It's official: bodybuilding icon Ronnie Coleman will make his highly anticipated return to competition at the 2010 Mr. Olympia. Tied with Lee Haney for most Olympia wins at eight, the 46-year-old Coleman's return is already being touted as the biggest comeback the world of bodybuilding has seen since a guy named Arnold did it in 1980 after a five year hiatus.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ronnie about his comeback, his illustrious career, his training secrets, and his arrest last summer for allegedly posing as cop (the charges were later dropped).
Q. You've been quoted as saying you'd like to make a comeback and compete in Mr. Olympia 2010. Does that still stand?
A . Yes it does still stand.
Q. What's your main motivation in making this comeback at age 46?
A. Age ain't nothing but a number! My main motivation is that this is the sport that I love and it's also my hobby. Can't a guy just enjoy his hobby and have fun with it? That's all I want to do...and of course win.
Q. What kind of statement are you trying to make in returning to the Mr. Olympia stage?
A. There's no statement to make here; my statement was made with my eighth win, tying me with Lee Haney for all time wins.
Q. You currently share the record of eight Mr. Olympia titles with Lee Haney. How important is it to move ahead of Haney with one more victory?
A. It is not important for me at all because I've always looked up to Lee Haney and admired him for what he did at the time he did it. He'll always be the greatest Mr. Olympia of all time to me along with Arnold.
Q. How much of a factor does your 4th place finish in the 2007 Mr. Olympia play in your motivation to make the comeback?
A. What? I placed 4th in that show? I had forgot all about it until you just brought it up. I don't remember that so I'm gonna have to double check the scores and get back to you on that one.
Q. Does the outcome of 2010 determine whether you will continue to compete?
A. No, because I cannot predict the future. I do know one thing though; I'll never say never to anything again.
Q. Why did you decide to compete in 2010 and not 2009?
A. I was going to compete in the 2009 Mr. Olympia if I had signed the contract with MuscleTech. I was negotiating with them but BSN out bid them so I signed with BSN and they did not require me to compete in the Olympia as the contract I was going to sign with MuscleTech required me to do. I will not be under contract in 2010 with anyone and this leaves me free to compete and make this decision on my own and this is what I want to do.
Q. At age 45, and after taking some time off from bodybuilding, will your training and preparation for this Mr. Olympia be the same as in years past?
A. No, it will be totally different because I'm nowhere near as strong as I used to be, so I'll definitely be training a lot lighter which should be more safe for me. I will also incorporate some different exercises, which will be a great change for my muscles.
Q. What have you noticed as you've gotten older about the way your body reacts to training and diet now?
A. There is nothing that I've noticed with the way my body reacts in terms of training and dieting as I've gotten older. The only difference is my strength has gone down a lot since what it used to be -- when I say a lot, I'm talking about 100 pound differences in some of the exercises I do.
Q. What advantages do you feel you have against some of the younger guys competing in Mr. Olympia?
A. I've still won the Olympia a record eight times which means there was a good reason why I have this record, mainly because of my shape, structure and density which I still have.
Q. What are your thoughts on the current state of professional bodybuilding?
A. It continues to evolve and get better judges and get bigger than ever. Look at the recent $200,000 first place prize money at this year's Mr. Olympia.
Q. You were arrested in May for allegedly impersonating a police officer. Please tell us your side of the story.
A. Those charges were dropped about three weeks later. Nothing really happened. I was stopped for speeding and the guy said to me, "I know you. You used to work for Arlington P.D." I answered, "yes." He then asked if I had my badge, and I answered yes. He then called Arlington P.D. and asked them if I was still working there and they said no. He then arrested me for impersonating an officer since I still had my badge on me. Oh and by the way, it is legal for an officer to keep his badge on him in Texas if he worked on the job. This idiot was reading the law book and knew this and still arrested me! I bet he wonders why he works in a town with a population of 2,000 people or less.
Q. Has the issue been fully resolved yet, or are you still facing repercussions?
A. Yes, it was dropped and nothing ever happened with it, just an idiot so called guy wanted to make a name for his department was all I can see of the matter. I mean, when in this country did we start arresting guys who used to protect their city and put their lives on the line for their cities every single day they went to work? This, I'll never understand. Next I guess this idiot will start arresting Iraq war veterans because they still have their dog tags on them.
Q. Describe a day in the life of Ronnie Coleman when in training.
A. I still train pretty much the same way but with lighter weights. Still the same intensity and fun, still the same number of sets, reps and exercises. I still get up and eat my first meal, then train and eat five more times throughout the day. I also still eat the same foods: chicken and rice, steak and baked potatoes and good ole grits for breakfast.
Q: When you're competing, what does your diet consist of on a daily basis? Do you have any nutrition secret that’s helped you have success?
A. Well, my DVDs have documented this consistently and nothing's changed there. I still have the same thing today. It's grilled chicken, grilled filet mignon, grilled turkey breast and protein shakes for my protein. My carbs only consist of rice and baked potatoes. These are my secrets to success and again of course good ole grits for my first meal of the day.
Q. Who were some of the bodybuilders you admired and looked up to in the early years of your career?
A. Lee Haney and Arnold.
Q. When did you begin bodybuilding? What motivated you to pick that particular sport and how did you retain that motivation throughout your career?
A. I started bodybuilding when I was 13 years old. I was motivated and picked up my first weight because people would ask me all the time if I worked out because I had so many muscles even at that early age. I always said no, and got tired of giving the same answer, so I decided to start lifting weights to see what would happen. Honestly, I just fell in love with lifting weights from the start. I also wanted to say "yes" for a change to the question of if I lifted weights. I've maintained my motivation because it's my hobby and I love it.
Q. You're arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all time. To what do you attribute your amazing success?
A. Number 1, the love that I have for training. Number 2, simply because this is what God called me to do. It's my True Calling in Life. This could also be the main reason for my success. So I have two main reasons I attribute my success to. In life you have your career and you have your calling. My career was being a police officer and my calling was definitely to be a bodybuilder. The difference is God has a calling for everyone and when God calls us to do something, it's gonna get done. We just have to accept this calling and stay focused on it while at the same time work and dedicate ourselves to it.
Nothing really comes easy in life, especially if it's something that's really worth having.
Q. What moment in your career do you consider to be your pinnacle?
A. Winning my first Mr. Olympia in New York in 1998. Before that happened, accepting the free membership to MetroFlex gym that Brian Dobson gave me back in 1989. I could only accept it if I agreed to compete in the Mr. Texas bodybuilding contest a few months from then. That's how it all started.