As the moniker 'the shadow', given him during his competitive bodybuilding days, suggests, six-time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates, could be regarded as the kind of competitor who, though always ready to defend his title, would materialize as if from nowhere to completely surprise everyone with what he had worked tirelessly in the deep dark depths of his Temple training facility to create: an ultra massive physique, huge from all angles, which redefined ripped conditioning and heralded in a new term: 'granite hardness'.
Credited with ushering in a new trend of extreme conditioning and size, thereby setting a formidable bodybuilding benchmark for others to follow, Dorian would never cease to shock and awe with the muscle density his physique displayed at its best. Always a larger competitor with excellent proportions for one of his size, there was never any doubt, to the objective, impartial observer anyway, that the UK residing Dorian would become one of bodybuilding's best, a fact reinforced upon his taking second at his pro debut, the 1990 Night Of Champions, with virtually no publicity and little hype surrounding his name.
The stunning runner-up finish at his debut coupled with the previously unseen conditioning and size he presented strongly positioned Dorian as a front-runner for the 1991 Mr. Olympia, a title held by eventual eight-time champion Lee Haney. Proving his supporters right, Dorian placed second in a closely fought battle with Haney, an act that, upon Haney's subsequent retirement from bodybuilding, signalled the Englishman's arrival as the man to beat in 1992.
And so it was. With his first Mr. Olympia win, 1992 proved both a turning point for Dorian's career and for professional bodybuilding as a whole. With unmatched hardness and mass, which prevailed by a wide margin over his nearest competition, Dorian set a challenge to his fellow professionals, one that many accepted but, as history would show, none could win.
If 1992 proved a career turning point for Dorian, 1993 would be his breakthrough year, a period where so widely would he distance himself from the competition that that year's Olympia would be a battle for second place, and his newly unveiled physique would send shockwaves throughout the bodybuilding world.
1993: a year where casual observers of FLEX Magazine would have choked on their protein shakes upon witnessing for the first time the, now famous, black and white gym shots of Dorian posing six weeks out from the '93 Olympia. If - before these photos were released - one had envisaged the ultimate bodybuilding creation that is what they saw in those photos. Needless to say, Dorian won the 1993 Mr. Olympia. He would continue unbeaten for the remainder of his career.
A bodybuilding magician of sorts, Dorian is one bodybuilder who could rise to the challenge, silence his detractors and prevail, even if his training circumstances were less than ideal, and the contest itself was one of controversy. Such was the case when in 1994 and again in 1997 he persevered under what for many would have been intolerable conditions to win two Mr. Olympia titles.
In '94, a few weeks out from his third Mr. Olympia win, Dorian, in performing the exercise credited with building much of his unmatched back thickness, reverse grip bent over rows, discovered he had torn his left bicep. Still able to train over the remaining weeks before the show, the damage being more psychological than physical at that point, Dorian prevailed over Shawn Ray at that year's Olympia to take yet another crown.
Fast forward to 1997 and Dorian is training at his usual haunt, his popular Temple Gym in Birmingham England, this time performing the old-fashioned barbell pullover/press, an exercise responsible for adding more triceps and back mass than possibly any other. On the fourth rep the snap could be heard from the other side of the gym: Dorian had torn his left triceps.
Vastly more painful and restrictive compared to the biceps tear was this latest injury, the five-time Mr. Olympia, with his newly torn triceps, faced the possibility of early retirement. However, he continued his dieting and cardio for a further three weeks and competedâ€¦and won his sixth and final Sandow.
Since his retirement there has been much speculation as to the extent and number of Dorian's injuries and the circumstances surrounding his retirement. And those iconic 1993 gym shots are still being spoken of today, such was the profound impact they had on bodybuilders the world over. Wanting to get the inside word on these areas, his thoughts on bodybuilding today and his current training program, I contacted Dorian. The following interview resulted.
[ Q ] The black and white gym photos that were taken of you in 1993 showed a drastic improvement in muscle size compared to 1992, the year you set a new standard for mass and conditioning. What changes had you made to your training program and diet to progress this fast?
Everybody wants to know what I did that year, whether it was something special with training or, more likely some special drugs - that's what the usual conclusion is. It wasn't either of those, although my training did change a little bit - I did cut back on the volume slightly.
