Opinion: Ronnie Coleman – Was Training To Injury Worth It To Become Olympia Champion?

At the end of the day, was all the pain and anguish worth the glory for Ronnie Coleman?

Finding that one thing you truly excel at is something truly special. The thing that defines your very existence that sets you apart from every other average individual. Why is it so special? Because so few of us get the opportunity to find that particular attribute that makes us unique.

It’s a blanket statement of course. Just because someone doesn’t achieve something extraordinary doesn’t mean there was no meaning to their life. Far from it. But it can’t be denied that feats that certain individuals attain simply can’t be replicated easily. To achieve greatness on a level that is nigh improbable is something that should be commended and appreciated.

In regards to bodybuilding, winning the ultimate title, the moniker of best of the best, can only be achieved by traveling down a particular avenue: the Mr. Olympia competition.

That road so often traveled can only be conquered by one individual at a time. At one point the Olympia heavyweight category was dominated by a man that many consider to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Others consider eight time Olympia champion Lee Haney to be the best to ever do it. But a rather large contingent place that particular title squarely on the shoulders of another eight time Olympia champion; none other than the great Ronnie Coleman.

Ronnie Coleman wasn’t your average bodybuilder. While he had a great physique and massive potential, he brought a different kind of intensity to the bodybuilding game. He didn’t just train like your average bodybuilder and his eight consecutive Olympia victories attest to that.

Beginning his legendary title reign at the 1998 Olympia, Coleman made a statement from his very first major victory. After Dorian Yates retired from competition, the Olympia title was up for grabs and there were great many contenders with their sights set on the crown. Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler, Dexter Jackson, there were a great many legendary bodybuilders who were within striking distance of winning the Mr. Olympia in 1998. But once Ronnie Coleman stepped on stage with his incredible size and definition, it was apparent to everyone that they were witnessing something unlike anything seen before. Dorian Yates spawned the age of the mass monster and Ronnie Coleman was quite obviously the successor that would take things to entirely different level.

The training that Coleman put himself through was absolutely legendary. He pushed his body past its limits in hopes of bringing a more impressive, more massive physique to the stage with every Olympia outing. But Coleman didn’t simply compete at the Olympia and sit on the shelf all year round. Instead he competed all throughout the year which means he had to bring his A-game every time he stepped on stage. That meant training constantly.

His background in powerlifting saw the man dubbed “The King” train with a massive amount of weight and intensity. Half measures was simply something that was not in Ronnie Coleman’s vocabulary.

But the kind of reps and sets Ronnie Coleman putting down in the gym, it came as no surprise that after his historic title reign that he had some pretty horrible injuries. The heavy training took its toll, helping to destroy Coleman’s hips and requiring multiple surgeries.

To this day, the injuries suffered through those years of brutal training have broken down Ronnie Coleman physically. In fact, the injuries have worn on Coleman so much that walking unassisted has become a chore.

As documented in the Generation Iron original film Ronnie Coleman: The King, the former Olympia champion has suffered a great deal of hardships after retiring from the sport. The physical costs have racked up and going under the knife has once again become the only option for the once great champion.

So after it has all been said and done, was it truly worth it for Ronnie Coleman?

He became one of the many few that was able to find his calling and make good on his potential, becoming one of the greatest bodybuilding champions ever. But was the cost to his health worth all the glory, all the accolades? It’s a question that only Coleman himself can answer.

You can get a more detailed look into the both the past and present of Ronnie Coleman in the original feature documentary Ronnie Coleman: The King. Available now on digital – you can grab your digital copy right here.

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Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his InstagramTwitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.