Ronnie Coleman Bodybuilder

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The Ronnie Coleman Mr. Olympia Victory Seminar

By Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"

Lights, camera, action its Joe Weider’s IFBB Mr. Olympia-Finals held in the Events Center at the Mandalay Resort and Casino on Saturday evening on October 23, 1999 and I was there with my pal Paul Becker (of to take in the big show. The competition was intense and as many of you know, Ronnie Coleman prevailed to win his second consecutive Mr. Olympia.

The morning after (Sunday October 24th) Ronnie Coleman was conducting an Olympia Victory Seminar in the Trade Winds Ballroom at the Mandalay Bay. I tape recorded his seminar and with the full intent of coming back home to write it up as a feature length article for Muscle Mag. Somehow I managed to lose the audio seminar in the archives of my vast bodybuilding library and it wasn’t until recently (nearly 2.5 years later) that I rediscovered it. Upon listening to it 2.5 years later I find the information to be as fresh as the day I recorded it.

This lost seminar contains the exact insights and expressions from Ronnie Coleman, a man who is deeply involved in the trenches of pro bodybuilding warfare.

If you have every had the opportunity to hear Ronnie speak, you may recall his speech patterns and recognize his training and nutritional strategies as it is represented in this recorded seminar.

Ronnie: First of all, good morning. I hope everyone enjoyed the show ( Joe Weider’s 1999 IFBB Mr. Olympia-Finals at the Mandalay Events Center) last night. That’s two in a row for me. To start out, I’d like to say, thank God!

Basically, to be a two-time Mr. Olympia, I’ve had to put in a big part of my workouts and what I did to win the first time. And the reason why is I know what it took to win one. So it gave me that much of an edge going into the show. Knowing exactly what I had to do to get number two. So I was very determined, and very motivated to do this two times in a row.

I thought I had worked real had for that first one, but it wasn’t really nothing compared to what I would do to get number two! I basically took it to another level.I think right after the Olympia last year, I took a couple months off to rest my body, basically first of all, my mind second of all. And I said when I started this thing off, it would be a nine or ten month preparation for the Olympia this year. I was highly determined and motivated to repeat. There wasn’t nothing else on my mind from day one.

I quit working out in February, I think I took off a couple of months. Like I said, just to let my body rest and let my mind rest. I had to take care of the duties placed on me by the police department and everything. I had to do a little extra traveling and this type of stuff because of that (1998) Mr. Olympia title.

I think I was the first one to get a photo shoot in Amsterdam. It was something that was different, to say the least. But we went over there and we had a lot of fun. You never realize how generous and how nice these people are, until you really meet them. But we had a lot of fun at that photo shoot. And it was something different for the sport of bodybuilding and something different for them too. Because they’d never had somebody that they’d did photo shoots with that had twice the muscle mass as the guys they normally shoot.

I think there were some positive things (at the Amsterdam photo shoot) that took bodybuilding to another level. But I think one of the major changes which we’ve probable seen in the sport of bodybuilding is that it just give it a little bit more awareness in another field in another area. It brings it out into the public into a different light, a different perspective. It gives it a little bit different view than what some people were used to seeing, especially in that style of modeling type project.

Once I got started back to working out I basically was determined to work out just about every workout session. And never miss a workout session regardless of wherever I went, whatever I did, how much traveling I had to do. Because of all the overtime and all the late hour I put in at work I was determined not to let anything come between my training. And I did quite a bit of traveling. I think the most important thing to me was my training. I can still remember taking a 17 hour flight, 17 or 18 hour flight from Dallas to Australia and getting off the plane and going straight to the gym. Not getting any rest so that I wouldn’t miss any day of working out. I took quite a few flights like that, but none of them were much over 10 hours. Places like Germany or Paris or places like that. The most important part, like I said, was for me not to miss the workout. I kept my training the same, which is to work every body part, twice a week. Basically I don’t do a training split because I have to work a full-time job. So I have to do all my workouts at one time basically.

And it’s done, 3 on one day off. I basically work out six days a week and I take Sundays off. I pretty much fit my body parts like everyone else does. Big with small. Like back/ biceps, chest/triceps. Normally on leg day, I do all my leg work pretty much on that same day. A typical workout day for me is in the off season, I get up at like 10 in the morning, eat breakfast and go straight to the gym. Probably get done working out about 1 or 1:30. Come home and take a shower. I have to be at work at 3:00 every day. I work from 3:00 to 11:00. And when I get off I basically go home and just chill out and get ready for the next day.

