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Is It Worth It?

They've won 29 Mr. Olympia titles, but at what cost?

Decompression of L4-L5 spinal disks (December 2007), decompression of L3-L4 spinal disks (July 2011), fusion of C4-C5-C6 neck disks (December 2011), left hip replacement (July 2014), right hip replacement (August 2014), fusion of L3-L4 spinal disks (July 2015), refusion of L3-L4 disks (February 2016). With seven hospital stays since he retired, eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman has almost as many surgeries as Sandows. What makes this especially noteworthy is that fact that Coleman isn’t just, arguably, the greatest bodybuilder of all time. He was also one of the strongest. His heaviest lifts include an 800-pound squat and 805-pound deadlift, both for doubles; and he toiled twice daily with only a little less weight but many more reps.

How much did all that heavy metal contribute to his too-frequent medical procedures? Moreover, just how healthy is bodybuilding at its highest level—the rarefied air of the Sandow Society? In search of answers, we examine the philosophies of the four winningest Mr. O’s. Together, Coleman, Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Dorian Yates won 29 of the 51 Olympias, and their divergent training approaches may help you maximize your results while minimizing your risks.


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