Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Growth Program, Then and Now - Frank Zane

The Growth Program, Then and Now - Frank Zane

In 2013, I was interviewed about the specific workout plan I used when training for Mr. Olympia between 1976 and 1983 to add muscle mass.  In the article below, I take you though the steps I took along the way of my transformation and following that, I explain what changes I would make to this routine if could I replay that whole period. I hope you enjoy it!  FZ

Note:  The entire routine outlined below is included in my book "The Workouts -Personal Training Diaries" with over 180 different workouts that I did over a 40 year period. It is available on Amazon/Kindle.  Learn more here


I used this workout plan when training for Mr. Olympia and it was very successful for adding muscle mass during those years that I was at my best, between 1976 through 1983. First, I'll explain how I used the workout then. Following that, I'll show what changes I would make to the routine could I replay that whole period. 

Growth Program
How I Did It Then

This is a three-way split, emphasizing Pulling muscles on Day One, Legs on Day Two, and Pushing muscles on Day Three:

Day 1 - Back, Biceps, Forearms, Abs.
Day 2 - Thighs, Calves, Abs.
Day 3 - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs.

This routine helped me grow because I incorporated one (modified) power lifting movement into each workout. On day one it was the wide grip deadlift using straps (regular grip). I'd start my back workout with 6 sets of wide grip deadlifts, the first three from the floor - 15, 12, 10. Then I'd elevate the barbell so the plates would sit on boxes a foot high, or I'd use a power rack - 10, 10, 8, and sometimes a set of 6 if I felt up for it. I'd do plenty of stretching with the two-arm lat stretch between sets and take my time before venturing into the next set. My upper back, traps, and spinal erectors got much thicker doing this and my back got wider. 

Next came T-Bar rows - 12, 10, 8, of course increasing the weight each set, and doing the two-arm lat stretch between sets. This is a great size-builder for the low central lats. My favorite way of doing it became using a 7-foot Olympic bar with one end in a corner, small diameter plates on the other end and using an interlocking finger grip right behind the collar. My upper body would follow the weight downward, stretching low to the floor and the plates would touch my ribcage at the top of the rep.

The remainder of the back routine consisted of front pulldowns - 3 x 8-10, two-arm lat stretch between sets; one arm dumbbell row - 3 x 8-10, two-arm lat stretch between sets. That gave me a total of 15 heavy sets for back. Then it was on to biceps. 

A favorite routine of mine was to start with one arm dumbbell concentration curls, 3 x 8-10 each arm using more weight each set. I would very deliberately hold the dumbbell for one second at the top of the curl and squeeze the biceps for peak contraction, and then start lowering the dumbbell very slowly.  

Alternate dumbbell curls came next, 3 x 8-10, increasing the weight each set. Each dumbbell would travel down and up and down completely before I curled the other dumbbell. Each negative would begin very slowly and I would pronate the dumbbell (turn it inward) on the way down.

Finally, 45-degree incline dumbbell curls, with lighter dumbbells, 12, 10, 8. I did a great deal of dumbbell work for biceps in those days, because it was the best. You can curl and supinate at the top of the movement with dumbbells. 

After a total of nine sets for biceps, I'd tackle forearms with barbell reverse curls, 12 reps super-setted with seated barbell wrist curls, 20 reps. Two super sets. After each set of curls and forearm exercises I held the pronated arms back stretch for 15 seconds. This gave me a total of 15 sets for back, 9 for biceps, and 4 for forearms, adding up to 28 total sets in the workout, which proved to be enough for growth.

Because of the heavy deadlifts, I preferred to take the next day off from training because squatting was my main movement. Not a good idea squatting with a sore lower back. So, after the rest day I started my leg routine with a few sets of one-legged top extensions to get some blood in the knees, and then started my 6 sets of barbell squats - 15, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8. I did below parallel squats doing slower negatives than positives. 

Next exercise was the leg press - 15, 12, 10. Leg presses always felt light after heavy squats and I did higher reps to get an overall pump in the thighs. I never went extremely heavy in this one, but concentrated on going deep into the negative and then not quite locking out at the end of the rep. This it was lying leg curls - 12, 11, 10, followed by the one leg up stretch between sets. 

