arrive at the Anchorage International
Airport on June 10. He arrived at noon. Later in the
afternoon, he was interviewed by local radio and TV networks. At around
6:00 p.m., Frank and the AAU National Physique Chairman, Ralph Countryman
(who had been flown in from Oakland, California to be head physique judge
for the contest) were given a scenic tour of the Anchorage area,
compliments of Anchorage Helicopter. At 7:30 p.m. that same evening, a
welcome reception was held at the Sheffield House in honor of this Mr.
Universe Winner. Finally, the big day we had all been waiting for arrived, June 11. The physique contest was
presented first on the program. Then came one of the moments we all had
been waiting for, the Zane posing exhibition. Needless to say, Frank
brought down the house with his flawless exhibition. Shortly after this
event, we moved into the seminar. My good friend, John Carl Mese, covered
personal data on Frank in an article titled; Zane the Maestro (Iron Man,
Sept '77). In issues to come, John will cover the diet and phase period
training that Zane follows when preparing for the Mr. Olympia contest.
Please don't come under the impression that the contents of this seminar
and interview are a set pattern that Frank follows at every seminar. The
seminar lasted two hours and ten minutes, and I am sure he could have
continued the presentation much longer had time schedules permitted. The
comments and suggestions contained in the seminar and interview are what
worked for Frank Zane personally at the present time, and in no way means
you will become Mr. Olympia caliber by following them. However, I am sure
you will gain a wealth of useful information as I did. Here's the Frank
Zane 1977 Bodybuilding Seminar.
How much value do you place in vitamin supplements?
Certain vitamins in high dosages can have almost a drug-like effect
on your body, but only taken in high dosages will this be achieved.
One example is the B vitamin. B1 for example is lipotrophic it
helps carry fats through the blood stream. Anyone who wants to get
more muscular would take more of this vitamin. Vitamin B6 used in
conjunction with Vitamin C (in the proper potencies) can help your
body throw off excess water. This is much better than using
diuretics. B6 is also very important in protein digestion. In
general, all the B vitamins are very important. ONE WORD OF CAUTION
WHEN TAKING VITAMINS OF ANY TYPE. Never take them on an empty
stomach (before a meal). Taking them in this manner could harm the
stomach internally. It is best to take them while you eat because
vitamins need a carrier. The ideal way to do this is to eat small
quantities of food (or small meals) or 30 gram protein snacks every
two hours and take your vitamins throughout the day with these
How do you train with maximum effort with a minimum of time?
Remember when you have minimum time, you can't have maximum effort.
Really, if you can rest a little longer, you can put more effort
into your workout. When you compromise on time, you minimize the
amount of weight you use. The amount of weight you use on an
exercise is what makes the muscle bigger. So when I am training for
size, I rest longer so that I can use heavier weights. Now, the last
month before a show, I'll start training faster, but I won't reduce
my poundages. My goal is to get to a poundage the month before and
then cut down on the rest periods while maintaining the heavy weight
I worked up to while I was resting longer. I donıt increase the
weights at this point.
How long do you rest between sets the last month before the contest?
I don't rest at all. There are
different ways I train, sometimes in the last month I start adding things
like tri-sets (3 exercises in a row) doing five cycles of this while
adding weight every set. Right now (June, 1977) I am training with the
single set system adding weight whenever possible.
When you are training for size, how do you determine how long your
rest periods will be between sets until you are ready to do another
set? That comes from
experience. My main emphasis in training is to completely clear my mind so
I can go to the gym and train while not really thinking. Thinking in a
sense will separate you from your workout. When you really get into your
workout, the last month before a contest, the CONCENTRATION is so keen (no
talking, and almost no rest) going through maximum effort each set. It's
sort of like everything disappears except what you are into at the time.
This is called an altered state of CONSCIOUSNESS. IT seems you shift into
a different sphere where everything is super clear. Your CONCENTRATION has
to be so strong that you can hold it in that place.
(Author's note: Frank covers this subject more extensively in his
very fine book entitled: The Mind in Bodybuilding.)
Zane's Seminar Comments: Last year, I got into some research with
amino acids. I began to do a lot of reading about the amino acid
Tryptophan. Tryptophan is what is called a neurotransmitter to the
brain. It is the transmitter substance between the nerve cells of
the brain. I started taking Tryptophan after some consultations with
some nutritionists. I found out it was a very powerful natural
tranquilizer. Taken in amounts of 1000 to 2000 grams, it will put
you to sleep in about one-half hour. This really relaxed me. I would
go to the gym from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. each morning. Then I'd come
home and have breakfast and some supplements. Along with this, I
would take 2-3- or 4-thousand milligrams of Tryptophan and wait
one-half hour. Then I would fall into this very deep relaxed sleep.
