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Frank Zane Workout Review: Growth Program for Killer Aesthetics



Frank Zane Workout Review - Growth Program for Killer Aesthetics - CheckMeowt

Frank Zane Workout Review: Growth Program for Killer Aesthetics


If you say the word ‘bodybuilder’ to most people, they’ll likely conjure up an image of a ill-proportion Blobfish covered in baby oil who would look more at home inhabiting an inner-city sewer than the stage of a Mr. Olympia contest.


In the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, this word would’ve elicited a different image:

Elegant v-tapers, clean lines and near-perfect symmetry.

Whilst Arnold Schwarzenegger was the ‘golden boy’ of this era and embodied what the American ‘success story’ looked like, it was Frank Zane’s physique that reached the pinnacle of masculinity with class and panache due to his inch-perfect symmetry, classic lines, tiny waist and well-proportioned muscles.

With that said,

Building a physique like Frank Zane is simple, but isn’t easy.

If you’ve been training hard and haven’t noticed any gains in the last few weeks, chances are, the disaster you now call a workout has developed into full blown pyscho-neurosis.

All those YouTube videos have truly fucked with your mental reasoning, turning you into a creepy weirdo and led you to continually share unsolicited lifting advice with others at the gym to correct them on their form.

In other words,

You’ve lost complete control and now it’s time to take it back.

Fear not:

We will be exploring a legendary workout employed by Frank Zane that resulted in multiple bodybuilding championships.

But first, who is Frank Zane?

Who is Frank Zane?

Frank Zane was an American professional bodybuilder who reigned as 5x Mr. Universe in 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971 and 1972, 3x Mr. America in 1966, 1967 and 1968, as well as 3x Mr. Olympia in 1977, 1978 and 1979.

Rather notably, he beat the world-renowned Arnold Schwarzenegger during the Mr. Universe competition in 1968 (one of only three men to do so) to which Schwarzenegger fumed:

“I just got beat by a chicken with 17-inch arms!”

Frank Zane Workout Review - Mr Universe 1968

Frank Zane posing during the Mr. Universe competition in 1968. Second image shows a dejected Arnold also on stage (behind at the far right)

Zane also stated in an interview:

“Arnold wasn’t ready to win yet. He was just a big smooth guy without a tan. I didn’t see him as competition in that show. But Joe Weider was all over Arnold. Everyone could tell he was destined for greatness.”

Zane was 5 inches shorter and more than 50lbs (22kg) lighter than Arnold, but his physique was far better proportioned and he was in much better condition.

Zane later went onto say:

“Arnold’s comments fueled me, but you couldn’t stay mad at him. He’s such a diplomat.”

During Zane’s reign as Mr. Olympia, his 3 consecutive wins represented a shift in bodybuilding from mass to aesthetics where his appearances would showcase the second smallest waist of all the previous Mr. Olympias (with Sergio Oliva boasting the smallest).

Zane would also go on to win all 3 Mr. Olympia titles weighing 190lbs (86kg) or less.


Frank Zane’s Growth Program is a training plan designed to increase lean muscle mass which Zane would rely on during the years between 1976 to 1983 in order to prepare for the Mr. Olympia competitions.

In a nutshell,

It is a 3 day split workout emphasising pulling muscles on day 1, legs on day 2 and pushing muscles on day 3 otherwise called a push, pull and legs (PPL) routine.

The Growth Program is broken down into the following:

  • Day 1 – Back, Biceps, Forearms, Abs

  • Day 2 – Thighs, Calves, Abs

  • Day 3 – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs

Zane also incorporated one big powerlifting movement into each workout which he attributed to giving him the most muscle growth.

Frank Zane’s Growth Program Workout

Workout 1: Back, Biceps, Forearms and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Wide Grip Deadlifts 6 15, 12, 10, 10, 10, 8
T-Bar Rows 3 12, 10, 8
Front Pulldowns 3 8 – 10
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows 3 8 – 10
One-Arm Dumbbell Concentration Curls 3 8 – 10
Alternate Dumbbell Curls 3 8 – 10
45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Curls 3 12, 10, 8
Barbell Reverse Curls (superset with following exercise) 1 12
Seated Barbell Wrist Curls (to be repeated twice with previous exercise) 1 20
Leg Raises (superset with following exercise) 4 25
Crunches 4 25
Seated Twists 1 100

