Ronnie, it’s a pleasure to interview you on SpotMeBro. To kick off the first question it would be nice to learn a little about your background growing up. Where did you live and was fitness always a part of your life from an early age?
RC: Pleasure to speak with you. Well I grew up in a little town called Bastrop Louisiana. This was a real small town the kind where everyone knew each other. Fitness was a big part of our life but not exactly bodybuilding. We did things like swimming, track, football and baseball. I only started lifting weights because people would always ask if I did and I got sick of saying no! Then it became a hobby.
After you left school you studied at University and then joined the police force. What part of being a cop interested you? Did you enjoy your time in that career?
RC: Well to be honest I was having a hard time getting a job with my degree in accounting even though I did graduate at the top of my class. So, after struggling to find work for a few years and doing odd end jobs I decided to join the police force with some other guys because they were hiring. I loved my time as a police officer. Best job in the world.
During your time as a policeman you competed in Mr. Texas. From what we’ve read this was your first show after one of your colleagues, Gustavo Arlotta, asked you to join him at MetroFlex where Brian Dobson asked you if you wanted a lifetime membership in exchange for training with him for the competition. Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind your first show and what it felt like winning multiple divisions on your first try?
RC: Well like you said I really only did it so that Brian would quit asking me and I could get a free membership to the gym because times where hard then. It ended up being the biggest blessing in my life because I would have never decided to do bodybuilding and wouldn’t be 8X Mr. Olympia. Lifting was a hobby I loved but I didn’t even know what bodybuilding was at the time really other than what I knew about Arnold. I was used to eating pizza and burgers and didn’t want to do all of that dieting! But, like I said, Brian was a blessing in my life and I fell in love with the sport after that first show and I guess you could say the rest is history.
After you won your pro card a couple of years later how long did it take until you thought you were up to the calibre of athletes competing for the Olympia?
RC: Well my first olympia I was basically just a fan on stage happy to be there with the best seat in the house to watch the show! It really wasn’t until 1996 when I placed 6th that I really thought I had what it takes to compete with the best in the world and that I had a shot.
When did you know you had a good shot at winning the Olympia? Was there a point in your bodybuilding career where you knew you had what it takes to win?
RC: Honestly I never thought I would win until the moment that they called Flex Wheeler in 2nd place at the 1998 Olympia and I collapsed, I couldn’t believe it. I remember being on stage with just myself and Flex left and thinking “Wow I can’t believe I made 2nd place at the Olympia”. I always knew I had the dedication and determination to do anything but it wasn’t until that moment that I actually won that I thought I could win it all.
You’ve mentioned before that the competition that has held the most importance was your first win in 1998. At the time you were also working a full time job. Tell us what that win felt like after a brutal year of work and training.
RC: Man I can’t even put it into words and that’s why I collapsed the way I did on stage. It’s like all of the hard work, sacrifice, blood and sweat was all made worth it at the moment and it was an overwhelming feeling to know that you were the best in the whole world at something. I’ll never forget it.
After you won the first Olympia, was there any big pivotal changes in your life? After you stepped off stage were things different?
RC: Other than being called Mr. O and a little more recognition in public… nope! I went right back to work at the police department and my life as usual. I didn’t do anything differently.
After that first win to now, has your training changed much? Did you try different training routines and if so what has been your favorite?
RC: Well now at almost 52 with multiple surgeries my training has certainly changed. Father time comes for us all. But from that win until I retired my training stayed consistent. The way I saw it I found the training that worked for me so why change it if you keep making progress.
What about your diet? Have you worked with many nutritionists over the years?
RC: Only one, Chad Nichols, and I give him a lot of credit for taking me to the next level and being able to win the Mr. Olympia.
What was your favorite part of training and the bodybuilding journey? What pushed you to continue competing and winning? Bodybuilding is a notoriously difficult on the body and mind, how did you push through it all year after year?
RC: See I never did bodybuilding to become Mr. Olympia, it was just a passion and a hobby for me so it was kind of opposite of a lot of guys. Most have been always training to one day be a pro and win the Olympia. I just did it because I loved it. I loved challenging myself every day. The weight room was my therapy for everyday life stresses. No matter what I was doing I always wanted to be the best. When I was in school, it was being the best student, if I was delivering papers it was to be the best delivery guy they had. I put that mindset to everything that I do no matter how big or small the task. When you love something as much as I love bodybuilding you don’t have to do much extra to push yourself, it just happens. But there were some tough times and when those came up I just used my mental strength to push through knowing that my mind controlled everything.
We’ve heard that you recover fast. A lot faster than the average pro. What do you attribute that to? Is it a mindset thing? Diet?
RC: Certainly diet and rest has a lot to do with it as well as mindset like you just heard me mention but honestly, I was blessed with the genetics to recovery very quickly.
How has bodybuilding changed over the years? Do you think bodybuilders these days train as hard as back in your day?
