6-Week Intense Dorian Yates Workout Routine To Build Muscle

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Dorian Yates Workout Routine

Dorian Andrew Mientjez Yates is a former English professional bodybuilder and six-time Mr. Olympia winner.

He’s famous for his grainy physique and “blood and guts” HIT (high-intensity training) style.

This intense routine is designed to help you build hard, dense muscle mass, along with strength.

I like to think his philosophy on training is: go heavy, go hard, and never back down because that’s exactly how he trained during his reign.

The Dorian Yates Workout Routine is not for the faint of heart: it’s intense and meant to be that way.

Keep reading if you think you can handle the heat!

What Is the Dorian Yates Workout Routine?

Dorian Yates developed his high-intensity training plan with inspiration from his research and experience with Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer.

Yates trained 4 days per week for about 45 minutes each session.

Unlike fellow bodybuilding competitors who trained in relatively high volume.

Yates believed training to failure with low volume and maximum intensity on his working sets was the key to efficient muscle growth.

Dorian trained each body part one day per week.

He would do one working set until absolute muscular failure for the different exercises of that day for each workout.

He would track these sets in his training diary and the goal was to progress either by adding weight or reps from the previous workout.

Often his warm-up sets would consist of fewer reps than his working sets because he wanted to get maximum muscle stimulation on this definitive set.

This is how Dorian Yates’s Training frequency was set up during his prime competitive bodybuilding career:

  1. Monday: Chest/Biceps/Abs Day
  2. Tuesday: Quads/Hamstrings/Calves Day
  3. Wednesday: Rest Day (Low to Moderate Intensity Cardio)
  4. Thursday: Back/Rear Delts Day
  5. Friday: Shoulders/Traps/Triceps/Abs Day
  6. Saturday: Rest Day (Low to Moderate Intensity Cardio)
  7. Sunday: Rest Day (Low to Moderate Intensity Cardio)

6-8 Week Dorian Yates Workout Plan

The Dorian Yates Blood & Guts video above features the six-time Mr. Olympia champion (four at the time of recording) displaying the importance of intensity and dedication to bodybuilding.

Yates portrays the rigorous training regimen that helped him achieve his championship-winning physique.

As well as the mental toughness required to maintain motivation while pursuing such a challenging goal.

Monday: Chest/Biceps/Abs

  1. Incline Barbell Bench Press
    • Warm-up sets: 3×6-10
    • Working Set: 1×6-8
  2. Hammer Strength Chest Press
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  3. Incline Dumbbell Flys
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  4. Cable Crossovers
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  5. Incline Seated Biceps Curl
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  6. Standing Straight Bar Biceps Curl
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  7. Biceps Machine Preacher Curl
    • Working set: 1×6-8 each arm
  8. Leg Raises: 2×20

Tuesday: Quads/Hamstrings/Calves

Dorian Yates’s leg workouts were usually high volume in comparison to the rest of his workout routine.

He noticed that the added stimulation resulted in more development.

This is because this muscle group is bigger, stronger, and carries your body weight all day.

So they require more work for muscle growth.

Yates started his leg workouts with a 5-10 minute cardio session.

  1. Leg Extensions
    • Warm-up sets: 3×8-12
    • Working set: 1×8-12
  2. Leg Presses
    • Warm-up sets: 2×8-10
    • Working set: 1×10-12
  3. Hack Squats
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  4. Lying Leg Curls
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  5. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
    • Working set: 6-8
  6. Single-Leg Curls
    • Working set: 1×6-8 each leg
  7. Standing Calf Press
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-10
    • Working set: 1×8-12
  8. Seated Calf Raise
    • Working set: 1×8-10

Wednesday: Rest/Cardio

  • 25-30 minutes of low to moderate-intensity cardio of choice.

Thursday: Back/Rear Delts

  1. Nautilus Lat Pullover
    • Warm-up sets: 2×6-8
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  2. Underhand Grip Machine Pulldowns
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-8
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  3. Overhand Grip Barbell Rows
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-8
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  4. Hammer Strength Row
    • Working set: 1×6-8 on each side
  5. Bent-over Machine Reverse Fly
    • Working set: 1×10-12
  6. Bent-over Dumbbell Reverse Fly
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  7. Hyper Extension
    • Working set: 1×6-10
  8. Barbell Partial Deadlift
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-8
    • Working set: 1×6-8

Friday: Shoulders/Traps/Triceps/Abs

  1. Smith Machine Shoulder Press
    • Warm-up sets: 2×8-10
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  2. Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-8
    • Working set: 1×10-15
  3. Single-arm Cable Lateral Raise
    • Working set: 1×8-10 each arm
  4. Dumbbell Shrugs
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-8
    • Working set: 1×8-12
  5. Triceps Pushdown
    • Warm-up sets: 2×8-12
    • Working set: 1×8-12
  6. EZ Bar Skull Crushers
    • Warm-up set: 1×6-8
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  7. Single-arm Underhand Grip Triceps Extension
    • Working set: 1×6-8
  8. Crunches: 2×20

Saturday: Rest/Cardio

  • 25-30 minutes of low-moderate intensity cardio.

Sunday: Rest/Cardio

  • Full rest day or repeat Saturday cardio.

