A little over a month into 2023, anyone with a set of eyeballs and access to social media will see that Derek Lunsford’s New Year’s resolutions should include an uncomfortable fit with an intelligent car and have to turn slightly when walking through doors. At the very least, it’s packing more muscle on his frame and he’s off to a hot start.
In 2022, the 212 Olympia winner moved up a weight class and entered the Men’s Open division at Olympia. Lunsford finished second to Hadi Choopan, solidifying himself as a potential top dog in bodybuilding’s premier division while generating plenty of hype heading into 2023.
Last Feb. 7, 2023, Lunsford posted a full day session on his YouTube channel. The gym Lunsford enters is not named, but the video shows fans what a bigger, well-fed Derek can do without the limitations of a 212-pound weight cap coming up. at the end of the year.
Lunsford’s Leg Workout
To review the focus of exercise, strength training is about stimulating the target muscle(s) to stimulate muscle growth (aka hypertrophy). What exercises you do isn’t necessarily as important as progressively doing more work every time you step foot in the gym – usually in the form of loading more weight, doing more reps, or both. .
For this reason, it is not unusual to see bodybuilders vary their routines from workout to workout. At the elite level, details are everything. For example, if an athlete is trying to raise their hamstrings, they can increase the movements of hinging compared to squatting exercises. This particular workout is a hamstring-dominant leg day, and Lunsford performs several hamstring-focused movements to prime the muscle group.
Here’s a look at the lower-body exercises Lunsford and his training partners perform, along with tips on how to get the most out of both moves.
False Rock Curl
Why Do It: Curling the weight from a prone position ensures that most of the tension is placed on your hamstrings — the muscle you’re trying to target. It’s also easy to perform, making it a great choice for exercisers of any experience level.
How to do it: Lay the machine face down. Place the sitting pad just above your heels and make sure you complete the movement through the entire range of motion. Hold a handle in each hand, brace your core, and curl the pad as close to your butt as is comfortable. Lower the weight slowly (try to the count of three) before starting the next rep.
Lunsford said: “It’s a very humble machine,” Lunsford said in the “You don’t need a lot of weight” video.
Why Do It: A close cousin of the deadlift, the stiff-leg version has the lifter complete a standard deadlift with a shorter range of motion and a slight bend in their knees. This form tweak puts more stress on the hamstrings. The stiff-leg deadlift also engages the lower back as you continuously hang up and down without lowering the weight.
How to do it: Load a barbell with less weight than you would use for a standard deadlift. Set up with your normal stance while bending your legs slightly, and then lift the barbell off the ground. Keep your core tight and lower the bar to the middle of your shins. Do slow and controlled repetitions.
Lunsford said: “Now that we have blood there, and it’s a little tight, I want to do a stretching movement. … It’s an exercise where you’re more likely to tear a muscle compared to others,” Lunsford said. “Our hamstrings were really tight because of what we did in one minute [lying leg curls] … we’re trying to open up the muscle fibers by stretching the muscle.”
Why Do It: This machine version of the squat will help you develop your quadriceps. The benefit that comes with this is that you don’t have to worry about supporting the weight like a barbell, which allows more focus on your legs and less on your supporting core or back. muscles.
How to do it: Each squat machine has its own manufacturer’s instructions based on the specific design, which you must follow. The ultimate goal is to feel strong with the weight, lower yourself as far as you can to the floor as far as you can, so you can feel the stretch in the top of your thighs. Using power through your legs, push yourself back to a standing position.
Lunsford said: Lunsford explained that he usually does belt squats instead, but he chose to do this movement as a substitution. He suggests alternating rep speed in this exercise. “Five slow, five fast, five slow, five fast.”
Sitting Rock Curl
Why Do It: The advantage of doing a seated version of the leg curl is that your hips are bent, which reduces the activation of your glutes and helps you isolate the hamstrings. This movement can be done with one leg or both at the same time.
How to do it: Once you are secured in the seat and the thigh pad and ankle pad are adjusted (above your knees and just above your ankles, respectively), bend your knees and contract your ankles to lower the footpad. Your legs should be bent at least 90-degrees (point to the floor) below – if movement allows, bend your feet under the seat near your glutes. Slowly return the weight to the top position and repeat.
Lunsford said: “At this point, all the hard stuff is over,” Lunsford explained. “You push yourself, but that will really tax the CNS [central nervous system], where you have to dig deep and pull off a couple extra reps, it’s less taxing on you. These extra things are a bonus for you to get better. Every rep, every set, you’re improving.”
Why Do It: The leg extension offers a similar benefit to the seated leg curl, except it targets the quadriceps instead of the hamstrings. It can be used for warming up the knees as well as building the quad muscles.
How to do it: Once you are seated with the leg extension pad over your ankles, press your legs into the pad to straighten your legs. Continue lifting until you feel a full stretch in the upper thighs. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Lunsford said: The focus of this phase is more about achieving high-quality contractions than using maximum weight and performing maximum reps. “Just standard tempo, standard rep speed, just straight sets.” he said.
Why Do It: Most versions of this machine work allow you to do two exercises at the same station. Addition will focus on the inner thighs while abduction will help develop the outer part of the area.
How to do it: Once you are seated, choose which movement you want to start. Addition requires you to press the pads toward the center while abduction calls for you to press them.
Keep your legs straight at all times and slowly control the weight. There should be no jerking or explosive movements. Hold each contraction and stretched position for a moment before continuing with the next rep.
Lunsford said: He doesn’t share any specific thoughts on these particular exercises, but you can see his slow and calculated movements throughout the set. The strength of the machine allows him to keep his hands in contact with the working muscles, further improving his mind-muscle connection for a stronger contraction.
Here is a general guide to the entire workout:
- False Rock Curl: 5 x 15, followed by 1 drop set of 15 or more total reps
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift: 3 x 10-15
- machine Squat: 4 x 15
- Sitting down LEGS curly: 3 x 15
- LEGS Extension: 3 x 15-20
- Abductor/Adductor Machine: 3 x 10
The Next Step for Lunsford
By claiming second place in 2022 Mr. Olympia, Lunsford is one of six athletes currently qualified to compete in the 2023 edition. At the time of publishing this article, other confirmed competitors include 2023 Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan, 2020-2021 champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry, Nick Walker who placed third in the 2022 Olympia after winning the 2021 Arnold Classic, and newcomer Brett Wilkins who will make his Olympia stage debut in 2023.
Lunsford is not expected to compete again until she returns to the Olympia stage, Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, FL, where he hopes to improve on his 2022 runner-up status. After speculation that he might compete as one of the entrants in the 2023 Arnold Classic, March 2-5, Lunsford revealed that he has no intention of participating in the competition.
Lunsford seems fully focused on becoming the first bodybuilder to win the 212 Olympia and Mr. Olympia title. If he keeps up the intensity and drive shown through this intense leg workout, it just might become a reality.
Featured Image: Derek Lunsford / YouTube
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