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Ronnie Coleman’s Back Routine

Ronnie Coleman is one of the, if not the most dominant Mr. Olympia of all time. He shares 8 consecutive victories along with Lee Haney. Ronnie is one of the biggest and most complete bodybuilders to ever step on the stage. Ronnie was unstoppable for 8 years as he swept the Olympia stage with gigantic legs, huge arms, a gigantic chest, and his best feature, his back. In this article, cited directly from Ronnie Coleman.net, we will see what exercises and routines Ronnie used to develop such a back.

Exercises and how they helped build Ronnie’s Back:


These have been the foundation of my back and traps routine since I first grabbed a weight. There’s no way around them; if you want great traps, you simply have to do heavy “deads.” No other exercise is as effective for building rock-hard thickness throughout the entire trapezius complex, from the bottom of its triangle.

Such an effect can be achieved only by pulling as much weight as possible, in a compound manner, from a bent-over position to fully upright. Use the traditional powerlifter’s form: Squat down, grab the bar with an alternate grip, use your arms as hooks only, then lift with your thighs, hips, back and traps. At the top, lock out by pulling your shoulders back, then let the weight hang. Feel the strain on your traps. Pyramid up to your maximum at two reps, and then do four sets of doubles.


Seated low pulley rows

This is a classic lat spreader, but it’s also a legitimate trap exercise. When the pulley is lower than your feet, the geometry of the movement directs the stress into the traps so that, as you pull, they pivot upward and contract. You won’t add tons of mass from low pulley rows, but because of the extreme range of motion, you will develop hard-to-reach trap muscles and thicken those that crawl up your neck. I do four sets of eight to 12 reps.

ronniecoleman031280T-bar rows

The reputation of this exercise is as a lat widener, but it’s even better as a trap builder. As you row, the trajectory of the bar pulls the stress up your traps, spreading it over their entire width. I do four sets of eight to 12 reps.

Olympic Lifts

If you watched the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, you may have noticed that all of the weightlifters had tremendous traps. That’s because when these guys perform their two lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk, no other muscle group takes more of a beating. For each pull and press, their traps have to exert superhuman effort, and the higher they yank the bar, the better their lift. Alternate these on shoulder day, using the snatch one workout and the clean and jerk the next. Perform four sets of five or six reps. Upright rows. This is a front-deltoid exercise, to be sure, but, as with Olympic lifts, most of the power for the pull comes from the traps. I suggest four sets of eight to 12 reps.


A good squatter, as he tightens for his descent, presses upward with his traps as hard as he can, in order to get the bar off his shoulders and alleviate its dead weight. The effect is a superior workout for the ski slopes of the traps, as well as for the fan area down the back, on which the bar directly rests. Maintain this isometric trap press through every set of squats. Incorporate each of these exercises into its respective bodypart workout, and you’ll eventually have a mountain on your back.

Ronnie Coleman’s Back, Biceps, and Shoulders routine:

Deadlifts, 4 sets,  6-12 reps
Barbell rows, 3 sets, 10-12 reps
T-bar rows, 3 sets,  10 – 12 reps
One-arm dumbbell rows, 3 sets, 10-12 reps

Barbell curls, 4 sets, 12 reps
Seated alternating dumbbell curls, 12 reps
Preacher curls, 12 reps
Cable curls, 12 reps

Military presses, 4 sets, 10-12 reps
Seated dumbbell press, 4 sets,  12 reps
(superset with)
Front dumbbell press, 4 sets, 12 reps

Source: RonnieColeman.net

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