Episode 25 of The Mike O’Hearn Show was published on Generation Iron‘s YouTube channel on Dec. 9, 2022, and it featured the show’s namesake interviewing reigning 212 Olympia champion, Derek Lunsford. Lunsford received a special invite to make his Men’s Open Olympia debut, where he will vie for the coveted Mr. Olympia title against two-time reigning champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay.
I want to keep moving up, keep getting better — every year, every time I step on stage.
The discussion revolved less around bodybuilding contests than about the journey to those contests. Lunsford and O’Hearn agree that a strong foundation outside the gym (i.e., positive home life, marriage, etc.) can lead to a better likelihood of success in the gym. Check out the full interview below:
Lunsford cautions aspiring bodybuilders and those already well-established in the sport not to make competing solely about winning and losing. Viewing the journey through that binary lens can potentially lead to toxicity in terms of mindset. That was the case for Lunsford in his formative years as a wrestler before transitioning to bodybuilding.
Winning and losing…it’s not in your control.
From Lunsford’s point of view, focusing solely on winning as the measurement of success is setting oneself up for failure. While the desire to win is “good,” if it’s the only motivating factor during prep, it could cause excess stress.
Not many people can do what we do because it’s that tough.
O’Hearn routinely touts himself as “an old-school guy” on his show and compares the challenges of bodybuilding in the days before social media versus modern day and social media’s significant influence. Lunsford’s approach to the topic is previously untraveled on the show, which is to view each era contextually rather than comparatively.
Lunsford remarked that the challenges of each era were still significant contextually, even if very different. As an example, he branches into his move from 212 to Men’s Open bodybuilding.
When competing in the 212 division, Lunsford struggled to make weight, a significant hurdle to balance when the goal is to pack on as much muscle mass as possible before getting peeled for a show. In the Men’s Open division, Lunsford doesn’t have to worry about making weight but needs to lift heavier in the gym to pack on the requisite size to be competitive against the rest of the Olympia field.
Both divisions have challenges for Lunsford, but one division isn’t superior or inferior to the other.
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Lunsford’s competitive mindset evolved when he realized that training and competing to please the expectations of or to prove something to others was unfulfilling. Once he started training for himself because he wanted to maximize his goals rather than the goals others expected him to achieve, he found better mental health overall.
I want to see how good I can be, I don’t need to prove it to anybody else.
Lunsford’s final weeks leading up to the 2022 Olympia “have been a grind.” His weight cut has resulted in daily visible physique changes, thanks, in part, to the hour and a half of cardio he performs each day across two sessions — fasted cardio in the morning and additional cardio in the evening. Combine that with his near-no-fat, low-carb (150 grams per day) diet, and the result is a dialed-in physique that will presumably peak on show day.
The 2022 Olympia is scheduled for Dec. 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV. Lunsford will make his Men’s Open debut, and many experts, including Big Ramy, believe Lunsford has an excellent chance for a high rank.
Featured image: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram