On April 9, 2022, reigning 212 Olympia Champion Derek Lunsford recorded himself in the squat rack, among other lifts, on his YouTube channel. Over five sets of 20 reps, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro League bodybuilder squatted a total of 100 reps at 315 pounds.
The high-stamina leg workout was part of Lunsford’s ongoing off-season. He’s seeking to defend his title at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. This ambitious lift is undoubtedly an excellent example of what the bodybuilder brings to the table in strength.
Lunsford’s Off-season Legs Workout
Before starting the more challenging part of the workout with the squat, Lunsford elects to warm up some of his leg muscles appropriately.
Research has shown that a proper warmup is vital to an athlete’s squat performance — both before their workout and in how they feel after. Tested subjects who utilized a progressive warmup before squatting saw increased availability of oxygen during their working set and usually felt less fatigue in their legs in the aftermath. (1)
Seated Leg Extension
Sets and Reps: 3 x 12-15 each leg
Lunsford starts the training by performing unilateral leg extensions (working the same number of reps on both legs). He begins the lift with eight plates on the machine and concludes with 14 plates on the final set.
Lying Leg Curl
Sets and Reps: 3 x 15-20
Next, Lunsford proceeded over to the lying leg curl machine. His first set is of the slower variety to recruit (or activate) more leg muscles for his eventual squat.
Studies have shown that an athlete recruiting muscles with single-joint exercises such as leg curls saw more significant strength gains when later performing compound movements like the squat. (2)
[Related: Bodybuilder Shaun Clarida Breaks Down An Intense Arms Workout]
Sets and Reps: 5 x 20
After sufficiently warming his legs up, Lunsford turns toward the main squat event. After performing two warmup sets at 135 and 225 pounds, respectively, he dives right in.
Over five sets of 20 reps, Lunsford completes the 100 squat reps rather casually. He doesn’t take any extended breaks and powers right through each set as soon as possible. For the challenge, Lunsford wore a lifting belt and performed shallow repetitions — he kept his legs slightly above parallel throughout.
Once finished, Lunsford’s exhaustion is evident. He lies down on a bench to recuperate and doesn’t mince his words regarding how he feels about his feat.
“As much as it sucks in the moment, these are the days I live for,” Lunsford says. This is why I do what I do, and I love it.”
Leg Press and Standing Leg Curl
Sets and Reps: 2 x 15 (for both movements)
To cap his leg workout while fatigued from the squats, Lunsford finishes with a couple of sets on the leg press and standing leg curl machines, respectively.
I think I need a bucket. I don’t ever throw up during a workout.
Notably, Lunsford is a professional bodybuilder who assuredly knows his limitations. Some studies have shown that most regular athletes needn’t push past their point of muscle fatigue. Once fatigued, most people have already reached their peak muscle activation and will usually only see diminishing returns in strength gains until they recover. (3)
Onward to Mr. Olympia
Lunsford is one of bodybuilding’s more esteemed active competitors. After starting with the National Physique Committee (NPC), here are the results of his IFBB career, per NPC News Online:
2017 IFBB Tampa Pro, 212 division — First place
2017 IFBB Mr. Olympia, 212 division — Fifth place
2018 IFBB Mr. Olympia, 212 division — Second place
2019 IFBB Mr. Olympia, 212 division — Second place
2020 IFBB Mr. Olympia, 212 division — Fourth place
2021 IFBB Mr. Olympia, 212 division — First place
It’s a long road to the 2022 Mr. Olympia in December, but the greater sport of bodybuilding can still potentially look forward to an exciting matchup.
After coming in second place to Lunsford during the 2021 Mr. Olympia, Shaun “The Giant Killer” Clarida may come for the title again. However, while he typically competes in the 212 division, Clarida might opt for the Open division, nixing that matchup with Lunsford. Clarida has not yet clarified his decision for this year’s event.
Regardless of who Lunsford faces off against, the 2022 Mr. Olympia should, as usual, present a thrilling stage for top-level bodybuilders. The 2022 Mr. Olympia will happen on December 15-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV.
Ribeiro, B. et al. (2020). The Role of Specific Warm-up during Bench Press and Squat Exercises: A Novel Approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 Sep; 17(18): 6882
Sugisaki, N., Kurokawa, S., Okada, J., Kanehisa, H. (2014). Difference in the Recruitment of Hip and Knee Muscles between Back Squat and Plyometric Squat Jump. PLOS One. 2014 Jun
Nóbrega, S.R., Libardi, C.A. (2016). Is Resistance Training to Muscular Failure Necessary? Frontiers in Physiology. 2016 Jan; 7: 10
Featured image: Derek Lunsford on YouTube