I ended the thigh workout with 3 sets of leg extensions - 12, 10, 8 on my trusty old Nautilus machine. Training for the Mr. Olympia in 1979 I became very strong on this one, doing 10 slow reps with 275. 

Calves were up next and I did the calf stretch for 15 seconds after each set. Standing calf raise - 3 x15-20. I kept my knees slightly bent so I could get a deeper stretch at the bottom. Donkey calf raise - 4 x 20-25. Seated calf raise - since it's hard on the Achilles tendon, I always do this one last, usually one four-part drop set, without rest doing 120x5, 110x5, 100x5, 90x5, then do calf stretch for 15 seconds after wards.

Ab work ended the leg day routine, which was usually anything except hanging knee ups in order to give the upper body a rest.

My main exercise on day three's program was the barbell bench press, with a shoulder width grip to put more emphasis on pecs, front delts and triceps. I didn't quite lock out at the top, and did doorway stretches between sets - 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2. These were all done with slow negatives. After I finished the bench presses I did 70-degree incline dumbbell presses - 10 reps, drop angle for 8 reps, drop angle for 6 reps, drop angle for 4-6 reps. All with slow negatives, not quite locking out at the top of each rep. By now my pecs and front delts were really pumped and I'd keep doing doorway stretches between sets. 

Next came 10-degree decline dumbbell flies for 12, 10, 8, doing the doorway stretches and flexing the pecs between sets. Then it was the dumbbell pullover lying across a bench, mainly for serratus. 

It also expanded my ribcage, pumped up my lower pecs, and really developed the posterior head of my triceps. I got quite strong on this one and did 12, 10, and 8, doing the one arm overhead shoulder stretch between sets. 

Next, I moved on to triceps and started with close grip bench presses with hands about 12 inches apart, elbows pointed out to emphasize outer triceps, lowering the weight to the chest slowly and not quite locking out at the top. 12, 10, 8, arms back stretch between sets. 

One arm overhead extensions came next. I'd hold onto a support and lean slightly backwards, making sure to let the weight down deeply behind my back and then, keeping my upper arm close to my head, not quite lock out at the top of the exercise. 12, 10, 8, holding one arm shoulder stretch for 15 seconds with each arm between sets. 

My final exercise for triceps was the V-grip pressdown, holding the contraction for a full second each rep. 12, 10, 8, doing arms back stretch between sets. After triceps work I was ready to finish off deltoids. I already worked the front delts with the pressing, so all that was left now was an exercise for rear delts and something for the side or lateral heads. Bent over dumbbell lateral raise was my preferred exercise in those days. I'd get behind a T bar or leg roller on a leg curl machine and lean as far forward as I could, grab not-so-heavy dumbbells and do 15, 12, and 10 with rear delt stretches between each set. My last exercise for delts was the side cable raise - 12, 10, 8. Sometimes I'd do 3 x 12 nonstop arm-to-arm.

Ab work was always at the end of my workout and my plan was to gradually increase the total amount of reps right up until contest time until I was doing 1,000 total reps at each workout. Often I came back to the gym later in the afternoon to do this and it usually took me a half hour of nonstop ab exercises to complete it. The minimum program was leg raise 4x25 superset with ab crunches 4x25, followed by 100 seated twists. As I progressed in my ab work I'd add to this 4 sets of 25 hanging knee ups superset with 4 sets of 25 two-arm overhead cable crunches followed by 100 more seated twists. After that I'd ride a stationary bike for 15-20 minutes or run a slow mile and a half.


How I'd Do It Now

If you refer to my book, Workouts From Personal Training Diaries, you will find over 180 different workouts I did over a 40-year period of time. Variations of the above routine will be found in there as well. 


In general, I'd go to the gym with a routine in mind but as I trained, I made slight variations in it, like changing the order of the exercises, or substituting a new movement. Nothing drastic, but no two workouts, although similar, were ever exactly the same. I used the Growth Routine in my training for the 1979 Mr. Olympia and something similar for the 1982 Mr. Olympia competition as well. I did a 4 day cycle, training 3 days out of 4, three days in a row and resting the fourth day. I was hard and I got really sore from it. I needed lots of rest and noticed a tendency to become over trained after about a month on this 4 day cycle so I took a few extra days off every month.

