Big Ramy's Legendary Legs

How Mamdouh Elssbiay built the biggest quads of all time.


Photos by Per Bernal

His quads are so colossal he’s run out of space to put new muscle. Meat hangs from the sides like spare wheels on his wheels. When that’s coupled with his small knee joints and undersize calves (not to mention his cartoonishly gargantuan upper half), the effect is so astonishing that his first appearance onstage at the 2015 Olympia generated head-shaking murmurs of laughter. Like a visit to Jurassic World, the unreal is suddenly apparently real. When shape, balance, and separation are factored in with size, there are numerous candidates for greatest legs of all time. That debate continues. But for largest quads ever, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Behold Big Ramy.


Big Ramy always begins his wheel workout with leg extensions. At times in his career this has been only a warmup with two sets of 50. On other occasions he’s gone significantly heavier for four working sets of 15. Our sample routine cuts the difference with three sets of 20–25. Think of it as a working warmup. “This is to make sure my knee joints are warm but also to begin the workout with some real work,” Elssbiay explains. By starting with the only isolation exercise of his quad routine, he assures that the three compound exercises that follow better target his quads and focus less on his glutes and hips. He will often hold contractions for three seconds. Such tensing against resistance helps bring out quad separation and striations—a major focus for Elssbiay.


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