Derek Lunsford is keeping himself busy in the gym to improve his physique and challenge Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan at the 2023 Mr. Olympia. Recently, he went through an intense arms workout as a part of his off-season training.
Derek Lunsford is an American professional bodybuilder that competes in the Men’s Open division of the IFBB Pro League. However, he has been a 212 competitor for the majority of his career and even won the 212 Olympia title in 2021 by defeating Shaun Clarida. After the Olympia management accepted his request and gave him a special invitation to compete in the Men’s Open division at the 2022 Olympia, Lunsford made the big switch. Many experts expected the former 212 division champ to shake up the Open division. However, the 2022 Olympia had the toughest line-up of opponents in recent memory and no expert could predict the outcome with confidence.
Derek Lunsford dominated the stage in prejudging and finals along with Hadi Choopan and Nick Walker. He finished second at the show and defeated elite competition like Nick Walker, Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay, Brandon Curry and Samson Dauda in doing so. 4-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler also opined that Lunsford could defeat Choopan if he brought fuller pecs and quads to the stage in 2023. The Indiana native abstained from the 2023 Arnold Classic to build an ‘absolutely best physique’ and to focus on health. His singular focus is to bring home the Sandows trophy and Lunsford is sparing no efforts to improve his physique in the gym. He posted the video of an arms training session on his YouTube channel. So without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the detailed account of this training session.
Derek Lunsford crushes an arms workout
Derek Lunsford’s pre-workout meal in his current diet consists of chicken and rice from a meal prep service. He finished the meal well in advance before the workout and after consuming his pre-workout drink, the 30-year-old headed straight to the gym. Lunsford performed three to four exercises each for biceps and triceps in this arms training session and also included some calves work. He typically starts with biceps and then moves on to triceps and calves. However, for this particular session, the Indiana native reversed the order and started with triceps and then moved on to biceps and triceps just to see how it feels to do the exercises in that order.
Triceps Rope Pushdowns
Derek Lunsford started the training session with this triceps isolation movement to stimulate the triceps and to warm up the elbow joints. Elbow joint is one of the most crucial ones in almost every arm movement. Therefore it is essential to warm it up before delving into heavy arm exercises. Triceps pushdown is a great way to achieve this.
“It’s a great day to get huge!” Lunsford commented.
He then pushed through a few solid sets of this exercise and jumped into the next movement.
Single Arm Cable Triceps Extensions
If there is a movement that checks all the boxes of being a great triceps isolation movement, it is the cable triceps extension. Stability of the shoulder joint and full elbow flexion are two of the most important criteria for getting a good triceps contraction. Single arm cable triceps extension enables both of these criteria. Lunsford started the exercise and attempted to do 15 reps in the first set using both arms. However, he switched to doing the exercise unilaterally mid-set and stated:
“So I was trying to do 15 (reps) with just both hands but it got a little heavy. So I ended up doing the single arm and just doing like two to five reps for each arm and then going back and forth until I couldn’t do anymore really.”
From the second set onwards, Derek Lunsford did the crossover cable triceps extensions unilaterally to focus more on the movement.
“I just feel like I get a bigger range of motion with the single arm when I am turning my body just a little bit and I get a bigger stretch, harder contraction and they just feel so much better with every rep when I do the single arm versus the rope push down. Rope pushdown is good and I do definitely feel it. It’s a good warm-up but the single arm feels just so much better…” Lunsford said.
After moving weights for a few more sets of the exercise, the former 212 Olympia champion took to another triceps movement.
Single Arm Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
After adding a massive pump to the triceps with the first two exercises, Derek Lunsford switched to working the triceps with an overhead movement. Overhead triceps extensions work the triceps from a stretched-out position and work them from a different angle to emphasize different parts of the muscle.
“It’s more for the stretch than it is for contraction. So deeper the stretch, the better,” Lunsford said.
