Creating the Perfect Muscle Monster

Ronnie Coleman's nutrition plan to create the all-time freak
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“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” We hear this adage time and time again, and it has been emblazoned in our heads that, in bodybuilding, staying consistent and sticking with what works will lead an athlete to the winners’ circle and keep him or her there. Sometimes, however, you must know how and when to stray from the path in order to stay ahead of the competition. Rewind to the fall of 2002. Ronnie Coleman had just captured his fifth consecutive Mr. Olympia title and was on his way to New Orleans to compete in the 2002 GNC Show of Strength. We all know that show concluded with a shocking loss for Ronnie, when Günter Schlierkamp edged him out for the victory. But what most of you don’t know is that Ronnie and I completely revamped his program to create his freaky 2003 Mr. Olympia physique—the physique that dwarfed and dominated the entire lineup.

After the finals of the 2002 Show of Strength, Ronnie and I had a long talk and knew that in order to continue on with our reign of Mr. Olympia victories, we could no longer sit back and be comfortable with the game plan that had garnered wins so often before; it was time for the reinvention of Ronnie Coleman, and this is where the plan for creating the perfect muscle monster began. We knew it was time to give the audience and the judges something they had never seen before from Ronnie—or from any other Mr. Olympia for that matter—and that we would have to push things harder than ever before, but we would also have to be fresh.

From the night of the 2002 GNC until Jan. 1, 2003, Ronnie rested and took the time to relax and recuperate. On Jan., 2003, our off-season and new game plan began. Up to this point in time, the heaviest Ronnie had ever been during the off-season was about 310–312 pounds, but we knew that even as the reigning Olympia champ, Ronnie needed to kick the program up several notches and place himself out of the reach of his competitors. With our revised strategy, we set out to reach a goal of 320 pounds for the 2003 off-season. I wasn’t going to be satisfied with just improving 5–10% and just winning the title again—I wanted to go in and blow the competition out of the water by about 25%! If it were anyone other than Ronnie, it would seem virtually unrealistic to set this type of goal, or even try to push so hard, but I knew with Ronnie’s work ethic and crazy genetics, he was more than capable of reaching these goals and hungry to prove himself. I devised a three-phase plan for the year and thought it would be interesting to share the details with all of you. Many of you know what types of foods Ronnie dieted on, but few actually knew exactly how we went about putting together his incredible 2003 physique.

PHASE 1: January ’03 – February ’03

After taking a couple of months completely off of training to rest and recuperate both physically and mentally, Ronnie went back to the gym. At this point, I put him on a pretty clean diet, keeping his protein around 400 grams (I didn’t push the proteins or carbs at this point) and his carb intake around 800 grams. Ronnie’s protein always consisted of beef and poultry—he never ate fish. His carbs consisted of oats, grits, potatoes, and some rice—he never ate vegetables. This first phase of relatively clean eating lasted around eight weeks, taking us to March and the beginning of phase 2.

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