Ronnie Coleman is peeling back the layers of his decorated bodybuilding career in retirement. In a recent YouTube video, Coleman joined strongman Brian Shaw to reflect on the intense dieting measures he took to become the number one bodybuilder in the world for eight consecutive years.
As an eight-time Mr. Olympia champion, who is tied with Lee Haney for the most title wins, Coleman’s contributions to the sport are set in stone. He weaponized unparalleled size, muscle definition, and hardness on his way to becoming a one-of-a-kind talent. With victories over heavy-hitting Open stars like Jay Cutler, Flex Wheeler, and Kevin Levrone, there was no stopping Coleman in his heyday.
As with any other sporting discipline, pain, and sacrifice are crucial to continued success — these were concepts Coleman fully understood. Despite 13 back surgeries and a strict high-protein diet, Coleman never let any obstacle stand in his way.
Ronnie Coleman Discusses Challenges of Eating as a Bodybuilder
Initially, Coleman had no desire to test his skills in the sport but later committed to a bodybuilding career after he was convinced to compete for a free gym membership.
“I like eating hamburgers. I loved eating hamburgers, fried chicken stuff like that. I didn’t think I could do no diet. I like eating what I like eating.
He’s like alright, a couple of days go by, he’s like man, he wasn’t about to give up on me, he’s like ‘Man, you really need to compete.
I’ll tell you what I’ll give you a free membership to the gym if you just compete.’ I thought about it, man a free membership, I wouldn’t have to pay nothing, I’m like yeah. I can do that.”
Understandably, Coleman struggled to adapt to a bodybuilder-type diet, though eventually grew accustomed to it.
“It was extremely hard at first [dieting]. I ain’t going to lie. Then, you know after a while I kind of got used to it, you know, like I said, I don’t like getting second you know, second place.”
“Exactly everything is to win. I’m going to do what I got to do to win.”
In pursuit of greatness, Coleman didn’t concern himself with the type of food or its taste, all that mattered was winning.
“It didn’t matter [what it tasted like]. I remember one time I was eating tuna out of the can and it was like I never in a million years thought I’d be doing that but here I am,” laughs Ronnie Coleman.
Surprisingly, Coleman said he didn’t feel like a real bodybuilder until winning his first Mr. Olympia title in 1998.
“Probably after I won Olympia. That’s when I was like okay. Yeah [I embraced that I was a bodybuilder]. This is real.”
“Yeah, as I was coming up [people hyped me up],” said Coleman.
Ronnie Coleman isn’t the only bodybuilding legend who endured some extreme nutritional plans. Jay Cutler, who dethroned Coleman in 2006, spent upwards of $50,000 per year on food, specifying that he would buy a whole cow at a time in addition to 150 pounds of chicken. Years following their rivalry on stage, Cutler doesn’t believe anyone has come close to the ‘The King’s’ prime physique.
Although he tipped the scales north of 300 pounds, Ronnie Coleman’s commitment to bodybuilding and his diet set him apart from his peers. Over a decade following his retirement, Coleman’s legacy still stands as strong as it did the day he stopped competing.