Frank Zane: Co jedl a jak trénoval

Frank Zane: training plan and diet of bodybuilding legend

Frank Zane discovered bodybuilding at the age of 14 when he attended a math class at high school and noticed a bodybuilding magazine thrown in a bin. He read the magazine and soon afterwards he started to work out at the local gym. He bought a 15kg set of dumbbells and started to workout at home as well. From the age of 14 to 17, he managed to increase his weight to 72 kg and felt great to see the results of his hard work. During high school, Frank used to spend the summertime as an archery instructor in a scout camp. He walked home 32km on weekends and since his 25kg dumbbells were at the camp, Frank had to carry them home so that he could workout. This way he made sure he never missed any training. [1]

Frank Zane: training plan and diet of bodybuilding legend

The first competition in which I participated was Open Novice in Allentown. There were 45 competitors and we all had to do 4 poses. I ended up 5th, which was very encouraging for me. Bob Hoffam, who watched me pump up behind the scenes, came to me and said: “Young man, if I had a body like you, I’d walk shirtless all the time.” [2]

In 1980, Frank and his wife Christine opened the Zane Heaven Bodybuilding Training Center, where people can still learn about this lifestyle. Frank has been granted a patent for the invention of a machine called Leg Blaster and has launched a program called Zane Experience which includes – strength training, nutrition, stress management and deep relaxation. [1]

Basic statistics

Age: 73 yrs

Place of Birth: Kingstone, Pennsylvania

Height: 175cm

Competition weight: 84kg

Off-season weight: 91kg

Nickname: The Chemist [3]

Measurements in the competition period

Arms: 45.7cm

Neck: 44.5cm

Chest: 132cm

Waist: 73.7cm

Thighs: 66cm

Calves: 41.9cm

Wrists: 16,5cm


• 1960 Teen Age Mr. America (3rd place, first trophy, won as 18 years old)

• 1965 and 1968 IFBB Mr. Universe (1st place)

• 1965 IFBB Mr. North America (1st place)

• 1966 IFBB Mr. Eastern America (1st place)

• 1966 – 1968 IFBB Mr. America (1st place)

• 1970 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe (1st place)

• 1971 – 1972 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe (1st place)

• 1974 and 1976 IFBB Mr. Olympia (2nd place under 90kg)

• 1977 – 1979 IFBB Mr. Olympia (1st place under 90kg and absolute winner)

• 1980 IFBB Mr. Olympia (3rd place after suffering nearly fatal injury requiring hospitalization)

• 1982 IFBB Mr. Olympia (2nd place)

• 1983 IFBB Mr. Olympia (4th place after suffering another bike injury that required shoulder surgery shortly after the competition)

In 1968, Frank achieved one of his greatest bodybuilding achievements. Not only did he win Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles, but also beat Arnold Schwarznegger.

“Arnold wasn’t prepared to win,” Zane says. “He was just a big unshaped guy without a competitive color. I didn’t see him as a competition. However, Joe Weider was all around Arnold.” “Back then, everyone already knew that he was destined for magnificence.” “I was just beaten by a chicken with a 43cm biceps,” Arnold said after the contest. Zane was 13cm lower and 23kg lighter than Arnold, yet he was proportionally more aesthetic and more shredded. “Arnold’s comments kicked me like hell, I just couldn’t stay mad at him. He’s so diplomatic.”


In 1981, he did not participate at the prestigious competition Mr. Olympia because he boycotted it due to previous Mr. Olympia 1980, which was very controversial for him.  

Arnold has won 6 Mr. Olympia titles and retired before Zane won his 3 titles. Later, in a typical circumvention maneuver, Arnold returned in 1980 and took with him the seventh victory in Australia, where Zane expected to win his fourth title. [4]

At the top of his career, he probably had the most aesthetic and muscular figure of all time. With its clear lines, effective size and almost perfect symmetry, he represented the peak of physical beauty, at least in men’s bodybuilding.

Frank Zane: training plan and diet of bodybuilding legend

Training plan

His body was the result of heavy and light workouts. At the beginning of his career, when leanness was his main goal, his training consisted of light weights and a higher number of repetitions. What he lacked and what Joe Weider constantly reminded him of was the size of the muscles that could only be achieved with a heavier weight. Zane refused to exercise with heavy weights because he was afraid of injuries.

Weider managed to persuade Zane in 1977, when he changed his training in preparation for the respective Mr. Olympia. His training during this time consisted of 3 to 4 exercises by 3 sets for most muscle groups. It was less intense for him than he was used to.

Most of the sets were in the range of 8 to 12 reps, except for the calves and abdominal muscles, which continued to exercise with a higher number of reps. As a result, he added a considerable size to his muscles and won his first of three Mr. Olympia titles.

The only way you can gain muscle mass is by using heavy weights,” said Zane after his victory in 1977.

Unfortunately, Zane’s fears of heavy training were eventually justified as his shoulders, knees and lower back suffered.

Using the wrong form of heavy weight exercise will double the chance of injury.

Injury was not the only reason why Zane avoided extreme loads. His training approach was based on the idea that heavy weight is not needed if you can direct your focus to the muscles you are exercising.

