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 youâ€™re name is not Frank Zane. The 65 year-old Pennsylvania native is still working out, and has no intention of stopping. â€œI am one of the very few people (former competitive bodybuilders) still training,â€ Zane said. â€œThereâ€™s Larry Scott, Bill Pearl, and me. Have you seen Arnold (Schwarzenegger) lately?â€
In his prime, Zane won three consecutive Mr. Olympia contests (1977 through 1979), competing at 5â€™9 and 180 pounds, much smaller than the 6â€™2, 240 Schwarzenegger, known in the circles as the â€œAustrian Oak.â€
â€œI focused on detail,â€ explained Zane. â€œI 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.â€
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. â€œToday, thereâ€™s a massive overload of drugs and they pack on the weight,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s an assembly line physique. Nobody around uses my approach.
â€œEver since 1984 with Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler. I blame the judges,â€ he continued. â€œThey encourage that and theyâ€™re killing the sport. Theyâ€™re (bodybuilders) are probably not going to live that long.â€
Someone who has been around as long as Zane has understands that performance-enhancing drugs are a part of â€˜the game.â€™ â€œEvery single sport uses them,â€ he said. â€œFrom bodybuilding to baseball to track and field. Itâ€™s nothing new, but the use is escalating.
â€œThereâ€™s a place for drugs â€“ but not drug abuse,â€ Zane followed up. â€œItâ€™s more of a medical issue than an athletic issue. It wonâ€™t go away. The public wants to see bigger, stronger, faster. Bodybuilding gets the tag for it because itâ€™s obvious. When someone says that theyâ€™re a bodybuilder, the first question theyâ€™re asked is if they are on steroids. And itâ€™s not far from the truth.â€
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, â€œThe Zane Experienceâ€ 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. â€œAfter 1982 due to an injury, I couldnâ€™t squat with a bar anymore,â€ he said. â€œI used the prototype in my last year of competition.â€
If a legend like Zane has been using it for 26 years, itâ€™s hard to argue with success.