So what bodybuilders exhibited Reeves level of plantar flexion, and did those bodybuilders also have exceptional calf development? And by the way, increasing plantar flexibility can be done through sitting on your heels in this manner and the toe stretch in a similar but modified manner.
After discussing Chris Dickerson and Urs Kalecinski in part one, both of whom have or had exceptional calf development but neither of whom showed plantar flexibility to Reeves’ level, we decided to look into bodybuilders who were considered great posers. Ed Corney came to mind first. In over 150 photos of Corney scrutinized, none showed Reeves level of extreme plantar flexion. Mohamed Makkawy, also known for posing, showed some plantar flexibility but, yet again, not at Reeves level.
We then looked at how some of Reeves’ contemporaries compared flexibility wise. Was flexibility more popular among bodybuilders in the early to mid twentieth century?
John Grimek trained for flexibility and did the splits in such away that they required foot flexibility in addition to hip and knee flexibility but he didn’t display the plantar flexion at the consistency or degree Reeves did. Jack Delinger falls into the same category as Grimek as far as demonstrating above average plantar flexion, but not at Reeves levels. Reg Park, on the other hand, has several photos demonstrating Reeves-like plantar flexion, along with simultaneously having his toes in a stretched position, also like Reeves. Reg didn’t have natural calf development, a la Reeves, but he did eventually develop his calves enough to be an inspiration to Arnold Schwarzenegger, On a side note, despite idolizing Reg Park, Arnold has been quoted more than once stating that Steve Reeves is the greatest bodybuilder ever. Growing up, Arnold likely believed he was built more like Park and that it was more realistic to emulate Park than Reeves. In a search for George Eiferman, another Reeves contemporary who, as it turns out, didn’t display Reeves-like plantar flexion in any of the dozens of photos viewed, I discovered yet another example of Reeves plantar flexion flexibility. There are easily over 50 photos of Steve Reeves demonstrating extreme plantar flexion, way more than any other bodybuilder I could find.
Back to Arnold, although he had some of the best calves ever, mostly gastrocnemius development, there don’t seem to be images where he displays great foot flexibility. Long story short, we looked at dozens of different pro bodybuilders, whatever their level of calf development, to see if we could find any bodybuilders who demonstrated plantar flexion like Steve Reeves, and besides Reeves and, as mentioned, Reg Park, two other bodybuilders stood out, and both had exceptional calf development. Keep in mind that this research was not completely exhaustive and there are many other variables affecting calf development but the two other bodybuilders, other than Reeves and Park, were Mike Mentzer and Matt Mendenhall. Even after doing a video on Matt Mendenhall’s calf bump, which also featured Mike Mentzer, their foot flexibility was not explored but coincidentally or not so coincidentally, out of the over 100 bodybuilders researched, 4 met the Reeves or near-Reeves plantar flexion criteria and 2 of those four had the unusual calf bump.
Here is Matt Mendenhall unmistakably exhibiting Reeves level plantar flexion in two photos. Mike Mentzer doesn’t exhibit plantar flexion on the level of Reeves or Mendenhall but more than most bodybuilders, and all of this scrutiny is only based on available photographs as well as which bodybuilders are demonstrating plantar flexion in photos.
It’s no secret that ballet dancers develop extreme foot flexibility and many have exceptional calf development, so it stands to reason that bodybuilders might benefit from incorporating, in addition to the already popular dorsiflexion stretches, plantar flexion stretches.