Four-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead and 2021 Olympia 212 champion Derek Lunsford aren’t regular training partners, but they are both clients of 22-time Olympia winning coach Hany Rambod. So, when the opportunity presents itself, the two champion bodybuilders do like to trade sets.
One such session was held in Pittsburgh, PA during the weekend of May 12-13, 2023 where Lunsford guest posed at the IFBB Pittsburgh Pro contest. Bumstead shared footage of the back workout on his YouTube channel.
Lat Pulldown Machine
Both men began the session by focusing on isolating their lats with lat pulldown machine. They performed both reverse-grip and neutral-grip pulldowns on different sets. Rambod was placing emphasis on driving the scapulae and elbows back to get a greater contraction. Both athletes also used slow tempos with their reps, increasing the time under tension. They were staying in the 10-12 rep range for each set. Rambod instructed Bumstead to hold the contracted portion for up to five seconds at the end of one set.
Why Do It: The lat pulldown focuses on the lats as well as the upper back. Using an overhand grip may recruit more of the upper back muscles, while an underhand grip may shift the focus to more of the lower lats and biceps. The neutral-grip can be used to isolate the lats with minimal biceps involvement.
How to Do It: Grab the handles with your preferred grip and sit on the seat of the machine with your knees secured under the pads. Get a stretch at the top before beginning the first rep. With control, drive your elbows down and back as you pull the handles down towards your chest. You can allow your upper body to come back slightly, but don’t use momentum to pull the weight down. Pull in as close to your body as possible and hold this position briefly before allowing the handles to return to the starting position under control. Repeat for the desired reps.
Next up was an old-school bodybuilding movement — the T-bar row. A barbell was placed in a corner of the gym while Lunsford stood at the opposite end with a V-handle in his hands. Both men started with three 25-kilogram (55-pound) plates on the barbell, and they eventually added a fourth. Only two sets were shown for each athlete.
Why Do It: This exercise is a basic mass-builder for the upper back. You get the feel of free weights, even though the non-weighted end of the bar is wedged or locked into position.
How to Do It: Once weight is on the barbell with the opposite end secured in a landmine unit, straddle the bar and place the V-handle underneath it so you can hold the handle with each hand. Bend at the hips while keeping your back straight. Lift the handles so the weighted end of the bar comes up off the floor. While maintaining the bent-over position, pull the bar up toward your chest to contract your lats and upper back. Slowly lower the barbell back to the floor, without letting it rest on the ground, and repeat for the desired reps.
Seated Cable Row
Bumstead started the third movement of the session when he did his first set of seated cable rows with a neutral grip. They were pulling the handle to the middle of their torsos to emphasize the upper back, but their execution of the reps were still slow and controlled. Rambod encouraged them to feel the muscles working with each individual rep.
Why Do It: This promotes thickness and detail in the upper back, which both men will showcase on-stage in back-double biceps poses during mandatory callouts or during various back poses in their individual routines.
How to Do It: Place your feet on the foot pad and sit on the bench while holding the handles. You should be able to stretch forward when lowering the handle without the pinned weight touching the stack. Keeping a straight back and slightly bent legs, pull the handle in toward your torso. Squeeze the upper back and hold the contracted position before lowering the pinned weight back toward the stack. Once you feel a stretch in your upper back, repeat for the next rep. Your upper body should move slightly, but you shouldn’t use momentum to pull the weight in. Keep a neutral neck position throughout the set.
Chest-Supported Two-Dumbbell Row
The fourth exercise of the day was first movement to use dumbbells. Both Bumstead and Lunsford placed themselves on an incline bench, chest down, and rowed the dumbbells up using an overhand grip. They allowed their elbows to flare out to emphasize the rear delts and upper back muscles. Rambod focused on their range of motion by having them stretch and lower the dumbbells as close as possible to the floor before beginning the next rep.
Why Do It: This free weight movement hits the upper back and forces you to work each side independently to maintain stability and control of the weight. Doing this on a bench decreases the possibility of using momentum or cheating the exercise.
How to Do It: Place dumbbells near the head end of the bench. Straddle the bench and place your feet wide on the floor for balance. Place your chest on the bench and use your arms to secure the dumbbells. Pull the dumbbells toward your upper body while keeping yourself connected to the bench. When you feel the contraction of your upper back, slowly lower the weights towards the floor. Once you feel a stretch, begin the next rep.
The video concluded with footage of Bumstead saying some words on stage at the Pittsburgh Pro contest before brief clips of Lunsford’s guest posing was shown.
Not all details of this workout’s were shared, but you can try these movements for yourself by following the sample workout below.
Sample Back Workout
Lat Pulldown — 4 x 8-12
T-Bar Row — 3 x 10-12
Seated Cable Row — 3 x 10-12
Chest-Supported Two-Dumbbell Row — 3 x 10
Both Bumstead and Lunsford will compete in their respective divisions at the 2023 Olympia Weekend in Orlando, FL on the weekend of Nov. 2-5. Bumstead will aim to win his fifth consecutive Classic Physique Olympia title while Lunsford, now a Men’s Open competitor, looks to improve upon his second-place finish at the 2022 edition by overcoming current Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan.
Featured Image: @cbum on Instagram