Legendary Status

Frank Zane Still Going Strong at 65

By Joe Pietaro, MuscleSport Mag

In the sport of bodybuilding, champions have come and go at a steady pace over the years. To sustain a lengthy career is quite an accomplishment in any form of athletics, and to be a top competitor in a period of time that spanned three decades in this field is definitely outside the norm.

That is if you’re name is not Frank Zane. The 65 year-old Pennsylvania native is still working out, and has no intention of stopping. “I am one of the very few people (former competitive bodybuilders) still training,” Zane said. “There’s Larry Scott, Bill Pearl, and me. Have you seen Arnold (Schwarzenegger) lately?”

In his prime, Zane won three consecutive Mr. Olympia contests (1977 through 1979), competing at 5’9 and 180 pounds, much smaller than the 6’2, 240 Schwarzenegger, known in the circles as the “Austrian Oak.”

“I focused on detail,” explained Zane. “I knew I would never be the biggest guy and focused on definition and being proportionate. I also perfected my posing routine. I had a great one in 1980 when Arnold stole the title. I was going for my fourth in a row that year.”

Schwarzenegger, who came out of retirement after five years away from the stage, won the 1980 Mr. O contest. Three years later, Zane retired from competition at the age of 41.

Zane has seen the sport he loves morph over the years from when he competed. “Today, there’s a massive overload of drugs and they pack on the weight,” he said. “It’s an assembly line physique. Nobody around uses my approach.

“Ever since 1984 with Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler. I blame the judges,” he continued. “They encourage that and they’re killing the sport. They’re (bodybuilders) are probably not going to live that long.”

Someone who has been around as long as Zane has understands that performance-enhancing drugs are a part of ‘the game.’ “Every single sport uses them,” he said. “From bodybuilding to baseball to track and field. It’s nothing new, but the use is escalating.

“There’s a place for drugs – but not drug abuse,” Zane followed up. “It’s more of a medical issue than an athletic issue. It won’t go away. The public wants to see bigger, stronger, faster. Bodybuilding gets the tag for it because it’s obvious. When someone says that they’re a bodybuilder, the first question they’re asked is if they are on steroids. And it’s not far from the truth.”

Residing in California for the past 10 years, Zane has been actively retired, to say the least. In addition to nine books he has authored, “The Zane Experience” are his personal training sessions that take place anywhere from three days to four hours in length. He also has invented an apparatus that allows people who cannot do a squat exercise anymore to train their quads the proper way. The Leg Blaster (www.frankzane.com) is not just something that Zane is trying to promote. “After 1982 due to an injury, I couldn’t squat with a bar anymore,” he said. “I used the prototype in my last year of competition.”

If a legend like Zane has been using it for 26 years, it’s hard to argue with success.