If I were to do that again, I'd do a 5, 5, 5, 6 day cycle (train 3 days out of 5 three times in a row, then train 3 days out of 6 once; repeat). This is something I recently thought up and I like the idea because it forms a 3 week cycle and gives enough rest so you can grow.

When I did 3 days on, 1 day off, (i.e. the 4 day cycle) I was tired a lot and usually became over trained after about one month of this kind of torture. But with this new cycle over training has less of a chance of occurring. You'll get more rest between workouts, be stronger and grow more.


1 = back, biceps, forearms
2 = legs
3 = chest, shoulders, triceps
R = rest day

Here's how the 5, 5, 5, 6 program repeats itself:

CYCLE ONE - Train 3 days out of 5
Mon - 1
Tues - R
Wed - 2
Thurs - 3
Fri - R
CYCLE TWO - Train 3 days out of 5
Sat - 1
Sun - R
Mon - 2
Tues - 3
Wed - R
CYCLE THREE - Train 3 days out of 5
Thurs - 1
Fri - R
Sat  - 2
Sun - 3
Mon - R
CYCLE FOUR - Train 3 days out of 6
Tues - 1
Wed - R
Thurs - 2
Fri - R
Sat - 3
Sun - R


The cycle repeats itself exactly in the pattern every three weeks providing you don't miss. So, every 3 weeks you train each workout 4 times, you have 9 rest days and 12 workout days.

Notice you always have Fridays off. And you can always have the same day off depending on when you start the cycle. Start in on Monday and every Friday off. Start on Tuesday and get every Saturday off. Start it on Wednesday and get every Sunday off, etc. 

Of course, there are other ways to arrange your workouts in this three way split, but why do a three way split in the first place?  

1) Since you divide your body into three sections instead of two you can do more work for each section. You have longer to recuperate between each time you work a specific part of the body.

2) It's easier to tolerate only a small part of your body being sore from exercising instead of your entire body or entire upper body being wiped out.

Footnote:  Actually instead of training three days in a row and resting the fourth, I'd do the 5-5-4 day cycle, the 5-5-5-6 day cycle should produce more growth because there's more rest so you'll be stronger each workout and be able to train heavier.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Frank Zane's Tips for Massive Muscle Growth

Frank Zane's Tips for Massive Muscle Growth

Everybody wants to grow. Adolescents and teenagers would like to grow muscle and so do mature adults. They’d like to but don’t know how. I do from almost 60 years of continuous training and experimentation.

My goal in training was to develop all parts of the body equally. In order to do this, one must first become aware of the work that needs to be done by studying photos. The next stage was planning the training. I was doing a split routine when I was 18, working legs one day and upper body the next. Being 18 and full of drive and energy I trained 6 days a week alternating workout doing upper body one day and legs the next.

At first I did three to four sets of 10 reps on everything. Then one day, this big guy who trained at the gym told me to work up in weight on every set and let the reps decrease according to my strength. So, it became 12, 10, 8, 6 reps and I did big muscle group exercises: bench press, rowing, squats, some deadlifts, press behind neck, curls, all with barbells. My strength grew and so did my bodyweight. I went from 170 to low 180s by 1964.

By the end of 1965 I’d bulked up to over 200 pounds from a lot of heavy squats. My thighs grew so much that I became ‘bottom heavy’ since the other muscle groups didn’t grow nearly as much. I’d wasted a whole year bulking up and the results were not satisfactory… so I trimmed down to 194 and moved to Florida where my training took on a whole new direction once I found a great gym to do my training. I also found a good training partner and we worked out 6 days a week from 5 to 7 pm.

During the three years I trained in Florida, I was able to win Mr. America and Mr. Universe weighing in the low 180s even beating Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then, I realized that in order to reach my potential I needed to be in a more fitness oriented area. 

So, I moved to Southern California in the summer of 1969. I was able to train at the original Golds Gym in Venice with Arnold during 1969, 1970, and 1972 and won Mr. World and two more Mr. Universe titles weighing in the 180s. In 1972, I bulked up to over 200 pounds by training heavy and won Professional Mr. Universe in London weighing about 198.

I was encouraged by ‘bodybuilding experts’ to get bigger so I went all out in 1982 and trained very heavy in an attempt to win a 4th Olympia weighing over 200 pounds. I did win, but in reflection, I think my chances would have been better if I weighed 5 pounds less.

