Workout Routine of Frank Zane Who Was Awarded As “The Best Physique of All Time”

Born on June 28, 1942, in Kingston, Pennsylvania, Frank Zane, an American former bodybuilder and author, has won three Mr. Olympia titles and has been considered an ideal classic or aesthetic bodybuilder for many bodybuilding fans. Competing in the 1960s and 1970s, also called the Golden Age of bodybuilding, many even considered him as the Greek God-like bodybuilder due to the combination of muscles with symmetry, flow, and leanness.

Frank Zane Workout Routine
Frank Zane Workout Routine

 Frank Zane Was the First to Present Body That Was a Combination of Muscle With Symmetry, Leanness, & Flow

Frank Zane’s Love Towards Bodybuilding Started by Noticing a Bodybuilding Magazine

Frank Zane found his interest in bodybuilding for the first time at 14 when attending math class during his high school days. He noticed a bodybuilding magazine was thrown in a bin. Once he read that magazine, it picked his interest, and even joined the local gym to work out. Later, he even bought pairs of 15 kg dumbbells and started working out at his home. And he even stayed true to his routine, and in the mere three years, he managed to gain his weight to 72 kg.

In high school in summertime, Frank used to work as an archery instructor in a scout camp. He used to walk home 32 km every weekend, and as his 25 kg dumbbells were used to be at the camp, so without any excuse, Frank was taking them home to workout. In that way, he made sure never to miss any training session without any excuse.

Later, the first competition he participated in was Open Novice in Allentown, where 45 competitors were there, and all were supposed to do 4 poses. There he ended up being 5th, and from there on, he never looked back. To the amazement, Bob Hoffman, an American entrepreneur, the owner of York Barbell, saw him pumping up behind the scenes, where he came to him and said, “Young man, if I had a body like you, I’d walk shirtless all the time.”

Later in 1980, Frank and his wife both opened the Bodybuilding Trailing Center named Zane Heaven, so people can get enough opportunity to learn about his lifestyle and how he used to train. Further, he was even granted a patent for the invention of his machine named Leg Blaster. He even launched a program named Zane Experience that included nutrition, strength training, deep relaxation, and stress management.

Frank Zane Workout Philosophy

The amazing result Frank got was due to his heavy and light workouts. When his main goal was getting as lean as possible during the starting days of his career, he used to train using lightweight with higher reps consistently. Later, Joe Weider reminded him what he lacked was muscle size, which can be achieved using heavyweight. Though, he didn’t listen and refused going heavy because he was scared of injuries.

Later, Weider persuaded Zane in 1977, and for the first time to prepare for Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane’s workout philosophy got to change. During those days, he trained consistently three to four exercises for 3 sets for most muscle groups. Though, it was less intense compared to his original workout, which he used to do.

And most of the sets were in between the 8 to 12 rep range, except certain muscles such as abdominal and calves muscles, for which he worked for higher reps. Ultimately, his dedication came to frustration and managed to get considerable muscle size, and during that time, he won first of his three Mr. Olympia title.

Though, due to fear of injury, he used to avoid extreme heavy loads of weight. Frank Zane’s workout philosophy was that there’s no need to go for heavyweight if you can shift your focus towards the muscles you’re exercising. He didn’t go for a heavyweight was even apparent by looking at his shoulders, lower back, and knees as there wasn’t considerable size like other bodybuilders of his time. Later he admitted that heavyweight was the only way to gain muscle mass after his 1977 victory.

Frank Zane Workout and Diet

Below is one of the Frank Zane workout routine:


Day 1: Back, Biceps, Forearms & Abs Workout Routine

1Wide Grip Barbell Deadlift310 – 15
2Wide Grip Rack Pulls38 – 10
3T-Bar Rowing38 – 12
4Front Lats Pulldowns 38 – 10
5Dumbbell Rowing38 – 10
6Dumbbell Concentration Curls38 – 10
7Alternate Dumbbell Curls38 – 10
8Reverse Barbell Curls212
9Seated Wrist Curls (Barbell)220
10Ab CrunchesUp to you50
11Leg raisesUp to you50
12Hanging Knees UpsUp to you50
13Seated TwistsUp to you50


Day 2: Thighs, Calves & Abs Workout Routine

1Barbell Squats68 – 15
2Leg Press310 – 15
3Leg Curls (Lying)310 – 12
4Seated Leg Extensions38 – 12
5Standing Calf Raises315 – 20
6Donkey Calf Raises420 – 25
7Seated Calf Raises1 – 4 x Drop Sets5
8Abs Workout Of Your Choice Up to youUp to you


Day 3: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders & Abs Workout Routine

1Barbell Bench Press62 – 12
2Incline Dumbbell Press44 – 10
3Decline Dumbbell Flys38 – 12
4Dumbbell Pullover38 – 12
5Close Grip Bench Press38 -12
6One Arm Overhead DB Extensions38 – 12
7V Grip Press down38 – 12
8Bent over DB Lateral Raises310 – 15
9Side Lateral Cable Raises38 – 12
10Leg Raises425
12Seated Twists3100
13Hanging Leg Raises1100
14Cardio120 Min

Diet of Frank Zane

Frank followed a certain protocol regarding his diet and meal plans. For instance:

  • He had always avoided eating a high amount of carbohydrates..
  • Kept his protein intake higher compared to carbohydrates.
  • Sometimes for boost, especially when he couldn’t get a good pump during training, he ate more carbohydrates.
  • Usually, he used to do 4 days cycle where he would have low carbohydrates for three days, and on the fourth day, he would go for more carbs.
  • Maintained consistency of 2000 to 3000 total calorie per day.
  • Prevented himself from any dramatic change to diet. According to him, it’s one of the biggest mistakes someone can make, as it negatively affects your body.
  • His go-to was pre-workout food before the training, which was carb and protein-rich.
  • He believed in resting after working out and sometimes eating a few hours later, depending upon the training.
  • Usually, his first meal after the training was a protein drink consisting of a mixture of protein and carbs.

Wrapping Up

It’s been decades that he won his last Mr. Olympia, but his body has remained timeless to date. He’s one of the most respected bodybuilders by his fan, whose name appears as a reference in many discussions for the ideal physique. His training philosophy, such as a holistic approach towards maintaining proper mind-muscle connection, is compared with other training philosophies.

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Satinder Chowdhry