We recently wrote about bodybuilding titan Dorian Yates’ tip for reaching goals he shared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Because Rogan pumps so much wisdom out of his three-hour segments, we decided to revisit Yates’ appearance to shine some light on a big problem in fitness and martial arts.
The problem? Overtraining.
For many, this sounds counter-intuitive. Getting results in the gym or on the mat is all about hard work, right? Whoever puts in the most work should get the best results.
Well, yes and no. In principle we agree. After all, Conor McGregor is famous for saying, “There is no talent here. This is hard work.” With that said, we human beings need to work in tandem with our biology to maximize our progress.
Take Dorian Yates for example. This is a man who, at the time he competed, was the best in the world at his sport. The blood and sweat with which he coated gym floors over the years earned him six consecutive Mr. Olympia titles. You’d think a guy with his resume was throwing weight around several hours a day, right?
So wrong. According to Yates, he was averaging 45 to 50-minute workouts four times per week. Huh? For those of you reaching for your calculators: That’s less than four hours of training per week. How does that earn a man six of bodybuilding’s most coveted titles?
Simple. By giving his muscle fibers the time needed to heal properly, his muscles demonstrated a stronger reaction to the training. Yates illustrated this phenomenon with an analogy he’s fond of using at his seminars:
“If you get a bit of sandpaper and you rub it across the palm of your hand, and it’s kind of bloody, if you leave it and let it heal up, what’s gonna happen? The skin’s gonna develop back a little bit stronger, a little bit thicker than before because it wants to protect against that stress. . . But if you go and you make your hand bloody, and before it’s healed up again you go and rub it again, what’s happening? You’re not getting anywhere, you’re just going to have a bloody hand.”
Rogan’s response says it all: “You think you’re being tough, but you’re actually just being silly.”
Of course, every second of those 45-50 minutes was intense. As Yates reminisced, each working set “went to absolute failure and even beyond” with assisted reps and extra negative reps. And, like all athletes at the top of their game, Yates wasn’t without his skeptics. When people would see his workout on paper and refer to it as “nothing,” he would reply, “Okay, but come and do it. Come and do it and tell me if you want to do more when we’re finished.”
Peak athletes and determined individuals do whatever it takes to get results. Sometimes that means training smarter, not harder.
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