Olympia Legend: Frank Zane

A three-time Mr. Olympia and cornerstone of bodybuilding’s “golden age,” Frank Zane still owns one of the most coveted physiques in history

Bodybuilding Legend Frank Zane

You’re known for doing a high volume of ab work. How did you build up to it?

FZ: I started at 200 reps a day and gradually added more until I was doing 1,000 reps a day of leg raises and crunches.

The vacuum pose was your trademark. How can we develop it?

FZ: Practice it when you’re hungry. It helps ward off hunger when you’re dieting. The vacuum is just holding your breath with no air in your lungs—suck your diaphragm in to create a hollow and hold it. It’s just a matter of practice.

You’ve saved more than 40 years of workout logs. What do you notice when you look back at them?

FZ: It amazes me how much work I did. And when I look at photos, it amazes me how I looked. At the time, I thought, “I have to get better than this.” Now I say, “My God, how did I get to look like that?” Everything got better up to 1979 and then things fell apart. Injuries caught up with me and I retired at 41.

You have a bizarre story about an injury that spoiled your plans at the 1980 Olympia.

FZ: We create situations in life by how we think and talk. If you’re angry, you may use the expression, “That pisses me off.” Your body can literally create that condition. At that time, I had been training my whole life and making sacrifices, and I was frustrated. Shortly before the contest, I fell into a pool and smashed my urethra. They had to put a catheter in there—now that’s physically pissed off.

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