Rising Men’s Open star Derek Lunsford is itching to end his off-season for contest prep. In a recent The Truth Podcast with Hany Rambod, Lunsford discussed his game plan for 2023 Mr. Olympia, improvements, and dealing with anxiety/depression.
Last year, Lunsford found himself in a unique position at the Pittsburgh Pro. After Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay was unable to fulfill a guest posing obligation, Lunsford took his place. Sharing the stage with Nick Walker, Quinton Eriya, Hunter Labrada, and Brandon Curry, Lunsford shocked the world, as he held his own against Open talent despite his status as a 212 competitor.
Eventually, Lunsford would receive a special invitation to compete in the Open division at Mr. Olympia. While some in the sport thought he should have earned his invitation, Lunsford made the most of his Open class debut. He finished runner-up to Hadi Choopan, while Ramy fell to fifth place in a surprising turn of events.
Derek Lunsford decided to prioritize improvements instead of participating in the 2023 Arnold Classic won by Samson Dauda. In May, Derek got the chance to stand next to him and a star-studded lineup at Jim Manion’s Pittsburgh Pro. Given Lunsford’s condition at the Pittsburgh Pro guest posing, fans expect his best physique yet in a few months.
Derek Lunsford Joins Hany Rambod to Discuss 2023 Mr. Olympia Prep
According to Rambod, Derek’s preparations intensify 10-12 weeks before Mr. Olympia.
“Usually about 10 or 12 weeks out we try to shut it down. So, we’re far enough out, we have plenty of time. But I think what he’s alluding to is the fact that he’s been so busy, when you’re out constantly, even in the off-season, it’s hard to even get all the meals in because you’re traveling, all of the rest in because you’re traveling, to get all of the really good high-level workouts in because you’re using gyms that are probably not accustomed to,” said Rambod.
Lunsford says ‘training is good’ and mentioned that he’s made improvements since the 2022 Mr. Olympia show. He’s excited to ramp up his training efforts on the horizon.
“Things are good right now, training is good. I’ve made solid improvements since the Olympia, but I really want to get into my own routine at home, my own gym, and be able to just crank up the training over these next couple of months, for sure,” Derek Lunsford shared.
Lunsford on Dealing with Anxiety & Depression: ‘Mine Comes From Me Feeling Like I’m Not Doing Enough’
Admittedly, Lunsford said he was in a ‘dark place’ after slipping placings during his time competing at Olympia in the 212.
“It was not purposeful, like God I don’t need you. But you just think you need to take control and do it yourself. Then you realize one day, you just wake up and you’re like, ‘Man, this just ins’t working out.’ I don’t know why. I’m doing everything – I feel like I’m doing everything right, I’m working really hard but it’s not panning out, I feel like I’m going backward if anything.
There was a point in my life where I was in such a dark place man. So depressed that it was to the point that I literally didn’t even want to be here anymore,” said Lunsford. “Yeah [when I was sliding backwards in placings at Olympia]. It wasn’t just the placings, I thought it was the placings at the time but it was really just how I viewed myself. I just kind of started realizing like, ‘Oh, man. I’m not the person that I truly want to be.’ I want to be one person I say I’m one person but I’m acting in a different way. I don’t like it. And I want to truly live my life better.”
After talking about his experiences with depression, Lunsford gave his take on dealing with anxiety. He said finding balance, working hard, and pushing forward has helped him deal with the setback.
“You can disconnect. Anxiety can come from different places, right? I think even if you can disconnect from the comments or comparing yourself to somebody else in your position or whatever, I think myself for example, when we were talking the other day on the phone. My anxiety has sometimes come from me feeling like I’m not doing enough.
Whether it’s I’m not training enough or I’m not putting up enough numbers in the gym or okay, I’m not posting enough or I’m not going here, there, or everywhere enough. I’m not making enough calls or just whatever it is that I’m trying to accomplish that good isn’t good enough kind of mentality. It can drive you far in life but also, if it’s really affecting you mentally, it can also hold you back at times too,” Lunsford said.
Lunsford shared a prior conversation with Rambod that made him realize that his personal life, business life, and bodybuilding life needed more balance.
“We were talking on the phone the other day about finding balance in all of this, working hard and pushing forward but also being able to have this sort of calmness and patience along the way,” Lunsford said. “Actually it’s funny, Hany called me what was it like two months ago? You were like, ‘Hey how are things going?’
And I’m like, ‘Everything is good.’ He could tell I was worked up about what we just talked about the business stuff and the bodybuilding, he goes, ‘How’s life at home?’ I tell him, ‘Well, to be honest if I’m 100% honest, I put that on the backburner a little bit.’ He goes, ‘Hey man, you have to get your crap together. He told me to go on vacation.”
Fans and bodybuilding veterans alike have voiced their opinions on possible frontrunners for the 2023 Mr. Olympia event. In light of Dauda’s latest win in Ohio, event announcer Bob Cicherillo labeled ‘The Nigerian Lion’ and Derek Lunsford as equal threats to Choopan’s title.
Meanwhile, 2022 Olympia third-place finisher Nick Walker is ready to make a statement after taking runner-up to Dauda at the recent Arnold Classic. Looking ahead, Walker has made it clear he believes the 2023 Olympia show will be decided between himself and Lunsford.
Considering how close Lunsford came to earning the title last year, fans look forward to seeing him stand against his teammate Choopan once again. In the months to come, Derek plans to travel less in order to dial in preparations for the 2023 Mr. Olympia in November.
You can watch the full video from Hany Rambod’s Youtube channel below: