Is Ronnie Coleman the best bodybuilder of all time? In anticipation of his return to the posing stage in 2009, revisit the highlights and the lowlights in the career of the eight-time Mr. Olympia. See what the top players in bodybuilding have to say about his decision to return to the stage and find out, in an exclusive interview, how Coleman is preparing for his next challenge.
It's a war, of sorts - man versus iron - and battle after battle, flesh seemed doomed to always cry "surrender" first. Then, on June 15, 2004, the results were reversed.
I was in MetroFlex Gym, Arlington, Texas, on the first of our annual pilgrimages to capture Mr. Olympia's quest for another Sandow. Cobwebs draped down like Spanish moss. Gangsta rap thundered. In the midst of the broken mirrors, graffitied walls, 93-degree heat, 93% humidity, dust and rust and sweat and pain, 310-pound Ronnie Coleman was going to battle.
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Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.
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After he repped out deadlifts with 585 pounds and after barbell rows for sets of 10 with 455, he jabbed the end of a barbell into a hole in the corner where crumbling walls intersected and he hooked a V-bar handle under the side loaded with plates, creating his own T-bar.
On his second set, he crammed on all the 100s and 45s he could fit, for a total of 645. "Ain't nothin' but a peanut!" he shouted, followed by "Light weight!" As he pulled up his fifth rep, the steel V-handle snapped and the weight crashed back to the decimated floor, throwing up a cloud of dust.
The greatest bodybuilder in the world, and arguably the greatest who ever lived, took on the biggest, baddest amount of metal he could. The weight lost. The legend grew.
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MetroFlex owner Brian Dobson knew the moment he saw the 5'11", 215-pound, rookie cop that he could be a bodybuilding great. Coleman was one of the strongest humans Dobson had ever encountered.
They began training together and, in short order, 25-year-old Coleman won the first contest he entered - and it wasn't some local novice event. It was the 1990 Mr. Texas.
Next was a stunning third place among heavyweights in the 1990 NPC Nationals, and a year later he won the same class at the World Championships. Two years of bodybuilding and he was a pro. Success came easily, but that was about to change.
For the whole story on the Coleman reign- the ups and downs, the rise, the fall, the legacy and the possible return of a bodybuilding legend, pick up the April issue of FLEX on newsstands now.