Lunsford cranked out a few heavy sets of the overhead cable triceps extensions unilaterally and moved on to the next triceps exercise.
Superset – Reverse Grip Cable Triceps Pushdowns and Triceps Dip Press
The former 212 Olympia champion then added more stimulus to the triceps muscles with the superset consisting of the reverse grip cable triceps pushdowns and triceps dip press. The reverse grip pushdown works the entire triceps muscle but puts more emphasis on the medial head of the triceps.
Lunsford added the last bit of stimulus to the triceps muscles with this superset and switched to working the biceps next.
This was the first biceps exercise for the day as Derek Lunsford performed a few sets to get a good pump to his muscles. Cable machines keep the muscles under tension during the positive as well as negative phase of the movement which helps bring about hypertrophy more effectively. At the moment, improving biceps peak is the main purpose of Lunsford’s arms training.
“One of the main goals here for Derek is to improve his biceps peaks. So one of the biggest movements for the bicep is wrist supination. So we’re really trying to get him into that end-range supination to get that bicep peak to start popping,” Lunsford’s associate explained.
Lunsford cranked out a few good sets of this movement with slow and controlled motion and took to the next exercise.
Dumbbell Preacher Curls
There does not exist a better alternative for preacher curls when it comes to biceps muscle activation. The tricep is firmly pressed against the pad during this exercise and the shoulder is in a stable position. This stops either of these muscles from taking over or supporting the movement which results in greater biceps isolation. Lunsford pushed through some solid sets of biceps preacher curls next and took to the final biceps exercise of the day.
Single Arm Cross Body Cable Curls
Including different variations of a similar movement works the muscles from different angles and helps with complete development. Derek Lunsford performed the cross-body variation of the cable curls next and wrapped up the biceps exercises.
Seated Calf Raises
The 30-year-old bodybuilder worked the calves with seated calf raises. This seated variation of calf raises works the soleus muscle (that lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle).
Angled Calf Press
Derek Lunsford did a few solid sets of this variation of calf raises and wrapped up the training session.
Overall, the workout included:
- Triceps Rope Pushdowns
- Single Arm Cable Triceps Extensions
- Single Arm Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions
- Superset – Reverse Grip Cable Triceps Pushdown and Triceps Dip Press
- Cable Curls
- Dumbbell Preacher Curls
- Single Arm Cross Body Cable Curls
- Seated Calf raises
- Angled Calf Press
Derek Lunsford gives his thoughts on the best triceps exercise
Figuring out the best exercise for every muscle group is a struggle almost everyone has faced in their fitness journey. Derek Lunsford believes that no exercise is objectively better than the other. Instead, he advised:
“People ask all the time, ‘Oh, what’s the best exercise to grow triceps, what’s the best exercise to grow biceps?’ Really, it’s the one you connect the best with. Sometimes that will change from workout to workout. So if you feel something is clicking, I think you need to do more sets or more weights or more reps whatever…”
The former 212 Olympia champion then stated that you need to keep doing the exercise that feels good and added:
“I think you just need to do more of that exercise. If it’s feeling good, just keep doing it. So my intentions were to only just do a few sets of each here but I want to keep doing, I want to do more ‘coz it feels good.”
Lunsford also shared some tips on removing imbalances in the dominant side and the weaker side of the body. He personally prefers doing iso-lateral exercises to remove imbalance and said:
“I also like to do, like, the iso-lateral exercises, meaning one side at a time, so that way if there’s any imbalances from my right to my left, then you can do a few extra reps on every set with your less dominant side… That’s a good way to keep balance from side to side…”
Derek Lunsford’s Men’s Open debut at the 2022 Mr. Olympia proved that he belongs in the top echelons of the division. However, Lunsford now has to prove that he can accomplish the rarest of the rare feat of becoming Mr. Olympia. But looking at his progress, it does seem like an achievable task.
You can watch the full workout video here, courtesy of Derek Lunsford’s personal YouTube channel:
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