On July 26, 2022, Derek Lunsford took to his YouTube channel to share what the reigning 212 Olympia champion called a “strength-building” chest workout. Lunsford’s demanding morning routine is a small sneak peek into his ongoing training for the 2022 Mr. Olympia on December 16-18 in Las Vegas, NV.
While he’s hard at work preparing for the Olympia, Lunsford sits in a fascinating position.
In a mid-July production of OlympiaTV on YouTube, Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon suggested that the reigning 212 Olympia champion is “nowhere near 212 [pounds] at this point.” If that is the case, Lunsford will have to potentially join a fellow 212 peer in Kamal Elgargni and make the leap to the Men’s Open division at December’s prestigious contest. (At the time of this writing, Lunsford has not addressed Solomon’s comments, and it is not clear which division he’ll compete in.)
That development would track with what Lunsford’s coach, Hany Rambod, alluded to in a May 2022 episode on his YouTube channel. When discussing Lunsford staying in the 212 category at the Olympia, Rambod said, “It’s going to be difficult, it’s super difficult.”
Notably, Lunsford did step in at the last minute for two-time reigning Mr. Olympia Mamdouh Elssbiay (2020-2021) to guest pose during the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro in May — and was alongside fellow Men’s Open athletes such as Brandon Curry, Hunter Labrada, and Nick Walker. However, with that being a last-minute decision, Lunsford apparently had less preparation for the guest pose than in an official competition.
Whatever division Lunsford does end up competing in December, it doesn’t seem like he’ll have much of an issue with his mass-building and conditioning. If this multifaceted chest routine says anything — he’ll be ready for any obstacle ahead.
Here’s an overview of Lunsford’s latest chest workout:
Incline Machine Chest Press
Before he dives head-on into his full workout, Lunsford warms up with a few sets on an incline chest press machine. Lunsford stresses this portion isn’t meant to be anything strenuous. It’s more about preparing his chest muscles.
“I’m just going to do these two sets to get the blood flowing,” Lunsford says. “Just to get a deep stretch in my chest and prepare myself before I go and do the dumbbell presses. This is just purely a warm-up. This isn’t an exercise I count.”
Incline Dumbbell Press
Lunsford’s first “real” working sets focus on heavy weights and low reps with an incline dumbbell press. He begins with 70-pound dumbbells before closing with 150-pounders and 18 reps on his last set.
“I’m trying to keep the reps 10 to 12 right now,” Lunsford notes. “I have a bad habit of doing like 12 to 15. I’m really trying to make sure that if I want to gain strength.”
Plate-Loaded Chest Fly
Once Lunsford powers through his heavy weight, low-rep incline dumbbell press, he quickly transitions to powering through some chest flyes on a plate-loaded fly machine. The bodybuilder appears to have one 45-pound plate adorned on both sides.
Cable Chest Fly
Lunsford complements his machine flyes with the cable version of the exercise. The athlete emphasizes that positioning the cables and his elbows is paramount to an upper chest focus with this movement.
“We want to keep the cables high, about shoulder high, or maybe a little above,” Lunsford starts. “And keep the elbows high and arms high and hit the upper chest. It’s a little different from what we did on the plate-loaded flye.”
After challenging his upper chest, Lunsford next takes to some chest dips. These vary from tricep dips in that leaning forward focuses more on the chest muscles while a straight torso position emphasizes the triceps.
Sometimes, with exercises like these, I go a little too fast. I really gotta slow it down. It felt good.
Cable Chest Fly
As Lunsford moves to close the workout, his lower chest muscles are next on the agenda with cables. This time around, he slightly lowers his arms and has them pointed toward the floor to work the lower part of his pectorals.
Machine Chest Press
Lunsford’s chest workout comes full circle on the standard machine chest press. With it being the end of his chest routine, Lunsford notes that this final segment is more about stretching his muscles to help build flexibility and strength.
“I’m trying to get as big of a stretch I can get on this too because, as I said, this is about building strength and size,” Lunsford says. If you don’t have a good range of motion or flexibility, then I would recommend you guys really make that a priority in your training too.”
“I’m kind of stretching here, opening up my chest, and on the way down, I’m crunching,” Lunsford explains. “At the same time, I’m bringing my legs up. It’s one of my favorite ab exercises.”
Lunsford’s Road Ahead
The coming months could be significant for Lunsford’s bodybuilding career. If he does stick around in the 212 division, he will go for a second straight title at the Olympia in December. If he makes the transition to the Men’s Open class official, it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider him a viable contender to stand on the podium.
The 2022 Mr. Olympia will occur on December 16-18 in Las Vegas, NV.