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Derek Lunsford Trains Back and Biceps with Ronnie Coleman


The 2022 Mr. Olympia runner-up Derek Lunsford is doing everything he can to clinch the title that Hadi Choopan narrowly beat him to. Part of Lunsford’s plan includes training with some of the greatest bodybuilders ever.

On April 3, 2023, Lunsford posted a back and biceps workout he endured with the eight-time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, on his  YouTube channel. Check it out:

Lunsford believes “every generation takes bodybuilding to the next level.” Coleman is confident that Lunsford has what it takes to bring a Sandow trophy home.

Derek Lunsford and Ronnie Coleman’s Back and Biceps Workout

Here’s a breakdown of the pull routine Lunsford and Coleman completed: 

Barbell Deadlift
Cable Seated Row
Lat Pulldown
Rear Lat Pulldown
Dumbbell Single-Arm Preacher Curl
Dumbell Seated Hammer Curl

[Related: Chris Bumstead Says He’d Beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Fantasy Bodybuilding Contest: “He’s Not in Shape Enough”]

Barbell Deadlift

Barbell deadlifts were the first movement the bodybuilding duo performed to warm up. The deadlifts are one of powerlifting‘s “big three” movements, along with squats and bench presses. Deadlifts target the posterior chain — back and hamstrings — and Lunsford appreciates how the full-body work gets him warm for the rest of the workout.

Cable Seated Row

Cable seated rows are excellent for targeting the upper back, posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and lower lats.

One of my favorite exercises for back. It lit up my lower lats.

Lunsford and Coleman used a V-bar, which keeps the hands in a neutral grip — palms face each other — to better bias the biceps. They lean forward at the start of each rep, then pull the cable. This forward lean enables a longer stretch of the lat before peak contraction.


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A post shared by Ronnie Coleman (@ronniecoleman8)

[Related: Ryan Terry Dissects the Posing Mistakes He Made at the 2022 Olympia]

Lat Pulldown 

As the name implies, the lat pulldown targets the latissimus dorsi — responsible for the aesthetic of a wider back and improved V-taper. Lunsford has arguably the best back in the sport currently, but wider lats also enhance the silhouette of the front pose and front double-biceps pose. 

A 2009 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that a wide grip on front pulldowns engages the lats more than behind-the-neck pulldowns and other grip variations, such as the close and underhand grip. (1

Rear Lat Pulldown 

The rear lat pulldown is a reverse variation of the front lat pulldown. The lifters pull the bar behind their heads. This favors the posterior deltoid and biceps brachii compared to its front-pulldown cousin. 

It’s likely best to approach this exercise carefully, as not all lifters have the requisite shoulder mobility required to maintain proper alignment during each rep. This movement can place excessive force on the rotator cuff

“Even though it looks like [Coleman is] swaying and swinging…ensure you’re staying engaged and keeping that constant tension,” said Lunsford. “You’re moving your entire torso, so it’s a little bit more of a technical exercise than most.”


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A post shared by Ronnie Coleman (@ronniecoleman8)

[Related: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Son, Joseph Baena, Details His Favorite Pull Day Workout]

Dumbbell Single-Arm Preacher Curl

Dumbbell single-arm preacher curls are unilateral biceps curls performed at an incline. This slant allows the lifter to curl the weight through a greater range of motion, improving hypertrophy. Performing curls unilaterally help Coleman and Lunsford correct lagging muscle imbalances.

Dumbbell Seated Hammer Curls 

Dumbbell seated hammer curls are performed with a neutral grip in a seated position. Sitting removes the requirements for the core to stabilize the torso and prevents swaying. This allows the lifters to increase the load and employ better bracing. Hammer curls activate the forearms more than standard curls as they activate the brachialis (an elbow flexor). 

Lunsford was the 212 Olympia champ in 2021 but vacated his title to move to the Men’s Open division in 2022. Although he was just shy of being crowned 2022 Mr. Olympia, Coleman, who amassed 24-inch biceps in his prime, thinks Lunsford is a future Mr. Olympia. 


Sperandei, S., Barros, M. A., Silveira-Júnior, P. C., & Oliveira, C. G. (2009). Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down. Journal of strength and conditioning research23(7), 2033–2038.

Featured image: @ronniecoleman8 on Instagram

The post Derek Lunsford Trains Back and Biceps with Ronnie Coleman appeared first on BarBend.

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