Dorian Yates's View On What's Wrong With Modern Bodybuilding
Dorian Yates Gives His Honest View
Dorian, what do you like about modern bodybuilding, and what don’t you like?
It’s a bit difficult for me to find much about modern bodybuilding that I do like. Let me start with what I always loved the most about bodybuilding, which was the challenge of training. Even though I no longer train very heavy anymore and it’s not so relevant to me personally, bodybuilding to me was all about the gym. The stage and the actual competition part of it was really so minor for me. You were up there briefly, once or maybe twice a year. I used contests as a focal point to get into peak condition. My passion was always in training as hard and as heavy as I could, to push myself past previous limits again and again. That attitude used to be very common among bodybuilders. Do people love training the way they used to? For the most part, I don’t think so. We used to talk about new training methods and get excited about trying them out in the gym. We took pride in overcoming the physical and mental challenges necessary to rise above the rest of the pack. Now, I hardly hear the current crop of top bodybuilders talk about training with any real passion or enthusiasm. It’s just something they have to do, and don’t really take much joy in.
As far as the physiques of today, I don’t like the general lack of condition. Pro bodybuilders now have gurus and coaches and use a much wider variety of chemical enhancements than what was around 20-30 years ago, yet they very often show up onstage in shitty condition. I look at some of these guys in contest photos and think to myself, if I were that smooth at four to five weeks out, I would be shitting bricks … never mind looking like that the actual day of the show! These men are supposed to be the absolute best in the world, yet amateurs routinely show up in better shape. In fact, the Men’s Physique guys consistently have far superior condition, with ripped abs and serratus. I don’t care for that look personally, but I admire and respect the fact that they at least compete in very good condition. Some will argue that it’s much easier for the smaller guys like that to get in shape. Really? Funny how guys like me, Kevin and Nasser never had a problem getting ripped 20 years ago.Where’s the Excitement?
I also don’t see much of the excitement and rivalries like we had in the old days. I seem to recall more personalities and charisma. With some rare exceptions, the guys today are more on the boring and bland side. Some of this has to be due to fewer people in general finding bodybuilding appealing and gravitating toward it. Many of the guys who would have become bodybuilders 20-30 years ago now get into MMA, CrossFit and Men’s Physique. When you have fewer people taking part in a sport, the quality goes down. But we may just be in a slump. These things go in phases. Boxing had a golden era of incredible champions like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton. Boxing in that time was full of exciting personalities and fierce rivalries, which made that sport much more interesting for its fans. Now boxing is not as high profile as it was.
Did the Internet ruin bodybuilding? Maybe. There’s really no need to attend a contest anymore. You can see photos online almost instantly, if not live video streams. With all the free content on websites and social media, magazine sales are down too. Social media has made it possible for bodybuilders to be famous and financially successful without ever even stepping onstage. You used to have to win major titles to build a career in the sport. Now you just need tons of followers on Instagram and subscribers to your YouTube page. This affects the talent pool as well, since many of these guys with gifted genetics will never even compete.
The whole social media and self-promotion aspect of modern bodybuilding isn’t my cup of tea. I would never have taken photos during my workouts. That would have been too distracting. I was focused on doing the work, and working harder than anyone else. Worrying about how many likes my pictures got or how many followers I had would have taken away from my real purpose as a bodybuilder, which was to be the very best in the world. That’s all just my opinion, as a guy who loved training hard more than anything else. To me, that’s what bodybuilding was all about.