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The Untold Story of Ronnie Coleman, Eight-Time Mr. Olympia: How a Police Officer Became a Bodybuilding Champion

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Discover the untold story of Ronnie Coleman, a legend in the bodybuilding world and an eight-time Mr. Olympia.

This article takes you behind the scenes of his rigorous training and strict diet, revealing the secrets to his extraordinary physique.

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What drove a modest football player to become a bodybuilding powerhouse? How did he balance a career in law enforcement with his passion for fitness? And amidst his triumphs, what personal and professional challenges did he face?

Dive into the life of Ronnie Coleman, where each page turns to unveil the man behind the muscle, the discipline behind the dominance, and the resilience in the face of adversity.

Biography and Background

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Ronnie Coleman, a name synonymous with extraordinary strength and a legendary presence in the bodybuilding world, has carved a niche that resonates beyond the gym walls. Born on May 13, 1964, in Monroe, Louisiana, Coleman’s journey to becoming an eight-time Mr. Olympia is a tale of relentless hard work, unparalleled discipline, and a passion for pushing physical boundaries.

Growing up in a modest family, Coleman displayed an early inclination towards athletics. He played football during his high school years, showcasing his physical prowess and dedication to sport. However, it was not until he attended Grambling State University, majoring in accounting, that his tryst with bodybuilding began. Balancing studies with his newfound passion for lifting weights, Coleman started shaping what would soon become a world-renowned physique.

Age and Early Life

In his early 20s, Coleman’s life was a blend of academics and athletics. It was during this period that he cultivated his discipline and work ethic. While attending university, he played as a middle linebacker under the legendary coach Eddie Robinson. His time on the football field not only honed his physical abilities but also instilled in him a sense of teamwork and perseverance.

After graduating cum laude in 1986, Coleman’s transition from an aspiring accountant to a bodybuilding icon was not immediate. Initially taking up a job as a police officer in Arlington, Texas, he continued to pursue his passion for bodybuilding. This dual life of a policeman by day and a bodybuilder by night laid the foundation for his future successes.

Ronnie Coleman’s Body Stats

Ronnie Coleman Body Stats
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Height and Weight

Standing tall at 5 feet 11 inches, Ronnie Coleman’s stature in the bodybuilding arena was as monumental as his achievements. Weighing in at a colossal 300 pounds during the off-season, and trimming down to a competition weight of around 285 pounds, his physical presence was both awe-inspiring and intimidating.

Body Measurements: Beyond the Ordinary

Coleman’s body measurements speak volumes about his dedication and hard work. His chest spanned an impressive 58 inches, a testament to countless hours spent bench pressing and sculpting.

Arms, a focal point in bodybuilding, were an area where Coleman particularly excelled. His biceps, measuring 22 inches, were akin to the size of an average man’s waist. 

Not to be outdone, his thighs, at 36 inches, were larger than many people’s entire waistlines, a clear indicator of his intense lower body training regime.

Comparison with the Average Male

To put Coleman’s extraordinary physique into perspective, let’s consider the average male measurements. The average American male stands at about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs around 197.9 pounds. Their chest circumference typically measures around 40 inches, with arms usually at about 13 inches and thighs around 21 inches.

Is Ronnie Coleman Natural?

The Debate Around Natural Bodybuilding

In bodybuilding, the question of whether a champion like Ronnie Coleman is natural or enhanced is a topic of intense discussion. Natural bodybuilding, where athletes refrain from using any performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), stands in contrast to approaches where such substances are utilized.

Coleman’s Stance and Bodybuilding Culture

Ronnie Coleman, known for his superhuman size and strength, has always been open about his bodybuilding journey, including the use of PEDs. It’s crucial to acknowledge that in professional bodybuilding, the use of such substances was, and in many cases still is, a common practice.

Coleman competed in an era where the lines between natural and enhanced bodybuilding were distinctly drawn, and the culture of the sport often leaned towards the latter for achieving extraordinary physiques.

The Impact of PEDs in Bodybuilding

Performance-enhancing drugs can significantly alter an athlete’s ability to build muscle, recover, and perform. In Coleman’s case, his admission to using PEDs as part of his regime was in line with the standards of professional bodybuilding competitions at that time. It’s important to note that these substances, while contributing to muscle growth and recovery, do not diminish the intense training and strict dietary regimens that athletes like Coleman adhere to.

Ronnie Coleman’s Life

Personal Life: The Man Behind the Muscle

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While Ronnie Coleman’s public persona is that of a bodybuilding titan, his personal life paints the picture of a man with diverse interests and a deep sense of family values. Born and raised in Louisiana, Coleman’s roots are firmly grounded in the values of hard work and resilience. He’s not just a bodybuilder but also a loving family man. Coleman’s life outside the gym is filled with the joys of fatherhood, having children who add a different kind of strength to his life.

Business Ventures

Beyond the gym, Coleman demonstrates a keen business acumen. He’s the founder of Ronnie Coleman Nutrition, a company that offers a range of supplements catering to fitness enthusiasts. This venture is a direct reflection of his passion for fitness and his desire to contribute to others’ journeys in bodybuilding and health.