I do all this up until I get ready to start my pre-contest. I’ve been working with the police department for 10 years now. Matter of fact they gave me my 10-year anniversary back in March or April. They gave me a little celebration, kind of embarrass you in front of the troops. Bring you in front of everybody and give you a little ol’ security bond and a ribbon and letter from the Mayor and Chief and people like that. It was certainly something exciting for me.

I graduated from Grambling State University, back in 1986, with a BS degree in Accounting. I thought I was going to be an accountant for the rest of my life. God sure changed all that.

I’ve been with the police department now for 10 years and I can truly, honestly say that I really love working that job. And the best part about it is that your personality determined the kind of person that you are. And for me, I’ve always been a real kind-hearted type personality. I’ve always liked to help people out and that’s pretty much the satisfaction I get out of working that job, is knowing I can help people out every day. Of course, you know, it comes with some bad things too. There’s a lot of bad people out there, a lot of bad people. But there’s a lot of good things that happen at this job, too, it makes up for all the bad stuff that I’ve seen over the years. So I can truly and honestly say that I love working with the police department. And all those 10 years seem like one year basically.

We have a twenty-year retirement, but I can truly and honestly say after twenty years, that next day I’ll be outta there real fast, real quick! And I won’t have to worry about working for the rest of my life. ‘Cause I have basically like four retirement plans going. So I’ll have a whole lot of money saved up! So I’ll be a great fisherman one day! And a great hunter! Doing lots of things that interest me.

Basically my pre-contest is a whole different type of workout. Instead of being able to get up at 10:00 I have to go back three hours earlier, and get up at 7 a.m. in the morning. And of course I still have to work for the police department. It kinda interrupts my sleep but not for long.

I start with getting up at 7 a.m., because that’s best when the day starts with me and I only do it for 12 weeks. A long, long, long, very hard 12 weeks. Probably the hardest part about it is getting up at 7 a.m.! Because after a long, hard day’s work, the last thing you want to do is cut your sleep short! When you live in a two-bedroom house, it’s a long walk upstairs and a long walk downstairs sometimes!

I start out at 7 a.m., I get up, I eat my breakfast, I go do my food intake. It takes me about an hour. Then I go straight back to bed and sleep from 8 to 11. As soon as I get outta bed, I have a treadmill in my bedroom that’s the first thing I do sometimes! I get straight on that treadmill and I do an hour of cardio. But I don’t start out with an hour, I do about 30 minutes for a week to get used to doing it like that and then I do 45 minutes to an hour. And I get to an hour about eight weeks out. So I take about the first three weeks to build up to that hour. ‘Cause that’s a long, hard hour. Especially when you’re on the kinda diet I do.

After that hour of cardio or whatever, I go back downstairs and eat again. After I finish eating, I go straight to the gym, do my workout. Sometimes that’s a long, hard workout when you’re on low carbs, which is basically how my diet is most of the time. Soon as I leave the gym, I run home as fast as I possible can, speeding, getting pulled over by some of my fellow officers! Wonderin’ why I’m drivin’ so fast, wonderin’ where I’m goin’! Like they don’t know!

I go home and sometimes I take a shower, sometimes something else depending on how much time I got. I will take my food with me and ride to work and eating on my way to work. Sometimes I’m in such a big hurry, I don’t even get a chance to eat until I get to work. We have to check in and as soon as I check in I eat. And I work, like I said, until 11, of course I go home at 11:00, well, I get home about 11:30. Another hour of cardio, go eat again. Take a shower and then go to bed. I’ll get in bed, if I’m lucky, at 3 a.m. If you can calculate that ‘til 7 a.m., that’s a very short time, short amount of sleep!
I don’t get a full eight hours of sleep during this 12-week period. If I get six or seven, I’m real happy! Real, real happy!

So I do that for 12 long, long, hard weeks. Basically, as for my food goes, off-season is the best time of the year! Best time in my life, ever! Because I get a chance to eat whatever I want to eat! I like McDonald’s. One of my hangouts! Jack-in-the-Box! Another of my hangouts! And it’s free! So that’s my favorite hangout! But don’t tell anybody that it’s free. I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody about that!

I tried to argue with them once (about getting the free food). But they insisted, and sometimes you can’t win a losing battle! You just accept certain things! Go on about your business and be happy about it. Sometimes, it’s good to do that, and that’s certainly one of those times that you don’t pass up!

