Monday, July 5, 2010

Hero of the Week: Dorian Yates

Another post delayed by my vacation, sorry!

If you're not a fan of bodybuilding (and few of us are) you might be unfamiliar with the name Dorian Yates.  Yates burst upon the bodybuilding scene in the early 90's with a physique that was freakily dense and massive, outmuscled his competition, pushed Lee Haney into a quick retirement and proceeded to dominate the Mr. Olympia contest for the next six years.

I'm not actually a fan of Yates' physique or his look.  He was very impressive (and by accounts I've heard still is), but to me his look was a step backwards for the sport.  Why, then, is he my hero?

What I admire about Yates is the way he went about his training.  Rather than jumping into a program or lifting with his friends at the gym, Yates set his mind to be a bodybuilder.  Then he went to the library and learned about training, deciding to go with a heavy duty style (a Mentzerish training system, a subject for another post) despite the prevalence of volume based training, because the writings behind heavy duty impressed him as being more rational.

As his career progressed he adjusted his program, adding and taking away volume to solve problems with injuries and sticking points, all while staying close to his high intensity roots.   Unlike many current pros he was his own "guru" - designing his own training programs and carrying them out with absolutely brutal intensity.

The amount of planning and research he put into his training is what impresses me most, as well as his constant use of his own body as an ongoing platform for science experiments, his Olympia victories and injuries all contributing to the body of knowledge that let him dominate the sport for so long.  I might not like the way he looked, but I have to admire the work and thought that it took to get him there!

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