Bodybuilding is a sport of patience and perseverance. Professional bodybuilders train for more than a full year for a few moments under the bright lights when they face the judges. Whether during the offseason or during contest prep, letting off the gas, even briefly, could lead to a drop in the rankings when the big day finally arrives.
Champion Olympia 212 2019 Kamal Elgargni has been in the game for a while and he knows his body pretty well at this point. Combine machines and free weights in his routine, Elgargni has a good strategy when he enters a weight room.
Elgargni currently trains at MI40 Gym in Tampa, Florida. Even though it is in its offseason, it still follows a healthy and clean diet plan. This means that he does not have to spend too much time on do cardio to burn off excess calories.
The 51-year-old bodybuilder trains five days in a row during the offseason. This is an exclusive look at the battle plan of one of the most established and mature competitors.
Elgargni starts with the quads as he traditionally has a day off in advance. This means he can engage more in the training ahead. After warm up with leg extensionshis first big exercise is the leg press.
“I can start with two plates (45 pounds, per side), then jump up to three, then five, eventually reaching a max of ten plates. Then I do my work series.
It then goes to hack squats. At this point, Elgargni notes that performing each rep matters more than the weight he uses.
“Now that I’m older, I do these sets slower because my muscles aren’t as fresh as those younger guys. I always take it slowly. Elgargni will work up to five or six plates per side, depending on how he feels. In his final set he will take some of the weight off and pull for 20-25 reps.
He ends his first workout of the week by returning to leg extensions. It goes 20-30% heavier this time, and it also adds walking lunges in as a superset. Each time he goes to prepare for his next competition, he add front squats also in rotation.
- Leg extension: 4-5 x 25-30, as a warm-up.
- leg press: 3×15
- Squat with safety bar: 3×10-12
- Hack Squat: 3 x 12-15, then two drop sets with 12-15 and 20-25 reps.
- Leg extension superset walking lunge: 3 x 15-20 and 10 repetitions per leg.
Elgargni is not paid by the hour to train. So he keep rest periods short for this workout and all the others. If he has a partner, then he leaves as soon as Elgargni has finished, and vice versa.
The next step is chest day. Elgargni trains for hypertrophy and physical development – that means he feels he doesn’t need to train with super heavy weight for low reps.
“I never do anything for less than 12 reps,” he says. Among the exercises he does for the chest is the flat barbell press, which he works up to a maximum weight of 110 pounds in each hand. He will do all three sets of work with this weight.
Note that Elgargni likes to do multiple warm-up sets on each exercise he performs.
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Elgargni occasionally trades wide-grip lateral pulldowns with one-armed machine pulldowns at the start of his back workout. For this session, he starts with the first. His next move is a seated row machine, and he works up to five plates on each side by the time he’s ready to start his work sets.
He explained that his top weight is also used for all of his work sets. Elgargni then switches to the lat pulldown behind the neck.
“For me, if I’m light and not heavy, with good technique, it works like a back double bicep pose,” says Elgargni. “So I go down, squeeze, then let go. I’m not going crazy with this.
He then moves to the wide-grip seated row, which he uses to target the mid back. His back workout also includes tight pulldowns and a superset of hyperextensions with its body weight and low seating rows.
- Wide grip Unrolled lat: 3×12-15
- One-arm seated rower: 3×12-15
- Pulldown Lat behind the neck: 3×12-15
- Wide grip Seated row: 3×12-15
- Close Grip Pulldown Lat: 3×12-15
- Back extension superset Low seat row: 3 x 12-15 each.
the old Champion Olympia 212 shoulder day starts with a side machine raise to focus on his side deltoids. He starts with both arms simultaneously, but as he progresses in weight he can switch to one side at a time.
“You don’t want to start with free weights or dumbbells. The machine is easier to control,” says Elgargni.
Her first press is on the smith machine. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Elgargni is not a fan of dumbbell shoulder press. He finds it difficult and tedious to place the weights in the correct position.
Once his shoulders are warmed up and ready, he then moves to The dumbbells for more side raises. It will go from 14 kilograms to a maximum weight of 20 kilograms. Once he reaches that weight, he begins his working sets. Then he moves to the rear deltoids doing reverse pec-deck flyes.
His approach to front raises is different from the standard version of the exercise: “Let’s say I lift the weight in the right arm. When I go up to shoulder height, I also move it slightly to the left,” he said. “I do the same with the left arm, lifting slightly to the right.”
Elgargni goes train the hamstrings with quads at the start of its offseason. When he enters the phase he calls “preparing for the offseason”, he separates them. Even though he only has three moves on the agenda, he makes the most of each of them.
Like other days, he begins hamstring training with a machine movement – extended leg curls. He also has emphasizes flexibility between series.
“I really like elongation my hamstrings between sets. I do a lot of stretching,” he says. It also increases reps for lower body training. He explains that while he can do more reps, it’s not exactly as if he’s going light:
“The weight I use for this rep range is a heavyweight. I work hard to complete the set.
After lying down and standing up, he load a bar for stiff-legged deadlifts.
“The smaller plates help me lower the bar more. I can get a deeper stretch than with the 45s.”
These moves are some of Elgargni’s favorites, but he works in other options as well.
“I can do deadlifts instead of hyperextensions, or I can do partial deadlifts sometimes. To change things can be good. From time to time, I will change one or two exercises from each of these workouts.
Arm day starts with biceps workout. After warming up with a curling machine, he heads to the dumbbell rack. He will warm up to a maximum barbell weight of around 20 kilograms and complete three sets of work.
Then he switches to the EZ-Bar for curling, which he prefers to a standard bar.
“I don’t use a tight grip on these curls,” says Elgargni. “It’s about mid-to-shoulder width.” The top weight he works with is two 25-pound plates on each side.
He finishes the biceps with four sets of focus loops. Elgargni then moves on to triceps with two cable movements. It starts with a close-grip pushdown and then transitions to a reverse-grip version with the arched grip.
I like to end up with something that I can really squeeze my triceps with.
If he feels good, Elgargni will do a tried-and-true superset of the skull crusher paired with a tight-grip chest press. The last exercise will be either rope extensions or single arm aerial extensions. He also likes one-armed cable kickbacks.
“One day I’ll train the abs, the other the calves, and I’ll repeat throughout the week. I also train them all year round.
Among his favorite abdominal exercises are decline crunches and 45-degree leg raises for four sets of 25 reps each. It will also occasionally use cable crunches. The final move is standing twists with a broomstick on his back, which he does for 100 total reps.
Calf movements can include seated calf raises, standing calf raises, and calf raises on the leg press.
Elgargni will occasionally use a pre-workoutbut he describes himself as someone who traditionally depends on coffee before he started training. He’s also a big fan of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and creatine.
“I use BPI’s Best BCAA, it’s my favorite. I can drink this all day. I even use it with meals instead of soft drinks. I love add creatine during or after training too.
Elgargni will be looking to reclaim the Olympia 212 title when he competes in the Olympia 2022 in Las Vegas, NV on the weekend of December 16-18, 2022. He will face the current champion Derek Lunsfordwinner 2020 Shaun Claridaand a bunch of other suitors.
Based on the vigor and volume of his off-season training, Elgargni should be in excellent fighting shape when the big contest rolls around in Vegas at the end of the year.
Featured image: @ifbb_pro_kamal_elgargni