Blog 32 Frank Zane Workouts

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Workouts from Frank Zane’s Training Diaries pages 66,67,68

By Frank Zane, M.A.

3-time Mr. Olympia

The Workouts – Personal Training Diaries (eBook) | Frank Zane – 3X Mr. Olympia


I was able to get into a single-minded concentration, a state the yogis call Samadhi, before the 1979 Mr. Olympia competition. Through lots of practice I managed to maintain this focused state for weeks at a time, but without regular practice it doesn’t last. So, after the competition this ability faded and now, I’m doing my best to focus on one thing at a time and forget everything else during my workouts. My workout today is back, biceps, and forearms and I want to remember to pull hard on all the movements while being careful not to super set two pulling exercises in a row. Here’s what I did as part of my entrance to maintenance training after competition:


Front pulldown – 155 pounds for 12 reps, 170 for 10 reps super setted with

Cable crossover behind neck – two sets of 20 reps with 40 pounds (this is the best combination for developing upper lats that I’ve discovered)

Low cable row – 10 reps with 150 and 10 reps with 165 pounds super setted with

Dumbbell shrug – two sets of 20 reps with 65-pound dumbbells

One arm cable rowing – two sets of 10 reps with 100 pounds with one arm lat stretch held for 15 seconds with each arm following immediately after each set,


Dumbbell concentration curls – 30-pound dumbbells for 12, 10, 8 reps with each arm, no rest between sets, going from one arm to the other without stopping.

Curling face down on a steep incline bench – with a 30-pound dumbbell in each hand I do two sets of 10 reps, pausing for one second at the top of the curl and squeezing the biceps to bring out a peak.

Preacher Bench curl – 12 reps then 10 with an 80 and then a 90-pound barbell.


Reverse wrist curl with 40-pound barbell, two sets of 12 reps super setted with

Barbell wrist curl – two sets of 15 reps with an 80-pound barbell

Hand gripper – two sets of 12 reps.


I rest the following day to give my lower back recuperation time and plan my next workout being careful not to go too heavy and avoid any kind of leg or low back injury. Concerning abdominal work, I used to work up to one thousand abdominal reps a day. It paid off with great abs but at this stage my lower back gets too sore when I do that many reps so now, instead of 1000 reps a day, I do 1000 total ab reps a week along with one to two hours total aerobics a week. I always seek the best nutrition keeping my fat calories under 25 percent of my total caloric daily intake, and at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight with carbs equaling protein intake most days to give me enough energy to train hard enough to get a good pump. Here’s the leg routine I did:


Leg extension super setted with leg curl – both 15, 12, 10 reps increasing the weight 10 pounds each set, with one minute’s rest between super sets.

Squatting with upper body erect and not leaning forward – same sets and reps’ pattern as with leg extension and leg curl. With only one minute’s rest between sets I’m breathing hard as I begin each set of squats. When I finish all three sets, I rest three minutes before I begin working calves doing two sets of 15 reps with a 2 second hold at the top of each repetition. The exercises are:

Standing calf raise – with a light weight as my warmup.

Calf raise on leg press machine.

Donkey calf raise with a 200 pound rider sitting on my lower back

Seated calf raise – only one set doing reps until I experience a burning sensation in the calves.


I do the same ab routine at the end of my workouts on all three days:

Partial situp, one arm cable crunch 50 pounds, and incline leg raise, doing 3 sets of 30 reps on each exercise.


Treadmill at the end of the workout for 12 minutes walking at 3.3 miles per hour.


The very next day I do chest, shoulders, and triceps work with the same ab routine at the end of the session.


Starting with one arm shoulder stretch to loosen up the shoulders, I begin deltoid work with 70-degree dumbbell front press, 40 pounds for 15 reps, 45 pounds for 12.

30-degree dumbbell press – two sets of 15 reps with 45 pounds, then 12 reps with 50 pounds, stretching deep down when the dumbbells reach the bottom of each rep and not locking out at the top, holding tension in the upper pecs throughout the set.

Pec deck – 115 pounds for 15 reps, 130 pounds for 12 reps working outer and inner pecs.

Parallel dips – two sets of 10 reps with bodyweight gives me a pump in my pecs, front deltoids, and triceps.

Close grip bench press – two sets of 12 reps with 100 pounds on the Smith Machine attacks the outer triceps when I keep my elbows pointed slightly outward.

One arm dumbbell extension super setted with one arm side cable raise –  I do two sets of 10 reps with 30 pounds on each exercise.

Rowing on Concept II Rowing Ergometer – 1000 meters in under 4 minutes.