The history of bodybuilding is replete with outstanding champions of different years, who surprised the world with their physique. Someone demonstrated extreme development of muscles, someone – an incredible muscle relief, the other was not equal in the evaluation of symmetry and proportions or a combination of several indicators at once. But even among the best representatives of bodybuilding, there are athletes who have achieved even more significant records, thanks to which they became the legendary symbols of their era. One such is Frank Zane – a 3-time winner of the tournament Mr. Olympia (1977-79). Frank Zane is famous for his phenomenal aesthetics and proportions, similar to the ancient Greek sculptures. Competing with the strongest bodybuilders of the planet, Zane managed to win much larger and heavier rivals, completely overlapping their seemingly uncontested arguments. Frank’s amazing achievement, in addition to three victories in the main tournament, is that he is Frank Zane – the most aesthetic athlete was the easiest Mr. Olympia in the history of these competitions. He performed in a light weight category, then went to the final where the winners of the heavy and light categories meet, and won the “absolute”. By today’s standards, this is generally astonishing. In addition, Frank Zane, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, had a significant impact on the growing popularity of bodybuilding. The physique of Zane can be called an average. He is not a monster of mass and not a genetic unique with huge muscles, but an ordinary athlete, fanatically trained in the hall, who managed to achieve an excellent development of muscles. This is the indicator that most people want to improve their appearance, so examples of such champions are the most attractive. To all the rest, Zane is famous for being one of three people who managed to defeat Schwarzenegger. In 1968, he defeated Arnold at the Mister Universe tournament.
This article will focus on the training methods of Frank Zane, through which he achieved such impressive results and received the nickname “Mr. Symmetry”.
Q: What inspired you to start bodybuilding?
Frank Zane: I bought my first set of dumbbells at 14 years old and started training mostly to build a strong build, since I lived in a very tough area. There were many difficulties and struggles and I wanted to overcome all this. After I began to train, it’s never Frank Zane anymore – lifting dumbbells to the bicep body. One event led to another, and one day I took part in my first bodybuilding competition, at 18.
Q: How did you perform on the first show?
Frank Zane: My first contest was an open tournament for beginners in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Competitors were 45 participants, and we all had to perform four poses each. In the end, I took the fifth place, which seemed very encouraging to me. Behind the scenes, in preparation for the exit, Bob Hoffman came up to me and said: “Young man, if I had a physique like you, I would always go in the same shirt.” It’s amazing, but it was Hoffman’s words that were very helpful at the time and influenced my entire career. For me, it became something of a benchmark showing that I chose the right path. I realized that one day I will be able to compete for the main titles.
Q: What was your favorite training split?
Frank Zane: Most often I used a triple split. I believe that this is the best method, once you reach a certain level. I divided the muscle groups into three parts and on the first day coached my back, biceps and forearms; the second day he trained his legs; and the third day – Frank Seingrude, shoulders and triceps. Another main split, which we all did in the 70’s, was called a split Arnold. It was held six days a week: chest and back, then legs, and on the third day – deltoids and hands, then the cycle was repeated. There was a lot of overtraining. I could not continue to train for a long time in this style.
Question: Today pre-training and post-training sports nutrition complexes are a popular topic. What do you think, what period should you focus on in terms of nutrition?
Frank Zane: Basically, I relied on pre-feeding before training. I consumed protein and carbohydrates before going to the gym. From the point of view of getting a good muscle training, you really need to have enough fuel in advance beforehand to achieve a good pump (pumping). I always worked the best to get the best pampas in my workouts.
After the hall, I never rushed to eat in a 45-60 minute window and never had a snack during exercise. After training, I usually just rested, and sometimes even waited a couple of hours to eat well. It all depended on how hard I was training that day. If I was hungry, I soon started eating. As a rule, these were protein-carbohydrate mixtures.
Q: How did you train your lagging muscle groups?
Frank Zane: I worked hard at them once a week, giving them enough time to recover. Muscles do not grow if they are loaded constantly. In working on lagging groups, I used over-intensive techniques, such as drop sets, which turned out to be ideal for my calves, which at first responded very slowly to training and were the most lagging behind.
Question: How did your diet and training program change during pre-competitive training?
Frank Zane: Ideally, I wanted to make sure that there were not too many changes. I have never consumed a lot of carbohydrates. In fact, the carbohydrates in my diet were less than protein. I consumed two grams of protein per kilogram of weight, which was 190-200 grams per day, the amount of carbohydrates was at the level of 70-150 grams, and fat – about 25% of total calories. The amount of total calories in my diet never exceeded 3000, otherwise I would begin to grow stout.
Throughout the year, I followed the training plan, which in summer began intensified training to reach the peak of the form for the autumn tournaments, then passed to the supporting training in the winter, and gradually gained momentum in the spring, preparing for the summer intensive work. I reached the peak of the form only once a year, but in terms of nutrition, I always tried to keep Frank Zane and Arnoldsbalance and sports mode using various additives.
Question: From the point of view of cardio, what techniques did you prefer, with a constant load or interval?
Frank Zane: I did not do a lot of cardio, because I always stayed fried. If I started to regularly hold cardio training, then only to achieve an ultra-relief appearance before the competition. In 1976, I reached an excellent shape, running 3 km four times a week. Then, in 1979, when my competitive form improved significantly, I ran on a treadmill six laps every night. My legs became very muscular from this. Nowadays I often go. I think that walking is important for bodybuilders to knead joints and leg muscles.
Question: What do you think about such popular fitness areas as CrossFit and high-volume training?
Frank Zane – Symmetry Frank Zane: CrossFit has become a real boom for physiotherapists. They should be grateful that the crossfit exists, because thanks to him they have unlimited business. This is one of the most dangerous things I have ever seen. People are not meant to do a lot of repetition in jerks, jerks and other exercises with a heavy barbell. All this, sooner or later, affects injuries and pain. Over time, this form will go away, like all other quirks. Crossfit is presented as a training for everyone, but it’s a mistake. Any extreme can not be for everyone. Sport for all is not recourse to extremes, it is the search for the golden mean.
High-volume training is good for relief, but it does not contribute to significant muscle growth. The answer is, do not rush! Train regularly, using different methods, and do not expect that only one method will allow you to enter the form in a month or two.
Question: How did you train the muscles of the press and keep the waist so narrow?
Frank Zane: I’ve always done a lot of work for the press. When the next tournament was approaching, I performed up to 1000 general repetitions in exercises for abdominal muscles. It took me about 30 minutes. My main scheme was supersets of twisting and lifting of legs in the vise. In each of these exercises I did 50 repetitions at a time. In addition to effective study Frank Zane – exercise for pressamyshts press, leg lifts in the vise perfectly developed the upper part of my quadriceps.
Q: Who was your favorite training partner for all time?
Frank Zane: My wife has always been an excellent training partner for me and really inspired me to become better and better. Another main partner was Arnold, because he is so keen on bodybuilding, and our joint trainings were very effective. By the way, this is one of the reasons why I moved to California to train with the greatest bodybuilders.
A good partner is very important, it motivates you and helps you to achieve better results.
Q: Who is your favorite bodybuilder of all time?
Frank Zane: Steve Reeves. Steve was an amazing athlete and showed the best natural physique. His role in “Hercules” is part of what inspired me to start training. Why Reeves? It all boils down to a question of opinion. This is what resonates with you. Bodybuilding suffers from a lack of objectivity. You can not always justify the winner. But Reeves likes everything.