There’s no doubt that Frank Zane had one of the best-looking bodies ever, and even many of today’s 300-pound bodybuilding beasts agree with this. If any man has ever succeeded at sculpting an almost ideal male physique, it would be him – so it’s about time we took some advice about acquiring perfect aesthetics from the poster boy of the Golden Age of bodybuilding himself.
Sure, the sheer size of your muscles can do much for your look, but creating a well-proportioned, awe-inspiring physique is another skill altogether, and it has little to do with size. And Zane is its ultimate master. When guys focus too much on making a certain muscle group grow, they usually end up looking very unbalanced and… just plain weird.
During his peak years, Zane never weighted more than 200 pounds and yet he won three Mr. Olympia’s, snatching one of them from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though modern bodybuilding pro’s focus a lot more on getting as big as possible than on developing perfect proportions, Frank Zane’s physique from the 70’s is still an ideal for many. As it turns out, most American guys prefer a more natural, smaller-yet-muscular look.
At 75 years old, Zane is still going strong and looking very lean and muscular, unlike other past champions whose bodies quickly deteriorated into saggy mess as they approached older age. How does he do it? And what’s the key to Zane’s impressive achievements – is it freakish genetics, or perhaps some unbelievable training secret?
Luckily, he has always enjoyed sharing his valuable knowledge with the younger generations and as you can imagine, he’s full of great practical advice gained from four decades of hard work, experiments, dieting and making mistakes.
Here’s what Zane told Train Magazine about the best way to build a timeless physique and keep it strong and ripped for the long haul. Read carefully!
Always Ahead of His Time
Frank used huge amounts of amino acids, like tryptophan and arginine back in the 1970’s, when no one really knew about them. And he was a hardcore believer in low-carb diets, which rose to prominence decades later. Still, he claims that nutrition-wise, nothing is radically different from how it was back in the day, with the exception of certain advances in amino acids and antioxidants.
“A supplement I’ve used for years is an equal mix of egg whites and whey protein, because egg albumen is higher in sodium and lower in calcium, while whey is the opposite”, he adds. “These are the two most biologically available proteins, which I’ll occasionally use as a quick meal substitute if I’m in a hurry.”
Create the Perfect Illusion
“What most people talk about is not symmetry; it’s bodybuilder symmetry. There is no such thing as pure symmetry between upper body and lower body. That’s not symmetry, that’s proportion”, explains Zane and adds that bodybuilders learn how to pose and present themselves so that it’s not obvious that the left and right side of their body are nowhere close to being even and symmetrical.
“I avoided poses where left and right were doing the same thing, yet people would always say I was very symmetrical. In fact, my left and right side were never even, and they definitely don’t match symmetrically” he says. He knew how to emphasize his strong points and avoided side poses as much as possible – he actually learned this from Bill Pearl.
Zane advises bodybuilders to avoid becoming obsessed with the numbers they’ve assigned to their body parts. Aiming to achieve impossible feats such as trying to make your neck, arms and calves be the same size, or simply focusing too hard on getting the perfect number is downright ridiculous and only leads to frustration. Why? Because perfection is unattainable, period. “At the end of the day it’s what people see that counts. Be sure to present the perfect illusion”, soberly reveals Zane.
There Are No Magic Tricks
One of the most annoying things about being a top-level athlete is that people will often approach you wanting to know about your secret magic routine or asking you to make them a program that will transform them into upper class physique competitors in a couple of weeks. Zane says that there were no miraculous routines behind his bodybuilding success. In fact, he says: “Everything works if you take the time to let it. I like showing people how to do things correctly, because using perfect form and developing the ability to isolate areas is crucial. Blood flow needs to get to the muscles for there to be growth.”
Time under tension is another vital part of making continual progress. Although he’s 75 years old and working around old injuries, Zane frequently attaches a rubber cable to the weight stacks in order to increase his TUT. What’s your excuse?
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