The Ronnie Coleman Training Split | The Ultimate Guide!


Ronnie Coleman was one of the greatest bodybuilders the world has ever seen. He won the Mr. Olympia title 8 times in a row from 1998 – 2005 and beat out many legendary bodybuilders like Flex Wheeler.

Ronnie trained with a unique 6 days per week push / pull / legs split where he trained each body part twice per week. If you want to learn the Ronnie Coleman training split then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Ronnie Coleman’s Training Split
  • Part 2: Ronnie Coleman’s Bodybuilding Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will show you how Ronnie Coleman structures his 6 weekly workouts using the 6 day push / pull / legs split.

The push / pull / legs split is one of the oldest and most effective training splits in the world. The idea is simple: you train your entire body over three separate workouts.

You have a “push” day where you train your chest / shoulders / triceps, a “pull” day where you train your back / biceps and a “legs” day where you train your quads / hamstrings / calves.

Ronnie Coleman trained using a 6 days per week version of this split where you hit each muscle group twice per week. Check it out:

The Ronnie Coleman Training Split

  • Day 1: Back / Biceps / Shoulders
  • Day 2: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves
  • Day 3: Chest / Triceps
  • Day 4: Back / Biceps / Shoulders
  • Day 5: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves
  • Day 6: Chest / Triceps
  • Day 7: Off

This 6-day training split can be very difficult to recover from but it worked like magic for Ronnie Coleman. Many legendary bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger also liked to train each body part twice per week using a similar training split.

So how did Ronnie Coleman organize his workouts?

First things first: Ronnie believed the fastest way to build muscle was to focus on lifting heavy weight for high reps. He says that too many bodybuilders focus on one or the other. They lift heavy for low reps or they lift the pink dumbbells for high reps. Check it out:

“It’s called bodybuilding and the only way you can build muscle is with repetition. Heavy weight, as heavy as possible and for as many repetitions as possible.”

Ronnie Coleman trained each muscle group with anywhere from 2-6 exercises per workout. His goal was to train each muscle group from many different angles to hit as many muscle fibers as possible.

Here is how Ronnie organized his back / bicep / shoulder workouts:

  • Back: 4 exercises
  • Biceps: 3 exercises
  • Shoulders: 5-6 exercises

Ronnie Coleman’s back / shoulder / bicep workouts were by far his most difficult workouts during the week. The rest of his workouts used far less volume.

Here is how Ronnie organized his lower body workouts:

  • Quadriceps: 3 exercises
  • Hamstrings: 2 exercises
  • Calves: 2 exercises

Ronnie Coleman only used about 2-3 exercises each for his quads and hamstrings. He liked to focus on exercises like squats, leg presses and hack squats for his quads and leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts for his hamstrings.

Finally Ronnie trained his chest and triceps on the 3rd and 6th day each week.

Here is how Ronnie Coleman organized his chest / tricep workouts:

  • Chest: 3 exercises
  • Triceps: 4 exercises

Ronnie’s chest and tricep workouts were by far the easiest workouts that he performed all week. But that doesn’t mean that these workouts were easy!

Ronnie often bench pressed 500 pounds for reps or pressed the 200 pound dumbbells for reps on his chest days.

Now let’s take a look at Ronnie Coleman’s actual workouts. We’ll start by looking at his first back / bicep / shoulder workout. Check it out:

Day 1: Back / Biceps / Shoulders

Ronnie’s Back Routine

  • Exercise #1: Conventional deadlift, 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps
  • Exercise #2: Barbell bent-over row, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: T-bar row, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #4: Standing unilateral DB row, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Bicep Routine

  • Exercise #5: Preacher DB curl (supinated grip), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #6: Ez-bar curl (wide / supinated grip), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #7: Seated alternating DB hammer curl, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Shoulder Routine

  • Exercise #8: Seated barbell military press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #9: Standing DB lateral raise, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #10: Barbell front raises, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #11: Rear delt pec dec, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #12: Bent-over DB rear delt raise, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #13: Standing DB shrugs, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 1 back and bicep exercises:

And here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 1 shoulder exercises:

Talk about a high-volume routine! Ronnie Coleman performs 13 total exercises for his back, bicep and shoulder workout!

Ronnie does something very interesting: he actually has two different workouts for each muscle group. For example Ronnie has a “back thickness” workout and a “back width” workout.

On this workout Ronnie focused on different back thickness exercises like deadlifts, barbell bent over rows, t-bar rows and one-arm dumbbell rows. These exercises are fantastic for building up the traps, rhomboids and spinal erectors as well as the lats.

Ronnie uses a similar strategy for his bicep and shoulder exercises: he uses a different set of exercises on his first and second weekly workout. Here is Ronnie’s first weekly leg workout. Check it out:

Day 2: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves

Ronnie’s Quad Routine:

  • Exercise #1: Back squats, 3-5 sets of 4-12 reps
  • Exercise #2: Leg press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Leg extensions, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Hamstrings Routine:

  • Exercise #1: Standing unilateral leg curl, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #2: Stiff legged deadlift, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 2 quadricep exercises:

And here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 2 hamstring exercises:

Ronnie Coleman’s first leg workout is very simple compared to his first back / biceps / shoulder workout. He only uses 3 exercises for his quads and 2 exercises for his hamstrings. Ronnie Coleman almost always starts his leg workouts with some type of squat.

