dorian yates and mike mentzer

Heavy Duty, The Mentzer and Yates Training Sessions

Updated July 31, 2019

There’s many different bodybuilding training philosophies which you can read about online, but arguably two of the best were designed by Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates.

Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates

Mike Mentzer was a world class bodybuilder who won the Mr Universe with a perfect score of 300 back in 1978. Alongside being a legendary bodybuilder, he was also respected for his scientific training philosophy – pioneering his famous HIT (High Intensity Training) protocol, ideal for people who want to pack on serious amounts of muscle tissue.

Dorian Yates, nicknamed ‘The Shadow’ – 6x winner of the Mr Olympia also used the HIT method for his own training. There’s absolutely no doubt about it, that Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates (in their heyday) had two of the most impressive bodybuilding physiques ever. seen.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was famous for training 3 hours per day…his workouts were enormous, doing 30+ sets per workout, relying on heavy weight AND high volume.

This method of training worked for Arnie, however Mike Mentzer and Dorian favoured the complete opposite approach…

dorian yates and mike mentzer

What Are Heavy Duty and HIT?

dorian yates training

Lower reps, higher intensity, and very minimal volume. Dorian would do just one maximum effort set per muscle group (excluding warm ups) – the idea was to put 100% into every set and leave absolutely nothing in the tank.

The Heavy Duty and HIT programs that Mike and Dorian followed are programs that don’t require excessively long workouts to build maximum amounts of muscle; but instead mass could be maximized by increasing the intensity via shorter workouts.

Both Mike and Dorian evidently thrived with such methodologies, using low-volume workouts to successfully build amazing physiques.

Thus Heavy Duty and HIT training are essentially the same thing, although Mike and Dorian used the method in slightly different ways.

Dorian’s version had more volume and he trained the same muscle groups more frequently. Mike believed in lifting more slowly during the positive (concentric) part of the movement. However, both trained in similar rep ranges, being 6-10 for the upper body, and 12-15 for the lower body. Both also believed in good form, not just moving the weight, but making sure the muscle fully contracted with each rep.

Putting It Into Action

In order to do such High Intensity Training, it’s important to warm up properly, you don’t just go straight into your heavy set, thus it’s important to implement some warm up sets. This is good for lubricating the joints (to prevent injury), and firing up the central nervous system.

In order to successful apply this training method you have to give 100% in every set, and leave nothing in the tank. It’s not for the faint hearted, and it’s not suitable for beginners (who would favour a slightly higher volume approach – 12-20 sets per workout). Instead, this program is more suited for intermediates, and advanced lifters, who have good form, have a decent amount of muscle mass, and aren’t afraid of going to failure.

You can push each set to failure by…

  1. Getting a Spotter – this is really important as you need to ensure safety, especially on exercises like the bench press, and squat. You can’t take exercises to failure without a training partner – this is an absolute must.
  2. Implementing advanced training methods – such as: rest pause sets, negatives, and forced reps.

An example of a HIT/Heavy Duty routine for chest, shoulders and triceps:

  • Flat bench press – 2 warm up sets (8-12 reps) – 1 working set 6-8 reps
  • Incline DB fly’s – 1 warm up set (8-12) – 1 working set 8-12 reps
  • BB shoulder press – 1 working set 6-8 reps
  • DB side raises – 1 working set 6-10 reps
  • EZ skull crusher – 1 working set 8-10 reps
  • Tricep push down – 1 working set 8-10 reps

The idea is to pick a mixture of compound/isolation lifts, where you go as heavy and hard as possible, whilst maintaining good technique.


This heavy duty and HIT training approach is not for sissies or newbies…it’s hard work, and if done incorrectly, it will surely lead to injury.

If you follow a program like this, it’s absolutely essential to warm up prior to each major lift, and to prioritize recovery in between sessions – through good nutrition, sleep and rest.

You may also need to use additional training equipment, such as a weight lifting belts on exercises such as rows, deadlifts, and squats. On exercises for the chest, shoulders and triceps – Dorian Yates also wore straps to prevent/ease elbow pain.


The author

Nick Screetoni
Nicks Passion and career has been training for the  last ten years, and has recently completed well-over 10,000 personal training sessions. He knows EXACTLY what he's doing, and CAN help you achieve the goals you want. Nicks knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm continue to grow each day as he help others to achieve goals they wouldn’t have previously thought possible.

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