Frank Zane's Mr Olympia Training Routine

Submitted by Mr.Berg on Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:37
Frank Zane Training Mr Olympia

This is Frank Zane's 1979 Mr. Olympia workout. Six weeks before the contest he trained the following split routine

Six Day Split Routine
Day 1 Chest, triceps and deltoids
Day 2 Thighs and calves
Day 3 Back, biceps and forearms

Abs are worked everyday. Strict form is important.

Chest (Bench wide, Dips, Cable crossover, Pull Over)
Bench press wide grip and lowered slowly. The heavier the weight used, the more slowly the bar should lowered. To work the serratus, pullovers should be used.
Dips are a fine exercise to use when thickness is required in the lower pec region. Dips can also increase the outline around the pec region.

To put the final touches on the pecs Frank Zane recommended, especially before a contest, cable crossovers to bring out the fine finger-like striations across the chest.

Thighs (Squats Parallel/Quarter, Leg curls, Leg lunges)
Parallel squats are the best exercise for the thigh. He used moderate weight and never exceeds three hundred pounds in the squat.
He found out the best upper thigh exercise for mass and cuts is the one third or one quarter squat (moderate weight and only partially).

He used super sets in the exercise leg curls and leg lunges for big thigh biceps. He had a unique way of performing

Donkey calf raise with a heavy partner using fairly high reps. If a partner is not available, then calf raises using the calf machine can be done.

Abs (Leg raises, Knee-ins, Partial situps, Twists)
Can be worked every day, especially before a contest. Frank cited that he was presently doing something like 1000 various reps each day. Leg raises, knee-ins, and partial situps are done to keep the waistline in top shape.

These exercises are varied and done in super-set fashion to make them even more effective. Twists are also an important part of his ab routine, they keep the sides trim and bring out the cord like muscles of the oblique region.

Back (Bent over rowing, dumbell row, chins, pulldown, hyper extension)

Frank Zane Back workout oldschool

Bent over rowing to a maximum of 200lb. Frank has a special way of performing bent over rowing; this evolved because a back injury he suffered a number of years ago. It is performed with knees bent off a two inch block, the knees are used to provide support for the abdominal region which helps to protect the lower back. The barbell is then pulled to the chest and then rounding out the back as the bar is returned to the floor. Strict form is extremly important.

An excellent exercise Frank has used to lengthen the outside sweep of his lats is the one arm dumbell rowing while standing on a high block to increase the stretch. Try and use a heavy dumbell to make the exercise more effective. To round off the back, chins and pulldown are done in a very strict form.

Best exercise lower back: hyper-extensions Frank did at least two sets of twenty reps (used 25lb plate).

Triceps (close-grip bench press, push downs, (...) )
Best exercise: the close-grip bench press. Very the elbows for the desired effect.
To work the rear head of the triceps do the movement with the elbow held in. Work the lateral head by keeping the elbows out.

Other triceps movements: pushdowns and various extensions

Biceps (concentration curls, dumbell curls, incline curls, standing barbell curls w. straight bar, reverse curls, wrist curl)

Frank Zane Bicep Training

Concentration curls for peak and shape. Performed with dumbells with straight wrists.
Dumbell curls are peformed while turning wrists up at the completion of the top part of the curl.
Incline curls for the lower part of the biceps.
He also recommended the regular standing barbell. Elbows in and kept to the front of the body. Frank's most important advice: "AVOID EXCESSIVE CHEATING"

Forearms: reverse curls and wrist curls after the biceps workout.

Detloids (behind neck press, Front dumbell raises,  bent over lateral raises, lateral raises)
Best exercise: Behind neck press keeping the elbows back and not locking out at the top of the movement.
Front dumbell raises increases definition between the pec and front deltoid.
Rear deltoids are worked by doing the bent over lateral raises with wrists turned out, lowering very slowly.
Side deltoids: lateral raises (keep the wrists turned out and thumbs turned down)

Cheating in side laterals should never be done as the work is taken away from the side deltoid and transferred to the frontal region. Burns and high reps are good to use in the various deltoid raises to bringing out the striations before a contest.

Rep Sheme
Frank used various mixtures of high and low reps.

MuscleMag International November 1980

Frank also has his own website with interesting stuff about training and diet. Just in case you want to learn more about this bodybuilding legend: