The Dorian Yates Chest Workout!


Every bodybuilder wants a huge chest! I think we have Arnold Schwarzenegger to blame for this. He had the greatest chest of all time and everyone wants to be like their hero Arnold!

The truth is there are many effective ways to train. However, one of the best ways to train for a huge chest is with Dorian Yates’ high-intensity chest routine.

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Dorian Yates Chest Workout
  • Part 2: The Dorian Yates Training Split
  • Part 3: Dorian Yates’ Chest Training Tips

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about Dorian’s chest routine and how he built one of the biggest, strongest chests in bodybuilding history.

Dorian Yates was one of the most dominant bodybuilders of all time. He won the Mr. Olympia competition 6 times in a row from 1992 – 1997 and was known as one of the first true “mass monsters.”

Unlike a lot of professional bodybuilders Dorian was every bit as strong as he looked. Dorian could incline bench press 425 pounds for 6-8 reps with perfect form!

Dorian believed the best way to train for hypertrophy was to perform 1 all-out working set per exercise. Dorian used 4 exercises per chest workout to hit his muscle from many different angles but he only performed 1 set to failure on each of these exercises.

Here was Dorian’s exact chest workout. Check it out:

Dorian Yates Chest Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline bench press, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure
  • B1: Flat machine press, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • C1: 30 degree incline DB fly, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure**
  • D1: Standing cable crossover, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure**

**Perform 1-3 forced reps with help from your training partner after reaching failure.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Dorian only counted his 1 working set per exercise. Of course that doesn’t mean he just loaded up the incline bench press with 400 pounds and started repping it out! Dorian made sure he performed plenty of warm up sets for each exercise.

For his first exercise Dorian performed 4-5 warm up sets before his 1 working set. For his other exercises he just performed 1-2 “feeder” sets to get ready for his working set.

Here is what Dorian’s warm up sets looked like for his first exercise, the incline bench press:

  • Warm up set #1: 135 pounds x 8 reps
  • Warm up set #2: 225 pounds x 5 reps
  • Warm up set #3: 315 pounds x 3 reps
  • Warm up set #4: 405 pounds x 1 rep
  • Working set: 420 pounds x 8 reps

For each exercise Dorian trained all the way to failure. This means he literally “failed” on his last set! In other words he attempts a rep that he knows he cannot complete on his own and gives it his maximum effort anyways!

On most exercises Dorian also performs several “forced reps.” This means that Dorian’s training partner helped him lift the weight up through the concentric range so that he could lower the weight back down on his own.

Dorian performed 1-3 forced reps on most exercises after reaching failure. This was Dorian’s way to get a growth response from just 1 working set per exercise.

Dorian modified his chest workout throughout his career. When he first started bodybuilding he actually relied on the decline bench press as his “meat and potatoes” chest exercise. He felt the decline angle hits the chest much better than the flat or incline angle.

Here is a chest workout featuring the decline bench press that Dorian coached an up-and-coming bodybuilder through. Check it out:

Dorian Yates Chest Workout #2

  • A1: Decline bench press, 1 working set of 6-8 reps to failure**
  • B1: Hammer strength flat press, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure****
  • C1: Incline DB fly, 1 working set of 8-10 reps to failure****

**Perform a double drop set. Perform 6-8 reps to failure, drop the weight, rep it out until failure again, drop the weight, rep it out until failure again, done!

****Perform 1-3 forced reps after reaching muscular failure

Here is the exercise video for this workout:

This routine features slightly less volume than Dorian’s original chest routine (3 exercises vs 4). This is a great option if you have average recovery ability but still want to train like Dorian.

Of course we can’t talk about the Dorian Yates chest routine without talking about his training split. Dorian trained each muscle group once every 6 days using a unique bodybuilding-style training split. Check it out:

Dorian Yates’ Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Biceps
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Shoulders / Triceps
  • Day 5: Back / Rear Delts
  • Day 6: Off
  • Day 7: Repeat!

As you can see Dorian trained his chest once every 6 days together with his biceps. This is an extremely underrated training split. In fact I have never seen anyone besides Dorian Yates use it as written!

One of the things that I really like about Dorian’s training split is it lets you train each muscle group once every 6 days. In my experience most trainees have a hard time building maximum muscle mass when they train each muscle group once every 7 days. When you train body parts once every 6 days it is much easier to start stacking up productive workouts.

Now let’s look at 3 of Dorian’s advanced chest training tips:

  • Dorian trained with intensity!
  • Dorian trained with progressive overload!
  • Dorian trained with controlled negatives!

Check it out:

Tip #1: Dorian Trained With Intensity!

If you want to get the most out of Dorian’s chest workout then you are going to have to train with some out-of-this-world intensity.

Just think about it: you are only going to perform one working set per exercise. That means you only have one chance to achieve a “growth stimulus” from that exercise. You really have to push yourself all the way to failure and maybe even beyond failure with forced reps to stimulate growth from that one set.

Just take a look at Dorian performing the hammer strength chest machine:

Just look at his face on those last few reps! I can practically feel my pecs cramping just watching him in this video! Now THAT is how hard you have to push yourself when you use a “one set to failure” workout like Dorian’s chest routine.

Be honest with yourself: do you REALLY have what it takes to train this hard? It’s fine if you don’t. Just remember that if you want to use Dorian’s chest workout that you have to be ready to go to hell and back on your one working set.

If you don’t have what it takes then pick a different routine! Dorian doesn’t call it “Blood And Guts” training for nothing!!

Tip #2: Dorian Trained With Progressive Overload

I am constantly amazed at the number of trainees who just “wing it” in the gym. They have no long-term plan for how they are going to build muscle mass. They just show up in the gym, do a bunch of half-assed exercises and go home.

Dorian knew that if he wanted to be the best bodybuilder in the world then he had to train with heavier weights over time. And the best way to do this was to use a training logbook.

Before every chest workout he looked back at his logbook to see how much weight he lifted last time. If he incline bench pressed 420 pounds for 7 reps last time then he knew he had to shoot for 8 reps this time.

Having that specific goal for every workout allowed Dorian to train harder than anyone else in the world. Using a logbook is a great idea regardless of what program you use. However, if you are going to use Dorian Yates’ “Blood And Guts” program then then logbook becomes absolutely essential.

Tip #3: Dorian Trained With Controlled Negatives

You may not know this but the lowering or negative phase of the rep is what actually builds the most muscle. This has been proven over and over again by the scientific literature on weight training.

If you watch Dorian’s videos closely you will see that he ALWAYS controls the lowering phase on all of his reps. He wanted to overload the muscle when he was lifting the weight and when he was lowering it.

Just listen to this video of Dorian talking about the importance of the negative phase of the exercise for building muscle:

I couldn’t have said it any better myself! In fact the primary reason Dorian performs forced reps on his chest exercises is to be able to overload the negative phase of the rep.

Just think about it: after you reach failure on an exercise your concentric strength will be exhausted but your eccentric strength will not. If you had to you could still lower the weight under control a few more times.

This is what makes forced reps so effective for building muscle: they let you reach failure on both the lifting AND the lowering phase of the rep! Now THAT is a powerful stimulus for muscle hypertrophy!

Conclusion

There are many ways to train for a huge chest. In my opinion Dorian Yates’ chest routine is one of your best options. It works extremely well for intermediate and advanced bodybuilders who love training to failure and pushing themselves to their limit on every set.

You may not build a chest as big as Dorian’s but if you work hard I am confident you will see some of the best chest gains of your life!

“Always discover your vision, and the rest will follow.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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