Retro Athlete: Dorian Yates

The colossal calves that helped Yates win six Sandows and revolutionize bodybuilding.

There are a few things you should know about Dorian Yates. First—six Sandows. He won the Mr. Olympia annually between 1992–97. Furthermore, the ’90s are regarded as the greatest era in bodybuilding history, and Yates utterly dominated during that decade. Incredibly, over his Pro League career he won 15 out of 17 contests— and the two losses were seconds in his pro debut and his Olympia debut. So there’s that. Then there’s the fact that this mercurial Englishman, nicknamed “The Shadow” for his proclivity for secrecy, adopted a widely discredited training system, high-intensity training (HIT), and made it his own. In revitalizing HIT, this six-time Mr. O revolutionized workout splits and body-part routines.

Now let’s get to his physique. Yates altered the size standards of bodybuilding. Before him, 240 was considered huge. But the 5'10" Yates tacked about 30 pounds on to that. In particular, he upped the baseline for legs and back. His lat width and density helped him win poses against the likes of Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, and Kevin Levrone and kept each year’s Sandow in his hands and out of theirs.

FLEX FACTOID: After reading everything he could on exercise science, Yates settledon HIT in 1983 before doing his first bodybuilding workout.

Then we get to his calves. It was his colossal lower legs that gave him that finished look. Like his back, Yates could use them in almost any pose to exert an advantage over his challengers. When you look at the legendary “socks pics” that FLEX first published in 1993, what you see, even from the front, are two of the best calves ever to stride a posing dais. They told the bodybuilding world that this Englishman in his dungeon gym wasn’t skimping on anything. He trained calves as he did everything else: HIT-style with minimal volume and maximum efort. The result was two unbeatable “cows” that helped Dorian Yates dominate and revolutionize bodybuilding. - FLEX

 YATES ON CALF TRAINING

■ “Don’t assume you should train calves twice as much as other body parts. I train mine once per week, like every body part.”

■ “I always work the bigger muscle, the gastrocnemius, first with standing calf raises. Then I do seated calf raises for the soleus. Once the gastrocnemius is fatigued, it’s easier to hit the soleus more directly.”

■ “I’m not a big believer in changing foot positions to work diferent areas of the calves. A straight-ahead stance works best for me because that’s the position through which you can apply the most power and have the greatest range of motion.”

■ “I can’t overemphasize the importance of a full range of motion. And never use momentum. Don’t bounce. Keep squeezing your calves throughout each rep.” - FLEX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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