In our March 2008 issue we ranked Dorian Yates’ back as the second best of all-time behind Ronnie Coleman’s, but we hedged our bet with the assertion that a strong argument can be made for Yates as number one.

A six-time Mr. Olympia (1992-97), Britain’s “Dozer” was renown for his high-intensity training methods: low volume and maximum effort, pushing working sets to failure and beyond. He shares with us his ideas about back training and includes a typical routine from his Olympia reign. (Only working sets in that routine are noted; he typically did one or two warmups for each exercise, as well.)


* “If I have a secret for width, it’s Nautilus pullovers. I really feel these in my outer lats. I alternate doing these one workout and Hammer pulldowns the next.”

* “During barbell rows, I keep my body at 70 degrees to the floor. Staying more upright places less strain on the lower back and puts you in the strongest position to work lats. I try to keep my upper body as still as possible but some upward sway is necessary to use maximum weights.”

* “I find going underhand isolates my lats more, but others might find it works their biceps too much. Do what works best for your body.”

* “I ended my Olympia back workouts with deadlifts and usually stayed around 405. That’s less than I used for barbell rows, but I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I was just trying to tie my back together, top to bottom, after all the punishment I put it through.”


Hammer Strength pulldowns 1 8-10
Nautilus pullovers 1 8-10
Underhand barbell rows 1 12
Hammer Strength one-arm rows 1 8-10
Underhand cable rows 1 12
Back extensions 1 8
Deadlifts 1 8