I would sleep about three or four hours and get up and take care of
some business or just lie in the sun. Then I would have another meal
and supplements and go to the gym again. Then I would go to bed at
around 9:00 p.m. and sleep to 5 a.m. I would repeat this cycle every
day. So this amounted to four or five hours of training and ten to
twelve hours of sleep a day. I found that the rest helped me grow
bigger physically. While Tryptophan is powerful, it is hard to
obtain and also expensive.
I would take a gram of CALCIUM before going to sleep. I use
MAGNESIUM in conjunction with CALCIUM. Calcium taken in too large
dosages is thrown off in waste matter and will cause constipation.
Magnesium helps counteract this reaction.
What brand of supplements do you take?
I use Blair's and that is where most of
these combinations come from. (Note: Frank is referring to the
listed nutrients on the written Olympia materials he passed out at
the beginning of the seminar.)
I like Blair's supplements because they are in a gelatin capsule and
act fast in the blood stream. I also use Blair's milk and egg
protein powder. I won't use it the last month of training when I am
trying to get muscular. The way that I do use it though is to take
some mixed in a drink one hour before I begin training. This raises
the blood sugar in the body and in this way, I get an extremely good
pump. This is one of the real secrets to a good workout.
What about carbohydrates? I am really down on simple sugars, of any kind (raw, white,
honey, etc.). When you eat sugar, your blood sugar in your body
shoots very high in a 20-minute period. Now about one and one-half
hour later, it declines lower than it was before you took in the
simple sugar. So you can see, it goes high and low. To keep my blood
sugar up, I eat some type of protein every few hours and certain
complex carbohydrates (starch for example). Vegetable sources such
baked potatoes and avocados are FANTASTIC. The assimilation or
digestion of certain food components look like this: carbohydrates
are in a long chain; starches a very long chain; and sugars a very
short chain. So proteins, starches, and fats in small amounts every
few hours will keep the blood sugar at a higher level for a longer
period of time compared to the short chain of assimilation of simple
Zane's Seminar Comments: I eat around 200 grams of protein a day.
That averages out to about 1 gram for every pound of bodyweight. I
find no need to get anymore than that amount. Most of it comes
through my food. I have three yeast drinks a day for 30 total grams.
Along this line, I will have three protein drinks for another 30
grams. Maybe one pound of meat for another 50 grams, some fish 20-30
grams and finally some eggs. I have found eggs to be extremely
valuable to the bodybuilder. If you are training hard, you don't
have to worry about getting a high cholesterol from the eggs.
Do you find any value in taking Saunas?
Saunas are very good for taking poisons and toxins out of your body.
Like if you are coming down with an upper respiratory infection.
Also, if you are over training or train very intensely, this is
where a Sauna might help.
Do you believe that a Sauna will help to cure a sore throat due to a
A sauna would also be good in that case. What is good for a sore
throat is to take some granulated Vitamin C in crystal form in a glass of
hot water. This will help quite a bit.
What is a good way to hide the disgusting taste of brewers yeast
powder brink? You might mix it with tomato or V-8 juice.
Zane's Seminar Comments: I believe that liver is very good. It has
some high energy factors in it. I now only take about fifteen
tablets of liver a day. I used to take a lot of food supplements, a
lot of capsules before a show. I have sort of gotten away from that,
because the room that your stomach takes up with pill or capsule
supplements could be used for natural foods instead. You just have
to find the proper balance in this area.
Do you have a certain poundage you will always try to use each
No. It's all by how I feel. Letıs say I am doing D.B. presses. Now
the first set I'll start with 60 pounds for 12 reps, then 70 pounds
for 11. Maybe to 80. Now depending on how the 80's feel, I'll either
stay with the 80's and do a couple of sets, or move up to 85 or 90
pounds. IT'S ALL IN HOW I FEEL AT THE TIME. If I am ready for a new
weight, then it just happens.
What do you think of Dumbbell Training?
I do quite a lot of it in my training. It gives better shape to the
Do your feel that NUTRITION is 80 per cent of bodybuilding success?
