The Zane Integrated Method
Ken O’NeillUntold Secrets of Muscle Building
Frank Zane never ceases to amaze bodybuilding fans. His career began with prestigious victories in the mid-1960s and continued up to 1980.
Zane is a bodybuilding legend. His stunning proportions, razor-sharp definition and incredible muscular development evoke awe in a generation of bodybuilders born after his three Mr. Olympia victories. Youtube.com videos evidence his masterful posing exhibits: Where others move awkwardly from pose to pose, Zane seems to be a body electric, gracefully flowing from one well-choreographed pose to another.
Zane’s last Mr. Olympia victory was in 1979, nearly 30 years ago. Since then Olympia standards have migrated from the classic proportions favored in the ’70s and best exemplified by Zane to today’s freakish monsters. Those born during Zane’s three-year reign as Mr. Olympia now have children old enough to be interested in bodybuilding themselves.
A few years ago IRON MAN conducted a poll asking what physique readers would like as their own. More than 2,000 people responded. The results suggest an immense gulf between today’s pro champions and all-time physique favorites:
Frank Zane, 26.16 percent (525)
Steve Reeves, 25.06 percent (503)
Arnold, 22.12 percent (444)
Dexter Jackson, 13.15 percent (264)
Ronnie Coleman, 7.08 percent (142)
Lee Haney, 6.43 percent (129)
Despite retiring from competition in the early ’80s, Zane has steadfastly continued training, setting a standard for lifelong bodybuilding. He’s also coached thousands of individuals seeking bodybuilding excellence.
The most recent photos of him bear vivid testimony to his almost age-defying bodybuilding excellence. Decades of refining his proprietary Zane Integrated Method have left nothing to chance. A holistic approach to training, his method coordinates the full spectrum of body and mind abilities to optimize physique development.
The story behind Frank’s recent peaking at 65 reveals a wealth of practical techniques for building muscle at any age by working body and mind in harmony. He’s made unique contributions to a new art and science of building muscle throughout life based on natural processes inborn to us all.
Although the subject of numerous articles from the 1960s to the present day, Zane’s real story has not previously been told. Like his posing performances, his approach to training has always been well choreographed, every step a movement forward.
While most of us think of bodybuilding as a matter of training, diet and nutrition—and favorable genetics—Zane’s perspective leading to his victories as Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. World and his three Mr. Olympia titles depended on far more.
A Different Drummer
Frank and I met in 1977, when we joined a group of prominent American and Soviet researchers investigating the mind/body connection. They taped us working out at a gym, and then we were off to a privately endowed parapsychology research center. The reigning Mr. Olympia at that time, Frank astonished the group by explaining that he understood himself to be a body sculptor, not a bodybuilder.
Body sculptor? Frank told us that despite his considerable success in bodybuilding, he was born with what some would consider few advantages for the sport. Most bodybuilding champions are mesomorphs. Barely a mesomorph myself, I was surprised to learn that his wrist was close to an inch smaller than my own. How could that be? And that wasn’t the only generally accepted idea about muscular development that fell by the wayside that day.
As a body sculptor, Frank explained, he did not approach championship-winning bodybuilding as a quest for piling on masses of muscle everywhere. Instead, he took into account his strengths and weaknesses, then developed programs to sculpt a physique of classic proportions. With posing, he avoided certain movements so he would not appear to shrink before the audience. For example, for the most muscular pose, Frank abandoned the popular “crab shot” in favor of a hands-on-the-hips pose that emphasized his wide shoulders. He made sure his medial delts were large and thick, like those of a gymnast. In proportion, his waist was small and muscled, and he could always pull it into a full stomach vacuum to heighten the sweep from his small waist to his massive chest and lats.