. So not only did Vince help him, but Steve helped Vince to refine and improve his theories, which of course ultimately led to Vince being one of the greatest bodybuilding legends of all time.
Steve’s approach to building muscle was simple: The key factor in training for additional size and muscularity is to get stronger by consistently using heavier and heavier weights in the exercise sets. Steve always stressed the fact that this must not be done at the expense or sacrifice of proper form.
He strongly believed that if an exercise is not performed in strict fashion; isolating the muscle you are attempting to train, then you have no accurate gauge of your progress—if any—in getting stronger.
To develop a nutritional strategy Steve worked very closely with nutrition and supplementation guru Rheo H. Blair (also known as Irvin Johnson). In the nutrition and supplementation world, Rheo was the equivalent of Vince Gironda—among the world’s most respected experts.
And like the mutually-beneficial relationship with Vince, the relationship between Steve and Rheo was symbiotic, benefitting both men and their careers. Vince and Rheo collaborated extensively throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s on nutrition and supplementation with Steve being one of the primary beneficiaries of the relationship.
Throughout his bodybuilding career, Steve remained a mentor and role model to many throughout the world, and not just among the bodybuilding community. At the gym where Steve trained many experienced trainers and trainees regularly sought his advice on all aspects of training, diet, nutrition and supplementation.
Steve was always happy to spend time answering questions from the countless guys who viewed him as a mentor and role model.