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Today, we are going to cover someone many people regard as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, Frank Zane.

Known in the bodybuilding world for his incredible V-taper physique, Zane has conquered Olympia with three consecutive titles. 

But have you ever wondered how Frank really built his award-winning frame?

Today, let’s discuss the Frank Zane workout routine and diet plan. We will take you through his background, training fundamentals, and supplement preferences to help you achieve that iconic bodybuilding physique

Let’s dive in.

Frank Zane Current Bio and Stats

Frank Zane was born on June 28th, 1942, in Kingston, Pennsylvania.

He took an interest in bodybuilding after reading Muscle Magazine, beginning his training at age 14 weighing 130 lbs. He would pack on 30 more pounds by age 17.

Zane completed a Bachelor of Science from Wilkes University and began teaching math and science to high schoolers.

Meanwhile, he furthered his own education with a subsequent Bachelor of Psychology (1977), and a Master’s in Experimental Psychology (1992).

This, combined with his experimental approach to taking supplements, earned him the nickname, “The Chemist.”

During this time, Frank was hard at work carving his body into what many still regard as the most aesthetically pleasing physique in bodybuilding history.

His wide shoulders and thin waistline gave him an incredible V-taper that would help him win three consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1977-1979.

Age: 80 Years Old

Height: 5’9” (175 cm)

Weight: 185-195 lbs (83.9-88.5 kg)

Birthday: 28th June, 1942

Occupation: Bodybuilder

Retired/Active: Retired

Accolades: 3x Mr. Olympia Champion (1977-1979)

Frank Zane Workout Fundamentals 

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Frank Zane’s workout fundamentals were based on careful building and sculpting of his physique.

Many bodybuilders would bulk in the off season with high calorie intakes and poor food choices (dirty bulk), but not Frank.

Frank would carefully consume the right balance of nutrient-dense food and gradually build his physique over time.

He explained, “Don’t get out of shape in the off-season. If you do, you will lose a lot of time getting back there”.

“[Bulking] just meant getting fatter and having to lose that, that’s just time lost.”

Frank was known for this careful approach. He would get into the gym early to train without distraction so he could mentally focus on the quality of his movements.

This was particularly difficult, as he trained alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger at the world-famous Gold’s Gym.

Still, his focus allowed him to perform enormous amounts of sets and reps, with Frank describing the time he performed Roman chair sit-ups for an hour and a half!

Frank’s routine was based on a three-day training split that he completed twice per week, with programmed cardio sessions on non leg days.  

Being a professional bodybuilder allowed Frank to dedicate all his time to training and recovery, training in the morning, followed by cardio, lunch and then another afternoon session. 

Frank Zane Workout Routine

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Frank Zane’s workout routine was based on a three-day training split that would be performed twice per week.

This workout covers:

  • Day 1:  Back, biceps, and abs
  • Day 2: Thighs, calves, and abs
  • Day 3: Chest, shoulders, and triceps 

Below we have listed Zane’s workout, including the exercises, sets, reps, and rest times.

We have also included a weekly schedule to help you plan your weeks ahead for greater consistency to maximize results. 

Frank Zane Workout Routine Weekly Schedule

Back, Biceps, Forearms, AbsThighs, Calves, AbsChest,Shoulders, Triceps, AbsBack, Biceps, Forearms, AbsThighs, Calves, AbsChest,Shoulders, Triceps, AbsRest

Back, Biceps, Forearms, Abs (Duration 100 – 110 Minutes)

frank zane workout
ExerciseSets RepsRest
Wide Grip Deadlifts (Floor)315,12,1045-60 secs
Wide Grip Deadlifts (Blocks)410,10,8,630-45 secs
T-Bar Row310-1230-45 secs
Front Lat Pulldown410-1230-45 secs
Dumbbell Row51030-45 secs
One Arm Dumbbell Concentration Curls38-1030-45 secs
Alternating Dumbbell Curls38-1030-45 secs
45° Incline Dumbbell Curls312,10,830-45 secs
Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls21230-45 secs
Barbell Wrist Curls22030-45 secs
CrunchesMax5030-45 secs
Leg RaisesMax5030-45 secs
Hanging Knee-UpsMax5030-45 secs
Seated TwistsMax5030-45 secs
Stationary Bike (15-20 mins) or Slow Run (1.5 Miles)1
  • Frank would aim to do as many sets as possible for his ab workouts, even going as far as 1,000 reps when training for Olympia.

