Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford








When he strode onstage ripped and ready at 230 pounds, jaws dropped and the cheers were deafening. This was the Derek Lunsford many of us had been waiting to see.


By Steve Blechman


Derek Lunsford was a young man whose physique screamed potential from the start. After turning pro at the 2017 NPC USA Championships, the man on this month’s cover wasted no time and scored his first pro win just a week later in the 212 division of the Tampa Pro. Some wrote it off as beginner’s luck and assured us all he would get a reality check a few weeks later at the Mr. Olympia. Instead, the 24-year-old vaulted into the coveted top five at the 212 Olympia behind legends of the division such as Flex Lewis, Ahmad Ashkanani, Jose Raymond and former Olympia champion David Henry. In the two years that followed, Derek would place runner-up, firmly establishing himself as one of the best 212 bodybuilders alive. After a peaking error caused him to slip down to fourth place in 2020, Lunsford enlisted the services of the man who had been responsible for 20 Olympia wins including seven from Phil Heath alone, Hany Rambod. The partnership paid off, and in October of 2021 Derek Lunsford became the 212 Olympia champion.


Utilizing new training and nutrition methods from Rambod, Derek soon began adding substantial amounts of new lean muscle mass. We only had glimpses of his progress until early May 2022, when he guest posed at the Pittsburgh Pro. Though he shared the stage with stars like Brandon Curry, Nick Walker and Hunter Labrada, it was Derek who stole the show at a massive 260 pounds and in very decent condition. Within the hour, Instagram and YouTube were buzzing with praise for Derek’s new size, and the speculation immediately commenced: would he defend his 212 Olympia title in 2022, or take the new size and make a run at the Mr. Olympia? The answer came in September, as it was announced a special invitation to compete in the Mr. Olympia had been extended to Lunsford. This brought celebration from some corners and outrage from others who felt he had “skipped the line” and would be standing among men like two-time and reigning champion Big Ramy and the rest without having earned the right to be there. That disgruntled contingent predicted a poor showing for Derek, who they felt should have “stayed in his lane” as a 212.


But at the Mr. Olympia, Lunsford would find vindication and then some. When he strode onstage ripped and ready at 230 pounds, jaws dropped and the cheers were deafening. This was the Derek Lunsford many of us had been waiting to see. With the 212-pound weight restriction lifted, he has thicker, rounder and fuller than ever before. His already wide shoulders and back were now at another level, yet his waist was still narrow. Along with improved, thicker quads with better sweep, Derek now had one of the most extreme X-frames ever seen. Not only did he make the telling first callout, but he was placed dead center next to Iran’s Hadi Choopan, also a Hany Rambod client and also noticeably more massive than ever yet with stellar conditioning. In the final tally, Choopan claimed the Mr. Olympia title, but second place for Derek was also a win. He had proven that he indeed belonged on the Open stage and was now runner-up at the Mr. Olympia, a distinction shared in past years by champions like Dorian Yates, Flex Wheeler, Jay Cutler, Kevin Levrone and Phil Heath. Lunsford had certainly made a smooth and successful transition from 212 to Open in one year’s time. Ron Harris gives you the full story in “Derek Lunsford: From 212 Champ to Mr. Olympia Runner-up in One Year!”

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford

In 1989, Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Columbus Mayor, the late Jim Lorimer, staged the first Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic. The Arnold was invitation only and kicked off each contest season with many of the very best men in professional bodybuilding. Over the years, many of the winners also came to represent the “uncrowned Mr. Olympias.” The Arnold Classic would eclipse the Olympia in terms of prizes (giving away equal money but also a Hummer and a Rolex watch) and grew into the larger, international Arnold Sports Festival with more overall athletes than the Olympic Games, that will be held on March 2-5, in Columbus, Ohio. The sport of bodybuilding would not be as popular and well-respected as it became without the Arnold Classic, and there never could have been an Arnold Classic without Jim Lorimer. MD looks at the history of one of bodybuilding’s most prestigious events, and pays tribute to Jim Lorimer in“The Arnold Classic: From Humble Beginnings to a World-Class Event.”

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford

The Arnold Classic began as strictly a bodybuilding contest, but as years went by it expanded to include many other sports and events. One of these was Strongman, which had gained worldwide popularity with the inception of the World’s Strongest Man competition in 1977. MHP is the longest-running sponsor of this event and has a heritage of showcasing top Strongmen. “As MHP grew and we were looking for other platforms that would be a great fit for the brand, Strongman seemed like the epitome of Maximum Human Performance and our slogan, MHP Strong,” MHP President Gerard Dente explains. Learn more about this “strong” addition to the Arnold Classic from MHP in “Arnold Strongman Classic:Testing the Limits of Strength and Power for 20 Years!” and “Gerard Dente and the MHP Connection.” Also, “Meet Thomas Evans: MHP’s Newest Pro Strongman.”

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford

2022 is behind us, a year like no other in the pro league – with so much new talent coming into the professional ranks. Who are the bodybuilders to watch out for this year? Giles “Tiger” Thomas gazes into his crystal ball and predicts who will be the ones to really kick ass and take names in “The Stars of 2023:Who to Watch This Contest Season.”

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford

MD readers know Dr. George Touliatos, aka Doctor Testosterone, from his column “Ask Dr. T” in print and online, and from his weekly show on the MD YouTube channel, “Ask Dr. Testosterone.” Dr. T is a rare example of a medical professional who practices what he preaches, living a dedicated lifestyle of hard weight training and clean eating and inspiring others to be strong and healthy. Recently he got into peak condition for photo shoots in Los Angeles, working with the legendary Per Bernal just before the 2022 Olympia Weekend. MD’s Ron Harris spoke with Dr. T about how he manages to look so damn good at nearly a half-century old in “Dr. T’s Transformation: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life at Any Age!”

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford

Muscular Development is your number one source for building muscle, and for the latest research and best science to enable you to train smart and effectively. Our team of physicians, industry experts and research scientists has these reports on improving performance this month:


“Arnold Era: Then Versus Now: Fat Loss” Fat Attack

“Arnold Era Diet” Nutrition Performance

“Protein Requirements for Strength Training” Supplement Performance

Deepen Your Deltoids With Arnold PressesMuscle Growth Update

“Arnold Era: Then Versus Now: Anabolics and AdjunctsTestosterone

Anabolic Steroids: Drug Abuse and PathologyBodybuilding Science


The rest of the book is packed to the binder as usual – making MD your one-stop, most authoritative source for optimizing muscular development with the latest cutting-edge research on training, nutrition, fat loss, performance-enhancing drugs, muscle growth and bodybuilding science – and exclusive information from the industry experts, insiders and bodybuilding legends who make it all happen. See you next month!

 Next MD Cover: February 2023: Derek Lunsford
















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