Bodybuilder Derek Lunsford sidestepped the upcoming 2023 Arnold Classic in favor of improving his physique for the next Olympia contest. Speaking with Ron Harris of Muscular Development, Lunsford discussed his goal for the season, Nick Walker, and whether or not the 212 division should stick around.
Lunsford enjoyed a wild ride in the IFBB Pro League last year. It started with an off-season guest posing appearance at the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro. He stood on stage with Walker, Brandon Curry, and Hunter Labrada without appearing undersized. Weeks later, his coach Hany Rambod began questioning his ability to safely make weight for the 212 category, however.
In September, Lunsford accepted a special invitation to compete in the Open class at 2022 Olympia, an honor that was being held for retired seven-time 212 Olympia kingpin Flex Lewis. Fans and veterans alike labeled Derek a title contender within minutes of walking out on stage in Las Vegas. And while he wasn’t able to stop his teammate Hadi Choopan from winning gold, Lunsford came exceptionally close in an Open class debut.
During the recent interview, Lunsford addressed a number of topics including his improvements for 2023 Olympia, Nick Walker, and why he believes 212 should remain a division in the IFBB Pro League.
Derek Lunsford Plans to Improve Chest, Shoulders, Arms, and Quads for 2023 Mr. Olympia
In preparation for his next Olympia show, Lunsford laid out which areas of his body he wants to improve the most.
“Right now, my focus is to yeah – bring up my upper body, like my chest area. Chest, shoulders, arms, and my quads, my legs from the front. So, I think that’s where I can definitely make improvements. Look, I’m not just focused on one area. I’m training my entire physique to be better next year. It’s not like I’m not training my back or my back shots.
I want to be better in every shot next year. So, you better believe I’m in the gym working for that right now and it’s going to be all year long. If I had to pinpoint one area it would be the chest area, a little bit more density and hardness – muscle maturity there. If I can fill out my quads a little bit more too, icing on the cake, I think,” says Derek Lunsford.
Fans hoped Lunsford would jump into the Arnold Classic in March, but the former 212 champion decided against it after careful consideration. He’s excited to see how his peers from 212 bodybuilding fare against other Open class talents like Shaun Clarida and Kamal Elgargni.
“I’m excited to watch these guys battle it out. I see Nick training hard, he looks good. Everybody is talking about [Shaun] Clarida coming up from the 212, which I’m excited to see him and Kamal [Elgargni] next to each other because I see Kamal here and he’s looking really good. I’m super excited.”
You got Samson Dauda coming in strong, Andrew Jacked coming in strong, and everybody is sleeping on William Bonac. It’s going to be a really good show,” says Lunsford.
Lunsford on 212 Division: Without 212 ‘Would You Even Know’ Flex Lewis or Derek Lunsford
“I think it’s [the 212 division] is just fine, to be honest with you. I can see why people would say, ‘these 212 guys are doing the Open, why don’t you just take that money and put it into the Open,’ but look — if there wasn’t a 212, would you even know Derek Lunsford or Flex Lewis or any of these other guys that competed in the 212.
I mean, now I did the Open, but thank God, I had five years to be in that division to continue to work on myself as a bodybuilder, human being, as a man. I got to grow up in this sport essentially. Being able to make an impact without having to go straight to the Open, if you’re like a shorter bodybuilder, it’s better to have that 212 division to continue to compete and develop your physique that way eventually if you ever want to move to the Open, your kind of already established as a top pro in the sport,” Lunsford explained.
Lunsford Laughs Off Media Saying He’s Scared of Nick Walker
After a YouTube channel suggested Lunsford was afraid of Nick Walker ahead of the Arnold Classic, Lunsford had the following to say:
“Yeah, I thought it was pretty funny [when media mentioned I was scared of Nick Walker]. I had a bunch of people messaging me, ‘oh did you hear what Olympia TV said, oh, did you hear what Nick Trigili said,’ I just laughed at it all. Look man — I get it. They want to be polarizing with what they’re saying and create some controversy, some drama. That’s exciting, entertaining, but like I said, me, I’m staying in my lane. Yeah… I just laughed about it,” Lunsford shared.
Nick Walker recently discussed Lunsford’s potential as an Open class competitor. He’s curious how much quality muscle tissue Derek can acquire in the off-season for the next Olympia. ‘The Mutant’ jumped into the 2023 Arnold Classic shortly after the organizers pumped the prize money up for the Open winner to $300,000. Fans would love to see him rematch Lunsford, but it appears that won’t happen until November.
Given his success as a 212 athlete, Lunsford would like to see the division thrive in the future. Instead of competing in Columbus, Ohio, Lunsford hopes to improve his chest shoulders, arms, and quads with the extra time.