Photos by Per Bernal
To carve out all three heads of the deltoids and craft serious mass in his traps, Big Ramy has relied on consistency, intensity, and the measured guidance of trainer Ahmad Alaqi. Here are his four rules for steady progress in size, shape, and definition.
MANIPULATE YOUR SET, REP, & WEIGHT SCHEME TO AVOID PLATEAUING
For seated dumbbell presses, as well as any other shoulder press he may perform, Elssbiay goes “heavy” in the sense of a mere mortal—he can max out the available dumbbells on the typical gym’s rack. But for the usual workout, he’ll opt for moderate weights that he can do for at least 6 clean reps, and up to 15 reps depending on where he is in his progression.
Speaking of, that progression is key: Over the course of five weeks, his rep ranges (and concurrent weight selection) gradually change from 12–15 to 10–12 to 6–8 for shoulders, as well as his back, chest, and legs, returning to the 12–15 range for the sixth week. It’s generally three to four sets per exercise, enough to squeeze as much benefit as possible from the move without overtraining.
This approach is designed to avoid stagnation, nimbly keeping him from falling into a rut. Muscles, after all, respond to new stimuli, so a steady diet week after week of the same reps, weights, and exercises is sure to backfire over the long term.
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