My next favorite place is a restaurant called Black-Eyed Peas. It’s not free, but it’s half-price! Those are my three major places to eat. Black-Eyed Peas is a restaurant, they serve everything, I mean, fried fish, fried everything. You can get anything you want there, hamburgers. Basically, my first meal of the day ‘cause it’s so fast and so quick and doesn’t take a lot of time. ‘Cause I’m basically rushing the morning when I get up. Normally like pancakes or something like that. Grits or something like that, something real quick basically. Rest of the meals of the day are basically what I told you, McDonald’s, I go to just about every day. Jack-in-the-Box for sure is a given! I hit it when I’m off work and not in uniform, they freak! Black-Eyed Peas restaurant is another favorite.

I eat lots of hamburgers, I eat lots of cheeseburgers. A lot of pizza. Like I said, I live well in the off season, I eat whatever I want to eat. I like to eat! It’s the best time of my life! It don’t get no simpler than that. To know you can eat a nice juicy hamburger right before you go to bed sometimes. You don’t have to be worried about it.

But you know what? That only lasts so long! And you really dread getting off that off season diet. It seems like it last about a week, it goes by so fast! Being a carefree person, doing what you want, enjoying life. But you know, this is what’s chosen for me…I have to deal with it.

Question: Do you eat sweets?

Ronnie: Not really, I’m more of a cheeseburger, meat-type person. I eat ice cream, but I’m not really into that. Show me a cheeseburger or a pizza, forget ice cream! I’m a happy person! To me a cheeseburger is like eating ice cream for some people. But I do love cheesecake. So I’ll eat my cheesecake just about every day too. I guess I’m like the cheese freak! Cheese lover. I’m one for cheese, man.

I have my favorite meal which I call my meal of the day: steak and rice! It’s the best meal in the world. My diet basically starts out first thing in the morning, I drink me a protein shake. Then I have an iced tea. It’s one of those country things. Iced tea every mornin’. My second meal of the day, when I get off of the treadmill, is chicken and a potato, baked potato. My portions are basically what I can assimilate in like three hours. I will eat anything and everything until one meal ceases. And I eat six times a day! Meal two, like I said, chicken breast, a baked potato normally like 12 oz. Meal three is like the best meal of the day, like I was saying, steak and rice. Meal is four is chicken, potato. Meal five, turkey, potato. Meal six is just a protein shake basically (a no carb meal).

The trick to my diet is the manipulation of carbs. That’s the hard part. I get a chance to eat carbs with meals one, two, three, and four. Meals five and six, no carbs. I do that for five days and sometimes six. Then I go back to my basic diet. My basic diet is what I gave you the first time. Sometimes we manipulate it where I just have half the carbs in meals one, two, three, four, and five. I do that for like 10 weeks. That’s where it gets hard, when you’re used to having full carbs. Matter of fact, I ran into some major stomach problems with an ulcer because we backed off my carbs so much that my body had a very negative reaction from it. We were really dialing in, doing something different, trying to change my body up. I think that’s part of what changed it also this year, I was able to out without having a break from my training which allowed me to basically stay strong for the whole ten months. I didn’t have a break where I went down in weight like I did last year, when I did Night of Champions, and that Canadian show, I had to do all that dieting. When you’re dieting you’re not as strong as you are because you’re not taking in as much carbs. You’re not eating as much fat and stuff, which is what I love and enjoy doing.

Those hard sessions allowed me to pack on some extra muscle mass. I was almost 15 pounds heavier than last year, with a little bit better conditioning than last year. That was basically from not having the interruption, changing my workout, changing my diet.

That basically is how we did this thing two times. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m getting hungry already! I’m going to try to answer some questions so we can get on outta here and eat!

Question: What supplements were you taking?

Ronnie: Everything! You name it, I was taking a lot of Vitamin C. 4000 milligrams. I took a lot of Chromium, a lot of Glutamine, I took a lot of multi-vitamins every day. It was basically just multi-vitamin, multi-mineral, vitamin C. That type of stuff. It was every day. So I took in a lot of vitamins, a lot!

Question: What was the harder training, first Mr. O, or second?

Ronnie: I would say second. I don’t know if I could do that another six or seven times I really and truly don’t think my body would allow me to do that.

Ronnie: I work for the police department and every day people will ask me Do you work out? Every day! Every day! I wear long sleeves, short sleeves at work and people see me and they still ask me!

I get a lot of coverage with the police department. I’m known by the general public. I get a lot of requests to do stories because people hear about there is a police officer in Arlington, who is also a bodybuilder and has won this great title. The more stuff that I can do, the more chance the public will get a chance to learn about the sport. They know I’m a police officer and they see me on the cover of a magazine. The Dallas Morning News, which is a huge newspaper, did a big story on me. And some other people saw it and they did a story on me, too. Hopefully we can get a lot more stories like that.

