Bob Cicherillo Casts Doubt on Path to Redemption – Fitness Volt
Bodybuilder Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay became the talk of the town after getting dethroned at the 2022 Mr. Olympia last December. In a recent episode of Voice of Bodybuilding, athletes’ representative Bob Cicherillo shared his thoughts on Ramy’s downfall and laid out his potential path to redemption.
Former two-time Mr. Olympia Big Ramy first gained attention for his crazy muscle mass and size as an IFBB Pro Men’s Open contender after winning the 2013 New York Pro. The victory qualified him for his first-ever Olympia contest where he placed eighth. Ramy continued to work his way up the ranks, improving his physique over the years while racking up more wins, including the 2014 New York Pro, and the 2015 Arnold Classic Brasil. He came close to winning the Olympia in 2017 but fell short of seven-time champion Phil Heath.
Big Ramy finally secured the coveted Sandow trophy by beating former victor Brandon Curry at the 2020 Mr. Olympia. He added a successful title defense the next year in 2021 and appeared to be much ahead of his competition in terms of sheer muscle mass. However, Ramy’s downfall happened at the 2022 Mr. Olympia three months ago. He came in looking visibly off and fell down to the fifth spot.
After the show, there was a lot of speculation about what went wrong with the Egyptian mass monster. Ramy sought stem cell treatment from Dr. Khan to help boost his recovery from nerve damage. He didn’t want to stay on the sidelines for too long and signed up for the 2023 Arnold Classic. While many seemed to count him out for the title, Dr. Khan reported positive results from the treatment.
Coach Milos Sarcev backed Ramy to exact revenge on Olympia runner-up Nick Walker with his huge x-frame and v-taper. Ramy showed promising signs in the build-up to the contest as he shared an impressive physique update three weeks out of the show. Bodybuilder Kevin Levrone bashed Ramy’s ability to get shredded and didn’t see him posing a threat.
Ramy’s coach Chad Nicholls was optimistic going into the contest. He believed the problems Ramy faced at the Olympia were resolved, putting him back in the mix of title contention. Legendary bodybuilder Jay Cutler extended his support for Big Ramy to pull off an incredible comeback with a win at the Arnold Classic.
Although Ramy came in better form, it wasn’t enough to score gold as Samson Dauda triumphed over everyone. Ramy finished fourth behind runner-up Nick Walker and third-place finisher Andrew Jacked.
Following the Arnold Classic, Cicherillo weighed in on the outcome with his breakdown of the competition. He believes Walker missed out on the top prize because of a loss of the freak factor he’s renowned for and went as far as to say he could’ve placed a rank behind at third. He also hit back at the criticism lodged against the judging of the event.
Cicherillo detailed the proper way to judge a bodybuilding show earlier this week. He reinforced his stance on why Walker didn’t come out on top and provided a comprehensive way to assess a physique.
Bob Cicherillo doesn’t think Big Ramy can win Mr. Olympia again
In a recent YouTube video, Bob Cicherillo shared his thoughts on the downfall of Big Ramy. He explained the general career trend of a competitive bodybuilder.
“We go back 10 years ago in 2013 Big Ramy kinda came in big on the scene with a physique that would forever change the landscape of bodybuilding for the next 10 years with a big win at the New York Pro,” said Cicherillo. “But if we zoom fast forward to 2023, so 10 years later.
“What’s changed? Well, he’s 10 years older,” he added. “As this relates to training, from your 20s to your 30s to your 40s, and you’re going to see this, especially in Pro or competitive bodybuilders. In your 20s to 30s, you should be building a base for bodybuilding, building the shoulders, keeping that small waist, big flaring thighs, back, etc. From 30 to 40, you’re looking to refine your physique now. This is where it gets hairy because this is the golden spot for bodybuilders. This is where your peak conditioning, your peak physique as it would be is somewhere between 30 and 40. That’s the sweet spot. Let’s split halfway at 35. From 40 on, you should really be looking at preserving the body.”
Cicherillo highlighted a lack of adaptation with time as the reason for Ramy’s fall from grace.
“During the peak of your career, this is where I think Big Ramy has fallen into this trap, the exercises stay the same because you’re seeing results. In his Olympia career, he placed eighth, seventh, fifth, fourth, second, and then sixth again before he won two and then six. You can see the consistency that this guy was making great progress. We saw a better Big Ramy every time we saw him. We saw a refinement of the physique but his base training if it remained the same will only take you so far. Then, you’re going to start getting diminishing returns. Don’t need the squat anymore, don’t need to do bend over or bench press anymore. If anybody’s ever torn a pec, 99.99% of pec tears occur with the bench press. You can literally get rid of all these core exercises when you turn 30, once you reach the pros. This is the time to work on refinement; arms need to come up a bit, need more lat width, thickness in your back, bigger calves.”
“When you get towards the end of your career, as you approach 40, now you’re in preservation. That means you can start downsizing your training a little bit to compensate. You can’t do what you could in your 20s. If you keep going to the well, I can guarantee you will come up empty in one of those trips. That empty will surface in the form of an injury, something that’s chronic.”
Cicherillo wants Ramy to take time off: ‘The problems are a little bit more than we even think’
According to Bob, Big Ramy would be better off taking to the sidelines instead of continuing to compete in shows.
“What happened to Big Ramy? Aging process, training anomalies, he’s got clear differences to his physique. He’s also got, not to take away from anybody but who he started out with and competing against was a little bit harder in my opinion and a little tougher lineup… Was this lineup as tough as the one from 10 years ago? No, not in any way, shape, or form but Big Ramy was struggling. You can see why and that was against lesser competition.
“So the problems are a little bit more than we even think. What’s my recommendation? Take off. You’ve already heard his trainer Chad Nicholls recommend they do some stem cells. That’s a great idea just to kid of get back because I think there might be some nerve issues there. Let’s face it. Ramy is big. He’s 300 pounds. He hasn’t lost any muscle in terms of overall. He’s still carrying as much mass if not more but that seems to be a problem now.”
Cicherillo laid out Ramy’s potential path to redemption but added the caveat it might not happen in the first place.
“I don’t think he’s capable of winning an Olympia again. But let’s just say he wants to compete, he’s got more gas in the tank. First and foremost, I would take some good time off to let the body heal. Secondly, you want to try stem cells, TRT, peptides, lots of stuff that can help, you can go that route. Then, you can kind of revamp your physique. If I was Ramy and coming back, you wouldn’t see me for a year.
“I would revamp the whole physique if he can, come back, return to the old school physique, 10 to 15 pounds lighter and assuming he could heal any of those areas we saw to be a problem, he could be a contender again. It’s unlikely because he’ll be 41 years old at that point and it doesn’t get easier as you go on. It’s going to get much harder.”
Based on Cicherillo’s analysis, it appears Big Ramy’s best days might be behind him. The judges seem to have had a change of heart in their preference for the perfect Mr. Olympia physique, something Ramy would struggle to represent further.