Guide to Dorian Yates Back Workout Routine

Muscular man showing off physique with hands on head

Few bodybuilders have been able to match the physique of Dorian Yates. If there was one body part that got him the most attention, it would be the Dorian Yates back. Curious how he did it? Give this Dorian Yates workout a try to see if you can match his results.

Dorian Yates is arguably one of the best bodybuilders of all time. Not only did his physique push the boundaries of what was thought to be possible, but his secret training style was often the subject of much gossip among other competitors.

People knew he trained, but they didn’t know how, which earned him the nickname of “The Shadow.” Compare this to Arnold showing everyone his training days in the documentary Pumping Iron. One of the most sought-after pieces of information was the Dorian Yates back workout; everyone wanted to know what he did to develop that awe-inspiring back. Lucky for you, we have the Dorian Yates workout that he used to develop his trophy-winning back muscles.

Let’s take a look at who Dorian Yates is, the exercises and acute variables he used to win bodybuilding titles, and other Dorian Yates workouts you may not know about.

Dorian Yates and His Bodybuilding Career

Dorian Yates is a professional bodybuilder from England who owned the Mr. Olympia stage from 1992 to 1997, taking home the Sandow or the top prize. Succumbing to chronic injuries, the bodybuilding career of Dorian Yates ended after his 1997 win; however, he remained extremely active in the fitness industry as a fitness writer, workout creator, gym owner, and star of the documentary about his life.

Here are the contest wins of Dorian Yates, according to Mr. Olympia, World Games, and the Dorian Yates website:

  • 1985 World Games, 7th Heavyweights
  • 1986 British Championships, 1st Heavyweight
  • 1988 British Championships, 1st Heavyweight and overall
  • 1990 Night of Champions, 2nd
  • 1991 Night of Champions, 1st
  • 1991 Mr. Olympia, 2nd
  • 1991 English Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1992 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1992 English Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1993 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1994 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1994 Spanish Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1994 German Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1994 English Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1995 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1996 Mr. Olympia, 1st
  • 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1996 German Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1996 English Grand Prix, 1st
  • 1997 Mr. Olympia, 1st

Dorian Yates Back Workout

Going against the traditional idea of high-volume workouts to maximize muscle growth, the Dorian Yates back workout is focused on high-intensity exercises. This means every exercise begins with a warm-up set, and the following working sets are based on using heavy weights and giving it your all, even if the end result is fewer sets and repetitions.

Studies seem to back up this methodology, showing that lifting 80% of your one-repetition maximum (the greatest amount of weight you can lift once with perfect form) is effective in producing muscle growth for beginning and advanced lifters.

The idea for triggering maximum muscle growth is placing consistent stress on the target muscle, forcing it to adapt to the high-intensity workload. Naturally, this must be followed up with an equally intense recovery program.

Exercises Included in this Workout Routine

Ready to get started with the Dorian Yates workout that produced a six-time Mr. Olympia winner? Below, you’ll find the exercises that Dorian used to grow and sculpt his back.

Close-Grip Pulldown: Sit in a lat pulldown machine, securing your legs with the padding. Place your hands at shoulder-width. Brace your core and keep your chest up. Pull the bar down to your chest as you lean back slightly. Make sure you’re bringing your shoulder blades together. Squeeze the lats and slowly return the bar to the starting position. Do not allow the weight plates to touch the stack until you have finished with the workout.

Nautilus Pullover: Brace yourself in a Nautilus machine with your lower back flush against the padding. Step on the lever to bring the bar into position. Secure your hands on the bar above your head, using a shoulder-width grip. Remove your foot from the lever. Tighten your core and focus the contraction in your lats (middle back muscles) as you pull the bar to the front of your body. Pause once the bar is at chest level, squeeze the back muscles, then slowly raise the bar above your head.

Barbell Rows: Hold a barbell in front of you with an overhand grip. Kick your hips back and slightly bend your knees. Keep a neutral gaze and tighten your core. Focusing the contraction in your lats (middle back), pull the barbell towards your upper stomach (solar plexus). Squeeze the shoulder blades together and feel the contraction. Slowly lower the barbell back down, but don’t fully extend your elbows until you finish.

How to perfect the bent-over barbell row >>

Deadlifts: Place a barbell at your feet. Move your feet to shoulder-width, aligning them with the smooth parts of the barbell. Slightly bend your knees and kick your hips back. Hold the barbell using a shoulder-width grip. Bring your chest up and make sure your back is flat. Begin to stand up by straightening the knees. Once the barbell is above the knees, drive your hips forward. Squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement, then slowly reverse the movement. It’s okay to touch the ground with the barbell since a true deadlift begins from a dead stop.

Seated Pulley Row: Brace yourself on a low-pulley row machine. Hold on to the triangle bar in front of you as you tighten your core and straighten your back. Engage the back before starting. Pull the triangle bar into your stomach, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Pause once the bar touches your stomach and squeeze the back muscles. Slowly release but don’t allow the weights to touch until after you finish your last rep.

What the Workout Set Looks Like

Now that you know how to perform the Dorian Yates back workout exercises, let’s set you straight with the proper acute sets and repetitions. Remember that each exercise is comprised of both a warm-up set and a working set. During the warm-up set, you’ll use less weight, but keep the intensity high and focused.

Close-Grip Pulldown
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 2 x 9 – 10

Nautilus Pullover
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 2 x 6 – 8

Barbell Rows
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 2 x 6 – 8

Deadlifts
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 2 x 6 – 8

Seated Pulley Row
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 2 x 6 – 8

What Are Other Famous Dorian Yates Workout Routines?

Although Dorian Yates is famous for his huge and shredded back, he obviously needed more than that to crush it during his bodybuilding career. Below, you’ll find some more Dorian Yates workout routines to help you build a balanced aesthetic physique that’s stage ready.

Dorian Yates Leg Workout

Leg Extensions
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 12 – 14
Working Set: 1 x 10 – 12

Leg Press
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 12 – 14
Working Set: 1 x 10 – 12

Hack Squat
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 12 – 14
Working Set: 1 x 10 – 12

Seated Hamstring Curl
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 12 – 14
Working Set: 1 x 10 – 12

Stiff-Legged Deadlift
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 10 – 12

Calf Press
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 12 – 14
Working Set: 1 x 10 – 12

Seated Calf Raise
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 6 – 8

Dorian Yates Chest Workout

Incline Barbell Bench Press
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Machine Chest Press
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Decline Bench Press
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Incline Dumbbell Fly
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Cable Crossover
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Dorian Yates Shoulder Workout

Smith Machine Shoulder Press
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Warm-Up Sets: 2 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Dumbbell Shrugs
Warm-Up Sets: 1 x 10 – 12
Working Set: 1 x 8 – 10

Conclusion

Dorian Yates, the six-time winner of Mr. Olympia has become a legend in the bodybuilding world. Sure, his wins have brought him plenty of recognition, but the aesthetic quality of his back has drawn an immense amount of attention. By following the Dorian Yates workouts above and pairing it with plenty of sleep and a comprehensive meal plan, you can chase the size and shred off the champion’s back.

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