The supplements are only one thing. Like Arnold when he was in his
early training in '69 and '70. He would use heavy quantities of
supplements. Then in his last few years of competition, '73, '74, '75, he
didn't use any supplements at all. He still got into fantastic shape. You
can do it with them or without them. They do have a lot of advantages.
Some people don't need them. That's not to say they would be better if
they used them, we don't know that. The way I approach training is this
way. THERE IS NO ONE THING THAT DOES IT. It isn't the training or the
nutrition or your mental attitude or how much sleep you get. IT IS NONE OF
THAT, BUT ALL OF IT. You can't rely on any one thing as the SECRET to
bodybuilding success. Something by itself may add a little to your
training or it may add nothing. Put them all together, and we get what is
called a SYNERGISTIC effect. All of the combined give you more than the
sum of its parts.
Zane's Seminar Comments: Each week after all of my training was
completed, I would analyze whether I had good or bad workouts, poundages, sets. I would look back over all of this and see how I
could improve on it for the next week's training sessions. One thing
in training is to set a GOAL for yourself by contest or whatever you
want to train for, to get in better shape. Realize that you have
only so much time to do this. For example, if I have nine months
before a contest, I use the intensity factor in my workouts in that
they get harder and harder over the months so that the last week
before the contest, I am training my hardest ever. This is done by
adding more weights or less rest or just longer workouts. I make a
workout graph for each month of my training. Now each workout day, I
will write down the number of sets. I choose sets as my guide
because each set is a MAXIMUM EFFORT. I don't believe in going to
absolute failure as Arthur Jones suggests. I will use 80 to 90 percent of my maximum so it is pretty stable. My intensity really
increases after school is out in June.
What do you use as a gauge for determining your pre-contest training
from month to month?
I gauge my progress by having photos or color slides taken every ten
days or so. Color slides are valuable in this respect. I use the photos
and slides to go along with the workout graphs. I save these graphs and
pictures and in this way, I can make comparisons to relate where I am at a
particular month in my training. Then I go from there.
Zane's Seminar Comments: There are five categories for being in
shape. The worst one is FAT. This condition exists when a person is
in a layoff from training and not eating properly. Next, SMOOTHNESS.
This means you don't have flab on the body. The body mass is hard
and you can see the shape of the muscle, but there is not a great
deal of separation. There is still a substantial amount of fat
between the muscle and skin surface. It may eve appear a bit puffy.
The next condition is HARD. This is still not extremely muscular,
but with a proper tan, you can look quite good. Right now (June) I
consider myself in this category. I still have two more phases to
go. The next one is CUT. This is when you are really getting into
good shape. Very muscular. After Cut there is the final phase called
RIPPED. You are so cut up and muscular and the striations are so
deep, it looks like you don't have any skin.
The VASCULARITY is very pronounced. Now this is the way you have to
be for the Mr. Olympia.
What about using high reps and light weights to get this type of
All this type of training will do is make your muscles smaller and
stringy. Cutting out dairy products the last months before contest will
What are your thoughts on using carbohydrates in your contest
O.K. Let's say I have been on a low carb diet the month before the
contest. Now I will go on zero carbs for five days in a row. Now I
might be physically drained so what I might do when I get up on the
6th morning is have a small carbohydrate feeding. It might be a
baked potato. I try to do this earlier in the morning before my
workout. This one feeding seems to get me through the next few days
once again. I can keep up my energy level these days with almost
zero carbohydrates just by increasing my fat intake. The yeast,
amino acids and liver supplements will help you get around the low
Zane's Seminar Comments: Beef This is a very good food for eating
for muscle mass. I will usually eat a pound of this a day; any kind
of steak (Spencer, Porterhouse, etc.). Let's say I'm doing this in
July. In August I will be getting away from beef; will be eating
more liver and pork. Pork is a very good energy food due to the fat
content. September comes around and I will begin eating lamb. This
is really a tremendous ENERGY food. Lamb, liver, and fish are the
best foods for MUSCULARITY and ENERGY.
Can a person gain much size by including a vegetable protein
supplement into the diet?
I don't think so. Milk and egg proteins would help you gain. Your
body will only assimilate 40 percent of a vegetable or soya
supplement. In general, amino proteins are the better source. Right
before a contest (two days before) a person should go off a strict
diet (low carbs high protein) and include more carbohydrates for
(Author's note: Frank has various levels or phases of training he
will go through during his nine-month preparation for 1977 Mr.
