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Dorian Yates: Defying Limits and Dominating the 1994 Mr. Olympia Despite a Bicep Tear!

Bodybuilding Legend Dorian Yates Reflects on Competing with Bicep Tear to Claim 3rd Mr. Olympia Title

The demands of a Mr. Olympia winner are immense and Dorian Yates learned that multiple times throughout his career. In a recent Instagram post, Yates looked back on competing in 1994 Mr. Olympia with a problematic bicep tear, which he said was caused by performing a set of underhand barbell rows.

Yates became an all-time great with shocking muscularity, dry conditioning, and his signature sculpted back. En route to building himself into a household name, Yates routinely tested himself against bodybuilding royalty, such as eight-time Mr. Olympia winner Lee Haney, Flex Wheeler, and Kevin Levrone.

Made famous for his all-out training approach, inspired by techniques founded by Mike Mentzer and Arthur Jones, Yates reached the top of the Open class. He secured a total of six Mr. Olympia titles but these trophies were not without sacrifice.

Just recently, Yates opened up about winning his final Sandow in 1997 with a 90% torn tricep. Now looking back once again on his six-year Mr. Olympia reign, Yates rewound to 1994, six weeks before he defended his championship status, and reflected on a bicep tear that nearly stopped him from reaching his full potential.

Having performed the exercise (underhand barbell rows) without issue for ten years, Yates said the injury was caused by bodybuilding prep stressors like operating on a calorie deficit. “Here’s a shot from 1994! This was taken just four days after I tore my bicep! I actually tore it six weeks prior to the Mr. Olympia and it happened when I was performing a set of underhand barbell rows. I’d performed this exercise for nearly 10 years without any issues. But when you’re so depleted and in such a severe caloric deficit, it’s near impossible to lift the same amount of weight and carry the same amount of intensity as when you’re in the off-season. I saw my physio Stuart Cosgrove and thankfully, it wasn’t a complete rupture and it would heal itself.” Dorian Yates / Instagram

Initially, Yates thought about dropping out of the contest but changed his mind. “I did think to drop out of this contest initially, literally my first thoughts were “what about the Olympia?” But I took a little time to manage the situation and came to the conclusion that I’d been dieting for weeks, was in terrific condition, and logically thinking that if I could win the poses where the biceps aren’t a focal point, then I could win the contest overall. I could afford to lose a couple of poses like the front double biceps for example. Mathematically speaking, there was no way I’d lose on the back focus poses and side triceps too. I believed I could still compete and win! I do also think that my triceps injury in 1997 was linked to this. When you have a big injury, you’re more susceptible to further injuries occurring as the whole chain of movement can shift slightly which can cause some imbalances. On the day of the contest, I felt sick and bloated when I woke up. Just a small stomach big or even a cold can make a noticeable difference in a physique that is super lean as the inflammation causes water retention. And to top it all off, my tan was starting to run during the long pre-judging too. But by the evening show, I had sweated out a lot of water and fixed the tan situation, making a noticeable improvement. The title was defended and I gained my third Olympia crown.” Dorian Yates posted.

After a storied career, Yates remains in remarkable shape at 61. In addition to physique updates and training techniques, Yates recently took part in a health check and V02 Max test, which informed him that he had a ‘biological age’ of 30-39. ‘The Shadow’ has also taken considerable measures to preserve his health lately. Like many other bodybuilding legends, Yates has implemented a series of stem cell therapy treatments. After picking up numerous injuries during his tenure, Yates said he’s already seen results. In June, he mentioned that his shoulder is feeling better and he has increased energy.

Yates isn’t the only dominant champion from the Olympia stage to persevere in spite of a bicep injury. Last December, four-time Classic Physique Olympia Chris Bumstead defied the odds and performed on stage with a bicep tear and still managed to defeat Urs Kalecinski and Ramon Queiroz.

Yates shows that fighting through injuries on stage is possible even at the highest level. His ability to come back after setbacks is just another example of why he was such a dominant Mr. Olympia champion.

Published: 12 August, 2023 | 4:12 PM EDT

Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn, the founder of "The Body Builder" and formerly Body Guider, isn't just a business owner – he embodies the spirit of holistic fitness. With a degree in sports nutrition, Stan blends academic knowledge with practical expertise, ensuring that his gym members receive not just physical training but also nutritional guidance tailored to their unique needs. Over the years, Stan's passion for fitness has extended beyond the gym's walls. As a fervent sports enthusiast, he understands the intricacies of athletic performance and is dedicated to helping both amateur athletes and fitness novices achieve their goals. Under his leadership, "The Body Builder" has grown from a mere gym to a comprehensive fitness hub where every member feels empowered, educated, and inspired. Stan's commitment to excellence, combined with his in-depth understanding of sports nutrition, makes him a revered figure in the fitness community.

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