The Legend and the Apprentice

Physique champ Sadik Hadzovic learns under the guidance of aesthetics icon Frank Zane.

The two had to meet. Just look at the resemblance. Sadik Hadzovic, owner of arguably the most aesthetic male physique in the world after winning the men’s physique title at the 2015 Arnold Classic, and Frank Zane, the man who set the bar for aesthetics during a bodybuilding career that saw him win three consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1977–79. No doubt Zane, now 73, could teach Hadzovic a thing or two considering his perspective and reputable wisdom for all things developed, chiseled, and symmetrical.

“What’s funny is, the past 10 years of my life, no matter what gym I went to, everyone has been comparing me to this guy Frank Zane,” says Hadzovic. “And I had no idea who he was. I literally thought that he was somebody my age who went to the same gym as me at different hours. Everyone kept telling me, ‘You look like Zane,’ and I’ve never even met this guy. I’m like, ‘What time does he train? Where’s he at?’ It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was on the Internet that I stumbled across some bodybuilding footage and saw Frank Zane. And I was like, ‘Holy crap, this guy is a former Mr. Olympia. That’s a f—ing compliment.’ And here I was thinking this guy was a normal dude.”

Finally, this past summer, Hadzovic flew out to the San Diego area to visit Zane’s personal gym for an impromptu physique evaluation and accompanying training tutorial courtesy of his aesthetic predecessor—all captured by FLEX photographer Per Bernal.

“It was incredible,” says Hadzovic. “To me, that was better than meeting the president of the United States. Frank Zane to me is like God. I daydreamed and thought about meeting this man, and not only did I get to meet him, but he’s also giving me his honest opinion and advice. I’m still in disbelief that it actually happened. I’m lucky.”

Zane praised Hadzovic’s blend of fully developed muscles, a tiny waist, and astute symmetry, but he also had constructive criticism. “Sadik has some great strong areas, but he’s got some weak points, too,” said Zane following the photo shoot. “And he needs to address those if he wants to make it to the top. You can’t just be wearing Bermuda shorts all the time. I mean, he’s at the top of the physique division now, but he’s a ways away from having what we would call a ‘classic physique’ as far as old-school standards go.”

Hadzovic doesn’t mind some critiquing, but he also understands the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it concept.

“I’m a very receptive person,” he says, “and I went into this experience like a sponge. I wanted to absorb as much as possible. The stuff that worked, I kept it and implemented it. The stuff that didn’t work, I just left it alone. I’m the best guy in the world at what I do, and I did it without Frank. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn new things. I’m constantly looking to improve. He’s someone I respect, so I know that if I implement 50% of what he taught me, it’s going to make me that much better onstage. I know the stuff that I like, I know the stuff that he likes, and I put them together and make my own little formula.”

Here, we break down all the pointers Zane gave Hadzovic. If the prodigy can translate his elder’s insight into an even more impressive stage presence, the men’s physique division could see an Olympia three-peat of its own.


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