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How Mr. Olympia Maintains Muscle Mass Into His 80s

Three-time Mr. Olympia champion Frank Zane turned 79 back June but he does not have any intention of allowing his age to slow him down.

Zane was asked to share some lessons learned during his journey that spans more than half a century.

What advice can you give for someone trying to motivate themselves to go to the gym?

“Everyone has to have a concrete goal. Before you start at the gym, write down some specific goals. Take your notebook, and draw some squares on the page that allow you to accurately track the information you are going to be recording. Get someone to take photos of your progress—before, after, and even as you are making progress. When I say photos, I don’t mean “selfies.” I mean having a person take your picture, so you can see how you really look in real life.”

What advice do you have for older men who are working out? When did you start seeing changes in your body that caused you to change your workouts?

“I noticed the most effects after I reached seventy. When I look back at past decades, I suppose I can recall other signs that were not so noticeable at the time. As I have aged, I have prioritized walking. Walking on my treadmill was always something I did during competition preparation, but it is essential when you get older. So is knowing when not to exercise. That is a significant part of aging. Much of my early success came from barbell and dumbbell workouts, but as I have gotten older, I’ve replaced them with exercises done on machines that isolate muscles.”

What is the top mistake you see men making in the gym?

“Guys go to gyms for a lot of reasons, to talk and hang out, or use their cellphones while using up equipment. This is a total waste of time. When you go to the gym, you must be focused. I never get angry before I set out for the gym, but I do get myself centered and focused. I block everyone out. Especially after I started to be a serious contender and Olympia contestant, I focused on my competition. Competition was serious back in those days. A training partner or earbuds can stop others from coming over to disrupt your workout or distract you.”

Author: Scott Dowdy

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