Workout 2: Thighs, Calves, Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Extensions 2 – 4 N/A
Barbell Squats 6 15, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8
Leg Press 3 15, 12, 10
Lying Leg Curls 3 12, 11, 10
Leg Extensions 3 12, 10, 8
Standing Calf Raise 3 15 – 20
Donkey Calf Raise 4 20 – 25
Seated Calf Raise (four part drop set) 1 20
Leg Raises (superset with following exercise) 4 25
Crunches 4 25
Seated Twists 1 100

Workout 3: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press 6 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2
Incline Dumbbell Press 4 10, 8, 6, 4 – 6
Decline Dumbbell Flies 3 12, 10, 8
Dumbbell Pullover 3 12, 10, 8
Close Grip Bench Press 3 12, 10, 8
One Arm Overhead Extensions 3 12, 10, 8
V-Grip Pressdown 3 12, 10, 8
Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 15, 12, 10
Side Cable Raise 3 12, 10, 8
Leg Raises (superset with following exercise) 4 25
Crunches 4 25
Seated Twists 1 100


Frank Zane’s growth program is a classic push, pull, legs routine (PPL) with it ordered differently: pull, legs, push (PLP).

It goes without saying:

Having the workout split up in this way enables more room for recovery and therefore muscular growth.


Because you won’t smashing your chest 6 days a week (which will absolutely fry your central nervous system), you’ll allow your body enough time to release and regulate growth hormones conducive to building muscle whilst also keeping the stress hormone, cortisol, at bay.

And as we all know by now, muscles are not built in the gym, but are built being in the recovery zone which this program gives you lots of.

If that wasn’t enough,

As you’ll be exercising each muscle-group once a week, this gives you a greater opportunity to increase intensity and do more work on the target muscle(s) as you know you’ll have plenty of time to recuperate.

This in turn creates a greater opportunity to break down the muscles further through heavier loads or more sets/exercises which can lead to better results for building muscle (evident through performing wide-grip deadlifts, barbell squats and the barbell bench press in the plan).

Also, it’s far more bearable to have only a section of your body to be sore for a few days in comparison to your whole body being completely fucked from a full-body workout.

That means you no longer have to grimace on the floor like a footballer who was fouled by the wind walking down the stairs or sitting on the toilet seat for a week.



Frank Zane’s Growth Program will require you to workout 3 times a week on a 5 work day cycle (ideally training on non-consecutive days as follows):

  • Monday – Back, Biceps, Forearms and Abs

  • Tuesday – Rest

  • Wednesday – Thighs, Calves, Abs

  • Thursday – Rest

  • Friday – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs


  • Monday – Rest

  • Tuesday – Back, Biceps, Forearms

  • Wednesday – Rest

  • Thursday – Thighs, Calves, Abs

  • Friday – Rest

  • Saturday – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs

Of course:

You can also train on consecutive days (e.g. Saturday and Sunday) depending on your own preference, but the general principle is you should be training 3 days out of 4 in a 7 week day.

Whilst it isn’t clear in Zane’s training manual how long he would typically cycle this program, it is safe to assume that a 12 or 16 week training window leading up to a competition was a standard protocol most golden-era bodybuilders followed to really hone their physiques.


Replicating this would also be beneficial for you as well as 3 or 4 months is ample time for your body to adapt to the workouts and start seeing the desired results.


Each workout should last slightly over an hour.

As this is a program is designed to pack on lean muscle mass, it is advisable to rest between 45 – 60 seconds after each set.

In particular,

When performing heavy compound movements at the start of each workout (i.e. wide grip deadlifts, barbell squats and barbell bench press), you should be aiming to rest slightly longer as you increase the weight and decrease the number of reps.

This is to ensure you have enough energy left in the tank to perform each exercise with perfect form across 6 sets.

You won’t be able to build an aesthetic physique injured, so don’t be a dick by jumping back in before you are ready.

Take a breather for an additional few seconds before starting the next set.

Weight Selection

When performing the growth program, it’s important to select the right weight in order to challenge your body, but still be able to get the desired reps in with good form.

If you are an advanced trainee, you should already have a good idea of what your one rep max (1RM) is one each of the required exercises.

If you are a beginner/intermediate trainee, you should try and establish what your 1RM is on each exercise and work backwards to a weight you can comfortably lift (without any pain/compromising on form) in order to push yourself.

