Bodybuilder Derek Lunsford turned heads with an incredible package in his latest outing at the 2022 Mr. Olympia last December. In a recent IFBB AMA episode, Lunsford opened up on not competing at the 2023 Arnold Classic, goals for the season, and ambitions to become the next Mr. Olympia champion.
Derek Lunsford first rose to prominence for his incredible muscle quality, shape, and symmetry as an IFBB Pro Men’s 212 athlete in 2017. He dominated the competition at the Tampa Pro to win the event, which earned him an invite to the Mr. Olympia competition. He turned in a strong performance and finished fifth in his maiden showing.
The next year, he displayed an improved physique but narrowly missed out on the top prize to bodybuilding legend and seven-time 212 champion Flex Lewis. He got another runner-up finish at the 2019 Mr. Olympia.
The year of 2021 proved to be the season where Lunsford triumphed over the likes of champions Shaun Clarida and Kamal Elgargni at Mr. Olympia. Once he found Olympia glory in the 212 class, Lunsford embarked on a mission to conquer the Men’s Open division.
He left the fans stunned with his guest posing appearance at the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro, where he managed to hold his own against some of the top Open contenders. He later received a special invitation to compete in the Open class at Olympia.
Lunsford shocked the world with a phenomenal performance at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. He took out some big names, such as former two-time champ Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay, Nick Walker, and others, on his way to winning silver behind winner Hadi Choopan.
Following the event, it was unclear whether Lunsford would make a quick turnaround for the 2023 Arnold Classic. Bodybuilding icon Jay Cutler encouraged him to throw his name in the hat to battle it out with Walker again.
Two months ago, Lunsford decided against the 2023 Arnold Classic to stay healthy and get two extra months of preparation for his next Olympia campaign. Some criticized Lunsford for not participating in the show and alleged he might be scared. However, Lunsford was content with laughing off the rumors while staying focused on his goal.
Derek Lunsford opens up on not competing at the 2023 Arnold Classic
In a recent YouTube video, Derek Lunsford laid out his thought process behind not competing at the 2023 Arnold Classic, which wrapped up earlier this month with Samson Dauda winning the title.
“I can’t deny, yeah I did [have an urge to do it],” said Lunsford. “Even before the Olympia, I had it in the back of my mind that maybe I’ll roll right into the Arnold right after Olympia. But a couple weeks after the Olympia, I continued training as if I was to compete at the Arnold. During that time, I had the opportunity to think, pray, and talk about it. It was collectively talked about whether I should or shouldn’t do it. Then I thought to myself if I could push into Arnold and be a frontrunner to the $300,000 and the prestigious title? Sure, I could on paper. I could do well and possibly win.”
While he admitted wanting to participate in Ohio, he favored bodybuilding’s most prestigious title over the opportunity to earn gold at the AC and $300,000.
“But what it is I’m really doing? Why did I get into this? I need to look at the bigger picture. I want to win the Mr. Olympia this year. If I did the Arnold Classic and then the Olympia, there’s a chance maybe I could’ve won both. But at the end of the day, I want to make strong improvements and I’m here to build the best physique I possibly can. I want to make a big statement this year at the Olympia. I want to walk away with the Mr. Olympia title and be a more dominant bodybuilder with my physique.”
Lunsford wants to build up to 260lbs
Renowned bodybuilding guru Milos Sarcev shared his breakdown of Lunsford’s physique before asking him about how big he wants to get.
“I analyzed your cover shot from Muscular Development from 2022,” said Sarcev. “You have that beautiful shape and great separation. I know that Hany Rambod was saying about abductors and filling them up. I really disagree. I think when shape and separation is there, even if it’s a little bit less volume and space you cover behind you, judges aren’t stupid, they see the knee position. I don’t think you gain an illusion.”
Derek Lunsford is eyeing to replicate the package he presented in the guest-posing appearance at the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro.
“Let’s say I was somewhere between 255 and 260 at the guest posing,” replied Lunsford. “I would say if I can be around that weight with better conditioning this year that’s optimal, ideal. The thing is I don’t know if I need to be bigger like 275 or 280. I could if I wanted to easily. But I don’t think I need to push my weight that high. We’ll see. We’re just going to assess it as time goes.”
“Hearing that some of these former Mr. Olympias were 220s, 230, winning the Olympia in the past gives me confidence that me being even a couple inches shorter that I’m going to look even bigger or so I hope.”
Lunsford credits his wrestling background to his success in bodybuilding
Coming from a wrestling background, Lunsford applies the same discipline he learned during his early years to find success in bodybuilding.
“I come from a wrestling background where my training and nutrition or lack of diet knowledge at the beginning comes from my wrestling background of cutting weight and training super hard for wrestling,” he continued. “When I got into bodybuilding, it was about training, eating, resting, and recovery like therapies and all that. All the other stuff I was oblivious to anyway.
“I had a great foundation of training before I even started. For me, number one is food. It’s the most anabolic thing on the planet, and then to support the training and have enough rest and therapeutic work to be able to get back in the gym and do that day after day.”
Lunsford has been working hard in the off-season to refine his physique. He gave fans a look into his lower body training session focused on hamstrings last month. He followed it up by sharing his four key tips to stimulating muscle growth.
He showed off his jacked legs in another off-season leg workout where he was working on enhancing the quality of his outer quad sweep two weeks ago.
RELATED: Hany Rambod: Coaching Hadi Choopan/Derek Lunsford at 2022 Olympia Felt Same As Training Jay Cutler/Phil Heath
Derek Lunsford found another rival in Samson Dauda after his recent crowning in Ohio. Coach Sarcev was brimming with confidence about ‘The Nigerian Lion’s chances of beating Lunsford. He acknowledged the daunting challenge Lunsford presented and believes Dauda might come out on top if he continues what he’s been doing.
You can watch the full video below.
Catch full coverage of the 2023 Arnold Classic, including pre-judging, event recaps, analysis, and final and full results at our Arnold Classic coverage hub: FitnessVolt.com/arnold-classic
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