Sunday, April 18, 2010

Phase Period Training - Frank Zane and John Carl Mese

Zane Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio. Honestly. In 1908 he made a journey to the West with Colonel C.J."Buffalo" Jones, sometimes called Arthur, who told him tales of adventure on the plains and directed the young Zane to some of the best hardcore bodybuilding gymnasiums. The trip was a turning point in Grey's career, and he began writing Western novels while training for, and eventually winning the IFBB Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles.






Phase Period Training
by Frank Zane and John Carl Mese


One of Frank Zane’s major contributions to the art of bodybuilding is phase period training. This method is not for beginners, however, it can be adapted to individual lifting or physique goals and the ideas herein are of course, open to interpretation and application over various lengths of time.

In the past, bodybuilding competitors trained the same way all year round until the contest season, then frantically, one month before their intended peak the hectic definition training would begin. The concept for phase period training is that you train specifically with a goal towards no more than one or two peaks per year.

The training is broken down into ten phases with the final phase being the peaking weak. Each phase contributes to the attaining of maximum possible shape and conditioning. After defining the ten phases, I will comment on the theoretical advantages of this system and how each phase contributes.


Phase 1 – Starts right after the last peak period. A two-week to one month complete layoff from training.

Phase 2 – Lasts two weeks to one month. Simple, fun workouts twice a week with emphasis on pumping blood to the muscles, and staying lean by running a mile twice a week.

Phase 3 – Lasts for one month. Train three times a week. Start to emphasize weak areas. Ten sets (three exercises) per body part; full-body workouts. Training time approximately 1½ hours.

Phase 4 – For two months. Train four times a week. This is the beginning of the gain phase. Two hours an exercise period. Heavy weights with two or three minutes rest between sets. Fifteen sets per bodypart (three exercises). Increase poundages as soon as possible.

Phase 5 – For two months. Train five times a week with two hours an exercise period.
This is the gain weight and strength phase. Two or three minutes rest between sets. Five workouts per bodypart in a two-week period (three one week, two the nest). Still fifteen sets per (three exercises).

Phase 6 – For one month. 2½ hours total training for each of six days. This is the maximum size phase. Twenty sets per bodypart (four exercises), each bodypart trained twice a weak. Weakest bodyparts get thirty sets. Use the increase weight/decrease reps approach, i.e. 200 lbs. x 15 reps, 230 x 12, 250 x 10 . . . Rest 1½ minutes between sets.

Phase 7 – For one month. Still six days a week, the shape and muscularity phase. Two workouts per week per bodypart, increase sets from twenty to thirty per bodypart, decrease rest period between sets to 45 seconds. Add running to the program and change exercise style to first set warmup, add weight and use the same poundage for sets two, three, four and five.

Phase 8 – For one month. Definition phase, eight workouts per week. Work weak bodyparts three days in a row. Special attention to abdominals. Same set/weight system as in phase 7. Keep running and rest only 30 seconds between sets.

Phase 9 – For one week. Maximum definition training. Nine workouts with increased abdominal work. Stop running but work calves every day.

Phase 10 – Final week. Work out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday under Phase 9 system (30 seconds rest between sets, work weakest bodypart all three days, 30 sets per bodypart. Rest Thursday, Friday and Saturday with maximum sleep. Peak on Sunday.


The theory of the phase period system is that you start from zero and then build up to the maximum intensity necessary to reach a peak. This system provides for the psychological needs of training along with the physical requirements.

In Phase 1, a layoff is needed from the previous intensified training. This phase not only allows you the physical relaxation but also the mental. This also gives time to allow injuries to heal and some much needed time to spend with your family or non-lifting interests.

Phase 2 is really a conditioning phase where you start to get both your mental and physical ready to train. During this period emphasis should be on the fun workouts. In other words, do what you feel like doing, try exercises you have never tried before. By using high repetitions and light weights you will also be helping the healing process by pumping blood to the area.

Phase 3 is the real start of preparation. During this time you are warming up your body for the rigors of reaching a peak. At the end of phase three your body should be ready; your ligaments, tendons and muscles conditioned for the goal ahead.

Phases 4, 5 and 6 are the gain phases for not only strength but also for size. Training poundages should be increased as fast as possible and still permit the proper form and desired repetitions. Phase 6 emphasizes getting the body more well proportioned and starts shaping the physique. In addition, phase 6 is also the level to increase if phase 1, 2 or 3 are less than the three-month period and the level to return to if more than one peak is planned.

Once you have the size, shape and balance, the next step is the muscularity phase. Phase 7, 8 and 9 represent this aspect. It is at this level the posing or held contractions should also be practiced, since this will increase separation of the muscles. You will also note that in phases 8, 9 and 10 the emphasis is also balance between bodyparts. The key being WORK THE WEAK BODYPARTS THE MOST. SYMMETRY is extremely important, or in the case of strength-training, balanced and fluid function of the body’s aspects as a whole.

Phases 8, 9 and 10 take maximum concentration for the trainer since workouts are more than once a day. These phases drain the lifter and maximum sleep is needed (up to nine hours or more) to help the body recuperate.

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