Ronnie Coleman is a certified legend of the bodybuilding world. Thanks to his 26 IFBB titles and 8 Mr Olympia titles, Ronnie is widely regarded as the most successful bodybuilder in history. In this article we’re going to be taking a look at one of the typical training routines Ronnie followed during his career.
Weight: 300 lb
Born: May 13, 1964
Ronnie Coleman Biography
Born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1964, Ronnie started his athletic career as a middle linebacker for Grambling University’s football team. He left University with a degree in accounting, but rather than work as an accountant Ronnie became a Police Officer. In 1990 Ronnie competed in his first amateur bodybuilding competition, the Mr Texas. He won and later turned professional in 1995.
His first major bodybuilding competition win was the 1998 Night of Champions. 1998 was also the year that Ronnie won his first Mr Olympia title, beating Flex Wheeler into second place. This would mark eight years of dominance for Ronnie and would not end until he finished second to Jay Cutler in 2006. He placed 4th in the 2007 Mr Olympia and never competed again.
Ronnie Coleman Training Routine
Ronnie followed a fairly typical bodybuilding split, where he would train different muscles on different days. Monday was back, biceps and shoulders. Tuesday was legs. Wednesday was chest and triceps, and Thursday started the cycle again.
Remember that Ronnie was a professional bodybuilder (with all that this entailed), thus if you’re a natural lifter you would struggle to complete this program. It would make more sense to only train 3-4 times per week max, rather than the six times per week that Ronnie trained (unless you’re an advanced bodybuilder).
Deadlifts, 4 sets – 6-12 reps
Barbell rows, 3 sets – 10-12 reps
T-bar rows, 3 sets – 10 – 12 reps
One-arm dumbbell rows, 3 sets 10-12 reps
Barbell curls, 4 sets -12 reps
Seated alternating dumbbell curls, 12 reps
Preacher curls, 12 reps
Cable curls, 12 reps
Military presses, 4 sets – 10-12 reps
Seated dumbbell press, 4 sets – 12 reps
Front dumbbell press, 4 sets – 12 reps
Squats, 5-6 sets – 2-12 reps
Leg presses, 4 sets – 12 reps
Lunges, 2 sets – 100 yards
Stiff-leg deadlifts, 3 sets – 12 reps
Seated hamstring curls, 3 sets – 12 reps
Bench press, 5 sets – 12 reps
Incline barbell press, 3 sets – 12 reps
Flat bench dumbbell press, 3 sets – 12 reps
Flat bench flyes, 4 sets – 12 reps
Seated cambered-bar extensions, 3 sets – 12 reps
Seated dumbbell extensions, 4 sets – 12 reps
Close-grip bench press, 4 sets – 12 reps
Barbell rows, 5 sets – 10 – 12 reps
Low Pulley Rows, 4 sets – 10 – 12 reps
Lat machine pulldowns, 3 sets – 10 – 12 reps
Front lat pulldowns, 3 sets – 10 – 12 reps
Incline alternating dumbbell curls, 4 sets – 12 reps
Machine curls, 3 sets – 12 reps
Standing cable curls, 4 sets – 12 reps
Seated dumbbell press, 4 sets – 12 reps
Front lateral dumbbell raises, 3 sets – 8 – 25 reps
Machine raises, 3 sets – 8 – 25 reps
Leg extensions, 4 sets – 30 reps
Front squats, 4 sets – 12 – 15 reps
Hack squats, 3 sets – 12 reps
Standing leg curls, 3 sets – 12 – 15 reps
Lying leg curls, 4 sets – 12 reps
Incline dumbbell press, 4 sets – 12 reps
Decline barbell press, 3 sets – 12 reps
Incline dumbbell flyes, 3 sets – 12 reps
Decline dumbbell press, 3 sets – 12 reps
Skullcrushers, 4 sets – 12 reps
Machine pressdown dips, 4 sets – 12 reps
Seated tricep extensions, 4 sets – 12 reps
Donkey raises, 4 sets – 12 reps
Seated raises, 4 sets – 12 reps
Crunches, 3 sets – failure
Ronnie Coleman Interview with Muscle and Brawn
Ronnie Coleman is arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all time, winning 8 Mr Olympia’s in a row from 1998-2005 – bringing him level with Lee Haney as the most successful Mr Olympia of all time. At one time Ronnie Coleman held the record for the most wins as an IFBB pro – with 26 titles (although now this has been surpassed by Dexter Jackson).
Ronnie Coleman’s had an illustrious bodybuilding career, winning titles left, right and center. Arguably his biggest greatest rival, Jay Cutler, even said he only defeated Ronnie in 2006 because the former champ didn’t come in at his best…pretty much insinuating that Ronnie was always superior throughout their battles.
Due to injury Ronnie Coleman retired from bodybuilding – he’s since had two hip replacements, and has serious damage to the intervertebral discs in his back, at times being unable to walk; and spending months in recovery from expensive surgeries. If you’ve watched Ronnie train in his peak you’ll see the intensity at which he trains, and the weight he lifted…such as squatting 800lbs!
Like lots of bodybuilders who lift like this – careers are going to be short, look at Dorian Yates, who too trained in a similar fashion to Ronnie.
After Ronnie’s decline due to age and injury he still wasn’t sure whether he would compete again, back in 2010 he gave an interview with Muscle & Brawn…
Exclusive: Interview with Ronnie
Ronnie Coleman talks about the possibility of a comeback, speaks about his lengthy layoffs from training, and reveals the possibility of a new supplement line.
Muscle and Brawn: Tell us about your comeback. Is it going better then expected, worse then you expected? And what do you say to the people that are counting you out?
Ronnie Coleman: I’m not even sure about a comeback, that’s something I’d love to do but don’t know if its possible. I would have to get in some tremendous shape for the Olympia stage. It’s very tough on an old man like myself. I’ll let them count me out all they want, just don’t try to take one of the 8 Sandows I’ve already won, then I would get highly upset.
Muscle and Brawn: Ronnie, you mentioned that you take several months off from training each year. Mentally, what is this like for you? Are you still hungry to hit the gym during this time off, or is a welcomed break?
Ronnie Coleman: I would love to train all the year round but I’ve convinced myself that this is really prolonging my bodybuilding career because I want to do this until the day I die – bodybuild, not compete.
Muscle and Brawn: How long do you plan on competing, and what are your plans post-retirement?
Ronnie Coleman: I have no idea of how long I’ll compete or if I’ll ever compete again. Post retirement I’d like to start my very own successful line of excellent supplements.
Since That Time…
Ronnie launched his own supplement company Ronnie Coleman Signature Series.
It also seems he was correct about the ‘successful’ part too, with his brand winning Bodybuilding.com’s new brand of the year award in its opening year, and has since grown to be one of the top brands in the industry.
In 2018 a new Ronnie Coleman film was released on Netflix, titled ‘The King’, which shows Ronnie as he is now. You get to see the downs of his back crippling injury, the ups of his career, and how he’s rebuilding his life outside of bodybuilding.
It’s an emotional documentary and very different from his early 2000 docs. It’s a valuable lesson in how life changes, and how to adapt to crisis and rebuild i.e. in Ronnies case he went from 8x Mr Olympia, to back crippling injury, to eventually rebuilding himself through business and coming to accept his new purpose in life.
In the documentary, Ronnie says that he still trains, although with much lighter weights, to prevent aggravating his spine (using machine exercises, supported bench exercises, etc).