My bodyweight gradually went up and then came slightly down to look my best for competitions. It all depended on how I looked in the photos I took on a regular basis. And looking back this is one of the best things I accomplished in my bodybuilding career, I took thousands and thousands of photos which provide a record of my progress. In bodybuilding it’s all about how good you look not about how much you weigh or measure. I suggest you start collecting photos of yourself if you want to maximize your potential.

The Let’s Grow Workout is a two way split routine. It should be done three times a week, or two times a week at a minimum. It’s not how often you do it. It’s how well you do it, how good your workouts are. Get a pump on every set. And feel a little soreness the next day in the areas worked. You’ll know your making gains when this happens. 

Here’s the workout:
Day One — front of body, abs
Day Two—back of body, abs

It’s important to develop a trim waistline with good abs as you grow - that’s why abs should be done every workout.

So what is front of body routine? It’s Chest, Front delts, biceps/forearms, abs, quadriceps. Back of body? Back, rear & side delts, triceps, hamstrings, calves, abs.

Why this kind of split? Because the amount of work each time is equal, the two workouts are approximately the same length. Even though you are working upper body each time you always get a day of rest in between. You might even do a train a day and rest two days cycle. That would be even better for growth because more rest between workouts means more recuperation time for your muscles to grow and get stronger. Especially if you train heavy you need more time to recuperate. If you don’t get it you won’t grow in size or strength.

Let’s Grow is based on the EARN model where E is exercise, A is attitude, R is rest, N is nutrition. Growth is a product of exercise, attitude, relaxation rest recuperation, and nutrition. For maximum growth you must a perfect score in each category. This bodybuilding equation is a mathematical way to track your growth.

So what’s the workout routine? I suggest doing the Let’s Grow routine twice a week at first, something like Tuesday Saturday, Wednesday Sunday, Thursday Monday. Where you train a day, rest three days, train a day rest two days. This would be a great maintenance program done this way and a good program to do if you don’t have much time to devote to your training. Instead of telling yourself you don’t have time to train and skipping workouts, do this program instead twice a week on a regular basis. Get a good pump and you’ll be moving a the right direction.

“Let’s Grow” is part of Frank's newest product, the Frank Zane's Ultimate Bodybuilding Bundle...check it out here

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Frank Zane Launches his NEW Ultimate Bodybuilding Bundle!

Frank Zane - 3x Mr. Olympia - releases his NEW Ultimate Bodybuilding Bundle!

Here's my ultimate special for bodybuilders where you get 3 of my Best-Selling Books and a FREE Training DVD - all at one low price that includes shipping!

This bundle will give you my total system with all of my powerful weight training, posing tips, nutrition, and motivational programs for beginners through advanced trainees.  Never before was all this information available for one low price.  This is a great reference manual for personal trainers too!

You'll save over $40 - here's what's included:
BONUS OFFER: Order today and you'll get my Train with Zane DVD!

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Frank Zane's Ultimate Bodybuilding Bundle

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Winter 2015 Issue of Building the Body Quarterly

The winter 2015 issue of Building the Body Quarterly will be mailed the week of January 25th, 2016.   

This issue features:

Fernandez’s Ferrigno Classic
- Training for it:  about the tremendous amount of work needed to get in shape after bulking up 30 pounds.
- Contest Report: He won his class over 50

- Sara and Michael are a couple of PhDS from Australia who did a Zane Experience recently.  Here’s the progress they made.

- Specialization is what to do in the off season when you are not training as hard or as often.  Working your weak points is essential for a complete physique.

- Egg White Perfection – We are eagerly anticipating the new batch of this unique product containing L-glutamine in free form.  Here’s why it’s the best supplement available only from us.

- Tom Rutherford got some valuable posing tips in his Zane Experience program and took some nice photos while in San Diego.

- Mia Morissette has an amazing physique and tells about her training and how she feels about women’s bodybuilding.

- Carbon 60 is a powerful free radical scavenger and may enhance training.  Learn about the research. 

- Blood Pressure – Bodybuilders, do you know what your blood pressure is?

- Build Horseshoe Triceps – Here’s a great routine to build and shape the biggest muscles of the upper arm.

