IFBB

Olympia Legend: Chris Dickerson

This accomplished opera singer is possibly the least-talked-about Mr. O in history, but not for lack of achievement.

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Olympia Legend: Chris Dickerson
Mike Neveux

From 1981 to 1983, three men held the title of greatest bodybuilder in the world for a single year. The middle man in that span was Chris Dickerson, possibly the least-talked-about Mr. O in history, but not for lack of achievement. Dickerson began a competitive career that started in 1965 and ended in 1994. Along the way he won 24 contests (11 in the IFBB). He won the Sandow at age 43 and remains the oldest Mr. Olympia of all time. Retiring briefly after his win, Dickerson returned in 1984, and his last open pro show was the 1990 Arnold Classic, where the 51-year-old placed an astonishing eighth. Still not finished, Dickerson donned the posing trunks for a final time in 1994, placing fourth at the Masters Olympia. The man known for his diamond calves and elegant posing was also an accomplished opera singer and remains an active part of the bodybuilding industry.

CHRIS DICKERSON SNAPSHOT

  • BORN | Aug. 25, 1939
  • HEIGHT | 5'6"
  • WEIGHT | 190 pounds
  • MR. OLYMPIA | 1982

"As a competitive bodybuilder, I would only add eight to 12 pounds onto my body during the offseason. While my fast metabolism allowed me to stay relatively lean year-round, I simply didn’t like the extra pounds around my waist. Interesting, I think, how your body looks bigger when you weigh less. Besides, a lot of added pounds during the offseason have to be shed anyway in getting back into shape. So, why put all that stress on the heart by adding 40 or 50 pounds, only to take it off again, and have your weight fluctuate up and down like a yo-yo?" ~ Chris Dickerson

Chris Dickerson was probably the most assiduous student of back development out of any of his peers. He had to be, he explains, because, “I had certain natural talents for bodybuilding, but the ability to develop an Olympia-sized back was not among them.” With concerted attention to long stretches and strenuous squeezes at the top of his pullups, as well as full extensions and peak contractions during various rowing movements, he completed his package and left no room for doubt in claiming the Sandow.

Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness

DICKERSON TALKS BACK

  • Use weight for the last two or three sets of pullups.
  • For pullups, raise your body only by contracting your lats, not by pulling yourself up with biceps power.
  • For vertical pulls (pullups, chins, pulldowns), squeeze and flex all those individual muscles in your upper and middle back, contracting them against each other until they burn; it’s the only way to add separation and muscularity to your upper back for that all-important rear double-biceps pose.
  • Add deadlifts to your workout every other week; they’re essential for erector thickness and back depth.
  • For any rowing movement, let your shoulders be pulled all the way forward, for maximum lat extension. As you pull backward, try to touch your scapulas together, for more detailed development.
  • Continuous tension is the most important training principle. Use it for everything.
  • Prioritize weaker bodyparts by training them first. 

CHRIS DICKERSON BACK WORKOUT

  • Wide-Grip Pullups* | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 10-15
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows | SETS: 4-6 | REPS: 8-10
  • Lat Pulldowns (behind the neck) | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
  • One-Arm Cable Rows | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
  • Seated Pulley Rows | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
  • Deadlifts** | SETS: 4 | REPS: 6-10

* The last two or three sets are weighted.

**These are performed every other week. 

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