What defines a champion?
Most people we look up to as champions are no different than us.
If so, what is in them that was given to them or that was cultivated that enabled them to become a champion?
In the case of Dorian Yates, it was the gift of good genetics and a strong mindset that was recognized and trained methodically and mercilessly to excel in the sport of bodybuilding.
Dorian recognized that he had a strong mindset even when he was young, but that Dorian Yates mindset of a Champion was forged into a mental fortitude like no other through losses, hardships, and a grand vision of being the best in the world.
We are going to take a trip into the mindset of Dorian Yates to understand what separated him from the rest.
1. Fending for Himself
Dorian Yates lost his father when he was 13 years old. He moved with his mother to Birmingham which is the 2nd largest city in the United Kingdom. When the man whom his mother was assigned to marry also died, his mother opted to move to the countryside while Dorian chose to remain in Birmingham.
Left to make decisions for himself and without a father figure for guidance, he got with a group of young people and was arrested and sent to the Whatton Youth Detention Center for vandalism at the age of 18.
He realized that he didn’t belong with the people at the prison. He started lifting weights at the detention center and quickly realized that he was the strongest among the inmates and had the best physique among them. Dorian Yates saw something of potential and decided to stop messing around and transform his life.
Note: The mindset of Dorian Yates started to come to the fore when he was left to himself and to do something to change his life.
2. Living with a Purpose
Dorian Yates had to figure out bodybuilding all by himself. He learned to eat, train, sleep, and structure his life around the sport.
Though he had no big dreams of becoming Mr. Olympia when he started training, he thought that winning the British Championship would be something special.
Dorian started working towards this purpose each day.
Note: Having a purpose makes life worth living. Once Dorian Yates figured out his purpose, his actions followed to help achieve it.
3. Analyzing and Moving Forward
The Dorian Yates training style, a form of High-Intensity Training (HIT) also known as Dorian Yates Blood and Guts training came into being by carefully analyzing workout routines and noting the body’s progress.
Dorian Yates realized that the more he trained his progress slowed down. But, if he trained less with high intensity, he started to grow. This became the hallmark for the Dorian Yates workout routine which involved 4 days of working out for a maximum of 40-50 minutes per day.
While most of his competitors were spending almost 3-4 hours every day at the gym, Dorian was spending only 3-4 hours per week and at the same time was making more gains than the rest.
Note: As much as having the talent and the work ethic are important, if you’re not savvy, you’re not going to be the best in the world. Dorian Yates knew this and made sure everything he put into his vision helped it and was not wasted. Dorian had full control over his body and the gains he was making.
4. Small Goals to Achieve Big Goals
Dorian Yates did not look at the finish and gasp at the amount of work that had to be done to get there. Instead, he broke down his big goals into small goals that could be accomplished every week and month.
A 10 lbs increase in bench press every month would be a huge 120 lbs increase at the end of the year.
Dorian Yates logged down every workout he did from 1983 to 1997. That was the dedication of a champion.
You can get the Dorian Yates Training Journal with every workout between 1895 to 1990 on Amazon.
Before every workout, he would take out his notes from the previous week and see what he did then. He wanted to improve on his previous week’s performance and would visualize himself going through the workouts before even going to the gym.
Note: Your goals should scare you. However, you shouldn’t be too scared to not do the work. Break down the scary goal into small ones you can achieve every week or month. Keep the big goal in the background and focus on the small goals before you. Do the work and make achieve the small goals. Keep going and before you know it, you will be on your track to achieve what you’ve set for yourself.
5. 100 Percent Dedication and Tunnel Vision
Dorian Yates ate, lived, and slept like a bodybuilder, thinking about nothing else except being the best in his sport.
There was not an ounce more that he could have given at the gym because he left it all out on every workout session.
The insane level of dedication and tunnel vision of Dorian made him make huge gains year after year that astounded his competitors. It also gave him the power of knowing that nobody worked harder than him and that there was nothing more he could give to what he was doing.
Note: Do not half-ass anything. Either do or do not. There is no try. The Dorian Yates mindset of giving it 100 percent without holding anything back will make you feel powerful at the end of the day.
6. Nobody Works Harder Than Me!
After winning the Night of Champions in 1991, Dorian Yates targeted the Sandow Trophy. In his first Mr. Olympia contest in the same year, he faced the reigning undefeated champion, Lee Haney who was vying for a record eight Mr. Olympia title.
Dorian Yates had looked up to Lee Haney all through his training and years of competition. Dorian started training in 1983 and Lee Haney won his first Mr. Olympia title in 1984. Now, he was up against his idol whom he was looking up to as he was moving up the ranks. And, he had to change his mindset.
