From Runner-Up to Champion: Derek Lunsford’s Back Workout Breakdown for Olympia 2023

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Derek Lunsford, the impressive contender who secured 2nd place in the 2022 Mr. Olympia competition, is swiftly approaching the highly coveted Mr. Olympia title. 

With a remarkable track record as the former 212 division champion (clinching the championship in 2021), Lunsford has gained an influential endorsement from the legendary eight-time Mr. Olympia winner, Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman believes Lunsford has what it takes to proudly lift the prestigious Sandow trophy at November’s forthcoming 2023 Olympia event.

During his off-season training, Derek Lunsford has vigorously embraced the FST-7 back training program, expertly guided by Hany Rambod, renowned for his coaching prowess, and assisted by reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead

Derek Lunsford back workout
via Derek Lunsford Instagram Account

On June 8, 2023, Derek Lunsford generously shared a comprehensive video on his YouTube channel, wherein he meticulously evaluates his entire back workout during what he refers to as “Phase Two” of his off-season training regimen. 

Lunsford expresses his confidence by boasting his largest physique ever, weighing an impressive 260 pounds in the mornings. 

Revel in the remarkable journey of Derek Lunsford as he introduces groundbreaking back training methods that could potentially shape the course of his triumph at the upcoming Mr. Olympia competition.

Derek Lunsford’s Back Workout

Here’s Derek Lunsford’s back workout:

Derek Lunsford mr olympia 2023
via Derek Lunsford Instagram account

Lat Pulldowns

Derek Lunsford incorporates lat pulldowns using the Maximum Advantage Grip (MAG) to kick off his routine. 

This unique grip configuration, resembling a pull-up on parallel bars, places the palms facing each other. 

This neutral grip maximizes the mind-muscle connection, effectively engaging the lats. 

Lunsford executes his reps with fluidity and control, emphasizing high rep ranges to achieve an intense back pump.

Barbell Rows

With cable, machine, and compound free-weight exercises, Lunsford focuses on volume rather than load due to his larger frame.

Although he prefers a supinated (underhand) grip, he settles for an overhand grip to maintain consistency. 

By prioritizing volume, Lunsford ensures optimal muscle stimulation during his barbell rows.

Unilateral Row and Chest-Supported Row

Derek Lunsford unilaterally incorporates seated single-arm horizontal rows to address any imbalances in his lats. 

This exercise isolates the lower lats, allowing him to drive his arm back while keeping the elbow as low as possible. 

Following this, Lunsford incorporates chest-supported horizontal rows, which provide a satisfying stretch during each eccentric phase. 

By rounding his back at the bottom and then squeezing his middle back, he maximizes the effectiveness of this exercise.

Straight-Arm Cable Pushdowns

Continuing the intensity without pause, Lunsford moves on to straight-arm cable pushdowns utilizing a rope attachment. 

Each repetition focuses on achieving a deep stretch at the movement’s top, followed by a strong contraction at the bottom. 

By adjusting his torso angle, Lunsford targets different areas of his lats, ensuring a well-rounded back workout.


Concluding his training session, Lunsford dedicates time to his abdominal muscles. He incorporates weighted decline crunches to target his lower abs and includes an inclined leg raise variation. 

Derek Lunsford believes excessive ab exercises are unnecessary since the core muscles perform stabilization movements throughout his training. Maintaining tension in his abdominals is a priority, even as fatigue sets in.

Derek Lunsford’s Training Progression and Philosophy

Lunsford’s training approach prioritizes the mind-muscle connection, a full range of motion, and flexibility. 

Derek Lunsford Training
via Derek Lunsford Instagram Account

Rather than focusing on excessively heavy loads, he emphasizes strict form and controlled repetitions, allowing for effective muscle stimulation while minimizing the risk of overtaxing his recovery capacity.

Lunsford draws motivation and accountability from knowing that his fellow competitors, such as Hadi Choopan, Nick Walker, Samson Dauda, Brandon Curry, and Ramy Mamdouh Elssbiay, consistently push themselves to excel.

As Derek Lunsford continues to fine-tune his back training regimen, his unwavering dedication to optimal form, smart volume management, and strategic exercise selection will propel him closer to securing the Mr. Olympia title.

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