During the training, I close everything in my mind except the muscle that I workout. Larry Scott once told me that feeling the movement is the most important thing in training. I cannot isolate an area by using heavy weights as much as with lighter ones… all you need is a constant effort of consciousness!

Zane's typical training split

Zane’s typical training split

Monday morningQuadriceps, Calves

Monday eveningShoulders, Biceps, Forearms and Abs

Tuesday morningBack

• Tuesday evening – Chest, Triceps, Abs

Wednesday morningQuadriceps, Calves

Thursday morning – Back

• Thursday eveningShoulders, Biceps, Forearms and Abs

Friday morningQuadriceps, Calves

• Friday evening – Chest, Triceps, Abs [5]

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You can see two trainings that Zane used to prepare for 1977 Mr. Olympia below.

August 16, 1977

Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press310
Lateral Raises310
Dumbbell Shoulder Press310
Front Raises310
Cable One Arm Lateral Raise310
Abs/Lower Back
Hanging Knee Raises420
Decline Crunches5 30
Hanging Leg Raises530
Cable Crunches 325 per side

July 15, 1982

Morning training [6]

Dumbbell Bench Press on Bench (75°)312, 11, 10
 Barbell Bench Press on Bench (30°)410, 9, 8, 6
Lying Chest Flys312, 11, 10
Dumbbell Pullover310
Bench Press (close grip)310, 10, 8
Dumbbell Tricep Extension310, 9, 8
Tricep Cable Pushdown310
Kick-back 310

The weight of my workout exercises depended on how I felt at the moment. Let’s say I did Dumbbell Bench Press. I would start the first set with 27kg by 12 reps, then 32 to 36kg by 11 reps. The weight of the next set depends on how I felt with 36kg. Either I stay at 36kg and make a few extra sets, or I’ll use 38-40kg dumbbells. It all depends on how I feel. If I’m ready for a new weight, then it’ll just happen.[7]

Meal plan

I’ve always had a limited amount of carbohydrates. My carbohydrate intake was always lower than protein intake. If I needed a boost, such as when I didn’t get enough blood repletion (pump) during the training, I ate more carbohydrates. Generally, I used 4-day cycles. I had low carbohydrate intake for three days and the next day I ate more carbohydrates. When I was training, I never went above 3000 calories a day. In general, I maintained calorie intake between 2000 and 3000 per day. I did not make radical changes in my diet. I think this is the biggest mistake because it affects you in ways that are not known to your body at all.[8]

Frank Zane: training plan and diet of bodybuilding legend


“Let’s suppose that I was on a low carbohydrate diet a month before the contest. Now, I would be completely carbohydrate-free for 5 days. On the 6th day I may be physically exhausted, so what I can do is fill my body with carbohydrates as soon as I wake up. I can have roasted potatoes, probably before I go to the gym. This repletion should be enough for the next few days. During these few days, I can maintain my energy almost without carbohydrates, thanks to increased fat intake. Amino acids and liver support supplements will help you get through carbohydrate-free days. [7]

I relied a lot on pre-workout food.Before the training, I always had protein and carbohydrates.After the training, I relaxed and sometimes ate a few hours later. It depended on how demanding my training was. When I got hungry, I just ate. Usually, my first meal after training was a protein drink – some sort of protein-carbohydrate mix.[4]

Despite the fact that three decades have passed since Zane’s last victory at Mr. Olympia, his body remains timeless and respected by bodybuilding fans to this day. His name still appears as a reference in discussions among bodybuilding fans regarding the topic of ideal figure. Even his training philosophy, focused on the idea of maintaining a holistic mind-body connection, is a model against which other training philosophies are compared. [9]


[1] Frank Zane’s Official Website, Frank Zane’s Biography, 2016 – http://www.frankzane.com/bio/

[2] Fred Duncan, Q&A with Bodybuilding Legend, Frank Zane, 2015 – http://www.flexonline.com/training/pro-advice/qa-bodybuilding-legend-frank-zane]

[3] Wikipedia, Frank Zane, 2016 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zane

[4] Bodybuilding.com Contributing Writer, Frank Zane May Have Had The Best-Looking Body Ever. BB.com Tracked Him Down To Learn His Secrets, 2011 – http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/zen-of-zane.html

[5] fitFLEX, Frank Zane's Diet Plan & Workout Routine plus Photo Gallery, 2016 – http://www.fitflex.com/frank-zane-bodybuilder-gallery.html

[6] Joe Wuebben, FRANK ZANE: BEST BUILT MAN, 2016 – http://www.muscleandfitness.com/athletes-celebrities/news/frank-zane-best-built-man

[7] Dennis B. Weis, Frank Zane Workout and Nutrition, 2013 – http://www.musclenet.com/frankzane.htm

[8] Muscle & Strength, Interview With Mr. Olympia Frank Zane, 2010 – https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/interview-with-mr-olympia-frank-zane.html

[9] The Legend of Frank Zane: An Interview With The Man Who Achieved Physical Perfection, Simplyshredded, 2008 – http://www.simplyshredded.com/the-legend-of-zane-an-interview.html