On Dec. 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV, three-time reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead will attempt to continue his legacy with a fourth consecutive Olympia title. Bumstead already holds the most Classic Physique Olympia championships in history — his third victory surpassed the two earned by former champ Breon Ansley.
On Nov. 10, 2022, Bumstead took to his YouTube channel to publish a video titled “Champion Mentality,” wherein he shared his inner monologue as the bodybuilder on top of the Classic Physique mountain. Bumstead’s speech was almost a spoken word poem about his experiences as champion — and the lack of glamour that comes with it — despite what all the publicity might make his life seem like.
Check it out below:
“I’m not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light that I have” — Abraham Lincoln
Bumstead’s video opens with him mixing what is presumably a pre-workout mixture in the early morning sunlight peeking into his kitchen. The camera cuts to a hallway shot peering at a garage door opening as Bumstead puts on his shoes for a walk on his treadmill. His monologue continues:
Winning isn’t once what I thought it was. I found it to be much more complex than our traditional definitions of success.
The emotionless beeping sounds of a treadmill kicking into gear are heard as Bumstead maintains his time in the shrouded cover of his garage with the sunlight at bay a car’s length away. Bumstead faces away from the outside when walking on the treadmill.
A lot of people fall to their knees in tears after a big accomplisment — partly due to joy and gratitude, but a lot of what you see is relief and even fear.
Bumstead knows what that moment of accomplishment feels like; his rise to the summit of the bodybuilding world happened at a rather young age. The 27-year-old won his first Olympia in 2019 at only 24 years old. In the video, Bumstead isolated what he deemed to be “a crucial moment in a person’s journey” — determining what “winning” actually means.
Without a personal definition of success, the danger is getting “stuck in a hamster wheel, chasing a nonexistent result.” While the audience sees the moment of triumph as that brief second when the judges announce the name of the victor, or a trophy hoisted overhead, or a medal strewn around a neck, Bumstead believes winning “happens in early mornings, painful workouts, long cardio sessions, and hungry nights.” All of which is insulated by fear and what you make of it.
It happens in every second of every day before you win.
Bumstead embraces that time leading up to the Olympia as an opportunity to build his resiliency and, in turn, serve the responsibility he feels to himself to do so.
If you’re not improving, you’re falling behind.
There lies the rub of an elite bodybuilder attempting to fend off the challenges of his contenders and the doubt within himself: Even after achieving the highest accolade in the sport, Bumstead still labors under the expectation to improve his physique and deliver something better than his best. Uncharted territory or, in Bumstead’s own words, “another opportunity to grow.”
Bumstead expresses the experience of training and competing as a “journey through hell” with the promise of reaching paradise on the other side. However, once a champion wins, their moment to look at paradise is brief. They can either stay there and rest on the laurels of their hard-fought journey, or venture back into the fires to seek a better, more fulfilling paradise elsewhere — one that may not exist.
Paradise, like our goals, cannot be a destination, but an endless horizon we secretly don’t want to reach.
Ultimately, being a champion isn’t necessarily about the glamour or proving one’s capacity or discipline to others. It’s about control:
Winning…has no finish line. It’s about the responsibility to ourselves to take control of what little things you can in this world.
For Bumstead, a “champion mentality” isn’t about the hardware, the accolades, the money, or the press. It’s about “having no quit — setting the standard at which you operate for everything in your life.”
Featured image: @cbum on Instagram