Frank Zane’s Diet Plan and Workout Routine

Frank Zane, hailing from Kingston, Pennsylvania, is a renowned legend in bodybuilding. From a young age, Zane showed a keen interest in the sport, beginning his weight training journey as a teenager. 

In just a few short years, he achieved remarkable progress, transforming his body from a modest 130 lbs at 14 to an impressive 160 lbs at 17 years old.

During his early years, Zane frequented the local YMCA and his basement, utilizing a basic adjustable dumbbell set for his workouts

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His dedication to weightlifting became evident as he trained diligently every day or every other day, ultimately becoming addicted to the positive changes he witnessed in his muscle growth. 

During this time, Zane’s fascination with the physiques depicted in muscle magazines sparked his desire to compete, setting the foundation for his bodybuilding journey.

Following his formative years, Zane pursued higher education and earned a Bachelor of Science from Wilkes University in 1964. He later used his academic background to teach mathematics and chemistry for 13 years in Florida and California. 

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Zane’s thirst for knowledge led him to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State LA in 1977 and a master’s degree in experimental psychology from CSUSB in 1990.

Zane’s notable achievements in bodybuilding include securing the prestigious Mr. Olympia title three times consecutively from 1977 to 1979. Additionally, he emerged victorious in the Mr. Universe competition three times and claimed the titles of Mr. World and Mr. America. 

His remarkable physique set Zane apart, characterized by a tiny waist and an aesthetically pleasing look that epitomized the classic physique ideal. Notably, he competed at a body weight below 190 pounds during his reign as Mr. Olympia.

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Frank Zane's Diet Plan and Workout Routine
via frank zane Instagram / the US Sun

Zane’s name etched itself in bodybuilding history when he became one of the few to defeat the iconic seven-time Mr. Olympia champion, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Zane accomplished this feat at the 1968 Mr. Universe, later acknowledging that Schwarzenegger was not in top form then, merely relying on his size and indulging in cake. While Schwarzenegger initially harbored dissatisfaction at losing to a much smaller competitor, the two eventually trained together from 1969, when Zane relocated to California, until the early 1970s.

Throughout his illustrious career, Zane amassed an impressive portfolio of accomplishments. Although he boycotted the 1981 Olympia due to the circumstances surrounding the 1980 contest, he returned in 1982, securing second place. 

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Zane’s final competition was the 1983 Olympia, where he placed fourth after sustaining another injury that necessitated shoulder surgery.

After the 1983 Mr. Olympia competition, Frank Zane retired, leaving an indelible mark on the bodybuilding world. His journey is a testament to his unwavering dedication, discipline, and pursuit of aesthetic perfection in the sport he loves.

Frank Zane Diet Plan

Frank Zane followed a distinctive approach that revolved around listening to his body’s hunger cues. In an interview, Frank Zane revealed that he would only eat when he felt genuinely hungry, refraining from forcing himself to eat when his appetite was absent.

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This reflexive approach to eating allowed him to optimize fat burning and achieve a visually appealing physique. To meet his body’s protein needs, Zane adhered to a dietary guideline of consuming 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. 

He emphasized the importance of monitoring his carbohydrate intake and limited it to 0.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight daily. Zane primarily derived his fats from healthy oils, maintaining a low-fat diet. Overall, his calorie intake ranged between 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

As an example of his breakfast on the day of the Olympia, Zane would typically have a nourishing meal consisting of three soft-boiled or poached eggs, 8 ounces of calves’ liver, and a baked yam. 

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This combination provided him with a balanced blend of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to fuel his body for the demanding physical activities ahead.

In addition to his dietary choices, Zane relied on various supplements and amino acids to support his training and physique. This earned him the nickname “The Chemist,” reflecting his meticulous approach to optimizing his body’s performance.

Frank Zane Meal Plan 

Frank Zane took only four meals a day during his prime time.