The main thing was, I was really still learning how to prepare for a contest and I made a point of recording everything I did and also took pictures every week going into the show (the 1993 Mr. Olympia). What I realized is that for '92 I was in great shape but I was near enough in that shape five or six weeks before the contest and kept coming down in bodyweight, wanting to get harder.
What I realized was happening was that I was just about as hard as I was going to get anyway. And if you are losing more weight at that point, what are you losing? I came to the conclusion that I was losing muscle. Although I was big and shredded in '92, I was competing well below my potential so, with that knowledge and all of my records, I decided the following year I would try to avoid that, basically the over dieting.
So I was able to come in - between those two Olympia's - around 16 pounds heavier. I had a really good year of training so I probably was five or six pounds heavier, which at that level is a pretty respectable amount anyway. The other ten pounds of muscle came from simply not sacrificing it, not deleting it during the dieting process.
[ Q ] How did your training help you to gain those extra five to six pounds you speak of?
Well, there was less volume. Also I got stronger, and was definitely bigger in the off-season. So I had made progress, which I was really pleased with. But that didn't account for the whole 16 pounds difference onstage.
[ Q ] So, for the record, exactly what did you weigh when those 1993 black and white photos were taken?
When those black and white photos were taken I believe I was weighing around 270 (pounds).
[ Q ] Very close to contest shape?
Near enough. I probably needed to trim down a little bit, but that year I actually competed at 257. The year before I think it was 240-241, the low 40s. So there was a big difference between those two years. It seems to me that everybody onstage today is 260 to 270 (pounds). Fifty pounds of that must be bullsh!t. I look at people who claim to be 260. Well, at my best I was 260 and they look like half my size. I just think a lot of people exaggerate these weights.
[ Q ] There is no way of proving it one way, or the other, anyway.
Yes, and at the end of the day it's not a weight contest, it's a visual contest. And it doesn't matter what you say you weigh, if you don't look that big then you don't look that big.
[ Q ] Did you have any idea at the time just how big of an impact the '93 photos would have, even up to the present day?
They were actually for my own records so they were not supposed to be released and that explains why I'm standing there in my underpants and socks. I had just stripped off after training. They were just for my own records to look back on. I took them in the same spot I did the previous year and then Kevin Horton took them in to Peter McGough (former FLEX Magazine and Muscle and Fitness Editor-In-Chief). Of course they became probably the most famous physique photos ever; they are like iconic now.
[ Q ] When were the photos released and what impact did they have on your competition at the time?
They were actually released in FLEX Magazine around the time of the (1993) Olympia. I remember Peter McGough having them in the office about six weeks before the Olympia. He had them almost immediately in his office (after the photo shoot) and made the point of subtly showing them to the other competitors who came to the office, which of course completely demoralized them.
[ Q ] Clearly you yourself knew the amazing progress you had made between '92 and '93 so you would have know that, had this progress been made known, it would have sent shockwaves through the other competitors.
Yes I would have guessed the impact, but it wasn't a plan of mine. It just happened. Of course they did have an impact because Peter McGough told me what the guys were saying, so it was a psychological advantage. It wouldn't matter if they were as confident as h#ll; they still weren't going to beat me. If you undermine people's confidence they turn up at the contest trying to get second place.
[ Q ] And the incredible thing was it wasn't even planned; it had just fallen into place for you.
Yes, well most things about my image are not conceived or planned; it's just me and just the way it is.
[ Q ] Many feel that 1993 was your best competitive year. Would you agree with this?
Well I was injury free, and I think most people look at the black and white photos and say, "F@ck, that's what I would like to look like." From my critical perspective I don't think they were 100 percent contest stage perfection, because I still needed to be a little drier and a little sharper, but most people would be happy with that. Actually, most people told me that I should have come onstage looking like that.
[ Q ] At least as far as fullness goes very few, if any, have shown that kind of size in photos. Do you think, all things considered, your size in these photos has yet to be surpassed?
Yes: fullness, roundness and proportion, it is all there. Just perhaps the degree of granite-like shredded-ness I used to go for was not quite there, but it wasn't far off. But it was definitely better than the condition the guys are coming in these days though.
There is none of that (granite hardness) anymore. Some of the guys who are coming in now are really disappointing, to me anyway. I don't want to single anyone out for criticism; it is across the board. It seems that the guys of the '90s were going much more for condition. It seems now they are just trying to come in bigger and fuller but they have a soft look to them.
[ Q ] It is felt that the sheer level of mass you presented in 1993 marked a turning point for professional bodybuilding, where the more massive physique took precedence, in the judges' eyes, over any competitor less than 250 pounds, ripped. Did you, indirectly, encourage competitors to seek a more massive look, to stay in the game so to speak?
In a sense, yes, because I came in with the kind of size that people had never seen before, but let's not forget that I came in with super conditioning as well. So the thing is, I could have come in bigger as those black and white photos showed. I could have come in at 270-275 still in very good condition, but I chose to come in under that because I chose to be totally shredded.
When I was getting ready for a contest I was not thinking size, I was thinking I want to come in shredded, so shredded that people are going to be shocked. That's the mindset I had. So it is correct to say that I came in with a new level of muscle size, but that was also combined with super conditioning and that's not what's happening now.
I believe in those black and white photos taken six weeks before the Mr. Olympia that I'm in better condition than most of the guys today hit the stage at. It is very disappointing. You see guys in amateur contest who are much better conditioned than the professionals. To me the professionals should be better. Just because they are bigger, it doesn't mean they are better.
[ Q ] So you were aiming for optimal conditioning and the size you were able to maintain pre-contest was a natural consequence of the training you did in the final months and weeks leading into the show?
I trained for size in the off-season, but when it came time to get ready for a contest it was all about coming in shredded. The glutes must be striated, with the lower back shredded, no water anywhere, no loose skin. Like you are covered in cling-film.
[ Q ] For you to drop 12 pounds from 270 back to 257, as you mentioned before, exactly what was lost in the process? It seems to me you were already ripped in the before photos.
There was a little bit of body fat there but it was mainly water, which needed to be dropped for me to get super dry. There wasn't much body fat in those pictures. Just coming in a little dehydrated you can easily lose ten pounds; that's not a lot on a 260 pound person.
[ Q ] Can you describe the circumstances surrounding the '93 photo shoot with Kevin Horton? How did the crew respond to your new physique?
It was directly after my workout and I stood in the same area of the gym I did the year before so we could get a good comparison: same light, same everything.
[ Q ] Were there many people in the gym at the time?
No, it was just a workout. Kevin (Horton) and my training partner were there. I think there were a couple of guys who came to check on my condition. I would usually let a couple of people that I trusted take a look at certain points - around three to six weeks before a contest. But most of the time I was always covered up in the gym.
[ Q ] I'm guessing those who were there were pretty amazed by what they saw.
Yes. And there was somebody there with handheld cam that later put it up on YouTube. They filmed me taking those shots with Kevin.
[ Q ] Kevin Horton recently presented us at bodybuilding.com with a previously unseen picture of you taken by him in 1995. How would you describe 1995 from a competitive standpoint?
Yes I was sent this photo and it looks like I'm backstage at a contest; maybe I did a guest posing somewhere. '95 was a very good year. Obviously I had the bicep injury from the year before but the conditioning at the '95 Olympia was probably superior to '93.
[ Q ] As far as size was concerned, you were consistent in what you brought from Olympia to Olympia?
In '95 I was about the same weight but was a little more defined, especially in the back area with more detail there. So it is a toss up between '93 and '95 as to what was my best year onstage as far, as I'm concerned. But I'm leaning towards '95.
[ Q ] How would you view '94 - the year you tore your bicep - from a competitive standpoint?
That was the year I tore my bicep about six weeks before the contest so obviously it was not ideal preparation. And also I had a stomach bug on the day of the contest so was holding water. So it was not my best year. No.
[ Q ] But nevertheless you did win the contest.
Yes, I won the contest, but I'm just talking from a personal point of view.
[ Q ] We touched earlier on the fact that the physiques of today have become more massive. Would you consider yourself the protagonist for the massive physiques we increasingly saw dominating the bodybuilding stage as the '90s drew to a close or were these larger competitors a natural consequence of the way bodybuilding was headed anyway?
Well this did happen because I pushed the envelope, and once somebody achieves something it becomes more achievable for everybody else psychologically. It takes somebody to break that barrier first. Once Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile then everybody else broke it. It was a psychological barrier.
