On March 8, 2022, the three-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead took to his YouTube channel to hold a Q&A session. Bumstead is amidst a very long off-season before his prep for the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas, NV, on Dec. 16-18, 2022. He is the winningest Classic Physique Olympia champion in history, eclipsing Breon Ansley‘s two Olympia titles in 2021.
Bumstead answers questions regarding the difficulties of prep, the mental struggles and stress that come with competing at the highest level of bodybuilding, and, of course, training advice. Check out the full video below:
Developing “Champion Mentality”
One of the phrases that grace Bumstead’s merchandise is “Champion Mentality.” Initially, this was just a nice phrase to put on a t-shirt that would sell. Over time, Bumstead came to recognize the value and truth behind having what he deems a “champion mentality,” which he essentially classified as the ability to drown out one’s doubts.
You are your own worst enemy all the time. You are literally competing against yourself all the time. Champion mentality isn’t…about being a champion and winning trophies…it’s about having no quit…to be the best version of yourself.
Bodybuilding as a competitive sport is unique. Athletes ultimately compete against each other on stage; they don’t influence the packages other bodybuilders bring to a show. They only have control over their own physiques. The time between shows varies, and there isn’t a hard and fast way to determine if the improvements made in the gym and the kitchen will reflect positively on the judge’s scorecards.
“Champion Mentality” extends to what Bumstead considers the most challenging part of prepping for a show, which his “internal battle [he] has about [his] health.” There is a pattern of successful bodybuilders dying at relatively young ages. Since 2020, the sport tragically lost George Peterson, Shawn Rhoden, Tom Prince, Luke Sandoe, and John Meadows, to name a few, all before age 53.
Bumstead seems to be keenly aware of the stress that competing at bodybuilding’s elite level can put on his body. Whenever he starts to contemplate whether the risks to his health are worth it to step on stage again, he doubles down on the precautions to ensure his body is healthy.
I need to do my health checks, blood work…I’m working with a new doctor…making sure everything is on point.
Trusting data and numbers at the doctor’s office, similar to trusting the numbers when meal prepping or logging output in the gym, seems to be a reliable strategy. Maintaining his health and “learning to not live in fear” is a balance that Bumstead contends with, but asserts that if one wants to do something, one should do so without stressing over it — “I don’t want to live my life like that.”
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Best Way To Make Gains
When comparing training with supersets versus one body part at a time for the most significant gains, Bumstead was clear:
If…supersetting different body parts…definitely focusing on one body part at a time. I’m a huge believer in good old bro split type workouts where you destroy one body part, train full intensity.
Rather than concerning yourself with what kinds of lifting styles, be it supersets or anything else, Bumstead recommends putting all of your focus and energy into each set. While training with intensity wins out, Bumstead suggests supersetting the same muscle groups in different ranges of motion if supersets are preferred.
Focus for 2022 Olympia
Bumstead’s focus for the 2022 Olympia contest is “to be as present as possible throughout [his] prep.” He finds joy during peak week and while on stage and wants to extend that to last throughout the whole prep. From a purely physical standpoint, Bumstead wants to peak better in 2022 as he felt his physique could have been even sharper the past two years, but he was afraid to have any sodium as he had avoided it in previous contests.
I’m going to need that extra edge to win another Olympia because the competition’s getting really tough.
Although he’s made significant back gains from his second Olympia title to his third, Bumstead still intends to bring up his back and arms further as well as practice his posing more. Over the past two years, his biggest competition has been two-time Classic Physique Olympia runner-up Terrence Ruffin, who recently won the 2022 Arnold Classic (AC) — his second AC title — and was awarded an additional $10,000 as best poser.
Featured image: @cbum on Instagram | photo by Calvin Youttitham (@calvinyouttitham on Instagram)