Frank Zane is a former IFBB professional bodybuilder from the United States. He won the prestigious Mr. Olympia title three times (1977–1979) and is known for having one of the most aesthetically pleasing physiques in bodybuilding history. This is his complete profile, biography, training regimen, diet plan, and more.
Frank Zane ‘The Chemist’
(Former IFBB Professional bodybuilder, 3x Mr. Olympia champion, teacher, actor, author)
|Full Name: Frank Zane (Former IFBB bodybuilder)|
|185 – 200lbs (84 – 91kg)||5’9″ (175cm)||81 years|
|Date of Birth||Era||Nationality|
|June 28, 1942||1960, 1970, 1980||American|
|18″ (46 cm)||29″ (74 cm)||52″ (130 cm)|
|Thighs||Calves||Off Season Weight|
|26″ (66 cm)||16.5″ (42 cm)||220 lbs (99 kg)|
Frank Zane was born in Kingston, Pennsylvania.
He developed an interest in bodybuilding at a young age, taking up weight training as a teenager. He made amazing progress in just a few years, transforming his body from 130 lbs (59 kg) at 14 years old to 160 lbs (72.5 kg) at 17 years old.
At 14-15, he worked out at a local YMCA and in his basement with a basic adjustable dumbbell set. He’d train every day or every other day, and become addicted to the weights once he started noticing the new muscle growth.
And like many youngins who discover the iron, the Pennsylvania native became intrigued by the physiques displayed in the muscle magazines. And shortly thereafter, he inquired about competing of which his bodybuilding journey began.
Zane graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilkes University in 1964. He went on to teach mathematics and chemistry for 13 years in Florida and California. In 1977, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State LA and was eventually awarded a master’s degree in experimental psychology from CSUSB in 1990.
Competition and Career
Frank Zane is known for winning the prestigious Mr. Olympia title three times (1977–1979). However, he also won the Mr. Universe three times, Mr. World, and Mr. America competitions.
He was known for his very small waist and aesthetically-pleasing physique which really embodies the classic physique look. He also competed at a bodyweight of below 190 pounds during his run as Mr. Olympia.
Zane was one of the few competitors to have defeated the iconic 7x Mr. Olympia champion, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He beat him at the 1968 Mr. Universe of which Zane admitted Schwarzenegger was not in good shape and that he was just big and showed up eating cake.
Schwarzenegger wasn’t too happy about losing to a much smaller Zane. But the two trained together from 69′ when Zane arrived in California to the early 70s.
Zane went in to build up a very impressive resume and the 1980 Olympia marked the end of his career at the top. He boycotted the 1981 Olympia because of the 1980 contest but came back and competed again in 1982 where he placed 2nd. The 1983 Olympia was his last competition of which he placed fourth after suffering another injury that required shoulder surgery.
He retired following the 1983 Mr. Olympia competition.
Frank Zane competition history via Wikipedia
- 1961 Mr. Pennsylvania – 17th place
- 1962 Mr. Keystone- 1st
- 1963 Mr. Keystone – 2nd
- 1965 Mr. Sunshine State – 1st
- 1965 IFBB Mr. Universe – 1st (Medium Height category)
- 1966 IFBB Mr. America – 1st (Medium)
- 1967 IFBB Mr. America – 1st (Medium)
- 1967 IFBB Mr. Universe – 3rd (Tall)
- 1968 IFBB Mr. America – 1st
- 1968 IFBB Mr. Universe – 1st
- 1970 NABBA Mr. Universe – 1st
- 1971 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe – 1st (Short)
- 1972 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe – 1st
- 1972 IFBB Mr. Olympia – 4th (Under 200 lbs)
- 1974 IFBB Mr. Olympia – 2nd (Under 200 lbs)
- 1975 IFBB Mr. Olympia – 4th (Under 200 lbs)
- 1976 IFBB Mr. Olympia – 2nd (Under 200 lbs)
- 1977 IFBB Mr. Olympia (Under 200 lbs & Overall Winner)
- 1978 IFBB Mr. Olympia (Under 200 lbs & Overall Winner)
- 1979 IFBB Mr. Olympia (Under 200 lbs & Overall Winner)
- 1980 IFBB Mr. Olympia (3rd, after suffering a near-fatal injury at his home, requiring lengthy hospitalization)
- 1981 IFBB Mr. Olympia – did not compete (boycotted the Mr. Olympia contest after the controversial 1980 contest)
- 1982 IFBB Mr. Olympia – 2nd
- 1983 IFBB Mr. Olympia (4th, after suffering another accident on his bicycle, requiring extensive shoulder surgery shortly after the contest)
Frank Zane Training
Frank Zane did several different workout routines depending on his goals at the moment. Some routines involved more training volume, although, to be competitive, he had to gain sie of which heavier training and less volume helped him achieve that.
We’ve provided a few examples of his routines below.
One of Zane’s routine was to do a full-body workout three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
We’ve provided the details for his workouts from his book, The ‘Zane Body Training Manual,’ and this is more of a beginner routine.
He’d train abs before doing his workout.
- Leg raise 10-30 reps
- Crunches 10-30 reps
- Seated twist 20-30 reps
- Front squat 10 reps
- Lunges 10 reps
- Standing calf raise 15 reps
- Front pull down 12 reps
- 30-degree incline press 12 reps
- Dumbbell pull over 12 reps
- Bent-over row 12 reps
- Overhead dumbbell press 12 reps
- Barbell curl 12 reps
- Dumbbell triceps extension 12 reps
- Gripper/forearms 12 reps
- Rest until normal breathing returns between sets
- Do some stretches for 15 seconds after each exercise
- Complete 1 set per exercise for 2-4 weeks and then increase to 2 sets
- Do 12 reps for the first set and 10 reps for the second
- Do 12-15 minutes of cardio after each workout
Zane believes that stretching in between sets is very important because it lessens the chances of injury, improves blood flow to keep the muscles warm, helps with posing, and helps to maintain range of motion.
Frank Zane’s upper/lower training routine
The following upper/lower workout is from Zane’s book, ‘Secrets of Advanced Bodybuilding by Frank Zane’.
The upper/lower routine was done four times per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). He trained upper body Monday and Thursday, and lower body Tuesday and Friday. The remaining days are reserved for rest.
He’d do 2 sets of 10 reps for each exercise which works out to four sets per muscle.
- Bench press
- Dumbbell flyes
- Leverage rowing or bent-over row
- Pull down
- Press behind neck
- Side dumbbell lateral raise
- Lying extension
- Barbell curl
- Alternate dumbbell curl Reverse curl
Zane also did 2 sets of 10 reps per exercise for the lower routine and abs were also done with legs in the split.
- Parallel squat
- Hack squat
- Stiff-legged deadlift
- Donkey calf raise
- Calf machine standing raise
- One-legged calf raise
- Hanging knee up
- Tension sit up
- Seated twist
Zane has mentioned that a few of the biggest mistakes he made in his career was training too heavy and getting injured. But he soon learned that training super heavy was not the answer and as a result, refined his training to better prevent those injuries.
Diet and Nutrition
Zane explained in an interview that he would only eat when he was hungry. By not forcing himself to eat when he wasn’t hungry, Zane found that he burned more fat and looked better as a result.
He ate 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day and really watched his carb intake, intaking .5g carbs per pound of body weight per day, He kept his fats low which consisted of a lot of healthy oils. His calorie intake was around 2-3 thousand per day.
Here’s an example of his breakfast on the day of the Olympia…
- 3 soft boiled or poached eggs, 8oz calves liver, and baked yam
He also took a lot of supplements and amino acids which earned him the nickname “The Chemist”.
Zane found that bulking and cutting did not work for him and the few times he tried, it was an epic fail. He found that taking thousands of photos was the best way to gauge his progress. He was also a big proponent of doing things slow but consistent and not dramatic or at the last minute.
Following his three consecutive Olympia victories (1977–1979), Zane was planning to go for a fourth. However, a near-fatal accident eight weeks out from the show after he slipped near the edge of a pool that caused him to lose lots of blood.
This also caused him to lose 15 lbs/7 kg of muscle although he still competed. But this year wouldn’t bring him another trophy as he placed third while Arnold Schwarzenegger won his 7th Mr. Olympia title.
Zane injured his shoulder riding a bicycle before the 1983 Olympia. He still competed and placed fourth of he decided to have surgery after the competition which was also his last.
Personal Life and Business Endeavors
Zane currently lives in San Diego, California with his wife Christine.
He owns the “Zane Experience” where he offers training services. He also has a website where he offers site sells many items from training equipment, supplements, and his many books.
Zane has written several books on training and nutrition and has written a newsletter, the ‘Frank Zane Newsletter,’ since 1998. He was inducted into the Joe Weider Hall of Fame in 1994 and also received the Arnold Schwarzenegger Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2003 Arnold Classic.
Zane was also involved with acting in his younger years, having played the role of IFBB Announcer in the film “See Arnold Run,” of which he was also the consulting producer. He then appeared in the 2011 documentary, Challenging Impossibility, which was an official selection of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
His latest project is a documentary about his life of which he began in June 2020. It’s directed and produced by filmmaker Alex Ardenti.
His projects include:
- The Zane Way to a Beautiful Body (1979)
- Super Bodies in 12 Weeks (1982)
- Zane Nutrition (1986)
- Fabulously Fit Forever (1992)
- Fabulously Fit Forever Expanded (1996)
- Frank Zane: Mind, Body, Spirit (1997)
- Frank Zane Training Manual (2005)
- The High Def Handbook (2008)
- The Mind in Bodybuilding (2009)
- 91 Day Wonder Body (2016)
- 91 Day Wonder Abs (2017)
- Zane Bodybuilding Manual (2018)
Frank Zane is a bodybuilding legend who had one of the most aesthetically-pleasing physiques in bodybuilding history. He was one of the original classic physiques that really inspired competitors to replicate his incredible look.