Legendary bodybuilder Dorian Yates led one of the most successful careers in the IFBB Pro League’s history. He dominated the Men’s Open division for several years with his insanely wide and thick back muscle development along with an overall stellar package. In a recent interview with Escaped Fitness, Yates revealed why squats aren’t the best exercise to build muscle in the lower body and the training philosophy he used to prepare for the Mr. Olympia competitions in his heyday.
Dorian Yates first gained attention for his huge muscle mass, size, and granite conditioning. He quickly worked his way up the national circuit in the late 1980s and secured qualification for the Mr. Olympia contest in 1991. After placing second in his maiden appearance, Yates won the coveted Sandow trophy the next year in 1992. He proved to be a commanding champion who went undefeated from 1992 to his retirement in 1997. He stepped away from professional competition with seven Mr. Olympia titles under his belt.
Yates had a reputation for being on the sidelines in the off-season and letting his package do the talking when it was time to step on stage. Besides his physique, he was also known for his high-intensity training methods that he learned from Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer.
Since moving on from competition, Yates continued to work out and maintain a high level of personal fitness. In Oct. 2022, he laid out the steroid cycles he used as a competitor, picking Dianabol as his substance of choice, and disclosed that he micro-doses testosterone daily through TRT (testosterone replacement therapy).
‘The Shadow’ admitted he could’ve taken things a bit easier but has no regrets about the way his career played out. While he never trained for more than an hour, he believes he might’ve avoided some injuries if he was more conservative with training intensity close to shows. Ultimately, he credits the sport for helping him turn his life around.
Yates’ influence on the Men’s Open division is evident to this day. Following the conclusion of the 2022 Mr. Olympia, champion Hadi Choopan got compared to Yates and received criticism from bodybuilding veteran Rich Gaspari for his lack of conditioning in the back.
Dorian Yates often educates his followers on training and leading a healthy lifestyle. He revealed barbell rows with an underhand grip were his favorite exercise to build a thicker back earlier this year. Then, he detailed the proper way of performing lat pulldowns to optimize gains.
Yates encouraged his fans to incorporate high-intensity training in their routines last month. He separated high intensity from high volume training and focused on finding the correct level of stimulus to stress the muscles. He believes it’s important to use a full range of motion and control the movement throughout with slow negatives.
Dorian Yates reveals why squats aren’t the best to build muscle
In a recent YouTube video, Dorian Yates shared his thoughts on why squats are not necessary to include in leg day training for building muscle.
“I always ask why. That’s a big thing with me,” said Yates. “Squats are the best things for legs everyone says. Why? Alright let me try to do something else. I did believe that until squats damaged my hip so I had to try and do something else and I discovered you can do it another way. You don’t need to do squats. Everybody was training six days a week and 20 sets and all this stuff from the Arnold era and didn’t make sense to me.”
Being a follower of Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer, he prefers using the training system developed on their findings.
“I read Arthur Jones’s writings, who’s the guy that built the Nautilus machines and looked into the real science of muscle building and so on and Mike Mentzer of course carried on that high intensity training. So, it made logical sense to me. Then when I applied it in the gym, keeping notes and so on, I got very good feedback from day one. I noticed that if I train more often or increase the volume and time in the gym, I stopped progressing. Okay, let me take a couple of days rest and go back to a more abbreviated routine, train three days a week, no more than an hour, boom, start growing again. There’s the feedback.”
Yates trained 4x a week for 1hr max in prep for Mr. Olympia
‘The Shadow’ opened up on the evolution of his training and the philosophy he utilized in his prime.
“Three days a week I was training initially when I first started training because I was working a job as well and couldn’t recover training more often than that. That’s what the feedback showed me so I listened to it. Later on, training for Mr. Olympia, I was training four days a week and maximum one hour in the gym.”
Yates only trained four times a week and for a maximum of one hour per session to get ready for the Mr. Olympia shows.
“People struggle with that because they don’t understand the key. The key to stimulating muscle growth is the intensity of the exercise and the fact that you’re progressively overloading and giving your body something that it’s not used to and it needs to react. Muscle Growth is just a reaction to a stress that the body’s trying to protect itself from.”
Dorian Yates gave fans a look into his training during contest preps along with the steroid cycles and diet he incorporated last month. He revealed that he started using TRT to reap the mental health benefits just as much as the physical ones. He recommended limiting high-intensity workout sessions to 45 minutes for the best results.
You can watch the full video below.
(transcribed by FitnessVolt)