I had to change my mental approach from, “Wow, it’s Lee Haney he’s Mr. Olympia” to “No, no, no. Hold on. It’s two arms, two legs, lifts weights, and one thing I can guarantee, he does not train as hard as me, he does not dedicate himself as much as me.” – Dorian Yates
Dorian Yates knew that he could not have given an ounce more to his effort at the gym and with the lifestyle he was living. That made him feel powerful.
Check Out: Dorian Yates Quotes
Though Dorian beat Lee Haney in the muscularity round, Lee was a seasoned veteran who presented his aesthetic physique with a polished presentation to win the Mr. Olympia title. However, he did not want to face Dorian Yates again and retired undefeated with eight Mr. Olympia titles.
Note: Do not be astounded by the competition or competitor. If you’ve given everything you’ve got and could not have given anything more, you can be the best in the world.
7. Afraid to Take the Foot off the Pedal
While the Californian bodybuilders enjoyed their time in the beaches and partied, Dorian Yates got back to work at his basement gym in Birmingham in England.
He was afraid to take the foot off the pedal because he thought that he could lose it all.
As the Dorian Yates HIT training continued year after year, Dorian continued making remarkable gains year after year that blew his competition. He won the Mr. Olympia title for the first time in 1992 and repeated it with a 12 lbs increase in mass in 1993.
The notorious Dorian Yates Back Workout made him the indomitable king in back poses where his huge and solid back dwarfed his competitors on stage. Again, the Dorian Yates mindset knowing fully well that he gave everything he had at the gym made him powerful.
Dorian Yates had a bicep injury in 1994 but worked through it to retain his title. He tore his triceps in 1997 and still won the Mr. Olympia title. But, Dorian knew fully well that he could not train to 100 percent of his ability with his injuries. This made him rethink his dedication to being number 1 in the world. Dorian Yates’ mindset was that if he couldn’t give 100 percent, then it was not possible to compete with his competitors who were all fierce in their own right.
8. Redefining Life
A lot of bodybuilders fall prey to the public image of them being a big guy and find it hard to get over it when they have to walk away from the sport of bodybuilding.
For Dorian Yates, he lost his purpose once he stopped competing. He didn’t know what was next and so he went through a time of clinical depression.
However, Dorian realized that he had to shed the image of him as being a bodybuilder, and instead of looking at what he had lost, he started to look at what he had gained.
He had more time to do the things that he couldn’t do when he was competing and on a strict regimen. Dorian partied, traveled around the world, and began exploring and understanding more about himself.
He has since then taken up Yoga and focuses more on functional fitness to help him in his day to day activities. Dorian is a smoker of cannabis and goes on retreats where he connects with himself on a spiritual level.
From being a bodybuilder, Dorian Yates has moved on and learned to let go and appreciate the world around him and has found new purposes in his life which include growing his nutrition supplement company, DY Nutrition, and taking care of himself and those he cares about.
Note: Once you realize that your mission is over, you tend to fall into depression only because you haven’t figured out your next mission. Move on to your next mission and work towards making that happen. There are mountains to scale and worlds to conquer out there. Do not limit yourself. Set goals and go after them.
9. Freedom is not giving a fuck
Dorian Yates believes that freedom is not giving a fuck. According to him, one should not be constrained by what others think of them, instead one should act the way one feels is right without worrying about the opposition.
Because no matter what opinion one holds, there is always going to be some opposition to it. Hence, Dorian Yates breaks free from people and opinions and enjoys his freedom by not giving a fuck about what anybody else thinks.
The development of this mindset has enabled Dorian to be happier, enjoy life more, smile more, and live a more fulfilled life.
Retracing the mindset of Dorian Yates from being a young kid with big dreams left all by himself to make it happen to becoming a 6-time Mr. Olympia winner leaving the sport due to injuries and redefining life, it is clear that the strong mindset that he developed during the years of sacrifice in the gym, saying ‘no’ to social life, and focusing solely on the one goal he had, made a huge impact on the person he later became.
It was through recognizing the potential, deciding to do the work, analyzing the progress, breaking down large goals into small goals, committing 100 percent to the process, giving everything he got, and afraid to take a break that Dorian Yates transformed himself from being a clueless teenager sent to prison in 1981 to becoming a multiple-time Mr. Olympia winner and one who pursues his goals every day.
We believe anybody can be the best in their chosen profession if they find it, do the work, analyze, set goals, commit, give everything they’ve got, and do not stop just as Dorian Yates did.