To say Derek Lunsford left a lasting impression at the 2022 Mr. Olympia would be a massive understatement. Transitioning from the 212 division, he made the most of his Men’s Open debut by coming within one spot of capturing the most coveted title in the sport of bodybuilding.
Determined to topple reigning champion Hadi Choopan from his Mr. Olympia throne, Lunsford enters this year’s contest as one of the prohibitive favorites. With his fellow competitors preparing to showcase their physiques during the Nov. 2-5 weekend in Orlando, FL, the former 212 Olympia winner (in 2021) hit the gym with legendary coach Hany Rambod for his final training session before he steps on stage.
Not only did Lunsford share highlights from his chest and triceps workout, but he also provided insight into his diet and mindset in a vlog posted on his YouTube channel on Nov. 1, 2023.
With the most important show of the year right around the corner, Lunsford seems satisfied with how the prep process has gone. Between drinking two gallons of water per day, doubling his dosage of probiotics for digestive health, and being diligent with his diet, the 2022 Mr. Olympia runner-up has put himself in a position to make a legitimate run at the title.
“I’ve never actually felt this good right before a show,” Lunsford said. “I just understand how this process goes better now. It’s a combination of growth as an athlete and also mental maturity in terms of not allowing myself to be overwhelmed with stress and anxiety and worry.”
After consuming a pre-workout meal of fish and white rice, he joined forces with Rambod one last time. The workout begins at the 15:20 mark of the video above.
Lunsford started the session on the plate-loaded chest press machine. After warming up with a 45-pound (20.4-kilogram) plate per side, he pushed his pecs further by adding a 25-pound (11.3-kilogram) plate on his next set. For his top set, the 2023 Mr. Olympia hopeful worked with 115 pounds (52.2 kilograms) worth of plates per side, making sure to squeeze out the final few reps before moving on to the ensuing chest exercise.
Next, Lunsford aimed to stretch and contract his pectoral muscles and serratus anterior using the pec-deck machine. To do so, he made sure to utilize the full range of motion, opening up his chest completely before bringing his arms together at the top of the movement.
Rather than allowing Lunsford to grasp the pec-deck machine’s handles, Rambod reminded his client to keep his hands open so he could get all of his muscle fibers to fire.
Moving over to the dumbbell section of the gym, Lunsford laid down on a bench to perform an incline press. Working with a pair of 50-pound (22.7-kilogram) dumbbells, he maintained a fairly neutral wrist position as he lowered the weight until his elbows formed a 90-degree angle.
Once he let the dumbbells reach chest level, Lunsford drove them back up, making sure to engage his triceps at the top. He only performed two sets of this exercise before switching up his method of blasting his pecs.
For another push-based movement, Lunsford hit the plate-loaded incline press machine. An easy warm-up set with a 45-pound plate on each side set the stage for a second set with double the amount of weight.
Although his client could go heavier, Rambod refused to let Lunsford increase the intensity. Instead, he had him perform a third set with the same load to wrap up this portion of the workout.
In a similar movement to the pec-deck machine, Lunsford worked his chest with a classic bodybuilding exercise: the cable crossover. Designed to maintain tension through a long range of motion, this exercise forced the top 2023 Mr. Olympia contender to push a little harder than some of the other exercises.
Rambod changed the angle of attack by dropping the cables down to the lowest setting for a low-to-high flye variation. Lunsford kept a supinated (palms-up) grip as he raised his hands in front of him and squeezed the upper part of his pecs at the top.
For more triceps work, Lunsford performed several sets of cable rope triceps pushdowns. Again, Rambod kept the load manageable, encouraging his client to push his hands apart and lock out his triceps on every rep. Lunsford maintained a slight forward lean during the exercise to ensure his triceps did all the work.
After working both arms with the rope, Lunsford performed single-arm triceps extensions using a handle attachment. This isolation movement allowed the 2021 212 Olympia champion to target the medial head of his triceps while also engaging his obliques.
The final exercise of Lunsford’s final workout before the Olympia had nothing to do with his upper body. Instead, Rambod had him perform calf raises on a plate-loaded machine. Even though he only used a 45-pound plate on each side, Lunsford achieved a visible pump throughout his lower legs from stretching and contracting his calves from a standing position.
Lunsford’s last workout certainly didn’t look as intense as some of his other training sessions leading up to the Olympia. However, that makes sense given the timeline and his need to perform well on stage. Still, you can utilize this chest- and triceps-focused protocol to build muscle and upper-body strength at your own pace:
Plate-Loaded Chest Press Machine
Incline Dumbbell Press
Plate-Loaded Incline Press
Cable Crossover / Low-to-High Flye
Cable Rope Triceps Pushdown
Single-Arm Triceps Extension
Standing Calf Raise Machine
There’s no doubt Derek Lunsford has the dedication and drive to be the last man standing at the 2023 Mr. Olympia. And even though he and Hadi Choopan both train with Hany Rambod, you can be sure last year’s runner-up has every intention of beating out the defending champion. With an elite physique and the mindset to match, don’t be surprised if Lunsford leaves Orlando with a new achievement on his bodybuilding resume.
Featured Image: Derek Lunsford / YouTube