And this was the same thing with bodybuilding at the time I came on the scene. People will want to step up to what the level was. If you look back to the days of Arnold, there was nobody who had any decent legs. Why? Because the next guy didn't, which made it acceptable.
And then Tom Platz came along and redefined everybody's idea of what a pair of legs should look like. And since then a lot of other guys have managed to build great legs.
[ Q ] However, during your time at the top of the Olympia standings, the guys who tended to come in smaller, men like Shawn Ray and Flex Wheeler, provided some of your toughest competition.
This whole thing just frustrates me. People are saying. "Well, what's in, the big or small physique?" It is neither of them. It is the best physique, the best combination of all of the factors: size, symmetry and conditioning. Put them all in a pot and mix them up together to see who has the best combination.
Now that Dexter Jackson has won the Mr. Olympia and he is a smaller guy, is it the year of the smaller guy? No, that is bullsh!t. It was all about who was the best guy on the day. But all things being equal, usually the bigger guy is better. But obviously on that day they weren't because Jay Cutler was not in good shape, so Dexter beat him.
If Jay Cutler was in the condition Dexter was in I believe he would have won the competition because he has the advantage in muscle size. On that day he got beaten in the conditioning department. It just takes someone with a combination of all of the factors.
[ Q ] In saying all of this, Jay Cutler won the Mr. Olympia in 2007, when many felt that Victor Martinez should have. His poorer conditioning clearly did not work against him on that occasion.
Maybe some of the judges were afraid to mark down a current Mr. Olympia. I didn't think he deserved to win; I thought that Victor should have won and that was pretty clear. But not everyone saw it that way I guess, including the judging panel.
[ Q ] Well in that case, is the hype that is built up around a certain competitor important in terms of their onstage success, do you think?
Well, it's going to have some influence because judges are human. But how much influence it (the hype) has is overrated. When I first came to the IFBB from England, everyone over here was telling me I wouldn't do well because I didn't know any of the judges, I had no publicity: all negative stuff.
I then went to the Night Of Champions, with 28 competitors, and placed second even though nobody had a clue who I was. I still got second because my physique spoke for itself, and they couldn't deny it. Had I had a lot of publicity would I have gotten first? I don't know, but maybe. But it could have an influence. Let's just say you are an inexperienced judge judging the Olympia for the first time and Jay Cutler is the reining Mr. Olympia; you might think to yourself well he doesn't look great, but hey, who am I to say.
So maybe there is a degree of that. But I do believe he got lucky and got by on that in 2007. And I really thought he must have learned his lesson now and the next year he will come in looking the sh!t and totally shredded. But he didn't. He made the same mistake again and came in out of shape. And he couldn't get away with it twice.
[ Q ] Well after the backlash from his first title defense the judges weren't going to give him first again if he made a similar mistake.
Yes, well a lot of people weren't happy with what he presented in 2007 so the writing was on the wall if he didn't come in shape.
[ Q ] There is talk by your detractors that you yourself were beaten on at least two occasions - over the six years you held the Olympia title. Do you feel that there was a particular Olympia where it could have gone either way between you and your closest competitor?
That may be but I won the contests. In '94 I was not in my best shape and in '97 I was not in my best shape, but you can't punish somebody for not being in their best shape if there is nobody there good enough to beat them. So the fact I didn't come in at my best shape doesn't mean I shouldn't have won the contest if I was still better than the guy who was second.
I believe in '94 second place was Shawn Ray who was in shape, but the guy has got a lot of weaknesses, which he wouldn't admit himself. He is a very small guy with narrow shoulders, his calves are not very good, and his quad shape is not very good. He has his strong points, as well, but I believe I was good enough to beat him with the quality that I had, even though I was not at my personal best.
[ Q ] So all things considered and despite your injuries you still had the complete package over the guys you beat in '94 and '97?
Yes, I was a degree or two off my normal condition but my normal condition is better than anyone else anyway. You cannot punish a guy for not being at his best. They should lose if there is somebody else better there. And I don't think that was the case.
[ Q ] And likewise in 1997, when Nasser El Sonbaty came second?
Nasser from the front was phenomenal and in some poses from the front there is no doubt he beat me. But from the side he is very narrow and from the back there is no comparison really. You have to look at it logically. Let's say he beat me in the front relaxed pose and the front double bicep.
I will give him this. Did he beat me in the side triceps? No. In either of the back poses? No. Abs and thighs was close. So no, I don't think he deserved to win although he did look very good that year. But he looked good from certain angles. Some physiques you can't judge from a photograph; you have to be there.
Everyone who sees my physique in person always comments on how much better I look in person than in pictures. That's because my physique is thick and developed from all angles. From the front, from the back, from the side, standing on my head: it doesn't matter. Everywhere is fully developed from every angle. And this might not show in one-dimensional photos. When you turn somebody to the side and they are twice as thick as everyone else, then that shows up.
[ Q ] I'm not sure if you are aware but there has been an ongoing, long running debate on the Internet as to who was the better bodybuilder at the 1997 Mr. Olympia: you or second placed competitor, Nasser El Sonbaty? Could you set the record straight on this topic from your perspective as a six-time Mr. Olympia champion? In your view, who was the better bodybuilder on the night and why?
I wasn't aware of this debate, as I don't spend a lot of time looking into these kinds of things. These sites are usually for guys who live at home with their mum and don't have anything better to do. But (concerning a comparison with Nasser) I was not the best from all angles and not from the front - the front double biceps and relaxed pose.
He probably beat me in those poses, but the rest? No. But that might be the only thing that people look at when they view the comparisons: the front double biceps or just standing there relaxed.
[ Q ] There is speculation that you experienced up to seven separate muscle tears throughout your career. Could you put an end to the guessing and tell me exactly how many muscle tears you sustained before your retirement in 1997?
In '97 I had two, what I would call very serious injuries. One was a bicep tear in the (muscle) belly of the bicep that dramatically altered my bicep, making it shorter, but it didn't greatly interfere with my training. That occurred in '94. And 1997 is when I tore my triceps tendon almost completely off, three weeks before the contest, which made getting ready for the contest an absolute miracle in the sense that I was able to even get ready for the show.
At this point I wasn't training at all and every day I was spending a couple of hours on this machine that was pumping blood around my arm to try and get the swelling out and get the bruising down. So obviously it was less than ideal. So those are the two major ones. I have had small muscle tears or strains, which I am sure most athletes have experienced, but nothing that was major or that required surgery.
[ Q ] Was there a quad tear at all?
I had a small quad tear but there was no major detachment or anything like that. There are different grades of muscle tear, but mine was simply a few fibers that had become damaged and a little bruising. I couldn't train quads for a few weeks but it wasn't a major tear.
[ Q ] Was each of your tears a so-called freak accident or were they the result of systemic failure of some sort?
Yes, it was me trying to train gung ho all the time with no break and especially before a contest when your food intake is limited, you are sleeping less and you are probably slightly dehydrated, this increases the risk of injury.
If I could do it again I would back off a little bit on the craziness when getting ready for a contest, because you are not going to build muscle anyway with insufficient calories to do that. So it is just a matter of maintaining (at that point). But I'm not really good at knowing where 85 or 90 percent is. I only know where zero and one hundred is.
[ Q ] So we couldn't really call any of these injuries a freak accident in the sense that they could have been avoided had you lessoned your intensity at certain stages during your pre competition preparation.
The bicep one was simply me training too heavy during the contest phase with a risky exercise - the reverse grip bent over row - and the triceps tear was a result of ongoing inflammation in that tendon all year round, which was also exacerbated by bad advice given by a surgeon who gave me a cortisone injection which reduced the inflammation but further weakened the tissue.
So I had bad advice also. But both injuries, it should be noted, were in the contest preparation phase, near the contest when you are more vulnerable. If I could do the whole thing again I would be a lot more careful, at least at that point.
[ Q ] And both injuries were on the left side. Is there any significance to both being on the same side?
Yes, both on the left side. Once you get one injury, and since your body works as a whole unit, it tends to knock on and affect everywhere else. Other places have to compensate and so on. I also have problems with my left shoulder now, all these years later.
So it's all on the left side and I'm sure it is all connected. You may have noticed it with Ronnie, even though he was denying it, he had a triceps tear and a lat tear on the one side; that's why he didn't look good in 2006 and 2007.
[ Q ] You wouldn't put Ronnie's injuries down to some kind of nerve impingement?
No, he had a muscle tear in both the triceps (one side) and in the lat muscles (same side) and that is very visible to me because I'm a f@cking expert on muscle tears. And what you would have noticed is the whole muscular balance and symmetry of his physique was kind of droopy.