Question: Has your life changed much since you have become Mr. Olympia?

Ronnie: Not really. I’m just well aware of why I’m here and what my purpose is in life. And who is scripting my life, and who is in control of my life. Its just basically an awareness that God put me on this earth for reason. And he’s gonna use me to do certain things while I’m here.

Question: How much did you weight when you walked on stage?

Ronnie: I was 257 that morning before I left to go on stage. I weighted myself right before I walked out the door. Last year I was 247. So it was like a 10-pound gain increase.

Question: Did you go into this Mr. Olympia knowing in your mind you were a winner?

Ronnie: Basically, I did go in with a champion’s attitude. I knew I was a champion, I knew that it was my show to lose or win. So I was coming in with that attitude that it was gonna be my show to win. And so of course I had an attitude when I went on stage that I’m the champ and nobody’s gonna take this away from me. Basically and through the posedown, Flex was right there beside me, and he was number one on my list, to show that you ain’t gettin’ me this year, you were close last year but I’m layin’ it to ya this year like I did last year, because last year you ran from me. So after that it was a free-for-all.

Question: ? (Authors note: Couldn’t understand the audio)

Ronnie: They basically come to my house and they record what I say. Of course they probably change some of the words. Those are my training, the exercises and everything I do.

Question: ? (Authors note: Couldn’t understand the audio)

Ronnie: I only do that for like five days and then I go back for maybe one day on full carbs. And then back, sometimes two days. For the most part it was one day this year and for a couple times it was no days!

Question: How heavy did you get in the off season?

Ronnie: This year I was 308! I was eating everything! I’d eat 8,000, 9,000, 10,000 calories a day maybe, which is about twice what I eat during contest preparation.

Question: How much more money did you make this year compared to years past?

Ronnie: It tripled, quadrupled something like that. I lost count after taxes. I made 50K in ’98, in 1999 it was 100K, so it like doubled, tripled roughly. After they take the taxes out, who cares?
Question: How did you feel at the pre-judging?

Ronnie: At the pre-judging? I was exhausted first of all. Once I finally got back to the room, I tried to eat one meal. We only had like an hour or so, maybe an hour and a half or something. So I basically went back to the room and ate one meal, which was steak and baked potatoes, which was what I ate the whole time I was here for this show.

Question: Did you take Creatine?

Ronnie: No. I didn’t take too much Creatine this year for some reason. I guess ‘cause I was usin’ all that Glutamine. So I just didn’t use a lot of Creatine for some reason, but I did the year before that. So it all depends.

Question: How long did you use Glutamine?

Ronnie: Glutamine all the way up ‘til the week after.

Question: How did you flush all the water out?

Ronnie: Basically just quit drinkin’ water. Maybe a glass or two a day. Like maybe just the water I used to take my vitamins, I still drank those. When I got really, really dry I had that craving.

Question: What about reps and sets for like chest, arms and legs?

Ronnie: For me, I’ve always used 10 to 15 reps and the number of exercises big ones like chest I always do four, and for arms and triceps I always do three. The legs is four and the rep range is always 10 to 15. I never do less than 10.

Question: Is there every any trash-talk going on out on the stage? Anyone try to psyche you out?

Ronnie: No!

Question: What did Flex say to you right at the end?

Ronnie: He said that the things he did wasn’t nothin’ against me and the things he did was just for his fans. I don’t hold nothin’ against him.

Question: How about when you switched supplement companies, was it hard on you? Did you notice any difference?

Ronnie: I hate to tell you this, but basically all that stuff uses the same stuff. They have the same formula. It wasn’t a big change for me at all. Some of the same products Weider had, Met-Rx had. And some of the same stuff Met-Rx had, Weider had., vise versa and all that kind of stuff. Basically, it’s all the same formula. They just have different ways of advertising their product. It wouldn’t have made a change.

Question: Is there any problems when you and your girlfriend Vicky Gates go to the gym to train and you’re training for a show and she’s not?

Ronnie: We work out together and we go to the same gym. So it’s the perfect fit! It’s no problem at all.

Question: What kind of carbs do you eat?

Ronnie: I eat baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. I take them with every meal. And my oatmeal is real heavy, so I eat a lot of oatmeal. It’s basically a potato carb thing that we do.

Question: How do you determine your daily carb intake ratio’s?