The below is a simple guide of what you should be aiming to lift based on the amount of reps required:

  • 25 reps – 50% of 1 Rep Max

  • 20 reps – 60% of 1 Rep Max

  • 15 reps – 65% of 1 Rep Max

  • 12 reps – 70% of 1 Rep Max

  • 10 reps – 75% of 1 Rep Max

  • 8 reps – 80% of 1 Rep Max

  • 6 reps – 85% of 1 Rep Max

  • 4 reps – 90% of 1 Rep Max

  • 2 reps – 95% of 1 Rep Max

It goes without saying:

If you cannot lift the weight with proper technique in the desired amount of sets and reps, you’re simply going too heavy.

Drop the weight and your ego as you’ll only increase your risk of injury further down the line.

Wide Grip Deadlifts

Zane preferred using lifting straps whilst performing deadlifts.

In particular,

A wide-grip variation was a personal favourite of his where he would perform the first 3 sets from the floor and the next remaining sets would be elevated on boxes a foot high/or performed in a power rack.

Zane attributes this one exercise to building greater thickness in his spinal erectors, upper back and traps as well as developing a wider back.

After each set, Zane would perform a two-arm lat stretch for a few seconds to reduce cramps.

T-Bar Rows

Zane’s preferred way of performing T-Bar Rows was using a 7-foot Olympic bar with one end wedged into a corner and weighted plates attached on the other end using an inter-locked finger grip right behind the collar.

He would ensure his upper body would follow the weight downward, stretching low to the floor and the plates would touch his ribcage at the top of each rep.

After each set, a two-arm lat stretch is to be performed for a few seconds.

One-Arm Dumbbell Concentration Curls

This exercise was the first Zane would perform for his arm routine.

In particular:

After every set, he would increase the weight and would deliberately hold the dumbbell for 1 second at the top of the curl, squeezing the bicep (concentric contraction) and begin to slowly lower the dumbbell (eccentric contraction) for a few seconds for maximum effect.

Your arms are to be held in a pronated arm back stretch position for 15 seconds after every set.

Alternate Dumbbell Curls

When performing this exercise, Zane would ensure that each dumbbell would move up and down completely on one arm before curling the other dumbbell.

Each negative (concentric contraction) would be performed very slowly and he would pronate (rotate inwards) the dumbbell on the way down.

Your arms are to be held in a pronated arm back stretch position for 15 seconds after every set.

45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Curls

Zane would perform 45-degree incline dumbbell curls with lighter weights for 12, 10 and 8 reps. He preferred to curl and supinate at the top of the movement with the dumbbells.

Your arms are to be held in a pronated arm back stretch position for 15 seconds after every set.

Frank Zane Workout Review - 45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Curls

Barbell Reverse Curls / Seated Barbell Wrist Curls

When it came to training forearms, a favourite of Zane’s was super-setting barbell reverse curls (for 12 reps) with seated barbell wrist curls (for 20 reps) performed for 2 rounds which rounded off his arm routine for the day.

Arms are to be held in a pronated arm back stretch position for 15 seconds after every set.

Leg Extensions

On his leg days, Zane would usually start with a few sets of leg extensions as a warm up in order to get some blood flow in the knees before moving onto his primary leg exercise which was barbell squats.

Barbell Squats

Barbell squats was Frank Zane’s main power lifting movement during his leg day where he would perform 6 sets.

After each set, he would ensure that he increased the weight every time in order to build strength and stimulate greater muscle growth.

In terms of technique, Zane would always squat bellow parallel and would emphasise the negative (lowering) aspect of the lift for hypertrophy.

Frank Zane Workout Review - Barbell Squats

Leg Press

Zane claimed that leg presses always felt light after doing heavy squats and preferred to perform higher reps to get an overall pump in his thighs. Hence the requirement to do 15, 12 and 10 reps over 3 sets.

It’s worth noting that Zane never went extremely heavy on this exercise, instead concentrating on going deep into the negative and avoiding locking out at the top of the rep for constant time under tension.

Lying Leg Curls

After completing a set of lying leg curls, ensure you follow up with an alternating one leg up stretch in between sets to keep your hamstrings supple.

Leg Extensions

When training for the 1979 Mr. Olympia competition, Zane would go as heavy as performing 275lbs (125kg) for 10 slow, controlled reps.