Thighs, Calves, Abs (Duration 70 – 80 Minutes)

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Leg Extensions (Warm Up Sets)210-1245-60 secs
Back Squat (Slowly Lowering)612,11,10,9,830-45 secs
Leg Press315,12,1030-45 secs
Lying Leg Curl312,10,1030-45 secs
Leg Extension312,10,830-45 secs
Standing Calf Raises315-2015 secs
Donkey Calf Raises420-2530 secs
Seated Calf Raises (Drop set 120,110, 100, 90)45,5,5,530 secs
Anything in order to rest the upper body

Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs (Duration 70 – 80 Minutes)

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Barbell Bench Press612,10,8,6,4,245-60 secs
70° Incline Dumbbell Press (Drop Angle Down Each Set410,8,6,430-45 secs
10° Decline Dumbbell Flys312,10,830-45 secs
Cross Bench Dumbbell Pullover312,10,830-45 secs
Close Grip Bench Press312,10,830-45 secs
One-Arm Overhead Extensions312,10,830-45 secs
V-Grip Pressdown312,10,830-45 secs
Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise315,12,1030-45 secs
Side Cable Raises312,10,830-45 secs
Leg Raises42530-45 secs
Ab Crunches42530-45 secs
Seated Twists410030-45 secs
Hanging Leg Raises42530-45 secs
Stationary Bike or Slow Run (1.5 Miles)115-20 mins

Frank Zane Dieting and Food Preferences

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Frank Zane’s approach to eating and nutrition were a little different to your typical bodybuilding crowd.

While many lifters would advocate for regular meals, Zane would eat less frequently, focusing on eating a low-fat, low-carb, high-protein diet.

Frank’s daily calorie intake ranged from 2,000 – 3,000, eating 0.5 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. 

Frank would find that as he got into better shape that the space between his meals would increase.

This is reflected in his motto, “Stay hungry longer,” requiring his body to use the existing calories he had consumed before it began using the stored fuel and burning fat

Much like his eating habits, Zane was also particular in what he ate, eating nutrient-dense foods that were high in protein.

Diet and Food Preferences

frank zane workout diet
Meal 13x Eggs (Boiled/Poached), 8 oz Calf Liver, Baked Yams
Meal 28 oz Steak, Vegetables, Cottage Cheese
Meal 36 Egg Omelet, Cheese, Potatoes
Meal 48 oz Ground Beef, Salad

Frank Zane Diet Plan

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frank zane diet plan

Frank Zane’s dieting and food preferences are what gave him the ability to build his iconic physique

Using this information, we will now create a Frank Zane-inspired diet plan to give you an idea of what can help obtain his sculpted, muscular frame.  

Meal 1

  • 3x Egg White Omelet, Cheese, Spinach
  • Sweet Potato Mash
  • 8 oz Ground Beef

Meal 2

  • 8 oz Baked Lemon and Herb Chicken
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Cottage Cheese

Meal 3

  • 4x Scrambled Eggs (Tomato, Red Onion, Red Pepper, Light Cheese)
  • Steamed Broccoli and Baked Yams 

Meal 4

  • 8 oz Steak
  • Mushrooms, Broccoli
  • Sweet Potato Mash
  • Green Salad (Baby Spinach, Avocado, Red Onion, Green Peas, Tomato)

Frank Zane attributes his success in the sport of bodybuilding to his quality nutrition.

He focused on successfully fueling his training sessions, and gradually built mass while maintaining a cut, lean physique.

If you want a Frank Zane physique, we strongly recommend you do the same. Ensure you have adequate protein to build mass and aid in recovery, with carbs and fat to fuel your sessions.

To do this, we recommend using our advanced calorie and macronutrient calculator.

Just add your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level to receive a precise calorie and macronutrient target to help you achieve incredible results.

Frank Zane Supplement Preferences

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frank zane training supplements

Frank Zane’s supplement preferences were far different than what we are used to today.

Today, we have a huge selection of powders and a supplement for every nutrient under the sun, with gym culture being the norm.

Back then, bodybuilding was a niche sport and supplementation was limited.

Frank has described how at one point in his career he would eat seven meals a day to help him ingest as many as 100 amino acid capsules per meal.

This totaled a whopping 700 capsules per day, which he explains helped him get in the best shape of his career.

However, he would go on to explain that it would come with side effects such as stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

Little is really known about what Frank has taken, so we have compiled a list based on a range of sources. 

Supplement Purpose
Whey ProteinBuilds muscles, assists recovery
GlutamineReduces muscle soreness
CreatineImprove performance, promote greater training adaptations

Final Thoughts

Frank Zane’s calculated, scientific approach to training and nutrition is what gave him the iconic physique that many still regard as one of the greatest of all time.

His careful planning, gradual approach to building muscle, focus, and dedication helped him conquer the sport of bodybuilding, with three Mr. Olympia titles.

If you are considering trying the Frank Zane workout routine and diet plan, don’t dirty bulk. Focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet high in protein, building yourself up slowly, and most of all, listening to your body.

Do this and you will be taking giant steps towards building a lean, ripped physique

So, are you a follower of Frank Zane? Which of his training practices or philosophies resonate with you?

Let us know in the comments.

What is the 12 10 8 6 workout routine?

The 12,10,8,6 routine is where you begin with lighter weight and gradually increase the weight with each set while reducing the number of repetitions.

Start with 12, then increase weight and perform 10 reps, repeating for 8 and 6 reps, gradually increasing weight with each set. 

Did Frank Zane do cardio?

Frank Zane did cardio in the form of a 1.5 mile jog or 15-20 stationary bike ride. He would do this on the days he didn’t train legs.

How much could Frank Zane lift?

Frank Zane recorded a 425-lb. deadlift, 285-lb. bench press, and 400-lb. squat.

How often did Frank Zane do abs?

Frank Zane did abs every session, often training for max reps, with numbers reaching 1,000 total reps. 

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