Q&A with 2013 IFBB New York Pro Champion Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay:
FLEX: You’ve grown so much in three years—I’m sure a lot of guys would like to know exactly what you eat every day. You seem to keep your body fat pretty low even in the off-season. What’s your advice for making big gains without getting fat?
BIG RAMY: First of all, genetics plays a big part. I have very good genetics and don’t put on fat easily. Second, I get some sort of cardio in every day off-season, even if it’s just 15 minutes on a treadmill after I lift. But everyone starting out in bodybuilding needs to realize that nutrition is the real secret to winning shows. Anyone can lift heavy weights, but to grow as much as I did in just three years, you need to be exceptionally disciplined with your food intake and never miss meals, no matter what. I believe you need to take in carbs, fats, protein, and a little simple sugar in the form of fruit every day. I keep my diet very simple and hardly ever cheat, which is how I stay lean off-season.
Someone who’s just starting out can adjust the number of meals to five or six, but the key is eating every two to three hours, even if that means waking up to drink a shake. If you keep the diet simple, there are no excuses for missing meals. CLICK HERE TO SEE RAMY'S OFF-SEASON MEAL PLAN!
FLEX: Every bodybuilder has a weak body part—but you don’t seem to! Do you train all body parts equally hard, or do you have some stubborn ones you train more than the others?
BIG RAMY: Most of us don’t have a critical enough eye to see what’s incomplete in our own frame. Having a trainer or experienced eye look at you is very important, especially in the off-season, when you’re making drastic changes to your physique. There are months when I train some body parts twice a week, but as they grow, I back off and go down to once a week or sometimes every other week.
I’m lucky that I’m very symmetrical, but that’s the result of having my coach constantly giving me feedback.
FLEX: When you train at Oxygen Gym in Kuwait, do you have a training partner? I’m wondering who motivates you to give it 100% every day.
BIG RAMY: Oxygen Gym has to be the best-equipped gym in the Middle East. It has everything a bodybuilder could possibly need, so I consider it my home away from home. I’ve never found a training partner there who can keep up with me, which is fine because I don’t need anyone to motivate me to push past my limits in the gym. I’m pretty intense and know exactly where I want to be in a few years, so I’ve always let that be my motivation. I have a lot of friends at Oxygen who support me and give me honest critiques. And the owner, Bader Boodai, believed in me from day one.