Standing Calf Raise

When performing standing calf raises, Zane would aim to keep his knees slightly bent so that he could get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the exercise for greater effectiveness.

After each set, he would then perform a calf stretch for 15 seconds.

Seated Calf Raise

This exercise rounds off training calves and is to be performed as part of a 4-stage drop set without any rest between sets.

Zane liked to perform the seated calf raise with the following poundages:

  • 1 x 5 (120lbs/55kg)

  • 1 x 5 (110lbs/50kg)

  • 1 x 5 (100lbs/45kg)

  • 1 x 5 (90lbs/40kg)

He would then perform the calf stretch for 15 seconds once the 4-stage drop set was completed.

Barbell Bench Press

Zane would perform the barbell bench press using a shoulder-width grip in order to target the pecs, front deltoids and triceps more effectively.

He’d always made sure that he never fully locked out at the top of the exercise in order to keep tension in the working muscles and placed greater emphasis on performing slow, controlled negative movements during the lowering (eccentric) phase of the exercise.

In particular,

After each set, Zane would increase the weight to builder greater size and strength and would perform doorway stretches in between sets to avoid cramps and improve flexibility.

Incline Dumbbell Press

This exercise is to be performed on a bench starting at a 70 degree angle for 10 reps. Once completed, drop the angle down into the next lock and perform another 8 reps. Once finished, again, drop the angle further into the next lock and perform another 6 reps.

Repeat process until you’ve done a total of 4 sets with your final set ending between 4 – 6 reps.

Similar to the barbell bench press, ensure you do not lock your arms out at the top and emphasise a slow, negative movement during the lowering phase of the lift.

Perform doorway stretches in between sets to keep your muscles and joints limber.

Decline Dumbbell Flies

This exercise is to performed only at a slight decline of the bench (roughly 10 degrees).

Once you’ve completed a set, immediately begin flexing the pecs to increase the overall pump followed by holding a few seconds of a doorway stretch before starting your next set.

Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover is to be performed lying across a bench in order to develop the serratus anterior.

Zane was an avid fan of this exercise as it helped him expand his ribcage, gave him an incredible pump on the lower pecs as well as developed the posterior head of the triceps.

As a result:

He arguably developed the best vacuum pose of any golden-era bodybuilder at the time due to his ability to master this one exercise.

He liked to go heavy on dumbbell pullovers, ensuring that he increased the weight after every set, and in between sets, used the one arm overhead shoulder stretch to avoid muscle tightness.

Close Grip Bench Press

To perform this exercise, ensure your hands are 12 inches apart from one another in a pronated position. Zane liked to slightly stick his elbows out in order to place greater focus on the outer triceps.

When lowering the weight to your chest, ensure the movement is slow and controlled and avoid locking arms fully out at the top of the movement for greater intensity.

In between sets, perform a few seconds of an overhead triceps stretch on each arm.

One Arm Overhead Extensions

To perform one arm overhead extensions, Zane would hold onto a support and lean slightly back making sure to let the weight descend deeply behind his back.

Whilst performing the one arm overhead extensions, it’s important to keep your upper arm close to your head in order for the weight to move through a greater line of motion for improved control.

After every set, hold an overhead triceps stretch on each arm for a few seconds.

Frank Zane Workout - One Arm Overhead Extensions

V-Grip Pressdown

When performing the v-grip pressdown, ensure you hold the contraction for 1 second before slowly controlling the weight back to its starting position.

Similar to the close grip bench press and one arm overhead extensions hold an overhead triceps stretch on each arm for a few seconds in between sets.

Deltoid Training

From Frank Zane’s workout above, you’ll notice that he deliberately excluded exercises that focused solely on developing the front deltoids (such as military/dumbbell/shoulder presses).

This was because during his push workout, when he was done performing the barbell bench press, incline dumbbell press and close-grip bench press he felt his front deltoids already had been worked effectively and there was no need to add front deltoid exercises into the mix.

Thus, his primary focus would be performing exercises that targeted his rear and side deltoids.

In order to work his rear deltoids, Zane’s favourite exercise for this was performing bent over dumbbell lateral raises.

