Ronnie Coleman is regarded as one of the best bodybuilders in the history of bodybuilding. He is the winner of eight Mr. Olympia titles and has carved a name for himself in the field.
Coleman has achieved a physique that can only be seen on statues of ancient heroes, dropping the jaws of even the most seasoned bodybuilders. While awe-inspiring, his exceptionally musclebound figure did attract speculation: did he use steroids?
Becoming a musclebound hulk naturally is tough but within the realm of possibilities. Hard work, persistence and refraining from dietary indulgences make the heroic physique a reality.
Let’s take a closer look at Ronnie Coleman’s bodybuilding career and discover if he achieved his build through external aid or not.
Ronnie Coleman’s Background
Born on the 19th of May 1964, Ronnie Coleman took an interest in sports, particularly basketball. His interest in the sporting field gave him a solid foundation in muscle building. And at just 14 years of age, his first signs of becoming a well-renowned figure in the bodybuilding community surfaced.
Throughout his early years, Ronnie Coleman remained in prime form. During his first job as a police officer, Coleman was among the cream of the crop when it came to physical conditioning. Soon after, his career would take the biggest turn as he was introduced to the bodybuilding community at the MetroFlex Gym.
By the time the ‘80s rolled around, he was already turning heads with his exceptionally well-built body. And after that, Ronnie Coleman never looked back.
1. Bodybuilding Career
After joining the MetroFlex gym, Coleman continued bodybuilding while working as a police officer. He also participated in powerlifting and bodybuilding competitions, earning himself several titles in the heavyweight and overall categories.
His climb to fame was relatively slow, compared to what he would go on to accomplish in the mid-2000s. Throughout the 1990s, Coleman continued participating in the Mr. Olympia contest, the most prestigious bodybuilding competition worldwide. Eventually, he secured his victory in the contest in 1998 and 1999.
It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that he began his reign as the Mr. Olympia champion. Coleman continued to participate in bodybuilding competitions and outpace others, and for eight consecutive runs, he remained victorious as the champion. He shares this feat in contests with Lee Haney, another bodybuilding legend.
2. Accusations Of Steroid Use
Throughout his career, Ronnie Coleman faced several allegations of using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) to increase his performance during training. Naturally, he denied using them and attributed his gains to good genetics and hard work. However, this was not enough to quash the accusations completely.
The question remained throughout his bodybuilding career, which saw an end in 2007 after his last Mr. Olympia appearance. Well after the end of his career, Coleman had to have several surgeries to treat the toll taken by his extreme physique building training. This included joint replacement of the hip and thighs, as well as hernia of the lumbosacral spine.
How Steroids Help With Muscle Building
Anabolic steroids result in an abnormally large growth of muscles, as they reduce the recovery time needed between workouts. They do so by quickening the healing of post-workout muscles, enabling the steroid user to return to the gym more frequently and work out more intensely.
To tell if someone has been using steroids, examining their workout sessions and resulting gains will provide an insight to it. Larger musculature, training schedules that may be impossible to follow by an all-natural bodybuilder and visible side effects are all telltale signs of steroid use.
Some of the visible side effects of steroid usage are:
- Male pattern baldness
- Roid rage
- Sleep apnea
Steroids have negative long-term consequences, as seen with Ronnie Coleman’s various surgeries. However, this can extend far beyond joint replacement and hernia, as it can even lead to cancer or cardiac arrest.
Can A Similar Physique Be Attained Through Supplements?
Supplements can certainly aid in stimulating muscle growth with consistent intake and workouts, but a build like Coleman’s would be extremely difficult.
But that doesn’t mean a well-built musculature isn’t possible without performance-enhancing drugs. Steroids are more of a shortcut than a complete deciding factor in one’s build. The human body can only gain muscle at a certain rate, and pushing it beyond what it’s capable of is bound to have consequences.
With protein and creatine supplements, a bodybuilder can maximize muscle growth without having to face side effects that come with steroids. Natural sources are the ideal supplements here, consisting of foods like:
- Dairy products
Oral supplements are also an option, which can be ingested prior to a workout session. These are tablets or capsules that contain a concentrated form of a specific protein or creatine tailored to promote muscle growth.
Training Matters The Most
Supplements or steroids won’t net a bodybuilder any benefits if their training regimen isn’t enough. Their body would demand hard work and dietary restrictions for the best results, starting with fat-trimming. Reduced fat increases the body’s ability to regenerate damaged muscle tissue, effectively increasing their endurance.
Bodybuilders must also perform bulk-up training that fits their specific goals. Compound exercises help them retain flexibility as their muscle mass increases, going hand-in-hand with a technique known as ‘progressive overloading.’
If their body isn’t challenged during workouts, a bodybuilder will see little to no growth. This is where progressive overloading comes into play, which involves a gradual increase in workout load for consistent growth.
By maintaining a balance of intense workout sessions and ample resting periods, a bodybuilder can maximize their muscle growth and increase in strength. Doing so will have the added benefit of remaining in shape for a long time.
Did Ronnie Coleman Use Steroids?
To answer concisely: yes. In a video released in 2011, Ronnie Coleman admitted to having used prescribed PEDs that were then presented to the Drug Enforcement Agency for inspection during competitions. His steroid cycle remains a mystery, though he has gone on record to say that his amount was equivalent to that of other athletes.
Coleman was introduced to PEDs by fellow bodybuilder Flex Wheeler at the age of 30. Before that, his bodybuilding training was completely natural. The allure of gaining mass quickly and winning major competitions by using PEDs may have played a part in his decision to start taking steroids.
Effect On Career Advancement
Ronnie Coleman has used PEDs to advance his career, as he claims his best all-natural finish was third place. The silver and gold ranks always needed a more competitive edge, and PEDs were the push he needed.
Coleman also claimed that PEDs did not factor in significantly increasing his overall strength. He attributed it to good genetics, proper diet, and natural supplements instead.
His decision to use PEDs in prescribed doses only limited the ill effects of the steroids, which he claims he has yet to face.
Do Genetics Play A Role In Bodybuilding?
Coleman’s attribution of genetics in his achievements in bodybuilding does raise a question: do genetics really matter that much?
Studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between one’s ability to gain muscle and genetics. Some individuals show a natural affinity towards strength training, while others have more difficulty with it. The reason behind this is that muscle fibers have to lend their nuclei to the muscles to produce more genetic material that signals cellular growth.
Genetics also determine the fat storage and loss in individuals, depending on the caloric consumption and energy burnt. The effects of genetics go both ways: they can make one person extremely responsive to training, while the next may have high fat deposition on a relatively lower intake.
Ronnie Coleman’s claim does hold up in the scientific sense. Combined with his usage of PEDs, it’s no wonder he was able to build his physique so effectively.
Ronnie Coleman did use steroids to enhance his muscle growth process, but that can’t be achieved without hard work. They provided him with the edge to compete with the best of the best, but he does acknowledge that others should not follow his footsteps. The risks associated with steroids are simply not worth it.
Using steroids in prescribed doses is generally less harmful than the rampant abuse of the compounds we’ve come to see, but natural alternatives are always better. Safe and effective natural substitutes are available on the market to bulk up.
With training that is tough but proper, ample rest and natural supplements, one can achieve a physique that’s close to Coleman’s prime. PEDs often don’t have to be the end-all, be-all.