The Mind in BodyBuilding



Today, I’d like to share with you one small tip that makes a huge difference in your workout — FOCUS.

Focus is the act of putting all your attention on one thing and keeping it there. Good focus is what is needed for successful workouts. Fixed attention is what is required during a weight training workout.

You must pay strict attention to what you are doing. If you don’t, you won’t get a good pump at the end of the set and even worse you might get injured if you lose control of the movement. Fixed attention involves narrowing down your focus to a single point to where nothing else exists.

Learn how to use your mind to improve your body and your life in Frank’s Amazon Kindle eBook called The Mind in Body Building.

Train Zane’s Way: Spread Your Lats

Want lats that other people can see from the front? Here’s how “the Chemist” got his.

Check out this recent article from Muscle & Fitness Magazine…


by Frank Zane
I did lots of bentover barbell rows while training for the Olympia in 1976. I’d start each workout with this exercise, working up heavy. This gave me much improved lats but also a tennis-elbow-like injury from excessive pronation of the overhand grip. So what to do? Switch to a neutral grip and employ the leverage row, aka the T-bar row.
It’s best to to stick a seven-foot Olympic bar in the corner and load one end with small diameter plates so you have a big range of motion. (If you’re really getting the bar up, 45s can hit your chest.) I use 10s and wouldn’t use more than 25s. 

Straddle the bar and interlace your fingers. Bend your knees so your upper body is parallel to the floor. I pull the weight up until it touches my chest and then lower it slowly, being sure to round my back slightly (but safely) as I let the weight down. It’s important to round your back to maximize the stretch. If you keep your lower back arched you’ll contract upper-back muscles, but you won’t target your low central lats. You have to stretch the lats to ensure full development.
Quick Tip: Stretch the lats with front-lat spreads of 30 seconds between sets and hold the down position of one-arm rows for 15 seconds.
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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.


Also be sure to check out my newest book Zane Bodybuilding Manual which contains 436 pages of my best workout routines, tips, posing advice, nutritional guidance, mindset, meditation and more! It also has over 500 photos to show you the exercises, form, and poses.  Order yours today and Frank will autograph it for you!


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 120×5, 110×5, 100×5, 90×5, 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 4×25 superset with ab crunches 4×25, 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.

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

Frank Zane Launches his NEW Ultimate Bodybuilding Bundle!

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

Here is 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