In particular:

Zane would stand behind a T-bar or leg roller on a leg curl machine and lean as far forward as he could, grab some not-so-heavy dumbbells and perform 15, 12 and 10 reps. After each set, he would then do a rear deltoid stretch for a few seconds.

The final exercise Zane would perform for his deltoids was the side cable raise. Whilst the requirement is to perform this with 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps he would sometimes perform this for 3 x 12 instead.

Ideally, you should be standing at an angle, holding onto the cable machine for support in order to increase range of motion and create greater time under tension.

Ab Training

Zane would always finish off his workouts with some form of ab training.

His goal was to always increase the total amount of reps completed leading up to competition time where he would be performing at least 1,000 reps for abs.

Zane stated that he would often return to the gym in the afternoon and complete abs separately where it would take him at least 30 minutes of non-stop exercises to complete his routine.

In particular:

After training legs, his ab workout would normally consist of anything other than hanging knee raises in order to rest the upper body and lower back.


At the very minimum, his ab routine consisted of the following exercises, sets and reps:

  • Leg Raises – 4 x 25

Superset with…

  • Crunches – 4 x 25

Followed by…

  • Seated Ab Twists – 1 x 100


As Zane continued to get stronger and more proficient at training abs, his advanced routine would be as follows:

  • Leg Raises – 4 x 25

Superset with…

  • Crunches – 4 x 25

Followed by…

  • Hanging Knee Raises – 4 x 25

Superset with…

  • Two-Arm Overhead Cable Crunches – 4 x 25

Followed by…

  • Seated Ab Twists – 2 x 100

Frank Zane Workout Review - Abs


From reading the above notes on each of the exercises Zane performed in his ‘Growth Program’, you’ll notice that he places significant emphasis on stretching in between sets.

This is because he believed that it would result in better range of motion on the worked limbs which will have a positive effect on one’s posing, reducing the likelihood of injury as well as resulting in a greater overall pump.

Here’s what he had to say about stretching:

“The way we train here at my gym is, immediately after we do a set we do a stretch that works the body part we’re training.

So if you’re doing, let’s say, front pulldowns or low cable rows, you do a two-arm lat stretch to keep the blood in the area, to keep it warmed up, and to enhance flexibility. The one-arm lat stretch is just hitting one lat at a time, and that’s what we do right after one-arm dumbbell rows to pop out the lats.

Enhanced flexibility will help your posing, but it will help in your workout, too. You’ll get a better pump, you’ll stay warmed up, you’ll lessen the chance of injuries, you may even be stronger on your next set. So it helps everything.

I think if you don’t stretch enough and you just train heavy and slow all the time, you will lose your range of motion to some extent. You’ve got to train that too.”


After most workouts, Zane would either ride a stationary bike for 15 – 20 minutes or run a slow 1.5 miles as a form of conditioning to ensure he was as lean as possible.

This is to be performed after all upper body workouts and to be avoided after performing a lower body workout to prevent the risk of injury, cramping and fatigue.


Diet played a big role in sculpting and developing Zane’s physique.

He was able to win multiple Mr. Olympia championships by simply consuming the high-quality foods in the right quantities for his body.

Below is what a typical day of eating looked like for Zane:

Upon arising (6 – 7am): Ingest a free form amino acid, usually L-arginine followed by a small piece of fruit.

Breakfast (8am): Morning meal consisting of two hard boiled eggs sliced in half, placed on a slice of sprouted flaxseed toast covered with low/non-fat cream cheese, with a sprinkle of walnuts stuck to the cream cheese. This is to also be consumed between sips of coffee.

Early Lunch (11 – 11:30am): Six ounces of low-carb yogurt with a scoop (two heaping tablespoons) of egg white protein mixed in.

Early Dinner (3 – 4pm): Combination of meat (chicken, turkey, beef, fish, pork or any kind of lean meat) with a serving of one vegetable or salad.

Late Evening (no later than 9pm): Repeat lunch i.e. yogurt mixed with a scoop of egg white protein and usually a small handful of pecans or almonds and berries.

Before bed (no later than 10pm): Ingest a few grams of L-tryptophan or up to 10mg of melatonin followed by a small piece of fruit.

When looking at Zane’s macronutrient split to lose weight, he gives his recommended breakdown in ‘The Zane Body: Training Manual’:

“My eating plan to lose body fat is to eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, which for me is around 180 pounds, one half gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight, with approximately 25% of my calories coming from fat.

