Ronnie Coleman, The King of Bodybuilding

When it comes to the sport of bodybuilding, there are plenty of legendary names out there that people who aren’t even die hard fans of the sport still know by heart, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Heath. However, one of the most popular and legendary bodybuilders of all time, as well as an 8x Mr. Olympia champion, is Ronnie Coleman.

Below is a full breakdown of Ronnie Coleman’s stats, training, and diet regimens.

Full Name: Ronnie Coleman (Men’s Open Bodybuilder)

Weight Height Date Of Birth
297 lbs 5’11″ 5/13/1964
Division Era Nationality
Men’s Open 1990s, 2000s American

Ronnie Coleman Biography

Ronnie Coleman

Arguably one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, Ronnie Coleman is the definition of a living legend. Born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana, he graduated cum laude from Grambling State University in 1984 with a degree in accounting, but he wanted nothing to do with accounting. He then served from 1989 to 2000 as a police officer in Arlington, Texas, and as a reserve police officer until 2003.

At the recommendation of a friend, Coleman joined the Metroflex Gym, run by Brian Dobson. The two became fast friends and Dobson offered him free lifetime membership if he could train Coleman for the Mr. Texas bodybuilding title that year. Coleman was undeniably the overall winner of the Mr. Texas title in 1990 and this victory inspired him to go continue the bodybuilding journey and go pro.

His professional debut was in 1991 at the IFBB World Amateur Championships and his first win as a professional was at the 1995 Canada Pro Cup. Then after his first place win at the Canada Pro Cup, Coleman’s meteoric rise to fame could not be stopped. He currently holds the record for most wins of the Mr. Olympia title (8 times, tied with Lee Haney) and the most overall wins for any IFBB professional (26 wins).

The Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman Rivalry

Perhaps one of the biggest rivalries in bodybuilding, aside from Phil Heath and Kai Greene, was Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler. Jay has gone on record to state that he was consistently chasing Ronnie Coleman during his reign as Mr. Olympia, and he was always right on Ronnie’s heels. Even when Jay dethroned Ronnie in 2006, he stated that he “didn’t beat the best version of Ronnie Coleman”.

Competition History

Ronnie Coleman has quite the extensive competition history, with plenty of wins.

  • 1990 NPC Nationals, 3rd place (Heavyweight class)
  • 1991 NPC Nationals, 4th place (Heavyweight class)
  • 1991 NPC USA Championships, 14th place (Heavyweight class)
  • 1991 IFBB World Amateur Championships, 1st place (Heavyweight class)
  • 1992 Chicago Pro Championships, 11th place
  • 1992 Night of Champions, 14th place
  • 1992 Mr. Olympia, Did not place
  • 1993 Chicago Pro Championships, 6th place
  • 1993 IFBB Grand Prix France, 4th place
  • 1993 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, 6th place
  • 1993 Niagara Falls Pro, 6th place
  • 1994 IFBB Grand Prix France, 3rd place
  • 1994 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, 3rd place
  • 1994 Mr. Olympia, 15th place
  • 1994 San Jose Pro Invitational, 4th place
  • 1995 Canada Pro Cup, 1st place
  • 1995 IFBB Grand Prix France, 4th place
  • 1995 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 6th place
  • 1995 IFBB Grand Prix Ukraine, 3rd place
  • 1995 Houston Pro Championships, 6th place
  • 1995 Night of Champions, 3rd place
  • 1995 Mr. Olympia, 11th place
  • 1996 Canada Pro Cup, 1st place
  • 1996 Florida Pro Invitational, 2nd place
  • 1996 IFBB Grand Prix England, 5th place
  • 1996 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, 5th place
  • 1996 IFBB Grand Prix Spain, 5th place
  • 1996 Night of Champions, 2nd place
  • 1996 Mr. Olympia, 6th place
  • 1997 Arnold Classic, 4th place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Czech Republic, 4th place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix England, 5th place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Finland, 3rd place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, 5th place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Hungary, 6th place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 1st place
  • 1997 IFBB Grand Prix Spain, 7th place
  • 1997 Ironman Pro Invitational, 3rd place
  • 1997 Mr. Olympia, 9th place
  • 1997 San Jose Pro Invitational, 6th place
  • 1998 IFBB Grand Prix Finland, 1st place
  • 1998 IFBB Grand Prix Germany, 1st place
  • 1998 San Francisco Pro, 2nd place
  • 1998 Night of Champions, 1st place
  • 1998 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 1998 Toronto Pro, 1st place
  • 1999 IFBB Grand Prix England, 1st place
  • 1999 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 1999 World Pro Championships, 1st place
  • 2000 IFBB Grand Prix England, 1st place
  • 2000 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 2000 World Pro Championships, 1st place
  • 2001 Arnold Classic, 1st place
  • 2001 IFBB Grand Prix New Zealand, 1st place
  • 2001 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 2002 IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 1st place
  • 2002 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 2002 Show of Strength Pro Championships, 2nd place
  • 2003 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 1st place
  • 2003 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 2004 IFBB Grand Prix England, 1st place
  • 2004 IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 1st place
  • 2004 IFBB Grand Prix Russia, 1st place
  • 2004 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 2005 Mr. Olympia, 1st place
  • 2006 IFBB Grand Prix Austria, 2nd place
  • 2006 IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 2nd place
  • 2006 IFBB Grand Prix Romania, 2nd place
  • 2006 Mr. Olympia, 2nd place
  • 2007 Mr. Olympia, 4th place

Ronnie Coleman’s Injury

Unfortunately, in 1996, Ronnie had suffered a serious back injury that happened during squatting routine. Ronnie had 800 pounds loaded on the barbell during squats, and it was not just for one rep, he hit it for two. Even though he hit an 800 pound squat for 2 reps, this was what led him to dislocate a disk. He didn’t seek medical attention immediately, instead he decided he would just go over to the leg press, which would change his life forever.

