In the pantheon of bodybuilders, Frank Zane is up there with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not only did he help to redefine the aesthetics of professional physique competitions with his narrow waist and focus on symmetry and proportion, he also won the title of Mr. Olympia three years in a row.
Zane retired in 1983, and was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 1999, but as a recent post on his Instagram page shows, he is still keeping up with his training at the age of 79. The clip features Zane performing one of his preferred bicep exercises; a variation on the incline curl, performed facing down on the incline bench.
“This puts tension on your biceps right at the top, so you let the dumbbells hang down, then you curl up, stop at the top, and go down slow,” he explains in the video, as he demonstrates the move. “You want to develop a rhythm when you’re doing them; rhythm is what counts.”
Zane goes on to say that this is a great exercise for achieving peak contraction of the bicep, and advises doing sets of 10 reps, noting that after just 6 curls he is starting to feel the strain.
The move that Zane is performing here is similar to the spider curl, another incline bench dumbbell variation which can be used to build strength and muscle in the biceps and chest. In both cases, you should be careful not to get too comfortable on the incline; certainly don’t rest your full weight there.
“The bench is a tool to help you find the proper angle for your body, but it’s not a bed,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel C.S.C.S. “Find the right angle, and then create rigidity throughout the rest of your frame. Squeeze your glutes, and actively try to breathe your abs into the bench; this will help set your spine in neutral. Then flex your upper and mid-back muscles so that your shoulders don’t slump forward; your mid- and upper-back muscles should stay live throughout the curl. That’ll protect your shoulders long-term and also make it easier to do the next thing.”
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