Every fourth day I eat more carbs to bring my total consumption up to match my protein intake, i.e. 180 grams of carbs daily. I may not wait until the fourth day if I have a hard workout coming up.

When I do, I eat half of my daily carb intake right after my workout to spike my insulin and put my body in an anabolic condition.

Protein always stays at one gram per pound of body weight and fats at 25% of total calories. Of course this does vary from time to time, but this is how it averages out.”

When Zane was competing, he would intentionally increase his protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight and keep carbs even lower for 3 days in a row (which was usually around 50 grams a day).

He would then increase this to 150 grams on the fourth day followed by ingesting food supplements.

One of the issues of consuming large amounts of protein and minimal carbs is dehydration and constipation.

To combat this,

Zane ensured he was drinking at least 2 litres of water per day and consuming psyllium (a form of fiber to relieve symptoms of constipation) with vitamins and minerals.

Every now and then, if he felt particularly low in energy, Zane would consume a high fat meal where his go-to would be eating lamb.

To avoid putting on excess fat, he would ingest several chitosan capsules (a dietary supplement containing fiber that inhibits fat absorption) before such a meal.

It is worth noting that the science in this area is lacking and there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that chitosan can boost fat loss.


Famously nicknamed ‘The Chemist’ due to his Bachelor of Science degree and as he stated in an interview:

“Back in the day I took a lot of supplements and tons of amino acids. Still do. But back then it was pretty unusual. That’s how I got the nickname The Chemist.”

It goes without saying,

Zane’s supplement programme was nothing short of extraordinary and it’s fair to say that he was a bit of mad scientist when it came to optimising his performance and physique leading up to a competition.

In ‘The Zane Body: Training Manual’, Zane goes into great depths to explain how he typically approached supplements:

Supplementation to the diet is something I relied upon heavily the last three months before the competition.

I would not eat large meals, but 6 or 7 smaller feedings each day and consider this food, which I ate very slowly, a matrix to hold the capsules and tablets in place for optimum digestion.

I would take several bites of food followed by some capsules and continue this way throughout the meal. I would sip carbonated water with my meals and it made the capsules easier to swallow.

When taking capsules, it’s best to let them sit in your mouth for about 20 or 30 seconds and let the saliva soften the capsules before you wash them down followed by a few bites of food.

Below is a full breakdown of his typical daily supplement regime.

  • B-complex vitamins (vitamin B12, folic acid and biotin)

  • vitamin C – 5,000mg

  • vitamin E – 800 IU

  • vitamin D – 400 IU

  • vitamin A – 10,000 IU

  • Calcium – 1,500mg

  • Magnesium – 750mg

  • Sodium – less than 2,000mg

  • Potassium – 750mg

  • Zinc – 90mg

  • Diindolylmethane (DIM) – few capsules

  • Selenium – 150mg

  • Chromium – 150mg

  • Iron – 20mg

  • Desiccated liver tablets – few capsules

If that wasn’t enough:

Zane would also take extra amounts of lipotropic compounds (fat carriers in the bloodstream) such as choline, inositol and the amino acid methionine.

He argued that these compounds helped him get more definition and would eat several whole eggs a day because they are a good source of sulfur bearing amino acids.

Not only this,

Zane would take a teaspoon of flaxseed oil or a teaspoon of cod liver oil (both good sources of essential fatty acids) with his daily meals.

On an empty stomach, Zane would also take increasing amounts of a mixture of 19 different amino acids in free form (not part of a protein molecule, but free to enter your bloodstream without digestion), along with the antioxidants Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

He would then follow this up with carbohydrates to facilitate insulin secretion to help the amino acids absorb into the muscle tissues.

Zane would normally consume these amino acids first thing in the morning and/or right after a workout (with extra carbohydrates) to replenish his glycogen stores and upon awakening from an afternoon nap.

In addition to the baseline amino acid complex…

He would also take up to 15 grams of L-arginine for hypertension and release of nitric oxide into the bloodstream, 3 – 6 grams of L-tryptophan before bed, 5 grams of L-glutamine before workouts (believed to help inhibit loss of lean muscle tissue when dieting) and 5 grams of creatine after workouts.

With meals, he would always take a few pancreatic digestive enzymes. His favorite brand was Megazyme by Enzymatic Therapy.

