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The Heavy-Duty Life and Career of Dorian Yates

Dorian Yates was a “bad boy” as a teen but what saved him and led to his fantastic career was bodybuilding.  “The first time I picked up a barbell,” he says, “there was an instant connection.  It didn’t take long before serious training and building muscle became the main purpose of my life.”

Dorian was the first of the so-called “mass monsters.”  Lee Haney was big but Dorian’s physique contained more hard slabs of thick muscle.  He was “aesthetic” by bodybuilding standards, but not to the degree of many classic competitors, like Serge Nubret, Frank Zane, or Larry Scott.  Joe Weider used to distinguish between lean and shapely “Apollonian” physiques (Zane) and thicker, more massive “Herculean” ones (Dorian).

He was close to 300 pounds off-season and was a forerunner to some competitors today who weigh over 300 pounds in contest shape.  With so many huge bodybuilders in the pros, the IFBB Pro League created the 212 and Classic Physique divisions to give a competitive platform for their size.

Of course, Dorian Yates went on to win six consecutive Olympia titles from 1992 to 1997 and has the fifth-highest number of Mr. Olympia wins in history, ranking behind Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Phil Heath.

Of course, no advocate of HIT whether Dorian, Mike Mentzer nor Casey Viator built their early physiques using this kind of workout approach.  They all started with conventional workouts and pivoted to HIT later in their careers. One interesting observation here is that just about all of those bodybuilders had Herculean bodies – thick, powerful, and very mesomorphic.  So, their bodies all had thicker and more powerful connective tissue which could stand up to the stress of HIT.  You must wonder how somebody more slightly built like Frank Zane would have stood up to this level of stress.

It is very difficult for pro athletes, training intensely over decades, not to suffer injuries.  This kind of comes with the territory and is one reason why so many in a variety of sports are forced to stop competing at relatively young ages.  HIT puts such stress on the body that the risk of injury is markedly increased. With so many top pro bodybuilders being close to or older than 40, you won’t find many risk their bodies by resorting to this kind of super-stressful training technique.

After severe biceps and triceps injuries, Dorian Yates was forced to retire from competition.  Fortunately, after retirement, Dorian proved himself to be a capable businessman – like other past champions such as Lee Labrada, Rich Gaspari, Shawn Ray, and the aforementioned Lee Haney.  And, of course, Arnold.  Dorian went on to open a successful gym and created several businesses, including a supplement line.


Learn how the six-time Mr. Olympia built his physique.


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