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Derek Lunsford: “Bodybuilding Is Getting Harder. Every Generation Takes It to the Next Level”


The 2022 Mr. Olympia runner-up, Derek Lunsford, is pushing himself harder than ever this off-season with intense chest workouts in his pursuit of the coveted Sandow title. In a video published on his YouTube channel on March 23, 2023, Lunsford shared his thoughts about the new generation of bodybuilders during a shoulder workout with International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League bodybuilder Tim Budesheim.

With reigning Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan and contenders like Nick Walker and 2023 Arnold Classic champion Samson Dauda, Lunsford believes the sport is endlessly evolving, with each new generation taking it to the next level. Check out the video below:

[Related: Hunter Labrada on Why Cable Lateral Raises Are “One of the Best Ways To Train Medial Delts”]

New Generation of Bodybuilding Vs. Bodybuilding in the ’90s

Budesheim asked Lunsford about how he compares bodybuilders in the ’90s to bodybuilders in the modern day. Lunsford said bodybuilders of that era, like Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman, pushed the envelope for athletes to get bigger, more shredded, and “freakier.” That set the stage for “mass monsters” like two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay to step into the spotlight.

Just like any other sport…[bodybuilding] continues to evolve and get harder. Every generation is taking it to the next level.

Lunsford believes the sport is steering toward physiques that combine the best of all eras — beauty, size, and conditioning — while the competition becomes simultaneously more fierce.


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A post shared by Derek Lunsford (@dereklunsford_)

[Related: Yoga for Bodybuilding: How Getting Flexible Helps You Gain Muscle]

Bodybuilding Evolves Like Other Sports 

Lunsford used a common basketball analogy of who’s the greatest of all time: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant? Lunsford suggests nobody knows because they played against different athletes in different eras.

A case could be made that the defense is better now than when Jordan played. Analysis of how to play, train, practice, and compete has also evolved, so deciding who’s definitively better will remain forever unanswered. 

“The same thing is true with bodybuilding,” Lunsford said. “There was a time when people wanted the freak monster, and now they want the beauty with the crazy muscle and conditioning. It’s just going to continue to evolve more and more.” 

Lunsford reminisced about when he first entered bodybuilding in 2015 and weighed less than 160 pounds.


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A post shared by Derek Lunsford (@dereklunsford_)

“I knew if I ever wanted to become a 212 Mr. Olympia, not only do I need to achieve what they have done [Flex Lewis, Jay Cutler, Phil Heath], but I have to surpass that because there are many others doing the same thing I am; raising the bar,” Lunsford said. 

Lunsford admittedly tries not to compare himself to the legends of the past. Instead, he works with what he has to break through barriers with his physique. Hopefully, his effort continues to help the sport evolve, as he proved at the 2022 Olympia.

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Featured image: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram

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