Derek Lunsford breaks down his world view and bodybuilding mentality and how it informed his move up to the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia competition

Derek Lunsford is a bodybuilding phenom on top of the world right now. At just 29 years old, he’s already a Men’s 212 Olympia champion. Just one year later and he is now setting his sites on the Men’s Open division and competing for the Mr. Olympia title. With packed on extra muscle and an incredible physique – just might be able to do it. But he will have tough competition in what looks to be one of the deepest lineups in the Mr. Olympia in quite some time. In Generation Iron and Barbend’s latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, Derek Lunsford details his Olympia prep and his worldview that has guided him to moving up into the Men’s Open division.

When Derek Lunsford showed up as a surprise guest poser at the Pittsburgh Pro earlier this year – everything changed. The current Men’s 212 Olympia champion was sporting size comparable to nearly ever Men’s Open competitor in the top 6 of Mr. Olympia. This wasn’t just your typical off season bulk. In fact, if you had just woken up from a coma and watched this guest posing – you’d think Lunsford was just another Men’s Open competitor.

Rumors swirled for months before an official special invite was offered to Derek Lunsford. He could now, if he chose, compete in the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia. He shortly after accepted the offer. The rumors were true – he’s now a Men’s Open competitor competing with the biggest guys in the sport.

But why leave behind the Men’s 212 after only one Olympia win? Why risk it all for a potentially more turbulent contest prep? Lunsford is essentially abandoning what he knows works for a new division, new weight added, and a new approach to success (or at least vastly altered one). Why not aim to be the next Flex Lewis and even surpass his Men’s 212 Olympia record?

Derek Lunsford sits down with Mike O’Hearn on the podcast to discuss the mindset and worldview that guided his decision. And why win or lose he won’t regret a thing. Let’s jump into it.

“I want to keep moving up. I want to keep getting better every day.”

– Derek Lunsford on his move from Men’s 212 to Men’s Open


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Derek Lunsford on always improving both his physique and his character

After some chitchat, Mike O’Hearn jumps into the biggest question of Lunsford’s year – why move from Men’s 212 to Men’s Open? Derek Lunsford doesn’t offer a tactical reason for his switch. Instead, it has to do with his worldview and the way he’s led his life during his bodybuilding career.

For Lunsford, bodybuilding is more than just winning and losing. It’s about a journey of betterment. This goes beyond just his physique. It has to do with being a better person and contributing goodness into the world. Improving his physique is the same desire that stems from his journey to become a better person. Bodybuilding is about putting in the hard work to achieve goals. That same principle can apply beyond dieting and training. It applies to self betterment.

Derek Lunsford knows he could simply re-prepare for the Men’s 212 Olympia and have a strong shot for winning again. But in his mind, that’s settling for simply good. What Lunsford wants is to always strive for great.

Don’t get him wrong, Lunsford knows that the Men’s 212 Olympia would be a challenge in 2022. He doesn’t want to undercut the ability of his contemporaries. That being said, if he were to succeed past the other great athletes – it would only earn him a title he has already won.

So instead, he wants to push himself into a whole new level of challenge. Derek Lunsford wants to go through the learning process of putting on more weight, applying what he’s learned in Men’s 212, and altering it for a new type of success in open. It’s that same aspiration and desire that drove him to bodybuiding in the first place.

In addition to this, he also feels right with the extra weight. Derek Lunsford never wants to sacrifice his own personal aesthetic for his physique in order to win. Lunsford saw himself leaning towards heavier weight. He liked the way he could make that extra beefed up physique look. So he made the leap.

With this mindset, it becomes less about winning and losing. It becomes about being happy with his own physique, knowing he gave his best, and knowing that he faced new challenges to improve his character. Win or lose – Derek Lunsford will regret nothing.

“I admire each and every physique that steps on stage… but at the end of the day I need to seek my fullest genetic potential. And that’s what I have to focus on. I can’t be thinking about, ok, this guy is 300 pound so I need to be 300 pounds. It doesn’t matter about the weight. It matters about the look. Because this is bodybuilding and we are presenting a physique on stage and I have to present my best physique.”

– Derek Lunsford

Related: Derek Lunsford shares insane physique update ahead of the 2022 Mr. Olympia

Bodybuilding careers are short, live in the moment

Derek Lunsford understands he is relatively young in the sport. He also understands that he can’t be a professional bodybuilder forever. That’s why he wants to challenge himself as early as possible. He wants to be proud of the short time spent in the sport rather than regret not taking more chances.

Lunsford shares a story about his experience winning the Men’s 212 Olympia. During that moment when he was waiting for the drawn out winner announcement – it wasn’t excruciating. He wasn’t nervous. He was soaking it in. He wanted to be present in the moment for each second whether he won or lost.

It’s that mentality that he wants to bring into the entire experience of preparing for the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia. Win or lose – he wants to live in the moment. Lunsford points out that none of us can guarantee how many years we live. So long as Lunsford put in all of the right work beforehand – there’s nothing else he can do on stage. So he chooses to enjoy it, stay focused, and live in the moment.

Wrap Up

Derek Lunsford goes into more detail about his bodybuilding career, Mr. Olympia 2022 prep, and more that we can’t relay in full within one article. That’s why you should check out his full comments in the latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Make sure to check back every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.