Fans of bodybuilding are familiar with the health struggles that have plagued eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman in recent years. Coleman has endured over a dozen surgeries to his neck and back and, as a result, walks with crutches. Through it all, Coleman maintains a positive spirit and remains optimistic — thanks in part to two stem cell treatments, which are starting to pay off.
Coleman joined co-host Giles Thomas in a recent episode of the Ain’t Nothing but a Podcast show. In the video, released on Dec. 29, 2021, Coleman says that he’s beginning to feel like his old self again, and his weight gain reflects his health improvements.
Sporting a Ronnie Coleman Signature Series shirt that showed off his noticeable arm improvement, the Texas native revealed that he’s back up to 285 pounds. And if you’re having trouble believing that Coleman weighs close to what he did in his competitive prime, you’re not alone.
“I weighed myself five times on the scale downstairs, and I thought ‘maybe it’s because I’m downstairs,'” Coleman said on the podcast episode. “I was freaking out, so I went upstairs, and [that scale] was the same. I was like ‘wow.'”
Coleman’s Strength Gains
BarBend reached out to the 2016 International Sports Hall of Fame inductee directly to follow up on what he revealed on his podcast. Coleman was happy to share more about his progress, including what he considers the best improvement of all — the return of his signature leg size.
“That’s the thing I’m most proud of,” Coleman tells BarBend. “My legs had atrophied a whole lot since 2016 when I went in and had my first surgery — 2017, same thing, 2018, 2019, 2020, same thing. I was just about to give up on it, you know. Then, suddenly, about four months ago, I started feeling a pump in my legs. And then I noticed the size had come back, and the atrophy was gone. I was geeked!”
The man considered the most legendary bodybuilder of all time wasn’t just known for being big. His freakish feats of strength — including an 800-pound back squat and deadlift — only added to the mystique he brought to the stage.
While Coleman isn’t going to be moving that kind of weight anytime soon, he’s been more active on social media, sharing training clips, such as the one below in which he performed a set of leg extensions on Dec. 12, 2021.
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Coleman isn’t leg-pressing 2,300 pounds as he did in his prime, but he is throwing more 45’s on the machine nowadays than during his recovery.
I’m back up to doing five plates, one each side, up from three per side a few months ago,” Coleman says.
The eight-time Mr. Olympia’s improvements aren’t exclusively in the lower body. Coleman shared that he’s getting stronger on numerous lifts in the gym. For example, Coleman is moving weight, performing 20 reps of rear lateral raises. The new size is evident, and his trademark smile was on full display during the set (see below).
My strength has come up a whole lot. I’m going to say that it’s up about 40 percent.
He used the flat dumbbell press as another example, saying that he is now working with 70-pound dumbbells for his sets of 20 reps, which he does for every lift. He is training six days a week, as he did during his reign as the number one bodybuilder on the planet.
Coleman On His Health
Returning leg strength is undoubtedly a strong sign that Coleman’s physical health is improving. That said, the former police officer mentions that it’ll still be a while before he’s able to ditch the crutches.
“My feet are still numb, and my quads are still numb, but they’re not quite as numb. I can start to feel them a little bit,” he says. “Once I’m able to relieve this numbness, I will stand a much better chance of balancing myself.”
Coleman says that the stem cell specialist told him that nerve regeneration takes about two years. As Coleman explains on the podcast, the specialist’s claim was verified when the numbness in his neck went away after two years, almost to the day. Coleman is confident that the same will happen with his lower extremities.
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“I thought about what the doctor said, and he was right. That’s what I’m looking at now. It will be about two years before I get my full mobility and balance back. Then I can work on walking unassisted.”
With his most recent stem cell treatment having taken place on Dec. 27, 2021, Coleman is optimistic that he’ll keep on progressing. This positive news caps off a good year overall for the 57-year-old icon.
In September, he was honored with the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement award by fellow Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger. As great as that honor was, he’s even more excited to get back out to events and meet fans now that he is in better shape and spirits — “I can’t wait!”
Featured Image: @ronniecoleman8 on Instagram