Educational Pursuits

Coleman’s commitment to education is often overshadowed by his bodybuilding accolades. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Grambling State University, showcasing his intellectual side. His academic background underpins his methodical approach to bodybuilding and business, highlighting his belief in the power of knowledge.

Notable Achievements

In the world of bodybuilding, Coleman’s achievements are legendary. He’s an eight-time Mr. Olympia, tying the record for the most wins in the history of the competition. Each victory added to his legacy, cementing him as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. His ability to consistently dominate the sport over the years is a testament to his extraordinary discipline and physical prowess.

Interests Outside Bodybuilding

Coleman’s interests extend beyond lifting weights. He’s an avid fisherman, finding solace in the quietude of nature, a stark contrast to the bustling gym environment. His love for fishing reveals a contemplative side, one that appreciates the simpler, quieter moments of life. Additionally, his role as a police officer before his bodybuilding career took off demonstrates his commitment to serving the community.

Ronnie Coleman’s Net Worth

Estimated Net Worth

Ronnie Coleman’s net worth is a topic of interest, reflecting not just his success in bodybuilding but also his savvy as a businessman. As of recent estimates, Coleman’s net worth hovers around an impressive $10 million. This figure is a testament to his legendary status in the bodybuilding world and his smart financial moves outside the gym.

Diverse Income Streams

While a significant portion of Coleman’s wealth originated from his bodybuilding winnings, his income streams are varied and multifaceted. His victories in Mr. Olympia and other prestigious competitions undoubtedly contributed to his financial status. However, Coleman didn’t rest on his laurels; he diversified his earnings in several astute ways.

  1. Supplement Line: Ronnie Coleman Signature Series, his line of nutritional supplements, contributes substantially to his wealth. This venture showcases his entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of the fitness industry’s needs.
  2. Merchandise Sales: Coleman also profits from merchandise sales, including gym apparel and accessories. His brand name, synonymous with excellence in bodybuilding, drives the popularity and sales of these products.
  3. Personal Appearances and Endorsements: As a renowned figure in bodybuilding, Coleman earns significant income from personal appearances, guest speaking, and endorsements. His endorsements range from fitness-related products to lifestyle brands, capitalizing on his fame and reputation.
  4. Fitness App and Online Coaching: Embracing the digital age, Coleman has ventured into online coaching and fitness apps. These platforms provide personalized training advice and routines, tapping into a market eager for expert guidance.
  5. Real Estate Investments: Coleman’s portfolio includes smart investments in real estate, contributing to his net worth. These investments demonstrate his foresight in wealth management and financial planning.

Ronnie Coleman’s Relationship

Ronnie Coleman’s personal life, especially his relationships, has always been a topic that resonates with his fans, adding a human dimension to his larger-than-life persona. His romantic life, particularly his marriage, sheds light on the importance of having a strong support system while navigating the challenges of a high-profile athletic career.

Life with Susan Williamson

Ronnie Coleman is married to Susan Williamson, a personal trainer and a figure of strength in her own right. Their union, tied in April 2016, stands as a testament to mutual respect and shared passions. Susan, understanding the demands of a fitness-centric lifestyle, has been a pillar of support for Coleman, especially significant during his times of health challenges and surgeries.


Ronnie’s role as a father adds another layer to his identity. He has children from previous relationships, and with Susan, their family life is a cherished aspect of his personal world. His interactions with his children offer a softer, more nurturing side to the man known for his incredible physical strength. Coleman’s dedication to his family, balancing parental responsibilities with his professional commitments, speaks volumes about his character.

The Importance of Support in Coleman’s Journey

In the world of professional bodybuilding, where the physical and mental demands can be overwhelming, having a supportive partner is invaluable. Susan’s presence in Coleman’s life has been a constant source of encouragement and understanding. Their relationship demonstrates the power of having someone who not only shares your passions but also stands by you through the highs and lows of life.

Resilience in Adversity: Facing Challenges Together

The couple’s journey hasn’t been without challenges, particularly concerning Coleman’s health issues stemming from his bodybuilding career. Susan’s role in his recovery and her unwavering support during his multiple surgeries highlight the depth of their bond. This aspect of their relationship serves as an inspiration, showing how resilience and mutual support can help overcome life’s toughest challenges.

Bodybuilding And Career

Career Highlights and Contest History

Ronnie Coleman’s bodybuilding career is a chronicle of extraordinary achievements and relentless pursuit of excellence.

His journey in the bodybuilding arena began in the early 1990s, but it was in 1998 when he first clinched the prestigious Mr. Olympia title, marking the start of a new era in bodybuilding. His dominance in this competition was unmatched, as he continued to win the title for a record eight consecutive years, from 1998 to 2005.

His competitive career is dotted with numerous other victories. Coleman’s triumph at the Canada Pro Cup in 1995 marked his first major professional win, setting the stage for his future successes. His remarkable performance in the Arnold Classic, another prestigious event in the bodybuilding world, further cemented his legacy as a formidable athlete.

