Meeting My Fitness Idols: Dorian Yates & Misha Koklyaev

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Meeting the big personalities that motivate and inspire you and talking to them in person is completely different than simply seeing them in videos or reading about their achievements. I talked about finding people better than yourself in one of my first posts HERE. This past weekend at Europe’s Biggest Fitness Exhibition (FIBO) I had the privilege to meet two personalities that have influenced my training tremendously and have inspired me as a person:

Dorian Yates – 6x Mr Olympia Bodybuilding Legend

Misha Koklyaev – Powerlifter, Weightlifter, Strongman Icon

 

Entering into the „Shadow“ 

Dorian Yates really should not need an introduction. Yet, so many people who are interested in bodybuilding and fitness in general have NEVER heard of this guy. He won the Mr Olympia six times with arguably the most impressive back and legs the world has ever wintessed so far. He used to be called the „Shadow“ as he wasn’t the typical bodybuilder with a huge ego and big sponsors marketing him – quite the opposite! Being more of a introvert with an insane focus on becoming the best in his sport, he would literally work 364 days a year on himself before showing up at the Mr Olympia, crushing his opponents to win the Olympia title and go back home to his hardcore Birmingham „cave gym“ to train for another 364 days. His dominance reigned from 1992-1998.

To me, Yates epitomises true dedication, hard work and consistency that is rarely seen these days where everyone is looking for shortcuts to get instant results and quick fixes.

Inspiration from a Legend

Inspiration from a Legend

I have got an anecdote to share that reassured me why Dorian is so much cooler than most of today’s arrogant bodybuilders who are just so full of themselves:

I was having lunch with a friend of mine at the cafeteria where the private visitors (including all the bodybuilder athletes) got their food. Every once in a while a huge bodybuilder of freakish size would walk past us to join other well-known bodybuilders at one table.

I was pretty excited to see Dorian walk toward our direction in company with his Brasilian wife. She was about to take a random table when Dorian told her to sit at the vacant table right next to us. Dorian kindly greeted me and my friend. The day before, I had taken the picture above where I got to ask him a few thought-provoking questions about his interview on the London Real Podcast which probably made him remember me. Anyways, with Dorian and his wife next to us we got chat and laugh a bit as he revealed to us how his Ayahuasca experience (i.e. psychedelic plant ceremony in the Amazons) got him puking and shitting and that he therefore prefers smoking pure DMT (Dimethyltryptamine). Really awesome how you would not expect to hear about such an experience from a former Mr Olympia.

 

The Beast from the East

Furious Russian Grizzly Bear

Aside from Dorian Yates, I got to meet the man experts kindly refer to as the „Beast from the East“ – Misha Koklyaev. Standing at 1,93 m with a bodyweight of 160 kg the guy obviously is a genetic outlier. Standing right next to this huge Russian tank you begin to feel very, very small. After witnessing his strength feats at the FIBO Strongman competition, you incredulously shake your head in disbelief realising he just walked 20 m with a frame weighing 500 kg on his back.

The cool thing about Misha and most of the Strongman guys is that they are so relaxed and laid back. As opposed to the isolated bodybuilders with popstar-like status, Strongman guys will happily chat with visitors and they all seem like a big family of huge bears that just want to lift heavy shit.

Misha definitely has the most amusing humour of all. I couldn’t resist sharing the video below where he shows his viewers how he celebrates a non-competition day. Freaking HILARIOUS!

 

Opinion on Steroid Usage

Make no mistake, both Dorian used to be and Misha still is steroids. Does this make them bad? Does this mean they don’t work hard enough and need to take steroids? In my humble opinion, steroids aren’t worse than alcohol, tobacco or any over-the-counter drugs. Just because the last three are legal doesn’t mean they are good. Alcohol is definitely responsible for a great number of death-related events worldwide than steroids will ever be. I mean steroids are simply exogenous hormones that allow you to recover better so you can work out more often.

Go watch Dorian’s take on using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs HERE. I like to associate the whole steroid thing to the metaphor of a Big Elephant in the room that is avoided despite everybody knowing about it. Nobody is willing to openly discuss it in public the way Dorian does.

Does this mean I am in favour of using steroids? Yes and No. If you want to become an elite athlete in any competitive sport these days, you will simply need to use them if you want to compete with the best. It’s not just bodybuilding where steroids are used. Any sport (football, baseball, cycling, track & field etc) you can think of, athletes take steroids and will continue doing so. The real problem starts when amateur weekend warriors start using them excessively with no intention and no genetic predisposition to compete at elite level in their sport. Most steroid users are amateurs and these are the people that need help from public authorities. Don’t chase Lance Armstrong for using EPO etc when virtually each cyclist during his era used them.

 

Who are your idols (also non-fitness related)?

What is your opinion on steroid usage nowadays?

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  • http://twitter.com/CriticalMAS Michael Allen Smith

    Fitness idols: Laird Hamilton and Evander Holyfield.
    Steroid thoughts: http://criticalmas.com/2012/02/my-thoughts-on-steroids/

    Congrats on meeting Dorian. He used HIT training.

  • Stephan R

    MAS,

    I realise that HIT doesn’t have an exact definition but this is what I think:

    I would be careful to associate Dorian Yates too much with the idea of HIT training as practiced by Mike Mentzer or Doug McGuff. If you look back at his training protocol, he would train 4 x week, often using a few warm-up sets before going to failure on his working set. Also, the HIT community (including yourself) tend toward a slower cadence (e.g. 5/5) than Dorian practiced. He also used dropsets – not a popular practice among today’s HIT community.

    But I definitely agree with you, Dorian’s training was still ridiculously HIGH INTENSITY. With his training partner (Leroy Davis) there is just no way your workout wouldnt be intense:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKnNpi81cCs