Frank Zane Diet and Workout Plan

Frank Zane Diet

The Frank Zane diet resembles the old school bodybuilding diet of the golden era. These legends ate pounds of meat each day, with little carbs and moderate amounts of fat. Frank would train before going to the beach, then eat lunch and train again in the afternoon.

Like many other legendary bodybuilders during this time, Frank would spend hours in the gym to improve his physique. For example, some of his workouts were so intense he would spend 2 hours only training abs.

Find out exactly what kinds of food Frank liked to eat and his training plan in the sections below.

Who is Frank Zane?

Frank Zane is a retired American professional bodybuilder and author. He discovered the sport of bodybuilding after reading a muscle building magazine as a teenager. Frank is a three time Mr. Olympia winner (1977, 1978, 1979) and his sculpted physique is known for muscular symmetry.


  • Height‎: ‎5’9″ (175 cm)
  • Weight‎: ‎185 – 195 lbs (83.9 – 88.5 kg)
  • Year of birth: 1942

Frank Zane Diet

The golden era of bodybuilding was all about high protein, moderate fat and low carbs. Frank would eat one gram of protein and half a gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight. If he weighed 200 lbs for example, that would mean 200 grams of protein and 100 grams of carbs.

Here’s what a sample day of eating may have looked like for him:

  • 1st meal: 3 soft boiled eggs, 8 ounces of calf liver and baked yam
  • 2nd meal: 8 ounces of steak, cottage cheese and vegetables
  • 3rd meal: 6 egg omelette with cheese and potatoes
  • 4th meal: 8 ounces of ground beef and a large salad

Frank noticed his body would lean out when he increased the amount of time between meals. In a 2019 interview he described this process as staying hungry longer. When your body is hungry, it’s in a natural fat burning mode. This is one reason why intermittent fasting is so popular today.

Most bodybuilders focus on their weight and body fat percentage. But Frank Zane had a different approach during his career. He would take a ton of photos and judge how his body responded to what he was eating. This helped him figure out what worked and what didn’t work when dieting.

Chest Workout

Even though Frank Zane wasn’t the biggest bodybuilder during his time, he still had a full chest. It’s important not to overdevelop the chest as this can make the shoulders appear smaller. Frank had a squared off look that fit with the rest of his frame. Here’s some of the chest exercises he did.

  • 1st exercise: Flat barbell bench press 4 x 6-8
  • 2nd exercise: Incline barbell bench press 4 x 6- 8
  • 3rd exercise: Flat dumbbell fly 4 x 10-12
  • 4th exercise: Standing cable crossover 4 x 10-12
  • 5th exercise: Bodyweight pushup 5 x 10

Back Workout

Frank believes that developing the back is crucial to building the v-taper. There are different upper body exercises that will help complement a thin waist. Anyone can build muscle and get bigger. Frank was so successful as a shorter bodybuilder, because he was an expert at shaping his physique.

  • 1st exercise: Wide grip pull-up 4 x 5
  • 2nd exercise: Wide grip seated pulldown 4 x 8-10
  • 3rd exercise: Bent over barbell row 4 x 6-8
  • 4th exercise: T-bar row 4 x 6-8
  • 5th exercise: One arm dumbbell row 4 x 8
  • 6th exercise: Dumbbell pullover 4 x 8-10

Shoulder Workout

Capped shoulders were another strength for Frank Zane that helped with his overall symmetry. But it’s important to develop all three sections of the deltoids. Shoulders are the focal point of the upper body, which is why Frank believed they were one of the most important muscle groups.

  • 1st exercise: Seated dumbbell press 4 x 6-12
  • 2nd exercise: Upright cable row 4 x 8-12
  • 3rd exercise: Incline bench rear delt fly 4 x 8-12
  • 4th exercise: Dumbbell lateral raise 4 x 10-12
  • 5th exercise: One arm cable lateral raise 4 x 10-12

Leg Workout

For most leg exercises, Frank believes that constant tension is important for muscle growth. For example, most people will lock their knees out at the top of a leg extension. Instead of pausing, you should immediately bring the legs back down slowly to focus on constant tension in the quads.

  • 1st exercise: Leg extension 4 x 8-12
  • 2nd exercise: Leg press 4 x 6-12
  • 3rd exercise: Leg blaster squat 4 x 6-12
  • 4th exercise: Barbell stiff leg deadlift 4 x 8-12
  • 5th exercise: Leg curl 4 x 10 superset with donkey calf raise 4 x 15
  • 6th exercise: Seated calf raise 4 x 15

Arm Workout

When doing arm movements, Frank always says how important it is to stretch the muscle. Beginners often try to curl heavy weight by lifting with their legs and using jerky motions. Focus on a full range of motion by using less weight and squeezing the muscles during the movement.

  • 1st exercise: Cable triceps pushdown 4 x 8-12
  • 2nd exercise: Dumbbell overhead triceps extension 4 x 8-12
  • 3rd exercise: Feet elevated bench dip 4 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Standing barbell curl 4 x 8-12
  • 5th exercise: Seated dumbbell curl 4 x 8-12
  • 6th exercise: Cable preacher curl (rope attachment) 4 x 8-12
  • 7th exercise: Reverse barbell forearm curl 4 x 10

Final Thoughts

Frank Zane was a top tier athlete during his time and a legendary bodybuilder today. His extensive knowledge on nutrition and exercise movements make him a wealth of information.

So, what can we learn from him? If you want to build the best physique, diet should be your number one focus. And you need to leave your ego at the door when it comes to training.

Focus on the movement at all times – even if that means using less weight. Maintaining constant tension in the muscles with lighter weight will help your body grow.

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