Dorian Yates’ Workout Routine

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Between 1992 and 1997, Dorian Yates was the best bodybuilder on the planet. Nicknamed the Shadow due to his ability to turn up to a competition without anyone expecting him to be there and pull off an unexpected win, Yates perhaps could’ve been the most successful bodybuilder in history if injury had not forced him to retire. 

Depending on how you view bodybuilding, Yates was either an innovator, or the catalyst for the downturn in bodybuilding aesthetics. He was the first bodybuilder to really concentrate on mass over aesthetics. Not to imply that he wasn’t aesthetic, but it is clear where his priorities lay. The massive musclebound bodybuilders of today owe their look to Dorian Yates. 

Dorian Yates Bio

Yates grew up in Birmingham, England and began working out in 1983 aged 21. Within three years he won his first British Championships, winning the Championships again two years later. In 1991 he entered his first Mr Olympia, placing 2nd in Bodybuilding’s most premier competition. He won six consecutive Mr Olympia titles between 1992 and 1997, before retiring due to injury after his final victory. 

Dorian’s training style was very different to any other bodybuilder at the time, prioritising short, high intensity sessions rather than long high-volume sessions. This was based off the work of Mike Mentzer, though Yates definitely made the program his own, with several key changes to suit his own needs. 

Dorian Yates’ Workout Routine

Below is an example of the workout routine that Dorian Yates used to build one of the largest and most impressive bodies in bodybuilding. We can’t guarantee that you will win six Mr Olympia titles if you follow it, but stay disciplined and you should see some incredible results over time. 

As you can see, this workout routine utilises rest days, with only four days training. This is very different to the higher volume training plans that a lot of other bodybuilders use. Consequently, it means that natural bodybuilders can also use this program, as it won’t be as taxing. 

The program splits the muscles into four different days. Shoulders, triceps and abs on day 1. Back on day 2, chest, biceps and abs on day 4, and legs on day 6. You can add some cardio on rest days if you like (depending on what your goals are). 

Workout Schedule

Day 1 – Shoulders & Tri’s & Abs
Day 2 – Back
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Chest & Bi’s & Abs
Day 5 – Off
Day 6 – Quads & Hams & Calves
Day 7 – Off

Biceps

Incline dumbbell curls

  • 1×10 warmup set
  • 1×6-8

EZ-curl barbell curls

  • 1×10 warmup set
  • 1×6-8

Nautilus curls

  • 1×10 warmup set
  • 1×6-8

Triceps

Triceps pushdown

  • 1×15 warmup set
  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

Lying EZ-curl barbell extensions

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

Back & Read Delt

Hammer Strength pulldowns

  • 1×15 warmup set
  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

Barbell rows

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

Hammer Strength one-arm rows

  • 1×8-10

Cable rows (overhand grip)

  • 1×8-10

Hammer Strength rear-delt machine

  • 1×8-10

Bent-over dumbell raises

  • 1×8-10

Hyperextensions

  • 1×10-12

Deadlifts

  • 1×8 warmup
  • 1×8

Chest

Incline barbell press

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8 warmup set
  • 1×8

Hammer Strength seated bench presses

  • 1×10 warmup set
  • 1×6-8

Incline dumbbell flyes

  • 1×10 warmup set
  • 1×8

Cable crossovers

  • 1×10-12

Shoulders

Smith machine presses

  • 1×15 warmup set
  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

Seated laterals

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

One-arm cable laterals

  • 1×20 warmup set
  • 1×8-10

Dumbbell Shrugs

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×10-12

Legs

Leg extensions

  • 1×15 warmup set
  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×10-12

Leg presses

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×10-12

Hack squats

  • 1×12 warmup set
  • 1×10-12

Lying leg curls

  • 1×10-12 warmup set
  • 1×10-12

Stiff-legged deadlifts

  • 1×8-10

Single-leg curls

  • 1×8-10

Standing calf raises

  • 1×10-12 warmup set
  • 1×10-12

Seated calf raises

  • 1×8-10

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