Olympia contest. Due to the extreme length of this seminar report ,
I will only be including the phase he is following from June to
Zane's Seminar Comments: Very briefly, this is how I am
training this summer until the contest.
Monday-Wednesday-Friday (Mornings) Thighs and Calf: This workout
lasts about one hour fifteen minutes. I really want to bring my
total leg development up for the '77 Mr. Olympia contest. I find my
legs respond best to three days per week schedule. High reps.
Tuesday-Thursday (Mornings) Lats.
Monday-Thursday (Afternoon) Delts, Biceps, Forearms, Abs.
Tuesday-Friday (Afternoon) Chest, Triceps, Abs.
Do you work for maximum pump?
I get a pump the very first set and this remains with me throughout
Do you have any suggestions on posing?
I like to do a special thing the last week or two before the
contest. I pose and tense my thighs and abs for ten minutes without
relaxing. This really helps at the contest because if you are in good
shape, you wonıt have to strain in your poses. You will also look very
muscular standing relaxed.
Do you find any value in having a workout partner?
I will only train with someone who will train exactly as I do. I
find that when I start following someone else's ideas, especially if
it is an exercise I haven't done for some time, I begin to
What do you think about incorporating jogging into a bodybuilding
It is very good because it builds up endurance. This really helps to
cut down on the rest periods between sets. It is also very valuable
for getting muscular. I run five days a week for about two miles. I
work at cutting my time for running the two miles down when
Have you had any experience training women who are out of shape?
Yes, I have had some experience, but my wife has had more than I.
She will be opening a studio in the next two months. Basically, the way
she trains is to do a lot of work for thighs and hips. She does high reps
with stretching movements and no rest periods.
What's your future in competitive bodybuilding, Frank?
I don't know. I find it pointless to plan over a year in advance.
Right now, I am working toward the Mr. Olympia in October. After
that, I don't know.
What about your competition?
I am not really worried about my class. While Coe, Corney, and Grant
are very good, I have beaten them before. I think my main
competition will come from the heavier weight class. Robbie Robinson
is in very good shape.
Do you still practice regular squats?
Not anymore. I used to do them quite heavily, but I have experienced
lower back injury over the past years. Squats seem to aggravate this
condition. I stick mainly to Hacks and leg presses. These movements keep
pressure off my lower back. Even bent over rowing used to put pressure on
this area. I have found that if I put a block of wood under my heels this
elevated position tends to shift the pressure off my lower back. My
position in this movement has my chest resting against my knees. I am
using 200 pounds for this movement. Another thing which helps my back is
to hang by my feet in a pair of special boots. In fact, I started doing
rowing in this position with 100 pounds and this really helped to bring up
You mentioned you do 200 to 350 reps for the abs. Is that all at
I am not really extreme in my abs training right now. I do 100 Roman
Chair Sit-ups non-stop and four sets of 25 reps on the incline leg
raise. I may even add some tension sit-ups. I do this at the end of
my workout session.
What do you do to achieve cuts in your thighs?
Well, I find that high repetitions in the leg press and especially
the leg extension work very good. If cuts are lacking do leg extensions
every day the last few weeks before the contest. Twenty-five to thirty
reps per set. Another good way is to do one leg extensions staying on the
machine until you have done five sets of 25-30 for each leg. Practice
tensing the thighs a lot.
Zane's Seminar Comments: If you haven't done it, you should begin
practicing a posing routine three or four weeks before the contest.
First write down the poses which will complement your physique. Now,
arrange them in the order you will be doing them at the show. The
best way to practice is to hold each pose as long as you can (about
two or three minutes). This may seem like a long time to hold each
pose, but it will really help you at the contest. There won't be any
second effort and it will come naturally.
You seem to be one of the most symmetrical of the modern day
bodybuilders. Was this natural, or did you do certain exercise
routines to achieve this effect?
This came from heredity. A good way to see what your body symmetry
is like is to see a silhouette of your body. If you can see yourself
this way, you can tell a great deal about your symmetry. Visit:
Dennis B. Weis is a Ketchikan, Alaska based power-bodybuilder. He is
the co-author of three critically acclaimed books; Mass!, Raw Muscle
and Anabolic Muscle Mass (visit:
www.amazon.com to read about it.
He is also a frequent hard-hitting uncompromising freelance writer
for many of the mainstream bodybuilding and fitness magazines