High-Intensity Training is the training style that created a Mr. Olympia like no other.
What if we told you that Dorian created the greatest physique in the world by training four times per week for roughly an hour each session.
Sounds impossible? Read on…
Before this method of training, the popular training system had been along the lines of twice daily workouts, six times per week, where each body part was trained twice per week with sets of up to 20 per each muscle group!
So this level of high intensity is quite the contrary…
But Dorian didn’t “invent” this method of training, it was popularised by Arthur Jones, Mike and Ray Mentzer.
The fundamentals of this training system are to train only as much as you need to generate growth.
Weight training involves breaking down the muscle and putting stress on your central nervous system.
So, in order to grow and repair the muscle, adequate nutrition is key, and also a great emphasis must be placed on rest.
Dorian made a great sense of this approach.
In the early days of high intensity training, the routines were even briefer than Dorian’s.
Being a very analytical and scientific thinker, Dorian tailored this method of training to suit himself and over the years, created the perfect cauldron for building muscle.
Rather than following the mainstream mantra of volume training, Dorian listened to his body and discovered quickly that any time he increased his training duration, failed to take necessary rest days, or dropped the intensity of his training, he would find either he hit a plateau in size or his strength dropped off.
So how did Dorian Yates craft a god-like physique using these principles?
The Shadow understood that the process for “breaking down muscle” is actually quite brief and is primarily based around the intensity of one's training regime.
So, being the methodical thinker that he is, he perfected a training routine that would serve fit to create an unstoppable, undefeated Mr. Olympia.
Dorian spaced out his workouts so that he had enough time to recover and repair his muscles. His typical split was:
- Chest & Biceps
- Shoulders, Triceps & Traps
- Back & Rear Delts
He typically trained each muscle every 6-7 days, this was enough time for him to recover and give his all once again.
So, that's the theory, now let’s get into the actual high-intensity training.
A good warm-up is key. With this level of intense brutal training, you NEED to be warmed up correctly.
5 minutes of dynamic stretching along with rotation and mobility exercises will be great.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, Mr. Yates did just one set to failure and then moved on. Nope, not even close.
This is a big misunderstanding that has been going around for years, repeat after us… “Dorian did not do just one set and then move on.”
Now that that’s clear, here’s how he approached the weights…
He would first do a set that was 50% of his final working set, around his 6-8 rep max.
To prepare his muscle for what was to come, he used this set to warm up and get into the motion.
He’d typically do around 15 reps here in a slow controlled manner.
His second set would be around 70-75% of his final working 6-8 rep max.
Here he is really in the zone now, working in the 10-12 rep range.
Now, here’s the set.
Firstly, we want to emphasize the importance of “being in the zone” and being mentally prepared.
The weight is heavy, his muscles are begging him to stop, sweat is dripping into his eyes… but Dorian’s mind stronger than all this, he will stop at nothing short of failure.
He is mentally prepared to do whatever it takes and has that burning desire to not stop!
So with this set, he’d choose the weight that he can physically lift for around 6 reps on the upper body and 10-12 on the lower body.
Just to give you an idea of Dorian’s “heavy”, he was using 110lbs dumbbells on incline flys, 450lbs on barbell rows, 1,200lbs leg press.
But he actually could’ve lifted heavier than this, but his purpose was to use the weight as a tool to put emphasis on the muscle in a controlled manner.
Once he had reached failure with his chosen weight, his training partner would help take him past failure with the use of assisted reps, forced reps, and some extra negatives.
Dorian would be in a situation where he could still control the weight, so let's take bicep curls for example.
He would load up the ez-bar and perform 6 perfect reps, now on the seventh rep he would struggle, his biceps have given out on the concentric (lifting) of the weight, but he still had strength left in the eccentric phase (lowering).
His partner would assist in lifting the weight to the top and Dorian himself would slowly lower the weight for another 2-3 reps… this is a total failure!
Then he’d move onto another exercise.
However, now that his muscles are totally warm, he would usually skip the first set as it isn’t necessarily needed (unless the next exercise is a big multi-joint movement like leg press) and would go into his 10-12 rep set and then again to total failure.
Typically, Dorian was in and out of the gym in an hour. During this hour (sometimes less), his full focus and attention were to training.
No chatter between sets, no selfies, just tunnel vision mode!
So that is how Dorian trained from 1983 - until his retirement in 1997!
Are you ready to learn directly from Dorian Yates?
DY Academy is now running and Dorian is taking on online clients.
Customized training and diet plans crafted by the legendary six-time Mr. Olympia.