In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about Ronnie Coleman’s chest routine and how he built one of the greatest chests of all time.
Ronnie Coleman was the greatest bodybuilder of all time. He won the Mr. Olympia title 8 times in a row from 1998 – 2005 and outclassed many legendary bodybuilders like Flex Wheeler and Jay Cutler.
Ronnie Coleman was known for having one of the biggest and strongest chests of all time. In his prime Ronnie could bench press 500 pounds for 5 reps and press the 200 pound dumbbells for 15+ reps! Here is Ronnie repping out 500 pounds on the bench press:
Talk about a strong chest!
Ronnie trained his chest twice per week as part of his chest and triceps training day. On his first chest day Ronnie focused on barbell pressing exercises such as bench presses and incline bench presses. On his second chest day Ronnie focused on dumbbell exercises such as flat DB presses and incline dumbbell presses.
Here were his exact chest workouts:
Ronnie Coleman’s Chest Workout #1
- A1: Flat BB bench press, 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps
- B1: Incline BB bench press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- C1: Decline BB bench press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
You can click right here to see a full video of Ronnie’s barbell chest workout.
Ronnie’s first chest workout is incredibly simple. He focuses on barbell pressing exercises such as the bench press, the incline bench press and the decline bench press.
Ronnie has a couple of different ways that he performs this workout. Sometimes he performs several working sets per exercise with a moderately heavy weight. Other times he performs several warm up sets and then 1 all-out working set just shy of failure.
Here’s Ronnie’s second chest workout of the week:
Ronnie Coleman’s Chest Workout #2
- A1: Flat DB press, 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps
- B1: Incline DB press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
- C1: Flat DB fly, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
You can click right here to see a full video of Ronnie Coleman’s chest dumbbell workout.
Once again Ronnie keeps things nice and simple on his second chest workout. For this workout Ronnie focuses on flat dumbbell presses, incline dumbbell presses and flat dumbbell flyers.
Ronnie has a couple of different ways that he performed this workout. Sometimes he would perform 3-5 reasonably heavy sets with the same weight. Other times Ronnie would perform 1 all-out working set per exercise.
In the training videos Ronnie is pretty much performing 1 all-out set per exercise. He even performs some forced reps on the incline dumbbell presses!
In case you were curious here is the exact training split that Ronnie Coleman used during his bodybuilding career:
Ronnie Coleman’s Training Split
- Monday: Back / Shoulders / Biceps
- Tuesday: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves
- Wednesday: Chest / Triceps
- Thursday: Back / Shoulders / Biceps
- Friday: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves
- Saturday: Chest / Triceps
- Sunday: Off
As you can see Ronnie trained his chest twice per week on Wednesday and Saturday.
Ronnie Coleman’s chest workouts may look simple. However, Ronnie uses a number of advanced bodybuilding training techniques during his chest workouts:
- Ronnie trained with intensity!
- Ronnie trained with progressive overload!
- Ronnie trained with partial reps!
If you want to build a chest like Ronnie Coleman then these bodybuilding techniques are for you. Now let’s take a closer look at each of them. Check it out:
Tip #1: Ronnie Trained His Chest With Intensity!
Ronnie Coleman was known as the hardest working bodybuilder in the world. He trained with an unbelievable amount of intensity on his sets. Just take a look at the following video of Ronnie Coleman performing incline dumbbell presses:
First of all Ronnie is incline pressing the 200 pound dumbbells. That is just unbelievable! However, I’m even more impressed by HOW Ronnie is lifting the weight. Every single rep is performed with an explosive positive phase and a nice, controlled lowering phase.
Ronnie pushes himself all the way to muscular failure on this set. In fact Ronnie actually trains beyond muscular failure because his training partner helps him complete 2 extra forced reps. On the 6th and 7th reps Ronnie’s training partner pushes underneath his elbows to help drive the weight up to lockout.
How many people do you see in the gym training this hard in their sets? Even if you are a “high volume” trainer then you are going to have to push yourself on your main working sets.
Tip #2: Ronnie Trained His Chest With Progressive Overload!
Ronnie Coleman was the strongest Mr. Olympia of all time. He was also the biggest Mr. Olympia of all time. Was that a coincidence? I don’t think so!
One of the biggest reasons that Ronnie Coleman was able to build such an unbelievably large chest is he trained with progressively heavier weights throughout his career. When Ronnie Coleman first started training for bodybuilding he was nowhere near strong enough to bench press 500 pounds or the 200 pound dumbbells.
Every week Ronnie tried to lift a little bit heavier. Sometimes he used the same weight and tried to get more reps with it. Other times he tried to lift heavier weights and get the same number of reps.
The important point is that Ronnie trained with heavier and heavier weights throughout his career and his chest just got bigger and bigger. If you can bench press 500 pounds for reps then you are going to have a huge chest. There is no way around it.
If you want a huge chest like Ronnie Coleman then make sure you are training with progressively heavier weights over time.
Don’t get me wrong, progressive overload is not the most important part of building a big chest. But if you haven’t gotten stronger in the past 5 years then your chest probably hasn’t grown much either!
Tip #3: Ronnie Trained His Chest With Partial Reps!
Ronnie presses the weight about halfway up before bringing it back down to his chest. Why is Ronnie doing this? The answer might surprise you.
Ronnie found through trial and error that the bottom half of incline barbell presses is the part of the exercise that stimulates his chest the most. Ronnie wants to spend as much time as possible in this bottom position where his chest is being loaded and stretched out.
If he pressed the weight all the way up so that his arms locked out he would take the tension off of his chest and reduce his potential for growth.
If you are an advanced bodybuilder looking to increase the size of your chest then you may want to play around with Ronnie Coleman style partial reps on exercises like bench presses and dumbbell presses. Partial reps work extremely well if you know what your are doing.
Ronnie Coleman had one of the biggest and strongest chests in bodybuilding history. He didn’t waste his time on fancy machine or cable exercises. Instead he got brutally strong on the big basic exercises like bench presses and incline dumbbell presses.
Ronnie Coleman also used some advanced bodybuilding techniques during his workouts. He almost always performed partial reps in the stretched position and he sometimes pushed himself all the way to failure on his last set of each exercise.
No matter how you train there is a lot you can learn from Ronnie’s chest training philosophy. As Ronnie used to say,
“Light Weight! Ain’t Nothin’ But A Peanut!”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck with your strength training journey!
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