In this workout he performs back squats while in his second workout he performs front squats. This is Ronnie’s way of rotating his exercises so he doesn’t hit a training plateau.

Here is Ronnie’s first weekly chest / tricep workout. Check it out:

Day 3: Ronnie Coleman’s Barbell Chest Workout

Ronnie’s Chest Routine

  • Exercise #1: Flat BB bench press, 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps
  • Exercise #2: Incline BB bench press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Decline BB bench press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Tricep Routine

  • Exercise #4: Seated unilateral DB french press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #5: Hammer strength machine dips, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #6: Standing cable tricep pushdown, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 3 chest exercises:

And here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 3 tricep exercises:

Ronnie Coleman has two types of chest days: a barbell pressing day and a dumbbell pressing day. This was his barbell pressing day.

Ronnie performs several warm up sets and then performs 1 all-out working set just shy of failure on the flat bench press. In this video Ronnie bench presses 495 pounds for 5 reps – wow! Then on the incline and decline bench press Ronnie works up to a whopping 405 pounds for reps.

Ronnie’s triceps routine is a little less interesting: he performs 3 very different exercises to train all 3 heads of the triceps. Now let’s look at Ronnie’s second weekly “pull” workout. Check it out:

Day 4: Back / Biceps / Shoulders

Ronnie’s Back Routine

  • Exercise #1: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #2: Behind the neck lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3-5 sets of x 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3-5 sets of x 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #4: Lying DB pullovers, 3-5 sets of x 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Bicep Routine

  • Exercise #5: Machine preacher curls, 3-5 sets of x 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #6: Standing alternating DB curls (supinating grip), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #7: Standing cable ez-bar curl, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Shoulder Routine

  • Exercise #8: Seated DB overhead press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #9: Machine lateral raise, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #10: Machine overhead press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #11: DB front raises, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #12: Cable standing rear-delt pull-apart, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #13: Cable bent-over rear-delt pull-apart, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 4 back exercises:

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 4 bicep exercises:

This was Ronnie’s back width workout. He performs 4 different back exercises targeting his lats: 2 pulldown variations, seated cable rows and lying dumbbell pullovers.

This back workout is very different from his first one earlier in the week. This is one of the advantages of Ronnie Coleman’s 6-day training split: you can use different exercises on your 2 weekly workouts to overload your muscles in completely different ways.

Here is Ronnie Coleman’s second weekly legs workout. Check it out:

Day 5: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves

Ronnie’s Quadriceps Routine

  • A1: Front squat, 3-5 sets of 4-12 reps
  • B1: Machine hack squat, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • C1: Walking lunge (BB on back), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Hamstrings Routine

  • D1: Lying leg curl, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • E1: Seated leg curl, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 5 quadricep exercises:

And here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 5 hamstring exercises:

For this workout Ronnie works up to an incredible 585 pounds for 4 reps on the front squat! Talk about strong legs!

The rest of the workout is rather simple: he performs a few heavy sets on machine hack squats, walking lunges, lying leg curls and seated leg curls. Ronnie makes sure that he uses different exercises from his first weekly workout to avoid hitting a training plateau.

Finally here is Ronnie’s second weekly chest / triceps workout. Check it out:

Day 6: Chest / Triceps

Ronnie’s Chest Routine

  • Exercise #1: Flat DB press, 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps
  • Exercise #2: Incline DB press, 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Flat DB fly, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Ronnie’s Triceps Routine

  • Exercise #1: Lying ez-bar extension (behind head), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #2: Close grip bench press (with ez-bar), 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #3: Two-arm seated DB french press, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
  • Exercise #4: Two-arm bent-over DB tricep kickbacks, 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 6 chest exercises:

And here is the training video for Ronnie’s day 6 triceps exercises:

This is Ronnie Coleman’s dumbbell pressing workout. Ronnie performs several warm up sets and then lifts the 200 pound dumbbells for reps on both the flat dumbbell press and the incline dumbbell press. Incredible!

The rest of the workout was a lot less exciting. Ronnie performs some dumbbell flies for his chest and then performs 3 different triceps exercises to target the long head, the lateral head and the medial head of his triceps.

Conclusion

Ronnie Coleman trained using a unique 6-day push / pull / legs split. This is an extremely difficult training split to recover from but it worked like magic for Ronnie. I especially like the way Ronnie trains each muscle group using different exercises in each workout.

If you are an advanced bodybuilder and respond well to high-volume routines then go ahead and give the Ronnie Coleman training split a shot. It may be just what you need to take your training to the next level.

If you enjoyed this content then check out my article “The Ronnie Coleman Training Program!

“When you love something as much as I love bodybuilding you don’t have to do much extra to push yourself, it just happens.

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.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

 

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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