As a result, Ronnie has suffered a very serious spinal problem and also severely injured his back, shoulder, hips, and neck due to heavy weightlifting, and ended up leading to 13 total surgeries. The injury is what really caused him to retire from bodybuilding, as it got to the point where Ronnie says he was in too much pain to continue.

Training of Ronnie Coleman

Though he was known for screaming “light weight baby” before and during each set in the hot Metroflex gym, Ronnie Coleman did not get to the Olympia by lifting baby weight. Ronnie was a powerlifter before a bodybuilder, and he moved some seriously heavy weight.

Ronnie was a big fan of high volume and heavy weight. As far as his workout split, Ronnie actually favored the push/pull/legs split, which is a very popular split to this day, but he had his own take on it, which was pull/legs/push. Here is what that looked like:

Day 1: Back/Biceps/Shoulders (focusing on back thickness, so an emphasis on movements such as rows)

Day 2: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Calves (Full leg day)

Day 3: Chest and Triceps

Day 4: Back, Biceps, and Shoulders (focusing on back width, so an emphasis on movements such as lat pulldowns)

Day 5: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Calves

Day 6: Chest, Triceps, Calves, and Abs

Day 7: Rest

Ronnie also liked to use different exercises on each day, and not just on the back thickness and width days. For example, if he barbell bench pressed on the first chest/triceps day, then on the next one he might have used dumbbells.

Ronnie Coleman Details Diet

Ronnie coleman

Aside from training, diet was another huge part of what really led Ronnie Coleman to the success that he had in the sport of bodybuilding. The amount of sheer muscle mass he had presented on stage, combined with his conditioning, were things that had never been seen before. So, what did he eat to get to that level?

For starters, Ronnie always ate clean foods, with not really any cheat meals. He mainly stuck to lean beef, chicken, eggs, potatoes, rice, beans, and vegetables. And in terms of serving size, he would consume a ridiculous amount of each, but in a very structured way. Sure, for a lot of people this would be too much, but if you want to get big, you have to eat big.

So how much food did Ronnie eat throughout a single day? Six meals a day. And before we do a little more in depth on what his meals consisted of, you also must understand Ronnie’s targeted calories and macros before you try to replicate it. His typical total daily calories were 5,562, almost 3x the suggested caloric intake. As far as macros, these were 546 grams of protein, 474 grams of carbs, and 150 grams of fat.

That is quite a lot of food, and the body can only handle so much at a time, especially of protein, as if you consume too much protein in one sitting it will just go to waste. As a result, Ronnie had to split his food up into six meals a day. Each meal consisted of 927 calories, 94 grams of protein, 79 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of fats. Nutrition is a science, and while this may seem like too much food, you have to remember that Ronnie Coleman put himself through intense physical training, as well as his bodyweight being around 300 lbs.

With all of that being said, the chances are you are not 300 lbs of straight muscle mass, so we would recommend that you try to use a total daily energy expenditure formula/calculator to figure out exactly how much you need to eat to put on muscle without too much body fat.

Personal Life

Ronnie’s success as a bodybuilder has led to many endorsement deals and business ventures as well. He has released several weightlifting training videos and in 2011 started his own wellness and nutrition line, Ronnie Coleman Nutrition.

He married personal trainer Susan Williamson in 2016. As of 2009, he is retired from professional bodybuilding. Although he is retired, Ronnie still stays up to date with modern bodybuilding, and gives his opinion every now and then.

Ronnie Coleman: The King Film Trailer

The Generation Iron team was fortunate enough to spend some time with Ronnie Coleman to film the official documentary of Ronnie Coleman’s life, Ronnie Coleman: The King (2018). This documentary details the life of the 8x Mr. Olympia champion, before, during, and after his domination of bodybuilding.

Aside from that, Generation Iron has had the pleasure of sitting down with Ronnie Coleman on several occasions. Check them out.

Ronnie Coleman Talks About His Career with Generation Iron

In this clip, the Generation Iron team had an exclusive interview with Ronnie Coleman, where he detailed some aspects of his life.

Ronnie Coleman Exclusive Interview: “No One Trains Like I Did”

In this clip, Vlad Yudin talked with Ronnie a little bit further with Ronnie Coleman to go in more detail about how much physical strength played a roll in his success as a bodybuilder and as a legend

Ronnie Coleman Details How The Arnold Classic Stopped Him From Quitting

Ronnie Coleman had a serious injury right before the Mr. Olympia, and the recovery that lasted months right up to the Arnold Classic competition. Landing low at competitions in between, such as the Iron Man competition, Ronnie believed that it was time for him to give up bodybuilding. Then he stepped onto the Arnold Classic stage and everything changed. Hear the full story from the man himself in the video above.

Ronnie Coleman Wrap Up

Overall, Ronnie Coleman is a household name when it comes to bodybuilding, as he is seen as the king of the sport. With 8 Olympia wins under his belt, and the sheer size that he brought to the stage, it is no secret that he dedicated his life to the sport.

What do you think of Ronnie Coleman?

Generation Iron may receive commissions on purchases made through our links. See our disclosure page for more information.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.