Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan are busy adding the last bit of details to their impressive physiques with 2023 Olympia just around the corner. The anticipation is at an all time high but a recent leg workout video shows glimpses of excellence that show Lunsford and Choopan may very well repeat as the top guys on Nov. 5.
Former 212 division competitors Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan have climbed to the absolute top of the Men’s Open division. While Choopan made the transition to the Open division a few years ago and made steady progress, Lunsford blitzed to the top within a blink of an eye.
In spite of travel restrictions, visa issues and other linguistic barriers, Hadi Choopan became an elite Mr. Olympia competitor with podium finishes at the 2019, 2020 and the 2021 Olympia. He then went on to dethrone Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay and became the 2022 Mr. Olympia. Following him close behind at the 2022 Olympia was Derek Lunsford.
The 30-year-old won the 212 Olympia title in 2021 and was expected to rule the division for the foreseeable future. However, his physique had grown out of the division and transition to Open division became inevitable. Olympia management agreed to his request to get a direct qualification to compete in the Men’s Open division at the 2022 Olympia. Lunsford dominated the stage en route to a second-place finish.
Lunsford and Choopan are massively favoured to repeat as the top finishers at the 2023 Olympia. They both train under famed coach Hany Rambod and the final stage of the competition prep is going on full throttle.
Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford tackle the FST-7 leg workout
Hadi Choopan has arrived in the USA to train with his coach for the last few weeks before the 2023 Olympia. Coach Rambod has been conducting several joint training sessions with Choopan and Derek Lunsford. Recently, the trio tackled an FST-7 leg workout in the gym.
“What we’re doing is, we’re trying to make sure that we’re stimulating the sh** out of these legs to grow. Yes, we’re going to be using some really good serious weight. Not going crazy, we’re not trying to hit PRs. But we are trying to increase the intensity and I can feel the intensity because we have number one and number two in the world here right now… AND they’re both hungry!”
Hany Rambod combined both men’s energy in this workout and helped them level up the game with FST-7 leg workout. FST-7 (Fascia Strength Training) is a training system designed and developed by Hany Rambod. It is not a specific workout but rather a way of training that you can apply to almost any workout.
So without further delay, let’s check out how the bodybuilding aces stimulated the legs to grow in this session.
Single Leg Extensions
The workout commenced with this quadricep isolation movement. While a lot of people demonize leg extensions for the stress they put on the knees, it is safe to perform with correct technique and weight. Additionally, leg extension is the only exercise that emphasizes the rectus femoris head of quadriceps. Hence, it is essential to include this in the leg workout.
Hany Rambod gave bodybuilding tips to direct the focus onto quadriceps while reducing the stress on the knees. He explained:
“Make sure your biomechanics are in the right place. Knees have to be in line with the joint centre. That ‘X’ is super important to be lined up right with that knee. If your knee is too far forward or too far back, you’re not going to feel it in the muscles. You’re going to feel a lot of tension in the knee.”
Rambod also suggested keeping the hips as far back as possible on the seat. He added:
“As you use heavier weights, your butt is going to want to come up out of the seat. You’re not going to be able to get the full range of motion and you’re not going to be able to hit the quads in the proper way. So make sure you keep the butt down.”
Rambod then guided Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan through the exercise and they advanced over to the next one.
This served as the first heavy compound exercise of the training session as Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan performed four sets each to target all the major muscles like quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes in the lower body.
Hany Rambod explained that your eating habits can really interfere with leg training and suggested following a couple of simple rules to avoid that from happening. He explained:
“Leg day, one major component is making sure you eat properly. Make sure you’re not eating right before legs because you’re going to end up seeing the meal come up because of the fact that you end up really really creating a lot of tension, a lot of people throw up – especially when you eat close to the workout. So eat a little bit lighter.”
The bodybuilder duo took to pendulum squats next under Hany Rambod’s watchful eye. Pendulum squats work the same muscles as the regular squats. However, they put significantly less stress on the lower back due to the arcing motion.
Hany Rambod shed light on some of the common mechanical problems that people face during this exercise and explained:
“Many athletes will try to move their feet inwards or turn their ankle inwards. Sometimes it has to do with their structure when it comes to leg length. That’s why it’s really good to get chiropractic adjustments when you can. Because sometimes you can be a little bit shorter in one leg than the other and then you’ll get a little bit of foot travel.”
He further advised:
“You always have to be mindful of that and try to keep your feet in a similar parallel path – especially when you’re trying to work on that outer sweep. Keep your feet parallel because many times one foot wants to travel inwards – especially your ankle. So watch that. Make sure you keep your feet straight and make sure you’re not travelling with one foot in front of the other.”
Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan executed four heavy sets of the exercise and took to a leg press variation next.
Vertical Leg Press
The weight moves straight up and down in this variation of leg press. As a result, the person performing the exercise lifts the total combined weight of the carriage and the weight plates. Although it is extremely effective for leg development, excellent hip mobility is required and it can put added stress on the lower back. Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan helped each other push through the exercise with perfect from.
Once again, Coach Rambod gave valuable insights for getting the most out of this exercise and explained:
“You want to make sure you get full range of motion. Do not bounce off the bottom. Make sure that you’re using constant tension on the muscles as you get the full range of motion, get to the very bottom and then drive up. Another great tip is to make sure you almost exhale on the way down. Doesn’t feel natural, doesn’t feel normal. But what it gives you is less volume through your midsection so you get a little deeper into that range of motion. So the quads can get just a tiny bit more range of motion and you get even more stimulus.”
Walking Barbell Lunges
The workout concluded with Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford performing walking barbell lunges as Hany Rambod carefully observed the technique.
Overall, the workout consisted of following exercises:
|Single Leg Extensions||4||8 to 15|
|Front Squats||4||8 to 12|
|Pendulum Squats||4||8 to 12|
|Vertical Leg Press||4||8 to 12|
|Walking Barbell Lunges||4||15 to 20|
2023 Olympia will be an epic battle considering the line-up of elite competitors trying to earn the top spot. It will be interesting to see how things play out in Orlando on Nov. 5.
Watch the full workout video below, courtesy of Evogen Nutrition’s official YouTube channel:
Learn More on Leg Training
The advantages of leg day extend well beyond this article. With a plethora of exercises tailored for the legs and various ways to incorporate them into your regimen, your next enlightening read awaits below:
- The Best Calisthenic Leg Workout
- The Best Best Barbell Leg Exercises and Workout
- The Best 30-Minute Leg Workout for Massive Quads, Hamstrings, and Calves
- The 12 Best Cable Exercises for Legs + Workout
- The Best Leg Day Workouts for Bigger, Stronger, Better Toned Legs
- 13 Best Quadriceps Exercises You Can Do At Home Without Equipment
- Best CrossFit Leg Workouts to Build Strength and Conditioning
- Best Old-School Leg Workouts