Achievements and Titles in Bodybuilding

Ronnie Coleman’s list of achievements is extensive, making him one of the most decorated bodybuilders in history. His accolades include:

  • 8-time Mr. Olympia Winner (1998-2005): This incredible feat places him alongside legends like Lee Haney, with whom he shares the record for the most Mr. Olympia wins.
  • Arnold Classic Winner (2001): His victory at this renowned event demonstrated his versatility and dominance across different bodybuilding platforms.
  • Grand Prix Victories: Coleman’s career was marked by numerous Grand Prix victories across the world, showcasing his global appeal and consistency in the sport.
  • Multiple IFBB Professional Titles: His career is characterized by wins in various International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) professional competitions, underlining his status as a global icon in the sport.

Ronnie Coleman’s career in bodybuilding was not just about the titles and trophies; it was a journey marked by unparalleled dedication, immense physical strength, and an indomitable spirit. His approach to training, characterized by intense and heavy lifting, revolutionized bodybuilding techniques and inspired a generation of athletes.

Ronnie Coleman’s Training Regime: The Blueprint of a Champion

Unveiling the Regimen of a Bodybuilding Legend

Ronnie Coleman’s training regime is as legendary as his accomplishments. Known for his Herculean strength and relentless work ethic, Coleman’s approach to training has been a subject of awe in the fitness world. His routines were characterized by heavy lifting, high volume, and an intensity that pushed the boundaries of human potential.

Specific Training Routines and Exercises

  1. Backbreaking Weights: Coleman’s routines often involved lifting extremely heavy weights. His deadlifts, for example, would go up to 800 pounds, a testament to his extraordinary strength.
  2. High-Volume Leg Workouts: His leg days were notorious. Squats, often exceeding 800 pounds, were a staple. Along with squats, he incorporated leg presses and lunges, emphasizing volume to achieve those famous tree-trunk legs.
  3. Chest and Arms: Bench presses, incline presses, and dumbbell flyes constituted his chest workouts. For arms, bicep curls and tricep extensions were key, often using weights that most would find daunting.
  4. Shoulders and Back: Coleman focused on heavy compound movements like military presses and deadlifts. Lat pulldowns, rows, and shrugs were also integral, contributing to his massive back and shoulder development.

Training Philosophy and Approach

Ronnie Coleman’s training philosophy was simple yet profound – lift heavy, train hard, and stay consistent. He believed in pushing his limits every single session, a mindset that propelled him to greatness. His mantra, “Lightweight, Baby!”, wasn’t just a catchphrase; it was a reflection of his attitude towards training – no weight was too heavy, no challenge too great.

His approach was not just about physical strength. Mental toughness played a crucial role. Coleman’s ability to endure pain and push through barriers set him apart. His training sessions, often lasting up to two hours, were as much a mental battle as they were physical.

Nutrition and Recovery: Integral Aspects of His Regime

No discussion of Coleman’s training regime is complete without mentioning his meticulous attention to nutrition and recovery. High-protein diets, strategic supplementation, and adequate rest were crucial for his muscle growth and recovery. He understood that to train at such high intensities, his body needed the right fuel and time to recuperate.

Ronnie Coleman’s Diet: Fueling a Bodybuilding Titan

The Nutritional Blueprint Behind the Legend

Ronnie Coleman’s diet was as integral to his success as his rigorous training regime. Recognized for his massive physique and extraordinary strength, Coleman’s nutritional approach was meticulously planned and executed with the same intensity as his workouts. His diet was a blend of high protein, moderate carbohydrates, and essential fats, designed to build muscle, fuel intense training sessions, and aid in recovery.

Diet Plan and Nutritional Approach

  1. High Protein Intake: Protein was the cornerstone of Coleman’s diet, essential for muscle repair and growth. His daily protein intake often exceeded 500 grams, derived from sources like chicken, fish, steak, and whey protein.
  2. Moderate Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates were vital for energy. Coleman consumed moderate amounts of carbs, focusing on complex sources like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal to sustain his energy levels throughout the day.
  3. Essential Fats: Healthy fats were also a crucial part of his diet, providing energy and supporting overall health. Sources included nuts, avocados, and fish oils.
  4. Frequent Meals: He ate frequently, up to six to eight times a day. This constant feeding helped maintain his muscle mass and provided a steady stream of nutrients for recovery and growth.

Meal Examples and Dietary Habits

A typical day in Coleman’s dietary life might include:

  • Breakfast: Egg whites, oatmeal, and fruit. A protein-rich start to the day, complemented with complex carbs and vitamins.
  • Mid-Morning Snack: A protein shake and nuts. This snack was a quick source of protein and healthy fats.
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and green vegetables. A balanced meal providing protein, carbs, and essential micronutrients.
  • Afternoon Snack: Another protein shake and perhaps a piece of fruit. The focus was on quick, easy-to-digest protein.
  • Dinner: Steak or fish with sweet potatoes and a salad. A hearty meal to refuel after intense training sessions.
  • Pre-Bed Meal: Casein protein shake. Slow-digesting casein provided a steady stream of amino acids throughout the night.

Supplementation: A Supporting Role

Supplements played a supporting role in Coleman’s diet. Whey protein, casein, creatine, amino acids, and multivitamins were staples in his regimen, aiding in muscle recovery and ensuring optimal nutrient intake.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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