RC: I don’t think the guys are nearly as conditioned these days as they were in my era, especially the mid to late 90’s. Every guy on stage was super ripped and hard. Nope, I don’t think they train anywhere close to as hard as we did or at least as hard as I did.
Which bodybuilders do you think are the up and coming Ronnie Coleman’s of this era? Who has what it takes to win this year’s title and perhaps another 8x Mr Olympia’s in a row like you?
RC: I don’t try to compare the best of each era against another champ from a different era. It’s like trying to compare Montana to Brady. They were both the best of their era but the game is always different from generation to generation so you truly can’t compare guys who never played on the same field or stage. Arnold was the best of his, Haney of the 80’s and me from my era. Can’t compare us though.” If anyone has a shot it’s Phil. He has 5 now so he’s the guy.
You are widely described as a pro bodybuilding trendsetter with the combination of size, conditioning and shape you presented. What trends do you see happening now within the bodybuilding industry?
RC: Well first I see the sport opening to more of the mainstream fitness athlete with the addition of the physique category. Like I mentioned earlier I just don’t see as many conditioned guys as back in my day.
Now that you’ve stopped competing I know that you haven’t stopped working 24/7. Tell us a little about what motivated you to get into the supplement industry and launching RCSS?
RC: Oh you know I can’t ever slow down. Well, I’ve been sponsored by several companies before and I think I did a pretty good job of growing their brand so I figured I could do the same thing with my own. Here we are, 4 years later, number 208 in the most recent Inc. 500 privately held companies. Also, it’s a great way for me to stay connected to and give back to the millions of amazing fans I have all over the world. I own it so they know there is no funny business here and my brand is a brand that they can trust.
By launching that brand I know you’ve traveled quite a lot around the world. Where has been your favorite place to visit? Are you surprised by the amount of fans you have in distant countries?
RC: I love visiting my fans all over the world and there are so many great places but I have to say Australia. They just have a differently level of love and respect for the sport over there and I look forward to going every year. Nope, I wasn’t surprised at all because I was exposed to it at an early age. In 94 I was in France and Germany where I qualified for the Olympia and the fans were so great there so I have been exposed to it for a long time now.
I have to ask, where did the phrase “Yeah buddy” originate from? It caught on and like a meme it spread. Not a day goes by where I don’t hear it being said in the gym!
RC: Well I just put out a video on that but basically I was in the gym lifting by myself and I was thinking of ways to get myself fired up and the first one was “light weight” and I liked that one for a while but then it got old. In Louisiana we called each other buddy a lot, so, one day I just blurted out “Yeah Buddy!” and it stuck. Same thing with “aint nothing but a peanut”, I was trying to think of something that was light to trick myself into thinking this heavy weight was actually light weight and I don’t know why but I thought of peanuts. I never thought in a million years they would become as popular as they are today. I even have a pre workout out now called Ronnie Coleman’s “YEAH BUDDY”. Sometimes I still don’t believe it.
Now I know lately you’ve had a few surgeries on your neck and back. Can you talk us through what has happened over the last couple of years and how you’ve pushed through it?
RC: Hey I paid the price to be the best and the only thing I regret is only doing 2 reps on that 800lb squat because I knew I could have done 4. That will haunt me forever. I approached recovery the same way I do anything, with a killer instinct and passion to be the best. The last surgery was actually just because of a part that malfunctioned from a prior surgery. The screws they put in weren’t big enough for my frame so one of them snapped.
Have there been any secrets to your recovery? Do you go for regular chiropractic treatments or massages, how do these treatments aid in your recovery?
RC: I wouldn’t call them secrets but yes, I definitely believe in weekly massage therapy and chiropractic care if you are going to stress your body out with this type of training. Deep tissue promotes blood flow and allows your muscles to recovery and chiropractic work helps keeps you neck and spine aligned properly so that all of your other systems are working properly too as a lot the nerves for them run through your spine.
One of your sayings is, “Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it” which has inspired thousands to just get the work done and take action on their fitness. Can you talk us through your philosophy on work ethic and life?
RC: There’s no secrets or magic tricks to being successful in life. It’s plain and simple. WORK HARDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE and the only way to do that is to do it. It may sound silly but it’s the truth and there aint nothing to it but to do it!
Lastly, is there anything that you want to achieve over the next decade in this industry? What’s next for you?
I want Ronnie Coleman Signature Series to become one of the top brands on this planet and a household name with all supplement buyers. My brand is for everyone at any skill level of fitness not just bodybuilders. We just had a massive packaging change to help attract more customers because I really want my supplements to help everyone not just bodybuilders. I even have a sleep product that is for every single person on this planet even if you don’t work out. Just like everything I’ve done in my life I want to be the best at this too and I know with hard work, passion and dedication my team and I will achieve that.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all of my great fans and customers all over the world. Y’all are the best and I wouldn’t be who I am without y’all.