Ronnie: Starting Sunday I have just half the carbs with the first three or four meals. And I do that like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and then on Wednesday I load up by eating a lot of carbs with every meal. All the way up to the last one, ‘cause I don’t have any carbs with that one ‘cause I’m going to bed. The first five will be heavy carbs. Like two or three baked potatoes.

Question: Do you have any weaknesses when it comes to dialing in on your nutrition and training for the Mr. Olympia?

Ronnie: My weakness is just getting with Chad, my nutritionist, and figuring out what we need to build on. And I get feedback from people I know, my friends and some people who are real heavy into bodybuilding. I just listen to basically what the feedback is from the people. So I just use them after I go on a break and then come back, we’ll decide.

Question: Didn’t Flex Wheeler lay some smack down about your posing during one of the rounds of last years Mr. O?

Ronnie: Flex said that he really killed me in that round. So I said, OK, you did. I hired somebody who really knows how to pose and pose well. And had them put something together for me and show you that I can do an original thing, too. And that’s what I basically did. So that’s why it was like that.

Question: When and how did you get motivated to start training seriously enough to enter bodybuilding shows?

Ronnie: I was lifting at the police station and one of the guys I work with said you should go to a real gym, you’ll like it a whole lot better than training at the station. And I said OK. I was running out of weights anyways. And I went, and this was like 10 years ago. And this guy walks in and says,You’re looking pretty good! You gotta compete! And I said,You don’t understand. I’m not interested in competing. I work at the police department and you have to take a lot of drugs to be in bodybuilding. And I love eating hamburgers! You can’t eat that if you want to be a great bodybuilder! He’s like,I think you’d be a great champion. You should really consider it. About once a week, he’d say Change your mind yet? And I would say, Naw, man, I’m gonna work with the police department and do my thing with them. And eat what I want to eat and not have to diet. I think about the second or third week he finally said,I’ll tell you what, if you do this contest,I think this contest was like three or four months away. He said, If you do this contest and compete I’ll give you a free membership. I’m like,Free! I’ll do it for a free membership. I’ll be glad to do it. So I said OK and this first contest was called the Mr. Texas. He taught me how to pose and how to diet. And I went in and the rest is history and I still work out at that gym with that free membership.

Question: Who would win if you and Dorian Yates were competing at the same Mr. Olympia right now?

Ronnie: It’s kinda hard to say ‘cause Dorian, when he won, took the sport to kinda like another level. And at the time that he did that I don’t think my bodybuilding would have allowed me to do that. You have to take in age and determination and all that kind of stuff. It’s hard to say who would win if he (Dorian) was still competing. I went to a different level to just like he did. Since it didn’t happen I would have to say no. So you can’t really compare. Its like trying to compare a 1965 car to a 1995. You know, the technology they had back then is different.

Question: Between ’96 and ’97 your body changed. Was there anything particular you did?

Ronnie: Yeah. A nutritionist! Two more questions.

Question: What do you think is most important to make you a winner?

Ronnie: Everything! Diet, work out, just from eating like 12 oz. to 16 oz. of chicken and then from eating two or three baked potatoes to one. Maybe eating rice from two times a day to one time a day. It’s small stuff like that that really makes a difference.

Question: Is it hard to diet when two people living in the same house are competing and winning bodybuilders?

Ronnie: It’s not hard because we do the same shows. It’s no problem. Vicky is on a diet. We diet together. When she’s not on one she eats what she wants. And I have to give her the same respect. Because when I’m not on mine I’m gonna bring hamburgers in the house! So we have a great understanding. It’s not a problem at all.
That was the last question, so thank you all for coming out!

Authors closing comments: During the past 25 years I have been to a number of seminars conducted by some of the top names in professional bodybuilding but none (up to this time) have been as entertaining, humerous and informative as the Ronnie Coleman 1999 Olympia Victory Seminar.

There was nothing dull or boring about this seminar and from the very beginning Ronnie got and held the attention of all in attendance and to its completion. Ronnie didn’t try to put on airs (as evidence of this, after the seminar he was asked to pose with a Teddy Bear and did so obligingly) or impress the audience with his accomplishments in professional bodybuilding. A thought that came to my mind during this seminar was that it seemed like Ronnie was a pal who was hanging out in my living room having a nice chat with me about the "Insides and Outs" of the sport of bodybuilding.

Ronnie Coleman is definitely one bodybuilder who uses not only his muscles but his mind to become a high achiever in the iron game. As a result, he enjoys life and financial freedom as never before. Ronnie Coleman is a stellar example that "all brawn and no brain" is a MYTH.

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