- Frankly Speaking about stuff we are doing besides training

- Classic Physique Rules – It’s official.  NPC and IFBB have OK’d the classic bodybuilding physique division.  Good news is that are many height/weight categories so there will be lots of winners. 

This is a very informative issue with lots of impressive photos available currently in hard copy mailed out four times a year.  

Subscribe today and take advantage of this unique publication by going to  

Mailed USPS hard copy it's only $24 in USA, $26.28 in CA, $30 in Canada, and $35 overseas.

All the best,

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Transform Your Abs & Upper Quads with Frank Zane's Training Secrets!

I get a lot of questions from my fans on how I built my abs and developed such separation in my upper quads.  I recently came across this interview in my archives that answers many of these questions.    

Check it out below and as always, don't forget that my three books - High Def Body, Symmetry, and Let's Grow contain all of my exact workout routines, mental focus tips and diet/nutrition programs.  
Thanks for your continued support and here's to your High Def Body in 2016!  

Get all three books and training DVD here  

Interviewing Bodybuilding Legend Frank Zane

Frank Zane  

 Frank Zane is a three-time Mr. Olympia (1977 to 1979). His bodybuilding reign was marked by a shift of emphasis from mass to aesthetics. 

Zane is one of only three people who have defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding contest and one of the very few Mr. Olympia winners under 200 pounds.  

His nickname is “The Chemist” due to his BS degree and his scientific approach to reaching his peak on the exact day of competition, year after year. (Also he taught mathematics and chemistry for 13 years.   

Zane’s proportionate physique featured the second thinnest waistline of all the Mr. Olympias, with his wide shoulders making for a distinctive V-taper. He stood at 5 ft 9 in (1.75m) and had a competition weight of 187-195 pounds when he won Mr Olympia.  In this interview, Frank Zane shares a host of never-before-published photos spanning his career and beyond, taken by his wife, Christine, a talented photographer and his most ardent supporter for more than 40 years.   

How did you come to formulate your first bodybuilding training routine?  
It was all by people I’d met, things I’d read and trial and error. When I first started out, I was about 18 actually younger I was about 16 or 17 when I really got serious. I worked out every other day after school, doing upper body one day, legs the next. I kept that routine for a while and it worked well for me. 

Then, in the mid-late ’60s, when I was living in Florida, I increased the number of workouts so that I was training six days a week, but it was still upper body one day, legs the next. My upper-body workouts took about three to three and a half hours. The leg workouts were about an hour and a half, and that’s how I trained right up until I won the Mr. America and Mr. Universe in 1968.   

When I moved to California, we all pretty much trained the same way, like Arnold did. We still trained six days a week, but on a three-way split. A typical routine was chest and back on Mondays and Thursdays, legs on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays and Saturdays was delts and arms. 

It was a volume routine. We’d do at least 10-12 sets for the small bodyparts and 15-20 sets for the large bodyparts. We’d train heavy, working up to the heavy weights. We worked real hard, but what I learned was that as you get older it’s better to train a little less frequently but harder. Your body needs that extra time to recuperate.

Changing styles   

Around 1978, I graduated to a different style it was still a three-day split program but I trained three days in a row and then rested the fourth day. I found that I grew better on a routine like that and it’s the one that I used throughout the rest of my career. 

Precontest I, like most everyone else, would do a double split, but normally it would be one workout a day, maybe coming back to do abs. So I changed it to back-biceps-forearms on day one, legs on day two, chest, shoulders, triceps on day three. Of course, I always worked abs every day, and did a good 400 and upward for total reps of abs. Before a contest, I’d move that up to as many as 1,000 reps a day.  

Would that come at the end of the workout?  
Yeah. Sometimes I would come back to the gym later in the day and just do abs because it would take a while.  

What were your preferred ab exercises?  
Usually crunches and/or Roman-chair situps for upper abs. Leg raises or hanging knee-ups for upper abs, seated twists for obliques.


 Not a lot of guys devote that much time to their ab training these days.  

Worked for me. I just went by the example of those who had been training at Gold’s Gym [in Venice] when I got there. You know, in the late ’60s Zabo Koszewski was there and he had the best abs and I figured, Well, I’ll try it. He would do 500 Roman-chair situps in the morning and 500 leg raises in the afternoon and so that’s what I did. I figured if you had great abs and you had everything else, you’d look even better, and it worked. Not only did it give me great abs, but it gave me great upper-quad separation.  