Repeat for 6-8 Weeks

Start back to Monday and repeat the schedule.

Try to perform more reps with working sets of each exercise every week.

You can also do different exercises from this plan that you prefer.

You could switch the incline bench press with the decline bench press for example.

Once you pick your exercises stick with them to monitor progression.

Dorian Yates’s workout routine was structured for 6-8 week training blocks.

After the 6-8 weeks of intense training, he would take a one-week deload.

During this time his intensity would decrease to allow the muscles time to recover.

He even recommends taking a week off from lifting altogether depending on how beat your body is from the prior HIT cycle.

The Three Principles of High-Intensity Training Style

The key principles of Dorian Yates’ workout routine are intensity, recovery, and overcompensation.

By working out intensely and then allowing himself to recover, Yates was able to encourage his muscles to overcompensate and become stronger.

This is how he was able to develop such an impressive physique.

Intensity is important because it is what forces the body to adapt and become stronger.

Recovery is important because it allows the muscles to repair the damage caused by intense exercise and prepare for future workouts.

Overcompensation is when the body makes changes in response to exercise that result in increased strength and size.

Dorian Yates was able to achieve great success by following a workout routine that emphasized these three principles.

You should consider using a similar approach if you want to build a strong and muscular frame.

Recovery and Training Tips From Dorian Yates

  • Listen to your body: If your muscles are sore don’t be afraid to take an extra day or two off from the gym.
  • Take the lowering phase of exercises seriously: Negative reps are crucial to damage and build muscle.
  • Get a training partner or personal trainer: Dorian trained with a partner in his early days. This allowed him to take training to failure to another level by doing forced reps.
  • Do cardio away from the workout session: Dorian Yates believes in doing 25-30 minutes of cardio 2-3 days per week to help improve blood flow.
    • This may lead to the body recovering quicker because it helps release lactic acid.
    • He suggests doing cardio at a separate time from the training sessions so they don’t hinder exercise performance/recovery.
  • Dorian’s Routine didn’t prioritize ab training: However, he recommends sticking to body weight exercises only, because using weight may produce a thicker, less aesthetic waistline.
  • Take advantage of both free weights and machines: Machines are great isolation exercises for people who don’t have a training partner and still want to do forced reps.
    • Free weights are great because they work with your physique type since they aren’t in a fixed position.
  • Set up a meal plan: Dorian Yates’s diet plan consisted of complex carbohydrates, quality protein sources, and healthy fats to aid in repairing muscle fibers.
    • He recommends roughly 1.5x body weight in grams of protein per day and roughly 1.5-2x the protein intake for carbs.
      • Carbohydrates: Cup of oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, rice, and sweet potatoes.
      • Protein: Chicken breasts, egg whites, lean beef, fish, and protein powder.
      • Fats: Whole eggs, omega fats, and nuts.
  • Set long and short-term goals: Set small quickly obtainable goals and longer-term goals.
    • Track your progress using workout journals, and progress pictures, and take weight/body measurements.
    • This will help you stay motivated when you begin seeing progress and reaching milestones.
  • Adequate rest and recovery: Massages, hot/cold therapy, chiropractor appointments, 8+ hours of sleep per day.
    • The extra cost of these is worth avoiding long-term injuries.
  • Stick to the same exercises: For each heavy training period, try to avoid switching between different exercises.
    • Because this will make it harder to track your progress.
    • Only switch up the movements when you feel they’re losing effectiveness or if you’re getting bored.
  • Try incorporating drop sets into your exercise routine: This will allow you to increase the intensity and muscular fatigue without needing a workout partner.

Benefits of the High-Intensity Training Method

High-intensity training is the training style Dorian Yates followed for the majority of his competitive bodybuilding career as Olympia title holder.

Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Shorter training sessions: This will allow you to get in and out of the gym quickly, while still getting a highly effective workout in.
  2. Flexible workout routine: Meaning you can adjust the volume of workout sessions up or down based on your goals and lifestyle.
  3. Each body part is trained once per week: If you’re doing HIT and properly training to failure you generally don’t have to work out a muscle group more than once per week.
  4. Solid physique: Training heavy and hard builds dense, quality muscle mass.
  5. Build confidence in and out of the gym: When you hit weightlifting goals and see progress this will build up your self-confidence in all areas of life.

Drawbacks of Following HIT Workout Routines

Although HIT workout routines are a proven training style, they may have some drawbacks.

  1. This workout routine requires complete mental focus to push the workouts to the limits.
  2. Having a training partner may be necessary to see success with HIT.
  3. If you’re someone who likes high-volume pumps and training for 2-3 hours a day this is not for you.
  4. Some argue the low volume may not be enough to stimulate a natural bodybuilder to grow.

Final thoughts on the Dorian Yates Workout Routine

Dorian Yates is a coveted Mr. Olympia who has gone down in bodybuilding history.

With six Olympia titles under his belt, he is praised by other bodybuilding legends like John Meadows, Jay Cutler, and Lee Haney.

This is well earned if you ask me.

It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about working out.

His workout routine is intense and designed to help build mass without spending your whole day in the gym.

Think you’ve got what it takes?

Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at edecremer@wildnswole.com!