Let’s set the scene, it’s a cold winter Friday in Birmingham (as it pretty much is year round), people are getting on with their typical working day regime. Waking up, doing the usual routine, eating breakfast then setting out to work… but at a particular house in the village of Walmley, Sutton Coldfield (not far from Birmingham City Centre), a certain someone follows a very different routine… welcome to the Yates household.
This is a day in the life of Dorian Yates during his Mr Olympia reign, let’s “step into the Shadow”…
After getting his 8 hours of sleep, The Shadow awakens. It’s 8am, it’s the off season, that could only mean one thing… food, food and more food! It’s breakfast time, fuel to start the day…
A breakfast fit for a king… or three! This is not your standard, average breakfast of cereal, croissants, fruit juice and coffee… we’re tying to build muscle here!
Dorian’s breakfast consists of: 200g oatmeal (yes 200g), 12 egg whites plus 4 whole eggs, two bananas, two pieces of wholemeal toast with jam and all washed down with a good old cup of tea.
After downing over 1,500 calories worth of breakfast, Dorian would then walk his dog for 30-45 minutes. He’d usually walk down the canals of Walmley as it was a rather quiet village and there was usually not many people out and about. This allowed him to think and clear his mind whilst almost power walking and getting some off season cardio in, something that is perhaps overlooked!
Arriving back at his house, it’s time to prepare for the gym. It’s now 10.30am and Dorian downs a whey protein shake and a banana. This is something that’s light on his stomach whilst being easily absorbed so that he doesn’t feel sluggish in the gym.
11.30am and it’s pre workout time! Now, back in the 90’s, the usual pre-workout supplements weren’t really available, so something like our rather appropriately named, energy enhancing and muscle pumping, “Blood & Guts” pre workout was not up for grabs unfortunately. So Dorian settled for a strong coffee, usually a few shots of espresso stacked with ephedrine, which was a stimulant/fat burner.
Arriving at the gym 20 minutes later, Dorian would head into his office for a very specific reason. Yes, HIS office! Dorian actually owned Temple Gym in Birmingham… located on Temple Street, coincidence? Maybe. But yes, Dorian was the owner of the gym which meant it was a no nonsense gym. To back this up, Dorian spray painted onto the wall “NO P*****S”… we’ll leave you to figure that out. There are even rumours that some people refused to walk down the dark, deep steps and into the dungeon. They would stand at the top and hear the grunts, roars, and shouting of what seemed a torture chamber! Needless to say, this was not the gym for them.
He’d arrive at the gym and he’s training partner Leroy Davis (anyone who’s seen Blood & Guts knows who we’re talking about... "Let's get NASTY!") would be at the gym. But this was no time for any old chit chat, it was usually a simple, “hello, legs today right? Let’s get ready”. It was serious, this was his job at the end of the day and he took every single part of this seriously, it was laser focus from the minute he walked down those steps, there was only one goal and he knew what it was and how to achieve it.
Dorian would lock himself in his office and pull out his training log. A big believer in tracking progress and visualisation, this was his time to mentally prepare himself for what was about to happen next. He’d read over his last workout, the sets, the reps, the weights and even little notes such as how he was feeling etc. Every workout that Dorian Yates ever did from 1983 - 1997 is written down with pen and paper in his training logs. He’d sit and visualise how his workout was going to happen, each and every exercise and set, even down to the minor details like the clothes he’d wear and the music that’d be blasting out from the speakers. Now he’d just need to do the simple task of replaying that tape he’d built up in his mind, in real life… easier said than done, if you truly understand DYHIT!
It’s Friday, it’s leg day and that means it’s ‘Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction’, no other album would quite suffice for a blood and guts, high intensity leg session.
Dorian’s leg workout was as followed: leg extensions, leg press, hack squat, lying leg curls, straight leg deadlifts, standing and seated calf raises. Roughly 2-3 sets per exercise in the 12 - 15 rep range. Nothing too strenuous right?
Wrong! Don’t believe us, just take a look at the links below to see a few exercises from Dorian’s “Blood & Guts” video and you can be the judge:
45 - 60 minutes later, the workout was done. Now Dorian could afford to be more relaxed. It was okay now to chat with Leroy and a few regulars about how they’re doing, how the Mrs and kids were etc.
Minutes after finishing his session, he’d have his post workout shake which consisted of 2 scoops of whey protein, simple carbs, creatine and powdered aminos. Dorian was actually one of the, if not the first professional bodybuilder to supplement with powdered amino acids.
His time at the gym was not quite finished yet however, while it was still fresh in the mind of ‘the Shadow’, he’d update his training log, like we said… no workout was ever missed!
Not long after, Dorian would drive back home to Walmley. It’s roughly 1pm now and time for lunch. Nothing special here, just your standard bodybuilding meal of 300g chicken or turkey breast with 150g brown rice and mixed vegetables. A rather standard meal in the world of bodybuilding, but if it ain’t broken, why try to fix it? Besides, food was fuel, fuel for a man ready to defend his Mr Olympia crown once again later in the year. Another thing to mention here and with all his meals actually, is that Dorian weighed every single piece of food. He’d calculate his macros and calories all by pen and paper pretty much… MyFitnessPal just did not exist back then.
By the time he’d finished lunch, it was coming up to 2.30pm and he always took a 2 hour nap. Recovery is key and Dorian is a huge advocate of resting and avoiding overtraining, so this 2 hour nap was crucial to him. By this time, his young son Lewis was coming home from school too.
Awaking 2 hours later, it was time for another meal. This time it was something fairly light, a whey protein shake with rice cakes or a couple of sweet potatoes. This was time to do business calls and respond to magazines such as Flex Magazine and more. In addition to this, Dorian would read and respond to his fan mail. Letters from Dorian Yates fans from all over the world, he’d read each and every one of them and would usually write back to them too! Ofcourse, this was all hand written by himself as emails and text messages were not around at the time, so it’s something quite special when your hero writes back to you! He’d head off to the post office once per week to post a whole load of letters to fans.
A couple of hours later, and yes you guessed it… time to eat!
Coming in at dinnertime was beef and potatoes. This was the evening meal which usually consisted of steak with a baked potato and mixed vegetables.
After this meal it was time to relax and spend time with his family. During his Olympia reign, Dorian would usually watch two movies every day… he’s pretty much seen every decent film made! His usual genres include: action, thrillers and history based films. Thousands upon thousands of hours of watch time and many, many, many movies… it was extremely difficult for Dorian to pick a single one out as his favourite!
A few hours later… and it’s time for the final meal of the day. This was consumed roughly one hour before bedtime.
Whipping up 150g oatmeal with 12 egg whites and 2 whole eggs… that finishes the food off for a day in the off season of a Mr O!
So that is a day in the life of a Mr Olympia winner, eating, sleeping and training… living like a monk!
He avoided the flashy life of his competitors and would usually disappear after the Olympia, no one would usually see him again until the following year when he’d just show up and defend his crown… like a shadow!
For coming into a contest, Dorian’s day actually did not differ much at all, the only thing he’d add in was more cardio. He’d do 45 minutes of cardio on the stationary bike in a fasted state, first thing in the morning and an hour of walking down the canals of Walmley in the evenings. Literally just increasing his expenditure is all he pretty much did in addition to reducing his carbohydrate intake and cutting his overall food back in a calculated manner.
Oh, and Dorian was also notorious in his posing practice. He would practice the art of posing roughly 3x per week for up to an hour each time!
He’d practice the compulsory poses and relaxed positions, plus a few rounds of free posing!
Posing is very hard and exhausting. Tensing every muscle in your body whilst trying to look relaxed, it’s no simple task! Practise gave him better muscle control and endurance for the long pre judging. He could hold the semi relaxed pose for hours whilst his competitors were gasping for air!
And that’s a wrap!
A day in the life of Dorian Yates during his Olympia reign!