Once you get a couple of injuries like that it just affects the way your body works when you are training. It doesn't work the same anymore. It's trying to overcompensate all of the time and you run the risk of sustaining injuries elsewhere, further along the chain.
[ Q ] Following the 1997 Mr. Olympia did you decide then that you would retire from competitive bodybuilding, or was it something you had planned in the lead up to the contest?
It was always a point of pride for me; it wasn't about making dollars. It was a matter of personal pride in that I wanted to be the best that I could be. After the '97 Olympia I had surgery to reattach the (triceps) tendon but after about six months it was obvious to me that it was permanently affected in terms of its mechanics and strength.
I couldn't do the pressing movements for chest without experiencing an imbalance, which could have led to another injury. There was no point competing again if I wasn't going to be at my best; I knew that I had to be honest with myself and say that it was not going to be possible. I was time to move on while I was still ahead.
[ Q ] Prior to the triceps tear and after the bicep tear had you contemplated retirement?
I was just taking one year at a time, but to be honest, coming up six years at the top and with the approach that I take, which is uncompromising - I had no social life - and the fact that I was not doing things halfway, but 100 percent, it does get tiring after a while. So in '97 I was wondering if I would do another one, but I hadn't decided.
[ Q ] Throughout those six years of competing at the top, was your focus 100 percent on the Olympia at all times?
No - It was 110 percent! I wouldn't even go out for dinner or to the movies because I could possibly get back too late; I had to get a certain amount of sleep and get up at a certain time. It seems extreme but it worked for me, right?
[ Q ] Absolutely. Touching on your triceps injury again, how on earth were you able to do any kind of training considering the pain it would have caused?
The answer is that I didn't train for the last three weeks before the 1997 Olympia. I was barely able to do a double biceps pose; I was very timidly tying to do it in the pose down, because normally there is a bit of bumping and pushing and I had to be especially careful.
I didn't want anyone to bang my elbow. Apparently it was literally just hanging on by a thread. I had trained right up until three weeks out (from the Olympia). I was in good shape and had three weeks to go; you are not going to disappear in three weeks if you don't train. I just did my cardio and diet, but obviously you would like to train.
[ Q ] As you were standing onstage posing at the '97 Olympia was there any fear in your mind that you could severely aggravate the injury and cause more serious damage with the sustained posing required of your?
Oh definitely. I couldn't really pose properly and as aggressively as I normally would, as I didn't want it (the torn triceps) to pop off and roll up my arm. And it affects your persona and confidence. Normally I was very confident and very aggressive.
Usually something like this affects people psychologically and in the end they just give up. So that year I didn't have that level of confidence, just because of what was happening.
[ Q ] But you had made the commitment so did the best you could.
Yes. When it happened three weeks out I didn't think I would be able to do the contest. It was really probably the most painful thing that has happened to me. You could hear it (the triceps tendon snapping) across the gym as well.
People heard it when it went. Right then I thought that's it, I'm not going to be able to do it. Then I thought well don't give up until you know it is impossible. So up until a few days before the contest I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it or not.
[ Q ] At the time of the triceps injury occurring, and for the record, what exercise were you doing and how many repetitions had you completed before it went?
I was doing the pullover and press, an old triceps exercise where you do a pullover onto your chest before pressing it up. It was during the stretching and pulling part of the pullover, three or four reps into it. The rep before it went I felt a bit of pain and then on the final rep it just went 'bang'. It felt as if someone had hit me on the elbow with an axe.
[ Q ] Was the weight very heavy?
It wasn't anything super heavy but obviously the tendon was weakened and the subsequent cortisone shot weakened it further. And it (the initial incident) was enough for it to snap.
[ Q ] As we know, one injury would sideline the average bodybuilding competitor, yet you were able to not only compete but also win at the highest professional level. Was there any doubt in your mind that you would pull it off in 1997?
When you think about it logically, when you have been training for so long and you don't do any resistance work for three weeks, I'm sure you may lose a degree of mass but it is not that noticeable. It's more psychological.
You're not training and lifting so you therefore think everything is going to disappear, but you are not going to atrophy too much. Maybe, in my case, a small degree but not enough to offset the fact I had been training my @ss off all year round.
