Dorian Yates is recognised as a game changing figure in Bodybuilding, ushering in a focus on muscle mass rather than definition which still influences the sport today.
Whether this change was for the better or worse is up to your personal opinion, but what cannot be denied is the success that Dorian had as a Bodybuilder, and his massive impact on the sport.
Yates won 6 IFBB Mr Olympia titles from 1992 to 1997, making him the fourth most successful bodybuilder in history.
He followed a form of training known as High Intensity Training (HIT) and used it to devastating effect.
Yates was nicknamed the Shadow by his rivals due to his uncanny knack for turning up to contests last minute and win them (just like Arnold did in 1980).
Dorian was born in Walmley near Birmingham, England. He was interested in martial arts as a kid, after watching Bruce Lee films. It was through this that he began to read bodybuilding magazines.
At 16 he left home, his parents had split up and his dad died of a heart attack soon after. While still a teenager he was arrested as part of a group accused of looting and spent 6 months in a detention centre .
Yates hated the detention centre, and remembers vividly realising that he never wanted to go down that road.
When he got out he dedicated himself to training, he was picked up by a sponsor and in 1986 he won The British Heavyweight Championships. He won it again in 1988, then followed it up with a 2nd place in the Night of Champions competition in 1990, and then a 1st place finish in 91.
Mr Olympia Entry
The year 1991 was when Dorian Yates first entered the Mr Olympia competition held in Orlando, Florida.
Considering that when fellow Bodybuilding legend Ronnie Coleman first competed in this competition (in 1992) he came joint last, you’d expect something similar from Yates. But Yates came second to Lee Haney in his first time competing! A truly remarkable achievement.
In 1992 just as Ronnie Coleman was entering his first Mr Olympia, Dorian Yates won the competition outright, beating Kevin Levrone (one of the most successful bodybuilders in history) into second place.
In 93 he beat Flex Wheeler, in 94 he beat Shawn Ray, in 95 he defeated Kevin Levrone again, and in 1996 he won his fifth title, again beating Shawn Ray into second.
In 1997 Dorian Yates won his final Mr Olympia just three weeks after tearing his triceps in training.
That last injury would prove to be his undoing. He never fully recovered from that injury, and retired from the sport just before the 1998 Mr Olympia.
Post Bodybuilder Career
After retiring, Yates purchased a gym in Birmingham called Temple Gym. He franchised it out and created four separate gyms.
He started his own supplement company known as DY Nutrition (named after himself). He has talked about relocating from the UK to the US so that he can start training future bodybuilding stars, using his unique methods for success.
Dorian Yates was one of the first Bodybuilders to move away from the ridiculously high volume training that was so effective for lifters like Arnold and co.
He found that too high volume was creating injuries and diminishing results, so he reduced the volume and increased the intensity.
This led to better results, he kept experimenting, and taking advice from Mike Mentzer, he settled on a style of training that was fairly unique.
Dorian’s approach to training was to train to failure, concentrate on form above all else, performing each rep slowly and with full control.
While not as strong as Ronnie, Yates is still one of the strongest bodybuilders of all time, capable of lifting some serious weight in the gym.
He claims that if he wasn’t so strict with form he would be capable of lifting even heavier, but doesn’t see the point .
Compared to most bodybuilders, Dorian’s workouts were very short. Only training for 40-50 minutes once per day. Compare that to Arnold and Colombu who trained for two hours in the morning, and two hours at night!
Clearly Dorian was training at a higher intensity (using Mike Mentzer’s HIT), leaving him more time to recover and grow.
When it came to nutrition Dorian was of the measure everything school. He kept a food diary, even during the off-season and used scales to measure his food.
Yates never changed his training when gaining or losing weight, just added cardio during a cut. So he needed to get his diet 100% right.
He would eat smaller meals throughout the day, and drank lots of protein shakes.
The meticulous approach that Dorian had to training was echoed with his diet, he believes that success in bodybuilding is down to 100% training, 100% diet, and 100% mindset. That you can’t have true success without all three being at their best.
Dorian Yates had a reputation for being the silent assassin. He would never try and play any psychological games with his opponents, never waste a second talking up his chances, or trying to scare off his opponents.
He would train by himself, as an individual, and then walk in and win the competition.
He has been totally honest and open about his life before bodybuilding, and what it really means to be a successful competitor.
It’s very refreshing to listen to him say that yes he used steroids, yes he used Growth hormone, and that everyone else was doing them.
This is in contrast to other bodybuilding greats who either completely deny taking any (for obvious reasons) or who say that they only used it for muscle maintenance (cough Arnold).
With his entrepreneurial success, who knows what the future will hold for the boy from Walmley.
He’ll be remembered as the lone wolf who turned the bodybuilding industry on its head, and ruled the roost throughout the 1990s. A true bodybuilding legend.