Muscle Past Midlife — by Frank Zane

Title: Muscle Past Midlife
Frank Zane


As we get older it’s obvious that our bodies change. The body naturally slows down and accumulates wear and tear over the years. Indeed, anyone over the age of 40 will tell you that you simply can’t train or eat the same way as your 20 year old self did. Making changes is a necessity.

If there’s one man who knows that there is no need to quit lifting iron as you age it’s the legendary bodybuilder Frank Zane. Most of his life he has lifted weights to build and sculpt his Greek God-like physique.

Frank is in His Eighties and Still Trains

Now in his eighties, Frank still weight trains two or three times a week and does aerobics to maintain his fitness and health. His determination and positive mindset have contributed towards keeping him in lifelong fantastic shape. Photos of him in the book at age 52 ( looking lean and defined) and at age 71 (awesome arms) show that age is just a number.

Muscle Past Midlife looks at many of the factors which impact and affect your training and bodybuilding lifestyle. Managing stress and conserving energy are two factors of utmost importance; steering clear of anything that creates fatigue is wise. Frank suggests it is smart to avoid taking unnecessary risks (eg. lifting heavy weights on a dare) to keep yourself injury free and healthy.

Motivation is Key

Motivation is something else to consider. Frank makes a great point about losing 1% muscle mass each year when you reach your forties; that is surely one good reason alone to keep you motivated to pump iron as you age.

In the training pages of this book there is a wide and varied choice of exercises. As the body has slowed down and probably accumulated its fair share of aches by midlife, heavy basics like bench presses or squats aren’t at the forefront of your training anymore. Instead, machine and dumbbell exercises that are more friendly on the joints are preferred and they are explained and demonstrated for you.

Pulldowns are a better option instead of pull ups and Smith machine press variations are less harsh on the joints than their barbell counterparts. Likewise, the front squat should replace the back squat, or if you’re one of the lucky people to own a Zane Leg Blaster it is ideal for a less stressful lower body workout.

Plenty of Ideas for Restructuring Your Routines

There’s no shortage of ideas for structuring your routines and some training techniques are presented to help you keep the gains coming as you become an ageing athlete. Popular bodybuilding techniques like supersets and drop sets which can intensify your workouts are featured in here. The concept of Time Under Tension – keeping constant tension on the targeted muscle – is well explained and utilising it becomes more important as you age.

Undoubtedly, the recovery side of your bodybuilding lifestyle needs just as much attention as the training side. There is sufficient information about diet, supplementation and resting for recovery in Zane’s book.

Amino acids have always been an important part of the bodybuilding legend’s supplementation and it was fascinating to read that he took 100 capsules each day while training for the Mr. Olympia in 1976. There is in depth advice about L-glutamine as well and multiple reasons as to why you should include it in your own regimen.


Frank Zane enthusiastically shares his training and diet knowledge and wisdom in Muscle Past Midlife. The modifications and changes that are a necessity in your middle years are well described for the reader to understand.

Clearly, you can continue to make improvements (no matter how big or small) and build a lean, muscular age-defying physique. Midlifers will most certainly find a load of useful information in this book and there’s tons of useful information for the younger generation of bodybuilders too.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and picked up plenty of tips to slow down and prevent muscle loss as I gradually step closer to becoming a quinquagenarian.

Favourite Quotes

  • “Bodybuilding to me means training for growth your entire life.”
  • “A good training partner, if you can find one, is always a good idea for motivation to continue training.”

Book rating: 9.5/10

Alan Riseborough

Alan is a strength and physique enthusiast and has 28 years' of training experience behind him. He has competed in powerlifting, arm wrestling, bodybuilding and grip strength competitions. He also includes rigorous bodyweight, sprinting and kettlebell training regularly in his routines. He believes in the transformative power of the squat which is (believe it or not) his favourite exercise!

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