Secrets of a Small Waistline
By Frank Zane, M.A.
3–time Mr. Olympia
Just starting bodybuilding, I remember seeing photos of Spanish bodybuilders, rather lean but with great
midsections. They were impressive even though not much development was going on elsewhere on their
bodies. But I liked this look and concluded at an early age that great waist development was the way to go.
There are several aspects to developing a great waist.
First is keep the waist small by not stuffing or bloating yourself.
Second, be on a good diet to keep fat off the waistline.
Third do enough aerobics to stay tight all over.
Fourth do regular abdominal work. Let’s look at each one.
Whenever you eat don’t stuff yourself. And whenever you drink don’t gulp down fluid quickly. People
who drink beer regularly in copious amount tend to get big waistlines especially when combined with lack of
exercise. It’s better to eat small amounts and stop at the first sign of fullness. Same with drinking liquids, better
to sip them. Remember when you eat a lot of food it takes a long time and more energy to digest it and it digests
less efficiently meaning you don’t get maximum benefit. So, take your time eating less food each time. And
chew longer. You can eat more frequently but eat smaller portions.
It’s important to stay on a good diet if you want great abs, this means keeping the carbs less that protein
intake. We get one gram of protein per pound of body-weight when getting in shape and half gram of carbs per
pound, do this three days in a row and then jack up carbs to equal protein on the fourth day. Then repeat this
four–day cycle. Another way to keep the waistline small is to practice stomach vacuums when you get
hungry. Exhale all air from lungs using abdominal tension to get last vestiges of air out. Then instead of
inhaling, suck in your stomach. Simple as that, do this on a regular basis and see your waistline shrinking.
It’s always been my plan each year to get my abs as good as possible before the holidays at the end of the
year. I’d do this by gradually building up my repetitions on four exercises until I got around 1000. This has to
be done very gradually as you get older, so lower back/ab soreness is tolerable. I like 4 exercises:
Hanging knee up for lower abs
Crunches for upper abs
Incline leg raise for lower abs
One arm cable crunch for obliques
My first routine done every workout which is three times a week is Two super sets:
Hanging knee up 2 sets of 25 reps
Crunches 2 sets 35 reps
Leg raise 2 sets 25 reps
1 arm cable crunch 2 set 15 with 60 lbs.
That’s a total of 200 reps and it’s a good start. After I overcome any soreness I gradually up the reps to
50, 50 reps per exercise on the first superset and 50, 25 on the second for a total of 350 reps.
By this time, I can see definite abdominals emerging from their off seasonal hiding place. My final rep
scheme is the same, but I add another set of each exercise making it 525 total reps. After a month or so on that
and my abs getting better and better, I go to 4 sets each exercise for a total of 700 reps. And that’s about as high
as I go anymore. Every year around Thanksgiving I plan to bring out abs again.
For more details on abdominal training see Frank’s High–Def Body book at www.frankzane.com