I have a 29″ waist, but my goal is to keep packing on as much size as I can to all my bodyparts. My friends warn me that I’m getting too big and am destroying my symmetry and balance. I train because I truly love iron-jaw workouts, but are they ruining me?


During my six-year reign as Mr. Olympia, critics relentlessly savaged me for my “unaesthetic” physique. My mass and muscularity, they said, destroyed my symmetry, balance, and proportions. My “lines” did not “flow”.

Have you noticed that they said the same thing about Ronnie Coleman, eight-time Mr. Olympia and one of the biggest bodybuilders ever to take the stage? Follow such carping to its source, though, and in nearly every case, you will find an undersized competitor or a mass monster who can’t match Coleman.

Try as we might to refine our sport, it remains one of massive muscle, and the bigger, the better. That’s not to say that bigger does not also have to be as good in terms of symmetry, balance and proportion; however, bigness is not the opposite of those three.

I guess it’s time for me, one of the most “unaesthetic” bodybuilders in history, to give you a short course in the true meaning of the terminology of aesthetics. Symmetry means one side is shaped the same as the other side — its mirror image. Balance means the mass of one side is equal to that of the other, even though their shapes, or symmetry, might differ. Proportion is nothing more than the relativity of parts and has nothing to do with either symmetry or balance.

Phil Heath

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Kevin Horton / M+F Magazine

Kevin Horton

Technically, then, if your only concern is with symmetry, you can be shaped like a bowling ball or a cigar and still be symmetrical. If the right side of your body is shaped like a boulder and your left side is shaped like a flagpole, you’re still balanced, as long as both sides weigh the same. A cockroach has perfect proportions—for a cockroach, that is—even though its proportions are not the same as a human’s. Likewise, bodyparts of different people need to have different ratios that comply with that individual’s unique weight, height and skeletal complex.

Nowhere in any of these, though, does an increase in size change the term. Add more mass, and the object can still be symmetrical, balanced and proportionate, just bigger. And different.

Throughout my bodybuilding career, I had a singular focus: to make every muscle in my body as massive, hard and defined as possible. I would wager that Lee Haney and Coleman had the same goal during their careers. My thought was that if I trained every muscle in the same relative manner, to the same degree of fatigue and with the same intensity—regardless of whether it was legs, back, abs, biceps, soleus or supraspinatus—they would all grow symmetrically, balanced and proportionately.

Instead of trying to change or control my natural aesthetics, I fueled my passion for training as hard as I could and simply made sure I treated each muscle with equal respect and attention. I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent doing that, and I believe my muscles have, too. If some say my symmetry, balance and proportions suffered in the process, I can retreat with embarrassment behind closed doors—where I have six Sandow trophies to keep me company.

Dorian’s Symmetry Schematic

Achieving overall aesthetics and balance requires the right amount of attention to every major bodypart. Here’s a breakdown of how Yates routinely attacked each.

 MUSCLE  # of Exercises   Total Sets   Working-Set Rep Range
 DELTOIDS   5   9    8-10
 TRAPS   1   2   10-12
 TRICEPS   3   6    8-10
 ABS   4   6   12-25 
 BACK   6   10    8-12 
 CHEST   4   9     6-8 
 BICEPS   3   5    6-8 
 QUADS   3   8   10-12 
 HAMSTRINGS    3   4    8-12 
 CALVES   2   3   10-12 

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