Entering the 2022 Mr. Olympia, most expected Chris Bumstead to continue his largely unimpeded reign atop the Classic Physique division. Now a reigning four-time champion, Bumstead is one of the most prominent, influential names in bodybuilding, even drawing direct acclaim from the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. As it turns out, Bumstead had another roadblock to overcome as he completed his remarkable four-peat.
On Jan. 12, 2023, Bumstead posted a video on his Instagram revealing he tore his right biceps muscle roughly three days before the beginning of the 2022 Olympia contest. Despite such a potentially massive setback, Bumstead persevered to victory, but it wasn’t exactly how he had planned.
Per Bumstead’s testimonial, he didn’t even notice anything was wrong with his arm until the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, three days before he was expected to step on stage. The superstar athlete said he felt “a little bit of pain” before his own personal weigh-ins but wasn’t initially sure what the issue was. The ensuing day, the Thursday before the start of the 2022 Olympia, Bumstead’s pain apparently grew, especially while posing. By Friday evening, the pain in his arm was so intense Bumstead avoided posing as much as he could. After all, his callouts and the Classic Physique Finals were scheduled on that Saturday, and he had to conserve energy where possible.
For this young titan, it became both a physical and mental journey through adversity. Given the high expectations and pressure he placed on himself, this biceps injury at the near-last moment was understandably not a welcome obstacle.
” … So we went on stage for prejudging and I still felt really good and I still felt confident,” Bumstead said. “My physique was great but I kept just thinking that here is this great physique I’ve built, probably the greatest package I ever brought to the stage, but my arm. Everybody is going to be seeing me and go like, ‘Why does his arm not look right?’ I just couldn’t get that out of my head. It was something that was pulling me out of the moment.”
Despite his insecurity over an injury that ultimately didn’t preclude him from another Classic Physique Olympia title, Bumstead did his best to keep his eye on the prize. He had to take a step back and ensure his mind was in the right place before doing the seemingly impossible — winning a fitness posing competition with one body part that might not have looked or performed “right.”
The way the best of champions do.
“I had one of my ‘C-Bum’ moments in the bathroom, crying,” Bumstead revealed on the day of the Classic Physique Olympia. “I got on my knees in front of this mirror and I looked at myself. I was just like, ‘What’s going on, man? … All this work you’ve put in, all the effort you’ve put into this, all the love you have for this, the years and many times you’ve done this. And you’re stressing about it now? … All the fans and friends who’ve supported you, who are excited to be here. You should be excited for that. Not even ‘you should,’ but that you get the opportunity to be here and enjoy this. … This is a privilege and a blessing to be here. I’m going to choose to enjoy this.’”
From there, Bumstead’s promise to himself to enjoy the moment of standing under the Las Vegas, NV, stage spotlight paid off. By keeping a positive, competitive mindset, he clarified he could compartmentalize a torn muscle that might have otherwise dragged him down. Per Bumstead, if one looks closely at him after stepping off the stage during the Classic Physique Finals, the emotion of enduring the pain and stress from his injured biceps was evident, too, even if he tried his best to hide it.
“We went out there, had fun, crushed it, and it was just a proud moment of myself,” Bumstead said. “It’s also why you see that clip of me getting off stage and just bawling my eyes out. Because it was all the pressure, expectation, stress, getting on stage, being on my mind all day, battling it. All of the ups and downs all day, then I was able to pull it together, be there and enjoy it, and bring home the win.”
These days, roughly a month after the latest bright moment of his illustrious, growing career, Bumstead explained that his biceps tear wasn’t actually too severe. In fact, it doesn’t seem it’ll interrupt much of his training plans as he works toward a fifth consecutive championship in 2023.
He just has to be patient and take his time first.
“An update on my bicep now, it’s only mildly torn, it’s not off the insertion or the origin. It’s just in the muscle belly, so it’s really not that bad,” Bumstead said. “They [medical professionals] said six to eight weeks to recover. I’m stubborn, so I’m going to say five to six weeks on that one. But I haven’t trained back or biceps. I really haven’t trained at all in four weeks. I’m just letting it heal, letting it recover, keeping down inflammation.”
Featured image: @cbum on Instagram