That’s true, you did have that great detail in your upper thighs. What about cardio? I didn’t do much in the way of cardio maybe two hours a week.  

So, did diet account for your conditioning?  

My diet was always very good, but volume training in itself really conditions you. if you go heavy, you’ll grow too, but boy, volume training really works you down to your core. To this day, I still practice volume, except now I will train three days a week or so.  

I know that early on you dabbled in some powerlifting.
Just initially. Where I grew up in Pennsylvania it was really the center of weightlifting in the United States. But I wasn’t really into the Olympic lifts and, actually, the area where I was in northeastern Pennsylvania there wasn’t even powerlifting yet. They called it “odd lifting” and they sort of organized their own competitions. 

They picked the lifts that the greatest number of guys were good at. But through my whole career in bodybuilding, until I moved to California, nobody was that good at squats, except for me. So the lifts were bench press, curls and deadlifts, and I never did deadlifts. I mean, I did them to get into the contests. At a bodyweight of 175, I ended up doing a 425 deadlift, 285 bench press and 155 curl. But if they’d had squats in there, I would have been squatting with over 400 because I was always a good squatter.  

Was that early heavy lifting important for giving you a foundation on which you later built your physique? Well, it gave me mass, but I’ll tell you one thing if I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I would have done it. It just gets you injured. You’re just focusing on the weight and often ignoring the subtle signs your body is giving you and once you’ve hurt yourself, that’s it. It never really goes away. Now I’m paying the price for all of that heavy lifting.  

The old injuries are catching up to you? Absolutely. I think as you get older, it’s inevitable that you feel the effects of the injuries you incurred years earlier. I mean, joints can only take so much. I think shoulders are very susceptible to wearing out all that upper-body work, especially if you’re training upper body heavy, training upper body two days in a row. 

My shoulders have been traumatized and now I have to back off shoulder work. I did so much shoulder work and they got so developed that now almost anything I do goes to my shoulders. So I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to train shoulders.   But I can’t they hurt. So, even if I just do chest and back, that’s a lot of shoulder work. Even training arms is a lot of shoulder work.  

So, knowing what you know now, if you had the chance to go back to, say, ’68, ’70, would you do things differently? In those days, I did what was necessary for me to win. This included training with heavy weights: a precursor for injury. So if I could do it over again I’d train with lighter weights, higher reps, no sets below 10 reps, with negatives slower than positives, and avoid injury. If I had done that, my physique wouldn’t have been quite as bulky, but with more definition and with less pain.  

How does your training today compare with the training you were doing 30 years ago? Obviously you aren’t training for competition any longer, but is it fairly similar to what you were doing then? On the whole, it is, with lighter weights and less volume, of course. I have to say that I rely heavily on muscle memory these days, and it is a pretty amazing thing. I don’t have to train that much anymore to stay in decent shape, which is good because my joints couldn’t handle a lot of this work now. But there comes a point in your 60s when you hit a kind of age barrier, and the gains come slower and the accumulated stress you put on your body all those years adds up. 

It’s a bit of a balancing act–knowing how much to train to elicit results without aggravating old injuries. I now subscribe to the parsimony principle. I no longer want to carry that much mass on me. I want to be lean and lighter. It’s easier to carry around less weight and I’m more comfortable. It also doesn’t require as much training, which equals less stress on the joints.
I have the same structure, similar metabolism, amount of blood, organ reserve that I did all those years ago, except now I’m carrying around 15 pounds less body weight, so it’s much, much easier on my system. I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to, but what I do eat is very nutritionally dense. I don’t even need to sleep as much, although I do make sure to get plenty of rest. 

But you know, these days I get great satisfaction from training other people rather than focusing on myself. I like to help steer them toward their goals. For me, it’s a matter of living as long a quality life as I can. It’s more a matter of health and longevity for me than trying to impress people.  

