Let’s do the math. Near the end of 2011, Elssbiay weighed approximately 200 pounds, having been training only a little more than a year. When he stepped onstage at the New York Pro this May, he weighed 288, down from more than 300 a week earlier. There was 50% more of him! He’d gone from “regular gym dude” to Mr. O top contender in a year and a half in what may be the most dramatic transformation in the history of bodybuilding. Sorry, but those who arrived at this page hoping to discover some training or dietary secret are in for a disappointment.
Because whatever the cause, it’s found only in Elssbiay’s DNA. His nutritionist, Dennis James, a growth expert if ever there was one, calls him “one of those one-in-a-billion people who can just grow super-easily.” Again, with the mind-jarring math: There are seven billion people on Earth, and if there are six others anything like Big Ramy, it’s apparent they’re not 29 years old. Let’s just assume your profciency for growth is nothing like his and move on.
So, anyway, with that out of the way, how did Elssbiay train over that year and a half? Pretty much the same way he does now, but with a few more free-weight exercises and slightly lower reps. For arms, look at the included routine and maybe switch-in lying triceps extensions with an EZ-curl bar for the first four sets of pushdowns. Also, knock two reps off each set’s rep-range and increase the weights accordingly. That’ll give you a fair approximation of how he hit arms during his extended growth spurt.
And those picturing him sweltering through Ronnie Coleman-style barrages beneath sighing bars of clattering plates in some primitive desert iron pit are severely misguided. Big Ramy has done virtually all of his training in one of the world’s best-equipped fitness centers, one of Bader Boodai’s Oxygen Gyms in Kuwait, with access to machines so new you might need an instruction manual just to raise a sweat. He may be a fisherman from one of the oldest continuous civilizations on the planet, but Elssbiay’s workout tools are on the cutting edge of modernity. He lives literally right above the gym, meaning his cardio and weight sessions are always just a staircase away.