It’s been a year of blessings for Derek Lunsford, who currently sits atop the Mr. Olympia throne after unseating his teammate Hadi Choopan earlier this month. In a victory lap, he joined his coach Hany Rambod on The Truth Podcast to discuss their future and plans for the 2024 Mr. Olympia show next October.
Little did Lunsford know how impactful his guest posing appearance at the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro would be. Shortly after the event, which saw him stand next to threats Nick Walker, Hunter Labrada, and Brandon Curry, Lunsford accepted a special invite to compete in the Open at Mr. Olympia.
In his Open debut on the sport’s biggest stage, Lunsford, a former 212 Olympia (2021), shocked the world from the moment he unveiled his physique. Even though it was a close show, Hadi Choopan walked away with the win. This year, when the pair rematched, Lunsford emerged victorious. However, the outcome has been largely disputed amongst bodybuilding veterans and fans.
With a new Open landscape materializing after Lunsford’s 2023 Olympia triumph, he joins his coach to discuss what their next plan of action is. They also opened up on why Lunsford’s front lacks the same level of hardness displayed from the back.
Derek Lunsford Reflects on Mental Struggles, Discusses Judging Feedback and Physique Goals for 2024 Mr. Olympia
According to Lunsford, he struggled with a deep depression in 2020, a year before he went on to achieve 212 Olympia gold.
“A few years ago when I was going through a very serious depression, I was so depressed that it was as bad is it could get. I didn’t want to be here anymore in 2020. Legitimately, I did not want to be walking the planet anymore. I was a God-fearing man but I didn’t have a relationship with God that I have now.”
“They were happy with the improvements that I’ve made from last year to this year and to just continue on with what I’m doing. Every year I’m going to continue to improve and etch out this physique, get more detailed, get harder. And every year, you know that muscle maturity is going to come through more more and more.Really, it’s not ‘Hey, you need to blow up your back more.’ It’s like, ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job you are Mr. Olympia, keep doing what you’re doing and keep refining your physique,'” said Lunsford.
For Hany Rambod, he emphasized that Lunsford needs to concern himself with refinement rather than adding more muscle tissue.
“If I want to go into detail, obviously we want to try and make sure as you continue to put on muscle tissue, it’s just refining that muscle tissue. So chest, shoulders, even your quads, all that new muscle — it just needs to get seasoned. That’s it,” said Hany Rambod.
Specifically, Rambod mentioned that graininess and detail are top priorities for the 2024 season. Rambod also elaborated on why Lunsford appears harder from behind though lacks the same level of detail from the front.
“Getting more detail, create more graininess, especially in the body parts. Just to give you guys a little lesson on what that looks like. When you look at Derek’s physique, why are his glutes, hamstrings, back so much granier than his front side? Well, the answer to that is because that muscle has been around for a long time. He’s had those muscles for many more years than he’s had his chest and he’s had these quads.
Therefore, that’s why they get into shape much better than his frontside because of the muscle maturity that he has in those areas. So therefore, as the new muscle matures, like I was just saying, his chest, shoulders, his quads, as that seasons, you’re going to start seeing much more graininess, separation, as he tends to hold that as he goes on to the next season,” said Hany Rambod.
Unlike his chest, Lunsford always felt a strong mind-muscle connection to his back.
“I feel I always connected really really well with my back. Ever since I started training in the gym before bodybuilding, yeah I mean I connected really well with the back, hamstrings, glutes, legs, but for some reason I never really had great connection with my chest. That’s why mind-muscle connection is so important and articulating your training. The last couple of years I’ve really been able to find that mind-muscle connection.”
“What we’ve done these last two or three years is just going to continue on,” added Derek Lunsford.
Despite just winning the title, Lunsford admits he’s fully focused on the 2024 Mr. Olympia show, which announced its 60th anniversary event for next October.
“You don’t understand how excited I am to have my own gym. I’ve had to be very patient. It’s a long process.”“We’re going to go look at a couple of more places this week, I had a spot and then I decided I want to go bigger,” Lunsford shared. “We have the Olympia next year… my sights are already set on 2024 Olympia. There is a ton to look forward to this year.”