Coming off a second-place finish in his Men’s Open debut, Derek Lunsford has his sights set on knocking defending champion Hadi Choopan off his throne at the 2023 Mr. Olympia. The former 212 Olympia winner (2021) boasts one of the best physiques in the sport, particularly when it comes to his upper body.
With just six weeks until he takes the Olympia stage in Orlando, FL, the weekend of Nov. 3-5, Lunsford’s focus has to be on another level if he wants to earn the most prestigious award in bodybuilding.
Based on his chest and ab training vlog posted on Sept. 21, 2023, there’s little doubt Lunsford is physically and mentally prepared to take on the challenge of trying to go from runner-up to champion in the span of a year. The workout begins around the three-minute mark.
Before diving into his weightlifting routine, Lunsford consumed a serving of Evogen Nutrition EVP AQ Liquid Glycerol, a specialized pre-workout supplement designed to enhance blood and muscle volume. A short stint on the treadmill set the stage for a six-part chest workout, followed by a three-exercise ab finisher.
Plate-Loaded Incline Chest Press
After mixing a serving of Evogen Nutrition Amino K.E.M. (an intra-workout supplement containing BCAAs and other amino acids) into his shaker bottle, Lunsford began his pec-building day with the plate-loaded incline chest press. He completed a warm-up set with a pair of 20.4-kilogram (45-pound) plates on each side before ramping up the intensity by adding an 11.3-kilogram (25-pound) plate to each side.
Lunsford continued to increase the load on a set-by-set basis, topping out at 81.6 kilograms (180 pounds) per side for eight repetitions. He put on a pair of elbow sleeves to provide an added layer of protection for his final set.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Next, Lunsford attacked his upper pecs on the incline dumbbell press. He started with 24-kilogram (52.9-pound) dumbbells and made sure to lower the weight slowly and methodically. Lunsford worked up to a pair of 33-kilogram (72.7-pound) weights for 13 high-intensity reps.
“We twisted the elbows and wrists in so that’s really going to get that top contraction, that inner pec, that upper pec. It’s a very humbling exercise for me, to say the least,” Lunsford explained.
Low-to-High Cable Flye
After blazing through some heavier dumbbells, Lunsford continued his chest workout with a pair of cable-based exercises. First, he went with a low-to-high cable flye — an exercise that recruits the clavicular portion of the pecs. Lunsford used a supinated grip (palms upward), which helped him achieve quite a noticeable pump.
Seated Cable Flye
Rather than standing, Lunsford opted for seated cable flyes. He maintained an upright posture throughout the exercise, making sure to squeeze and contract his pecs at the top of the movement.
As fatigue set in, Lunsford went from full-range reps to partial reps at the end of the set. Following a second set, he provided some insight into his mindset as the 2023 Olympia inches closer.
“Six weeks out … this is the time to get after it and really grind and stay focused. Some people are not so drawn-in the way I am mentally. I think it comes from my sports background, especially wrestling,” Lunsford said.
Plate-Loaded Dip Machine
Lunsford’s penultimate chest exercise of choice was plate-loaded dips. Although the machine is often used to target triceps, the Indiana native took a different approach to make sure he engaged his lower pecs.
Rather than facing inward, Lunsford faced the opposite way so he could lean forward and “hang over” the weight. He compared the movement to a combination of a decline press and a dip, emphasizing the importance of keeping your chest upright and remaining in the seat.
Smith Machine Bench Press
To wrap up the chest portion of his training, Lunsford completed several sets of the Smith machine bench press. Not only did he end up delivering nine clean, quality reps with 125 kilograms (275 pounds), but he also shared some motivational advice for his followers.
“Somebody has to be the best in the world,” Lunsford said. “If you’re gifted, you’re passionate, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes and God opens up doors for you, the sky’s the limit. Anybody can be great at whatever it is that they’re passionate at and they’re willing to put the work in.”
Weighted Decline Crunch
After pushing his pecs to the limit, Lunsford began his ab training on a bench with a weighted decline crunch. He used a 20.4-kilogram (45-pound) plate for resistance.
Lunsford specifically highlighted that keeping the weight at the top of his chest makes the exercise more challenging than resting it on his stomach. He also noted that he’s been performing this ab exercise since his college days.
Lunsford went with the classic kneeling cable crunch as his second ab exercise. He maintained a neutral spine as he contracted his core on every rep. Although he did not specify the weight or reps, it was evident that Lunsford chose a fairly challenging load.
Lying Leg Lift
The final exercise Lunsford executed was a lying leg lift. He returned to the Smith machine to work on this taxing movement, holding the barbell as he lowered his legs nearly to parallel to the ground before raising his feet toward the ceiling.
Derek Lunsford Olympia-Bound Chest and Ab Workout
- Plate-Loaded Incline Chest Press
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
- Low-to-High Cable Flye
- Seated Cable Flye
- Plate-Loaded Dip Machine
- Smith Machine Bench Press
- Weighted Decline Crunch
- Cable Crunch
- Lying Leg Lift
At the end of his grueling workout, Lunsford raised his shirt and had his cameraman show what looked like a well-defined 10-pack. However, the only number that matters is where he places when the 2023 Mr. Olympia takes place in November.
Featured Image: Derek Lunsford / YouTube