It sounds like growing up. Yeah, that’s what it is. It’s becoming a mature person. I’m comfortable with the idea of passing the torch helping others to aim for the same kinds of goals I once aimed for. In the end, I think it’s a very natural progression and a good thing. His bodybuilding career and what he accomplished inspires awe, doesn’t it?  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Frank Zane's Shoulder Specialization Routine

Frank Zane's Shoulder Specialization Routine
Competitors can bring out the best in you.  In 1967, Don Howorth won Mr. America and defeated me with his super shoulders and outstanding poses.  This inspired me to want to build out my physique even more and I went to work to revamp my lifting routine.  I crafted a plan to build out my deltoids using my mind and my muscle.  I did my homework and through trial and error was able to develop a specialization plan that built my shoulders to perfection.

Check out the fabulous article below from Gene Mozee, former editor in chief of Muscle Builder Magazine, where I share this exact shoulder routine that
catapulted me to the top.  It took inspiration from a competitor to build out my High Def Body and round out what became to be known as my "classic V-taper."  This story serves to demonstrate what can happen when we truly embrace a negative situation or event and focus on turning it into a learning experience instead.

Frank Zane


Frank Zane's Unity-Training Delt Specialization - Gene Mozee (1995)

Some years ago when I was the editor in chief of Muscle Builder magazine, I interviewed Frank Zane many times. The articles he contributed to that publication were always of the highest quality in terms of both information and result-producing routines. Zane was probably the most scientific bodybuilder of his era. He kept detailed records of every workout and routine that he ever used. He was constantly analyzing every facet of his training, including his diet and sleeping habits.

Zane's philosophy was that you don't have to have 20-inch arms and weigh 250 lbs to look impressive. He contended that most men become obsessed with obtaining huge size and making bodyweight gains. While he acknowledged that a certain amount of size and bodyweight are necessary, he believed that these are not the factors that determine a top physique. He rated muscle density, shape and symmetry and how those qualities are displayed as more important than who has the largest measurements or who weighs the most in competition. The person who looks the best is the one who wins the show.

Here, in his own words, is the shoulder specialization program that helped make Frank Zane one of the most popular bodybuilders of all time.

I've seen fantastic deltoids on fellows like Sergio Oliva and Larry Scott, but to me the all time champion of superior deltoid development was Don Howorth. I was awed by Don's width. Delts like that seemed preposterous, unreal -- except that they blended perfectly with his arms, chest and the sweep of his lats. It is my conviction that well-developed delts give any physique the stellar touch.

After I lost the Mr. America contest, I made a solemn vow. At any cost I would develop deltoids like those of Howorth, who shouldered me out of first place. I knew what I had to do, and I've been blasting them hard ever since, turning my defeat by a deltoid into many victories. I really believe that.

I like what my delts have given me. It took a lot of hard work and some fine-tuning of my workout program to reach my present degree of development and proportion.

I realized that if I wanted delts like Howorth's, that total development of all the parts -- front, back and middle -- I needed to use more than simple motion. Abstract contraction of muscle doesn't do it. I've seen too much failure coming from thoughtless exercise.

When I first started giving my delts priority, I was exerting tremendous effort. Each rep, each set seemed like a foreign entity, something that is tolerated for a necessary exchange. Gradually I began to feel that I was becoming one with the weight, uniting myself with it on each movement. In my opinion this is the trouble with the average bodybuilder's workout. He thinks of himself as being separate from the weights and must therefore exert a tremendous amount of effort to move a weight that he perceives as something outside of himself. That idea doesn't work for me.

Here's a tip that has paid off for me. I've learned the anatomy of each muscle, including its origins and insertions and how it functions. During workouts I close my mind to all else except the muscle I'm working. I envision it contracting and becoming pumped and growing larger with each rep. I try to think positively right through my training session, practically willing the muscles to grow.

I proved to myself that if my concentration was keen enough, I could close the breach between myself and the exercise apparatus. I riveted my attention on using proper form to the extent that no external environment existed for me. I became a part of the workout. Distractions were filtered out. You have to get into this process and work at it to experience what I mean. It transcends simple training. You feel like a baseball player who has just made the perfect swing and connected for a home run.

After experimenting with several different exercises and routines, I discovered that the following deltoid program really delivers the goods -- size, shape, muscle density and definition. I eased into it slowly and progressively intensified each workout by adding weight and shortening the rest periods. The program consists of five exercises, and I performed the first three -- dumbbell presses. lateral raises, and cable upright rows -- in tri-set fashion, one right after the another without pausing. I started fairly light and increases the poundage for each set, completing five tri-sets using the following reps and weights:

Tri-Set One:
Dumbbell Presses, 50s x 12
Lateral Raises, 25s x 15
Cable Upright Rows, 50 x 15.

