Derek Lunsford Reveals Why He Won’t Compete at the 2023 Arnold Classic


The 2023 Arnold Classic is set to take place Mar. 2-5 in Columbus, Ohio. The full lineup for the contest was announced earlier this month with some notable omissions. In a recent video posted on YouTube, bodybuilder Derek Lunsford and his coach Hany Rambod revealed why he will not compete at the show.

Former 212 Olympia champion Derek Lunsford enjoyed a successful season last year. After winning the Men’s 212 division at the 2021 Olympia, Lunsford was considering a move to the Men’s Open class, which is known to host some of the freakiest mass monsters in the world.

Lunsford turned heads at a guest posing appearance at the 2022 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro. He impressed many with his stellar package as he held his own against former Mr. Olympia winner Brandon Curry and Open standouts Hunter Labrada and Nick Walker. Following the appearance, Lunsford received a special invite to compete at the 2022 Olympia in the Open division.

His entry to the lineup added even more excitement going into the most prestigious fitness showcase. When it was time to step on stage, it was clear the trophy was down to two men; Lunsford and Hadi Choopan. Lunsford defeated most of his competition, including former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay, and finished runner-up in a close-fought battle with Choopan, who became the first Iranian to win Mr. Olympia.

With the 2023 Arnold Classic just two months out, there were calls for Lunsford to compete at the second most prestigious show in the sport. Former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout encouraged Lunsford to get on the roster to make the contest more interesting. Based on a recent physique update Lunsford shared earlier this week, fans were speculating whether he would make a quick turnaround for the Arnold Classic.

Nick Walker hinted at Lunsford’s intentions to skip the event in order to work on adding more muscle to his frame since he did not get a proper off-season to do that in the past due to the weight caps of the 212 category.

Derek Lunsford reveals why he will skip the 2023 Arnold Classic

In a recent YouTube video, Derek Lunsford and coach Hany Rambod shared the reasons why Lunsford will not compete at the upcoming 2023 Arnold Classic.

Rambod revealed that Lunsford was considering making an appearance at the show following his performance at the 2022 Mr. Olympia.

“I think after the Olympia, Derek was mostly leaning towards doing the Arnold,” said Rambod. “There were times in the whole time between the two during the decision-making process. Derek and I were talking. The money situation came up back when it was even 200 grand and then they raised the prize money to 300 grand, which makes it more lucrative but I think it’s not always about the money, similar to Chris Bumstead.”

Lunsford said, “I feel this is a decision I don’t need to make on my own. It’s a decision that I should make with my wife because it is a lot of money. As a pro who loves the sport, Arnold Classic is a prestigious title. So, both those things were making me want to do the Arnold.”

Derek shared that he made the decision together with his wife, who stressed he should only compete if he could do it in a healthy manner. Since Lunsford is targeting the Mr. Olympia title, he felt justified in skipping the event to stay focused on his goal.

“I had my wife’s full support either way I wanted to go. Her main thing was that she wanted me to be healthy. That has always been her number one thing. She said, ‘if you are pushing into Arnold and you’re doing it unhealthy, I don’t want you to do it.’ I agree. I’m the same way. I got to thinking about the Classic title, a lot of money, only a couple months away. But then I got to thinking what’s our ultimate goal here. The ultimate goal is to be Mr. Olympia and build my absolute best physique.

If I do the Arnold Classic, sure, we have a good shot at taking home the title and the $300,000, but I want to make significant improvements. I know where I need to get better and giving myself two more months or two and a half months of being healthy and having a little bit longer of an off season is going to give me a better shot at coming away with that Mr. Olympia title and that’s ultimately what I want.”

“Now that we have made the decision to just focus on the Olympia, make improvements, be healthy, I’m excited and I’m going to let these guys battle it out for the Arnold Classic.”

With Derek Lunsford out of the way, 2022 Olympia People’s Champ award winner Nick Walker will look to take home the historic payout of $300,000 at the 2023 Arnold Classic in under two months.

You can watch the full video below.

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