[ Q ] Are you still training hard today Dorian?
Yeah, I'm training three times a week, including legs. There are a lot of exercises I can't do, a lot of pushing exercises because my shoulders are damaged. For chest I will use cable crossovers, some light dumbbells. For deltoids I will do mainly laterals and front raises, not a lot of pressing movements. I still train fairly hard. I'm about 250 (pounds) and I just maintain that with quite low body fat.
[ Q ] You no longer use the high intensity, more balls to the wall approach?
I still keep my workouts fairly brief at around 40 minutes. I will do some cardio on the other days - two to three days a week incorporating different things. Sometimes I do some martial arts; sometimes I will do biking or kettle bells. Just mix it up.
[ Q ] I recall seeing you kicking the heavy bag on YouTube.
Yeah, just messing about on the bag. I also do a bit of pad work sometimes with my son who is a black belt kick-boxer. I'm not that good, but it is good to have something else to do for fitness.
[ Q ] And your son doesn't kick dad around too much.
He tries not to.
[ Q ] You were always known for, and as you alluded to earlier, training in an uncompromising fashion using High Intensity Training (HIT) methods as a cornerstone of your bodybuilding success. Would you recommend this style of training to others and what advice would you give those who are considering following your training approach?
My injuries were due to the fact I was training very intensely and very heavy before a contest. I would just advise people to back off a little bit when getting ready for a contest. No forced reps and negatives and all of that kind of thing. You can overtrain in terms of intensity, especially when your food intake is limited.
[ Q ] So in the off-season this style of training would work better.
Definitely. Yeah. With certain intensity techniques it is best to limit their use to certain weaker body parts or to shock the body into growth.
[ Q ] Revisiting what we discussed earlier, what are your thoughts on the current state of professional bodybuilding? Do you think the physiques have improved or regressed compared to the 1990s?
I don't know, maybe I'm coming across like and old-timer by saying it was better in my day, but there doesn't seem to be the interesting personalities today like there were before. When I was competing there were a lot of guys with different distinct images and personalities.
Now it seems to me that today it is the same old thing - nothing like a Flex Wheeler, with his personality and super small joints, Shawn Ray, with his mouth, and me with my unique personality and different training approach. It just seems that today everybody is doing the same thing. Yeah they look great (today) but I don't think you get the fanaticism that you had back then.
You had a select group of Kevin Levrone fans, Flex Wheeler fans, and Shawn Ray, Dorian or Nasser fans. All these guys were good but they were all different. No disrespect, but you are not going to hear, "I'm a Dexter Jackson fan".
[ Q ] Elaborating on what you said earlier, what is your view on the physiques of today?
The only guy that really impressed me when he was on was Ronnie. I would always look at him and think, "Crap, that is impressive." But apart from that there is nobody there who would beat the guys of the '90s, I don't think.
[ Q ] Dexter Jackson is one competitor of today who is viewed by many as a welcome return to the less massive and more proportioned physique often seen in the '70s and '80s.
Great physique, good package with nothing really lacking and always in pretty good condition: but no wow factor. When you think of Mr. Olympia, to me it is Sergio, Arnold, Lee Haney, Ronnie and myself: huge, standout guys. Impressive. I like Dexter; he's a good guy and no disrespect. He was the best guy on the day.
[ Q ] In saying all of this, who do you feel could potentially win the 2009 Mr. Olympia, regardless of whether Dexter brings his best package or not?
Well potential and achieving potential are two different things, right?
[ Q ] Well, if we consider all of the factors - mental, physical, track record of success - who do you think will win?
Well mentally I don't know the guys well enough to comment on that but I was impressed with Dennis Wolf in 2007 and I thought he could be a future Mr. Olympia definitely, but he failed to improve, and may have even gone back a step, in 2008. So that remains to be seen.
But he definitely has he physical structure. Victor Martinez would be the next guy with the potential physically to win the contest. He has stepped up with the goods so we know he can do it. He got his act together in 2007 and came in good condition, which he had maybe struggled a bit with in the past.
So hopefully he has a game plan together; so there is another guy who could be Mr. Olympia I think.
[ Q ] Thank you for your time Dorian. One final question: based on your successful bodybuilding career what is the most important lesson you have learned about yourself?
I think it would be that if you focus on something strongly enough and if you believe in it and work towards it, it will happen.