Training

Big Ramy's Six Essential Exercises

Mamdouh Ellsbiay's machine-based training for monstrous size.

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Big Ramy's Six Essential Exercises

MACHINE SHOULDER PRESS

WHY

The mechanical shoulder press is the one outlier in our sextet of Ramy’s favorite machine lifts. That’s because, unlike the other five, it doesn’t provide an advantage over free weights at maximizing contractions. However, overhead pressing machines do provide greater stability. Some may see this as a minus. Certainly, just balancing a weight or two weights throughout a set stimulates muscle fibers. But this cuts both ways. “Machines let me just focus on pushing up without worrying about steadying the weight,” the Iron Hulk says. You can’t argue with his results. The Goliath who expects to contend for this year’s Mr. Olympia title has arguably the largest delts in bodybuilding history. 

HOW

Steady yourself in the seat. Big Ramy takes a relatively wide stance to secure himself. Grab the handles. Ramy goes wide. But then he is wide. Really, really wide. Freaky-crazy wide. Has-to-go-through-garage-doors-sideways wide. Take a grip slightly beyond shoulder width. Press up. “I stop just short of lockout,” Iron Hulk says. Doing so keeps constant tension on his delts. He does four or five sets of eight to 15 reps. 

WHEN

Elssbiay usually begins his shoulder routine with this exercise.

VARIATION

Many press machines are designed so that the device’s arms are pressed not just up but also slightly backward. Such an arc engages more medial delts along with the front delt heads. Therefore, if you sit “backward,” facing the seat back, the arc will be reversed and your arms will travel slightly forward as they go up. In such a way, you work medial delts less and focus even more on front delts.

LEG EXTENSION

WHY 

Legs straight is the resting point when doing most quad exercises. However, when doing extensions, this is the contraction. Therefore, there’s resistance through not just the kicking motion but also when your knees are locked. In effect, the contraction duplicates the lower half of bodybuilding poses like the front lat spread when your legs are straight. Big Ramy already has monster-size wheels. But he places a special emphasis on leg extensions to etch in deeper tire tread. “I need deeper cuts in my quads,” he says. “So holding the top of leg extension reps is very important to me.”

HOW 

Sit in the seat with the pads on your ankles and your toes pointed straight ahead and bring your legs up simultaneously to a knees-straight position. Elssbiay likes to hold each contract for a second and tense his quads as hard as possible for four to five sets of 12 to 15 reps.

WHEN

He does these first in his quad routine.

VARIATION 

These can be performed one leg at a time to better focus on your left and right wheels individually. You can also point your toes inward to focus more on your outer quads or outward to focus more on your inner quads. Try changing your toe position from set to set.

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