Everything’s Bigger in Texas, even the weights!

The beyond-brutal workouts that built Ronnie Coleman, Branch Warren, and Johnnie Jackson.

It fits the persona of the Lone Star State—that cowboy ethic of rugged individualism, brutal labor void of pretense— and yet a trio of Texans has taken hardcore to another level of suffering. Last year when we ranked the hardest-training bodybuilders ever, we included Ronnie Coleman, Branch Warren, and Johnnie Jackson.

They moved metal, rep after rep, sometimes toiling at the same time in the same small gym. They are also the three strongest competitors to ever saunter onto an Olympia stage. Three years in a row (2004, 2005, and 2006), in the swelter of August and September, we journeyed deep into the heart of Texas and watched those three champs train, individually or paired up, in nine workouts. One of them was the best bodybuilder in the world, and the other two were among the top dozen.

What transpired spawned some of the most memorable articles FLEX ever published. Now, we look back at those workouts to discover what they tell us about the participants, the time and place, and the true meaning of hardcore Texas-style.

To get an in-depth look at the workouts that made these men the strongest Olympia competitors ever, check out the December 2011 issue of Flex magazine, on newsstands now!