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Dorian Yates Leg Workout (The AbsoluteGuide for Mass)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: August 7, 2023

From 1992–97, Dorian Yates was a six-time Mr. Olympia title winner, beating several bodybuilding legends like Kevin Levrone and Flex Wheeler.

After I compared their physiques, I knew what made him stand out: his legs.

Having trained many bodybuilders over the past ten years, I was curious about what made Yates’ legs stand out from the rest.

So, I spent a month looking through his interviews and videos as part of the research for this article.

So, read on as I will share how you can train like Yates for your next leg day.

Quick Summary

  • Dorian’s leg workouts mostly use machine exercises, with the exception of RDLs, stiff-legged deadlift, and kneeling leg curls.
  • Yates focuses on low-volume and high-intensity leg workouts that train every part of the leg muscle till failure.
  • Dorian consumed seven meals a day to keep his body nourished and metabolism ticking.

Dorian Yates Stats

  • Age: April 19, 1962 (60 years)
  • Height: 5’9” (175 cm)
  • Weight: On-Season(260 lbs) / Off-Season(290 lbs)
  • Arms: 21”
  • Waist: 34”
  • Chest: 57”
  • Legs: 30”
  • Calves: 22”

What Does the Dorian Yates Leg Routine Comprise?

Two people showing off their leg muscles in the gym side by side

The Dorian Yates leg routine comprises low-volume, high-intensity exercises that are mostly machine-based.

Dorian prefers using machines like hack squats, leg extensions, leg curls, and leg presses instead of traditional barbell exercises like squats.

Quad Exercises

Dorian worked his quads with three machine-based leg exercises: leg extensions, leg presses, and machine hack squats.

He trained in the 8–12 rep range, making sure the last reps brought his quads to muscle failure.

Here’s how the six-time Mr. Olympia winner worked his quads:

  • Machine leg extension: 1 working set x 8–10 reps
  • 45-degree leg press: 1 working set x 10–12 reps
  • Hack squat: 1 working set x 8–10 reps

Hamstring Exercises

A person doing hamstring workouts in the gym

For his hamstrings, Dorian trained in the 6–8 rep range, ensuring the last reps brought him to muscle failure.

While Dorian focused on using machine-based exercises for his quads, he used the barbell RDLs for his hamstrings.

Here’s his hamstring workout:

  • Prone leg curl (lying leg curl): 1 working set x 6–8 reps
  • Romanian deadlift or stiff leg deadlift: 1 working set x 6–8 reps
  • Kneeling leg curl: 1 working set x 6–8 reps

Calf Exercises

  • Standing calf raise: 1 working set x 10–12 reps
  • Seated calf raise: 1 working set x 6–8 reps

Workout Split

A person doing deadlifts in the gym

Dorian trained four times a week, dedicating each day to exercise a different muscle group.

He used the following workout split, which helped him achieve the Mr. Olympia title six times:

  • Day 1: Chest and biceps
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Cardio
  • Day 4: Shoulders and triceps
  • Day 5: Back and rear delts
  • Day 6: Cardio

On day 7, Dorian would repeat this cycle again.

Training Principles

A person doing deadlifts in the gym

Here are four training principles Yate applies to his leg day workouts:

  • Machine-focused exercises: Dorian heavily relied on machines for his intense leg workouts, like the leg press, leg extension machine, and hack squat machine.
  • Single working sets: While most bodybuilders perform multiple sets per exercise, Dorian prefers putting all his effort into one set.
  • High-intensity training style: Dorian trains every set till muscle failure, after which he engages in forced reps to ensure his muscles have given everything they have [1].
  • Heavy calf training: Yates treated his calf muscles like his other leg muscles and worked them till failure. This is what gave him bulging calves to match his quads.

Diet Plan

  • Meal #1 (breakfast): One cup of oatmeal, 10 egg whites, and a protein shake
  • Meal #2: Protein shake
  • Meal #3: Post-workout drink for carbohydrates
  • Meal #4 (lunch): 2 chicken breasts, rice or potatoes, and green veggies
  • Meal #5: Protein shake
  • Meal #6 (dinner): 12 oz. filet mignon (or another protein source), rice or potatoes, and green veggies
  • Meal #7: Half cup oatmeal, 6 egg whites, and protein shake

Diet and Nutrition Principles

Close up shot of protein-filled steak

As a bodybuilder, Dorian’s aim was to put on as much muscle mass as possible.

So he consumed a large amount of protein every day, going as far as consuming four protein shakes a day.

He supplemented the gaps between his meals with protein shakes and included them in his first and last meal.

He kept carb consumption to a minimum, eating only two meals of rice or potatoes during the day as well as drinking a simple carb drink after workouts to raise insulin levels.

Dorian’s goal was to keep his metabolism ticking, which is why he ate seven meals a day to keep his body replenished through his routine exercise [2].

“Complex carbohydrates are always best, except, again, after a workout where you could take simple (sugar) carbohydrates to get an insulin spike.”

- Dorian Yates

Did Dorian Take Supplements?

Yes, Dorian took supplements. He especially relied on protein powder to supplement his diet.

Additionally, he took the following supplements to fuel his leg workout and recovery:

  • Creatine
  • Pre-workout
  • Glutamine
  • BCAAs


How Did Dorian Yates Train Calves?

Dorian trained his calves once a week, like every other muscle. He first worked the gastrocnemius with standing calf raises until they were fatigued. He then followed this by training the soleus with seated calf raises.

How Much Could Dorian Yates Squat?

Dorian could squat 405 lbs (183.7 kg) for seven reps, followed by 425 lbs (192.8 kg) for four reps. This is according to his journal entry on March 1, 1985.

How Many Hours a Day Did Dorian Yates Train?

Dorian Yates trained for only one hour a day, four times a week. This was comparatively less compared to other bodybuilders. Dorian experimented with different training styles and claimed that working intensely for an hour was the most effective for him.

Get Ready To Build Your Legs Like Dorian Yates

We wouldn’t recommend Dorian’s leg workout for beginners. But if you’re an intermediate or elite lifter looking to break a plateau, Dorian’s leg routine might be the switch you’re looking for.

Since his training style demands heavy muscle failure, we recommend replenishing your muscles with a high-quality protein powder.

We tested all these powders, and I personally take these after a heavy leg day so I can recover faster and perform better on my next workout.


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