Training

Big Ramy's Chest Test

8 facts about Mamdouh Elssbiay's all-inclusive chest workouts.

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Big Ramy's Chest Test

We journeyed to Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay’s “home office,” the appropriately mammoth Oxygen Gym in Kuwait City, Kuwait, to witness how the largest bodybuilder of all time is growing a chest to match the rest of his 5'10", 300+-pound physique. Here are eight takeaways.

1) Big Ramy aims for 10 reps on every set. (True or False?)

 FALSE – HIS REP COUNTS VARY 

For chest, back, shoulders, and legs, the mass monster alters his target reps each week, progressing from 6 to 8 to 10 to 12 to 15 over five weeks. Then he starts the five-week cycle again at 6. The rep progression allows him to change his focus subtly each consecutive workout, journeying from 6-rep strength sets to pump-up sets of 15 over five-week spans.

2) Elssbiay does incline dumbbell flyes first in his chest routine. (True or False?

 TRUE – TO PRE-EXHAUST HIS UPPER CHEST 

By doing an isolation exercise (incline flyes) before a compound exercise (Smith machine incline presses) focused on the same area (upper chest), the 2015 Arnold Classic Brazil champ’s upper pectorals are already tiring before he moves on to the presses. Doing this assures that his pecs will fail before his front deltoids and triceps can take over. Of course, it also means he can’t hoist as much iron in the presses as he could otherwise, but it’s much more important to Elssbiay that each rep of both the flyes and the presses is targeting his upper chest. He needs to maximize muscle there in order to keep it in line with its neighbors: his colossal delts and traps. Upper chest pre-exhausting is the perfect one-two combination to launch his workout.

3) The most common technique used in his chest routine is dropsets. (True or False?) 

 FALSE – HE USES FORCED REPS MOST 

Big Ramy does mostly straight sets with strict form. His trainer, Ahmad Alaqi, is always lurking to make certain he hits his rep target with proper form. On the last set of most exercises, Alaqi helps just enough so that Elssbiay ekes out a couple of extra reps.

4) Elssbiay rarely goes heavy on the bench press. (True or False?) 

 TRUE – HE STICKS TO MODERATE WEIGHTS 

He hit 365 for 10 in the workout we observed, which is still impressive. But heavy is determined by how many reps you do, not how much metal you hoist. Ten reps is a moderate set. Lower than 6 reps is a heavy set. Click on a rep calculator, and you’ll see that 365 x 10 equates to around 500 for a single and 425 for 4 reps.

Ramy doesn’t go up to five plates, and he rarely slides on four wheels anymore. As we discussed in the answer to Question 1, his reps vary from 6 to 15. He never goes heavier than that, and he hardly ever barbell bench-presses for single digits (he’ll do a different exercise on his heaviest days).

 

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