Who has better quadriceps development, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Big Ramy, aka Mamdouh Elssbiay? It seems like the word quads has become a catch all meaning “upper thighs” because bodybuilders with large upper legs and hip development but poor quadriceps shape and incomplete quad development are being credited as having great quads. Great quads can include having very wide, chafing, unnecessary inner thigh development, all going steady with gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and other muscles so large that they make your hips a half a foot wider than your waist. All that seems to be a total oversight, but somehow the idea of great quads resonates.
Let’s start with this back view of Ramy. Do people see this and somehow it doesn’t register as out of the ordinary, and not in a good way? Put aside bodybuilding for a second, when in human history was a man having his hips much wider than his waist considered a bonus? And when until now in bodybuilding has that been the case? This shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger was always fine, except we’ve grown as a species to now understand that he just needed an additional three inches of width on each side of his hips.
Did the emphasis on glutes start with Rich Gaspari? Gaspari was the Tom Platz of shredded glutes. But let’s talk Tom Platz first. When Tom Platz hit the scene in the late 1970s early 1980s, striated quadriceps became a thing. Whether that was through increased leanness, endless flexing of the quads in full lock out flexion, or other factors, the number of striated quads grew. Tom Platz also set the new standard for hamstrings as well. Who prior to Platz had leg biceps like these? A few years later, Lee Haney’s chief competition at the Mr Olympia for several years, Rich Gaspari, showed up at contests with striations on his gluteus maximus. A new standard? Apparently, because shredded glutes became a more frequent sight at bodybuilding contests. Added leanness, glute training, glute flexing, and, whatever other factors were employed, brought everyone up to the, godfather of glutes level. Without consulting the fans, bodybuilders started donning, if not thongs, thong-ish posing trunks. At some point, the powers that be, had enough because they started new Mr Olympia divisions that were more modest. More divisions also meant more revenue but the fact that corporate demanded more posing trunk fabric wasn’t for nothing. The most extreme measures were taken by the men’s physique division, who went full board shorts, taking, not only what Gaspari had wrought, but Platz’s influence, out of the equation.
Back to Ramy. This is beyond gluteus maximus development. This includes plenty of gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae training, aka abductor training, as in doing exercises which widen the hips, especially when you’re on supplements that make you respond hindquarter-wise like a Belgian blue cow. And look how much thought these gentlemen are putting into glute display, this is getting into woman’s fitness territory. Keep in mind this is supposed to be a side chest pose. They’re taking a detour however, you’ll have to wait for the side chest, they need to bend over and flex their glutes first. Men’s bodybuilding was traditionally shoulder and pec dominant but the glutes and all the associated hip muscles are rising in influence.
And before we compare Schwarzenegger’s quads to Ramy’s, let’s pay attention to the adductor muscles, the inner thigh muscles. Somehow, this whole section of the thigh is lumped in with quad development. The adductor muscle group is obviously important, up to a point. The adductors start looking awkward after a certain level of development. Do you think Arnold would have benefited from giant inner thigh muscles?
The pre Tom Platz era bodybuilders didn’t focus nearly as much on the hamstrings as do current era bodybuilders, and as developing the hamstrings to gargantuan proportions doesn’t lead to the awkwardness levels of does developing huge inner thighs or hips, lets move on to the quadriceps. Quadriceps come in different sizes and shapes, tear dropped vastus medialis , comma-shaped medialis, etc…, but Arnold’s inner quadriceps stood among the longest and most tear dropped quads of all time. He had three dimensional quad detail in general, from knee to hip. Contrast Schwarzenegger with someone from his era, say Franco Columbu. Even pre leg injury, Franco lacked the length, three dimensionality, and detail of Arnold’s quads. And what about Ramy’s quads? Ramy is lacking the overall three dimensionality to his quads, they aren’t as separated, or full, higher up near the hips. Not sure what this indentation is in the vastus medialis. The outer sweep of the quads is overdone but also note that the outer quads, Ramy’s vastus lateralis, can look straight edge flat in certain shots, sticking out unaesthetically, yet literally flat, at the same time. And back to the adductors, if you do develop your inner thighs to Ramy proportions, it would help to have a clear delineation of the sartorius muscle to separate the whole inner thigh from looking like one big smooth mass with not a lot going on. All this, and we didn’t even get into upper leg development eclipsing the lower legs.