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Frank Zane Meal 1 

  • Baked yam
  • 3 Soft-boiled eggs
  • Calf liver 200 g

Frank Zane Meal 2

  • Vegetables
  • Cottage cheese
  • Steak 300 g

Frank Zane Meal 3

  • Potatoes 200 g
  • Cheese 
  • 6 Egg omelets
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Frank Zane Meal 4

  • Large salad 
  • Ground beef 300 g

Frank Zane Workout Routine

frank zane workout
via frank zane instagram

Monday: Shoulder Workout and Arm Workout

Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press3 Sets of 10 to 12 Reps
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press3-4 Sets of 10 to 12 Reps
Upright Cable Row3-4 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Incline Bench Rear Delt Fly3-4 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise3 Sets of 15, 12, 10, and 8 Reps
One-Arm Lateral Cable Raise3 Sets of 12, 10, and 8 Reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Concentration Curls3-4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Alternate Dumbbell Curls3-4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Tricep Cable Pushdown3-4 Sets of 10 Reps
Feet Elevated Bench Dips3-4 Sets of 10 Reps
45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Curls3 Sets of 12, 10, 8 Reps
Close-Grip Bench Press (with Hands Around 12in Apart)3 Sets of 12, 10, 8 Reps
One-Arm Overhead Extensions3 Sets of 12, 10, and 8 Reps
V-Grip Press Down (Holding the Contraction for a full Second)3 Sets of 12, 10, and 8 Reps
frank zane leg workout
via frank zane instagram

Tuesday: Back Workout

Wide-Grip Deadlifts3 Sets of 15, 12, and 10 Reps from the floor first, then 3 Sets of 10, 8 Reps from blocks, plus an occasional 7th set of 6 Reps
T-Bar Rows (using an 8-foot Olympic Bar)4 Sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 Reps
Wide-Grip Pull-Ups4 Sets of 5 Reps
Wide-Grip Seated Front Pulldowns3-4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Row3-4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Bent-Over Barbell Row4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Dumbbell Pullover3-4 Sets of 8-10 Reps
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Wednesday: Calves 

Standing Calf Raise3 Sets of 15-20 Reps
Donkey Calf Raises4 Sets of 20-25 Reps
Seated Calf RaiseOne four-part drop set (without rest) – 120 x 5, 110 x 5, 100 x 5, and 90 x 5. (stretching the calves for 15 seconds afterward)

Thursday: Chest Workout

Flat Barbell Bench Press (using a Shoulder-Width Grip)4-6 Sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 Reps
Incline Barbell Bench Press4-6 Sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 Reps
70-Degree Incline Dumbbell Press4-6 Sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 Reps
Crossbench Dumbbell Pullover3 Sets of 12, 10, 8 Reps
Flat Dumbbell Fly4 Sets of 10-12 Reps
10-Degree Decline Dumbbell Fly3 Sets of 12, 10, 8 Reps
Standing Cable Crossover4 Sets of 10-12 Reps
Bodyweight Push-Up5 Sets of 10 Reps

Friday: Abs Workout

frank zane squat machine
via frank zane instagram
Crunches Superset with Leg Raisesas many Sets as you can of 50+ Reps/Side
Hanging Knee-Ups and Seated Twistsas many Sets as you can of 50+ Reps/Side
Leg Raise4 Sets of 25 Reps Superset with
Ab Crunches4 Sets of 25 Reps
Seated Twists100 Reps
Hanging Leg Raises4 Sets of 25 Reps
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Saturday: Leg Workout

Leg Extensions (Warm-Up to get the Blood Pumping to the Thighs)4 Sets of 8-12 Reps
Back Squats6 Sets of 15, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8 Reps
Leg Extensions3 Sets of 12, 11, and 10 Reps (Stretch Hamstrings after Each Set)
Leg Press4 Sets of 15, 12, 10, 6 Reps
Lying Leg Curls3 Sets of 12, 11, and 10 Reps (Stretch Hamstrings after each Set)
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift3 Sets of 12, 10, and 8 Reps (Stretch Quads after each Set)
Leg Blaster Squat4 Sets of 6-12 Reps

Sunday: Rest 

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