Alongside this:

He would also take Saw Palmetto Berry Oil for prostate health and Milk Thistle for liver protection.                                                                             

On some nights, he would take 3mg of Melatonin an hour before bed, 3 – 4 capsules of Valerian Root before his afternoon nap to relax the muscles and one aspirin to keep his blood thinned as well as one Ginkgo Biloba with each meal to boost mental performance.


Zane’s supplement regime is certainly not for the feint of heart so be sure to consult with a specialist first before consuming these supplements in the above doses yourself.


Frank Zane’s Growth Program covers all of your bases meaning that each muscle group (whether large or small) will be worked as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Each muscle group will be worked with 3 or 4 varying exercises to ensure they are targeted from all angles.

Not to mention:

You’ll be performing at least 36 sets per session which is an incredible amount of volume that will lead to significant muscle growth.

It’s also worth noting that this routine, despite being divided into 3 separate sessions, bares semblance with Steve Reeves’ ‘Classic Physique’ routine which is also made up of 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps across many exercises.

In fact,

Zane has publicly stated in numerous interviews that Steve Reeves was one of his idols when he first began bodybuilding:

“From early on he [Steve Reeves] was my idol in bodybuilding because he had everything developed and everything fit perfectly.”

From analysing Zane’s Growth Program, it is evident that Reeves‘ training methods heavily influenced Zane in building a more athletic and aesthetic physique. Something not quite as prioritised amongst a few of the mass monsters of the 70’s and 80’s including Schwarzenegger, Columbo and Corney.

Standing at only 5 ft 9 inches, Zane was able to blow his competitors out of the water with this routine despite being a standard PPL routine due to its emphasis on getting adequate rest and developing the sum of all parts to improve muscle symmetry and promote lean muscle definition.

Having performed this routine for a good 12 weeks, it is evident why Zane was able to build the physique he had.

Unlike Reeves’ Classic Physique workout, I was able to rest and recover a lot more effectively due to only a section of my body being sore the following day.

In particular,

Performing 4 different chest exercises (barbell bench press, incline dumbbell press, decline dumbbell flies and dumbbell pullovers) created a pump like no other time after again.

16 sets with varying weights and angles meant that my chest simply couldn’t predict what the hell was going on which resulted in significant muscle growth.

I also experienced the same for my legs where the leg curls and extensions created a phenomenal overall pump especially after performing 6 sets of moderate/heavy barbell squats and high rep leg presses.

4 numerous leg exercises meant that my quadriceps, hamstring and glutes were being attacked from every angle where they had no other choice but to adapt to the stimulus and grow.


I didn’t experience much growth in my shoulders as I would’ve liked.

This is probably due to Zane’s rationale that the anterior deltoid was already being worked from all of the pressing movements performed during the chest exercises. However, I felt like the program could’ve benefitted from a bit more side deltoid exercises to create an even wider and v-tapered physique.

Nevertheless, despite only working each muscle group once a week, this training program is a really effective way to increase intensity and focus on the working muscle.

The sheer amount of volume involved is a great way to breakdown muscle tissue and result in unprecedented growth owing to the amount of time off included.

Regarding nutrition and supplements, one could argue that Zane’s regimen is overkill and that if you are eating a variety of whole-based foods (and prioritising protein during every meal), you can expect to see good results.

Of course,

Taking a good multivitamin is always an added insurance policy in case you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day.

However, I would argue that consuming 19 different amino acids in supplement form is probably unnecessary if you are varying your protein sources (such as chicken, beef, white fish, beans and legumes and so on).

As an aside, taking either L-tryptophan or Melatonin before bed might be a good idea if you have trouble getting to the land of nod.

These supplements will certainly help you get some much needed rest and a good 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night will do wonders for your gains.



Frank Zane’s Growth Program is a simple, easy to follow mass-building blueprint that will help you create a balanced, aesthetic physique.

Not only will you be training hard 3 times a week, but time off from the gym will also mean that you can recover both physically and mentally and always maintain your motivation without running the risk of being burnt out.

Slow and steady wins the race certainly rings true for this program, and if you are consistent and strict with your nutrition, you will undoubtedly see some impressive results.

What do you think?

Looking to give the Frank Zane ‘Growth Program’ a try?

What do you think of this three way split workout?

As ever, drop a comment below with your thoughts!