To start a bodybuilding dynasty, an athlete must be meticulous about every aspect of their training. As the reigning four-time Classic Physique Olympia champion (2019-2022), Chris Bumstead has undoubtedly locked his specific process down to a tee. With the athlete looking to add to his trophy case at this November’s Mr. Olympia, he recently offered clarity on an underrated aspect of his preparation — his recovery.
On July 10, 2023, YouTuber Chris Williamson shared an in-depth, two-hour-plus interview with Bumstead on his channel. The discussion covered a wide variety of subjects but most notably centered on how Bumstead fluctuates his all-important recovery process throughout the calendar year. Bumstead breaks down part of his consistent morning routine starting at 45:36, his thoughts on adequate recovery starting at 1:00:32, and a “champion mentality” beginning at 19:18 in the below video.
Even while accommodating a busy schedule that comes packaged with being a prolific bodybuilder, Bumstead maintained he tries to keep a few constants in his general morning routine. For one, cardio and breath work seem to be central focuses throughout the year. While Bumstead said he’d make slight adjustments here and there as they come, consistency is the name of the game for an athlete who wants to keep his Classic Physique throne.
A general set regimen seems to serve him well.
“Prep evolves, I’m very fluid,” Bumstead explained. My routines, depends on the time of the year, it’s just wherever I feel natural. I just kind of flow into that state … but in prep, I’ll wake up in the morning and usually do my breath work thing because I get sucked into that. At first I tried to do it for the mental health aspects and now it’s just to oxygenate my body before waking up doing cardio. After that I’ll usually sauna, cold tub, or combine it. Then cardio will be higher at that point and then I’ll go shower and eat.”
When it comes to optimizing his training and preparing his body for peak performance, Bumstead said he isn’t reinventing the wheel. Per the athlete, maximizing one’s output is about getting enough proper sleep no matter what, regardless of potential changes to one’s circadian rhythm.
“Sleep is probably the No. 1 thing,” Bumstead explained. “Whether it’s brain health, aging, or just high performance, sleep is one of the most important aspects anyone can have. You lose any bit of sleep you’re used to and your body just suffers more than you can even understand.”
Bumstead also clarified that it’s essential to understand one’s personal training limitations.
At a certain point, going 100 miles per hour in the gym throughout the week might produce diminished returns. According to Bumstead, allowing the body appropriate rest and time away from dumbbells and barbells is just as important as regularly working out.
“At a point in my career when I was 21, I started to get more injuries, like adrenal fatigue almost, I trained six to seven days a week for three hours,” Bumstead said. “I felt like I needed to tone it back a bit … I noticed as I was pulling away from volume I actually started to progress more and feel better. Allowing myself to have more time to recover made me stronger.”
Beyond trying to win at all costs, Bumstead offered sound advice about success that could extend beyond the bodybuilding sphere. According to the superstar, he’s turned himself into a winner by wanting to triumph and accepting that sometimes he won’t always have ideal circumstances. Sometimes, he might be having a bad day, or he might not be feeling great.
In these moments, he chooses to plug away and work hard anyway.
This mentality of focusing despite any adversity might genuinely set Bumstead apart from his peers.
“… It’s accepting these fears, doubts I have, and everything that goes through my mind but regardless of that not quitting and not giving up on myself,” Bumstead said. “No matter how hard the time or what I’m going through, I’m still going to put in the same work regardless of how I feel. That’s a champion mentality.”
Featured image: @cbum on Instagram