Retro athlete
The tale of Mustafa Mohammad is like a book with the middle chapters ripped out. Without them, we’ll never know how great he could’ve been. The Jordanian-born Mohammad rose as high as he could in non-IFBB contests, winning two world titles in 1992 at age 26. Then he vanished—for nine years! That temporary retirement should’ve been his physique peak, but he stayed of stages and instead focused on his new life in Austria—raising three children with his wife and running his own gym. When he finally made his IFBB pro debut in 2001, he was 35. His subsequent career was disappointing. In his 24 contests between 2001 and 2006, he never placed higher than third. Seven times he failed to even crack the top 10.

The problem for Mohammad was always conditioning, never development. He failed  to achieve the arid look necessary to collect the biggest checks in even the smallest pro shows, but fans celebrated his startling level of thickness. His pecs, abs, and quads were especially dense. There are shots of him striking poses next to Branch Warren in the 2005 Charlotte Pro, and Mohammad has the clear edge in density even when looking at their legs and chests (and those are Warren’s strong points, too). But the Jordanian-Austrian didn’t have as many details. Warren was victorious that day and has since won two Arnold Classics and finished second in the Olympia. Mohammad was fourth that day, and he never made much of an impact afterward. 

Still, whenever his photos appear on bodybuilding message boards, fans marvel at how thick his physique was a decade ago. They wonder how great he could’ve been—if only he could’ve dialed it in. And what if he had continued competing those nine years when he should’ve been at his best? Could he have had a career of big paydays similar to Warren’s? We’ll never know. Today he is retired from competition, seemingly half the size he once was, and managing his gym in Vienna. Those middle pages were ripped out long ago, so the story of Mustafa Mohammad will forever be a mystery.


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    “The secret to my chest size is I don’t use any machines. I use only barbells, dumbbells, and dip bars.”
  • “Sometimes I divide my chest training into three three-week stages. The first three weeks I do flat barbell presses, flat dumbbell presses, and flat flyes. The next three weeks, I do those three exercises on an incline and the last three weeks on a decline.”
  • “I always warm up for 5–15 minutes with very light sets before my first set of bench presses.”
  • “For dips, I lean slightly forward and get a full range of motion, lowering myself as far as I can to stretch my outer pecs, then power myself all the way up and squeeze.”