“The secret to my chest size is I don’t use any machines. I use only barbells, dumbbells, and dip bars.” Known for having some of the biggest thighs in bodybuilding with measurements surpassing 32 inches, Mustafa Mohammad is a former IFBB professional bodybuilder who, as you can imagine, is known more for his physique rather than his competitive edge. But, beyond his well-toned thighs and massive chest, Mohammad’s entire bodybuilding story is interesting and incredibly unique as the Jordanian-born bodybuilder entered the industry as an amateur in the late 1980s only to disappear at the height of his success in the 1990s. So, what happened?
Mohammad made his bodybuilding debut at the 1989 World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships in the light heavyweight division where his 11th place finish was such a disappointment that he stopped competing. In fact, rumors suggest that he spent the next two years trying to get his body into the best physical shape possible before he entered the 1991 NABBA Mr. Universe competition in the Medium-Tall division. Winning second place and seeing his hard work finally pay off, he entered the same competition in 1992 and secured a victory shortly before winning the 1992 NABBA World Championships. With two world titles in 1992 at only 26 years old, many believed Mohammad was well on his way to stardom as a bodybuilder but, shockingly, he disappeared for nine years without entering a single bodybuilding competition.
Giving absolutely no reason or explanation for his temporary retirement, Mohammad could have easily launched his career as an IFBB professional bodybuilder; however, he shifted his focus to building his new life in Austria where he opened his own gym and spent time with his wife and three children. Obviously doing the honorable thing by putting his family first and his career as a bodybuilder second, Mohammad eventually returned to the stage in 2001 but his chance at stardom had expired long ago as the 35-year-old made his return debut as an IFBB professional only to be met with failure. Entering 24 contests between 2001 and 2006, he never ranked higher than third place and failed to break into the 10 top at least seven times, which included three Mr. Olympia contests where he placed 17th in 2004, 10th in 2005 and 16th in 2006.
With his timing obviously wrong after missing his window of opportunity in his late 20s, Mohammad faced widespread criticism as many commentators, competitors and fans argued that the 5’8” tall Jordanian never bothered to condition or detail his muscles enough to truly impress the judges. During the 2005 Charlotte Pro, pictures of Mohammad posing with Branch Warren proved everyone right as Mohammad’s muscles and density were far greater but his opponent’s muscles were much better defined, which sealed Warren’s victory in Charlotte and led to two Arnold Classic wins and second place in Mr. Olympia. By then, it was an easy argument that Mohammad might have been a real contender for the Mr. Olympia title and others had he taken the time to condition his massive muscles. Then again, hindsight is twenty-twenty.
Despite the widespread criticism over the definition of his muscles, Mohammad firmly believed in his unique training routine that produced his 21-inch arms and 32-inch thighs. “I always warm up for five to 15 minutes with very light sets before my first set of bench presses,” he told Flex magazine. “Sometimes I [even] divide my chest training into three-week stages. The first week I do flat barbell presses, flat dumbbell presses and flat flies. The next three weeks, I do those three exercises on an incline and the last three weeks on a decline.” As for dips, Mohammad said, “I lean slightly forward and get a full range of motion, lowering myself as far as I can to stretch my outer pecs, then power myself all the way up and squeeze.”
Making his muscular physique seem easy to attain and maintain, Mohammad eventually grew tired of the professional circuit and retired from bodybuilding in 2006 with his odds of winning any competition at 12:1. Weighing 270 pounds during his final year of comepting, he saw his ranking drastically fall in competitions like the Arnold Classic, the Grand Prix Australia, the Ironman Pro Invitational, the Mr. Olympia and the Grand Prix Austria where his lack of muscle definition ejected him from the top three and made retirement look all the more sweeter.
Now a decade into his retirement, the 48-year-old Mohammad looks drastically different with far fewer muscles than he had during his prime. Why? Instead of focusing on his own training regimen and maintaining his bodybuilding physique, Mohammad has focused on managing his widely popular gym in Vienna known as “Body Step, The Gym.” Offering everything from Pilates and Zumba to weight training and a spa, it’s obvious that Mohammad’s focus has shifted over the years as his once jaw-dropping 32-inch thighs and 22-inch biceps are a thing of the past. And, while many fans wonder about the what ifs of Mohammad’s bodybuilding career if he had made his professional debut in his 20s, Mohammad himself is much too busy embracing his life in Vienna to ever wonder about improving his odds of earning the coveted Mr. Olympia title. After all, he was already a world champion at only 26 years old.