The 2023 Mr. Olympia contest is approaching in less than six months, prompting IFBB head judge Steve Weinberger to discuss the possible lineup. In a recent The Menace Podcast with Dennis James, Weinberger assessed Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay‘s future and laid out paths to victory for Andrew Jacked and Samson Dauda.
Last year, the Mr. Olympia competition turned the Men’s Open division on its head. Elssbiay was unable to defend successfully despite his status as an overwhelming favorite. The finals were determined following a three-man battle between Hadi Choopan, Derek Lunsford, and Nick Walker. In the end, the completeness of Choopan’s physique stole the show. His victory ignited discussions online about which direction the Men’s Open division was headed, given that a mass monster no longer held the crown.
Since Ramy’s fall from the top, Steve Weinberger has been open with the public about what went wrong for the former champ. According to Weinberger, Ramy appeared to be suffering from injuries on stage as his lats, back, and arms looked to have lost detail.
In March, competitors gathered in Columbus, Ohio for the 2023 Arnold Classic. After finishing fifth at the Olympia contest last December, Big Ramy was eager for redemption. While many in the sport thought he delivered a refined package, the judges once again saw Ramy outside of the podium in fourth. Meanwhile, Samson Dauda won the 35th Arnold Classic title.
With shake-up after shake-up, fans expect another unpredictable Mr. Olympia contest. Athletes are either eying their tickets to the show or already amid preparations. Weinberger, who serves as one of the busiest judges in the league, took a breather to offer insight on many of the top contenders targeting gold in November.
Steve Weinberger Breaks Down Physiques of Hadi Choopan, Big Ramy, Samson Dauda, Andrew Jacked: “Previous Doesn’t Mean Anything”
Weinberger first clarified that athletes aren’t judged based on the physiques they brought to previous contests.
“Absolutely not, they can look great a year ago, it matters what you look like on that date at that moment. Previous doesn’t mean anything. Look at Big Ramy, look at what happened there at the Olympia, it does not matter. You can look like shit next week or that week but on that day if you look good, you’re good to go,” Steve Weinberger said.
He explained that Choopan had a ‘few problems’ with his physique in 2021 compared to last year when he presented his most complete package to date.
“In 2021, he [Hadi Choopan] had a few problems with his physique. He was harder in 2021, but he was a more complete package in 2022. He had a couple of problems in 2021, you know what they were.”
Given Ramy’s last two performances, Steve Weinberger says it would be best if the Egyptian native took some time off. While he doesn’t believe Ramy is finished, he shared that the former champ’s shoulders, arms, and back need improvements. In addition, he underlined that Ramy’s oversized legs are disproportionate to the rest of his body.
“He was here all week training. We had a talk right after the Olympia, we had a talk even during this last previous week. I think he might need a break honestly and he needs to leave his legs alone. His legs are way out of proportion. His back still has to come up and his shoulders and arms… look like they deflated a little bit. He really did not look good in Pittsburgh. I think he might need some time honestly. Maybe a year to step away. I don’t think he’s done. I think he needs a break, I really do,” Weinberger said.
Dennis James said Ramy took a break from training recently following a stem cell treatment. Weinberger suggested Ramy take a break from dieting and ‘hardcore’ training in the meantime. A few weeks ago, Ramy shared that he was training ‘angry’ and focused on winning back his title.
“I asked him and said ‘Are you going to do the Olympia this year?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, I have to stop training, I start training again in two weeks’ when they allow him to start training and he’ll see how his body responds” Dennis James said.
“He might need a break honestly,” suggested Weinberger. “Like I mean, not dieting, hardcore training, put that mask back on and then bring it back down. More than two months I mean. Because if he’s getting ready for the Olympia now, what’s he got, three months to really train, and then he has to start his diet.”
“He can’t take it easy. He’s got to train his ass off for a year. I don’t mean sit by the pool and have a margarita, I mean get in the gym and bust ass,” added Weinberger.
Even though many in the community thought Ramy improved at the 2023 Arnold Classic, Steve said Ramy looked the same or worse. Similar to Mr. Olympia, Steve thought Ramy’s size ‘was gone’ in Ohio.
“He didn’t really look any better at the Arnold to tell you the truth. I don’t think so, no. It was also different guys too but I don’t think he looked better,” said Weinberger. “His size was gone too. I didn’t think he was [bigger] at the Arnold. The legs are always big. The legs are never a problem for Ramy. He doesn’t even have to train Ramy. I’m talking about his upper body.”
Steve Weinberger is convinced the sport won’t see another highly-dominant Mr. Olympia again like Ronnie Coleman.
“Those days are over. I don’t think we’re ever going to see an eight-time Mr. Olympia again or a seven-time or even a six-time, I could be wrong but I don’t see it. There’s no one I see that’s dominating that’s going to dominate like that.”
Lastly, Weinberger laid out paths to Mr. Olympia victories for Samson Dauda and Andrew Jacked. He predicted Dauda will break into the top three in November with back improvements.
“He has to really keep this same size, improve the back and dial it in just a little bit harder. He has Mr. Olympia potential. I would be surprised if he wasn’t a runner for the top three, including one, second and third. He really just needs to pick [up] that back.”
“He [Samson Dauda] needs conditioning and more back,” added Weinberger. “Great hamstrings. Great shape. At Pittsburgh he wasn’t sloppy, he was pretty good. Absolutely, he’s got a beautiful body and a lot of muscle.”
As for Jacked, Weinberger said he’ll be in the running for gold once he brings up his lower body.
“Andrew Jacked’s got to build those legs up. He’s got the frame to do it but that lower half has to get built. If he had legs like Ramy, I don’t know what would happen. The Arnold he was flat”
Despite his success in the IFBB Pro League recently, Andrew Jacked has yet to earn an invite to the Mr. Olympia contest taking place Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, Florida. Jacked is currently preparing for his first title defense at the 2023 Texas Pro, which is coming up in August.
The Mr. Olympia contest is always a thrilling spectacle for fans, who are eager to see if Choopan can defend his title. As Steve Weinberger points out, becoming a dominant reigning Mr. Olympia champion is no easy feat.