Tri-Set Two:
Dumbbell Presses, 70s x 11
Lateral Raises, 30s x 14
Cable Upright Rows, 55 x 12.

Tri-Set Three:
Dumbbell Presses, 70s x 11
Lateral Raises, 30s x 13
Cable Upright Rows, 60 x 9.

Tri-Set Four:
Dumbbell Presses, 80s x 9
Lateral Raises, 32.5s x 12
Cable Upright Rows, 65 x 9.

Tri-Set Five:
Dumbbell Presses, 90s x 8
Lateral Raises, 35s x 11
Cable Upright Rows, 70 x 8.

I rested about two minutes between tri-sets. Gradually I reached the point where my endurance and willpower permitted me to go through all five cycles without resting at all. Those 15 nonstop sets, performed one right after another, became a real adventure in training. The pump is intense, and the muscles burn. You start to rise above the pain, and that's when you approach UNITY, the junction of yourself and the apparatus.   

The tri-set exercises primarily work the front and lateral-deltoid areas, so I followed them up with five fast sets of incline lateral raises for the posterior delts. These are bentover laterals performed while you're sitting backward on an incline bench with your chest resting against the incline. The following is typical of my sessions on this movement:

25s x 15
27.5s x 14
30s x 13
32.5s x 12
35s x 10

Then, to complete the program, I set the weight on the pulley machine at 20 lbs and performed five sets of one-arm pulley lateral raises for each arm without resting at all.

After I completed the full program, which totaled 25 sets, my delts were so pumped that I could barely raise my arms. The result was a remarkable increase in delt size, shape and definition in a relatively short period of time. 

Unity-Delt Specialization Program

Dumbbell Presses, 5 x 12, 11, 11, 9, 8
Lateral Raises, 5 x 15, 14, 13, 12, 11
Cable Upright Rows, 5 x 15, 12, 9, 9, 8.

Incline Bench Lateral Raises, 5 x 15, 14, 13, 12, 10.

One-Arm Pulley Laterals, 5 x 10-15.

This is a very tough program that's much too severe for anything except pre-contest training/peaking. Don't try to jump into it immediately. Instead, I suggest the following plan for a starter.

Basic Delt Specialization

Dumbbell Presses, x 3-4
Lateral Raises, x 3-4
Upright Rows, x 3-4
Incline Bench Lateral Raises, x 3-4

Use this program two or three times a week, depending on your training needs and schedule. You can intensify it by performing it in superset fashion, as follows. Remember that supersetting involves performing two different exercises, alternating them without pausing to promote a greater pump stimulate muscle growth in a specific area. One superset equals one set of each of the two exercises.

Superset Delt Specialization

Superset One:
Dumbbell Presses, x 4-5
Lateral Raises, x 4-5

Superset Two:
Upright Rows, x 4-5
Incline Bench Lateral Raises, x 4-5
Learn More about Frank's Training Routines in his book Symmetry - 

Train one-on-one with Frank Zane in his San Diego Training Studio -

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Meet & Greet Christine & Frank Zane - Sunday, Dec. 27th

Meet and greet Christine and Frank Zane at Spanish Village Studio 21, 1770 Village Place, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA this Sunday, December 27th from 2 to 4 pm, refreshments will be served, hope to see you there!

Christine Zane, Exhibiting at the Visual Translations Art Show Featuring "Art that Speaks to You" with Eleven Other Water Media Artists

WHERE: Gallery 21, Spanish Village, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

WHEN: Dec. 16 - 28 (closed Christmas)

TIME: 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

MEET CHRISTINE at the Following Special Events:
Saturday, Dec. 26th from 1 - 4 pm (Open House)
Sunday, Dec. 27th from 2 - 4 p.m. (Festive Reception)

FEATURED ARTISTS: Christine Zane, Nell Bartlett, Beverly Berwick, Roberta Dyer, Martha Grim, Elaine Harvey, Alice Kayuha, Carol Mansfield, Michele Morga, Diana Ruark, & Bonnie Woods
Learn more here...…/christine-zane-to-exhib…