The 5-Exercise, High-Volume Shoulder Workout Derek Lunsford Uses for Massive Pumps

Reigning Mr. Olympia champion Derek Lunsford has, arguably, the best X-frame —characterized by expansive shoulders, a tiny waist, and sprawling quads — in the pro bodybuilding circuit. Lunsford’s X-frame played a crucial role in his victory in the 212 Olympia in 2021 and his coveting of the Sandow trophy two years later in 2023.

Lunsford’s off-season training is already underway at the turn of 2024. He packed on eight pounds of muscle tissue year-over-year leading to the 2023 Olympia and believes there is space on his frame to add more. On Jan. 1, 2024, Lunsford published a video on his YouTube channel wherein he shared his high-volume shoulder workout comprised of the following five exercises:

Derek Lunsford’s Shoulder Workout

Here is a snapshot of Lunsford’s shoulder training session:

Machine Lateral Raise

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Smith Machine Shoulder Press

Seated Dumbbell Rear Delt Flye

Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Check out Lunsford’s training session below:

[Related: Ramon “Dino” Rocha Queiroz Biography: Bodybuilding Career, Workouts, and Height]

1. Machine Lateral Raises

Lunsford warmed up with dynamic shoulder stretches and arm circles. His opening unilateral lateral raises biased his medial deltoids, which are typically the least developed head of the shoulder. He employed slow eccentrics to increase time under tension with a pause at the top of each rep.

A 2022 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study found a positive correlation between muscle swelling (i.e., a pump) and hypertrophy, suggesting “the greater the muscle swelling immediately after the first resistance training session, the greater the muscle hypertrophy after it.” (1)

⅔. Dumbbell & Smith Machine Shoulder Presses

Staying in line with the training cues from the previous exercise, Lunsford used slow eccentrics on dumbbell shoulder presses to load his anterior (i.e. front) deltoids. He stopped just shy of full elbow extension to maintain constant tension on the shoulders. 

Lunsford grabbed the Smith machine barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip and used a steady rep cadence to maintain his bias on his anterior delts.

⅘. Dumbbell Rear Delt Flyes & Standing Lateral Raises

Dumbbell seated bent-over flyes to bias the posterior (i.e. rear) deltoids were next. Lunsford maintained slight elbow flexion with his torso at 45 degrees throughout the exercise. This positioning aligns his rear delts to resist the weight against gravity.

Lunsford concluded with lateral raises to further round his shoulder caps. The three-dimensional shoulder aesthetic is typically achieved through well-developed medial delts when viewed through front poses. Lunsford performed drop sets of lateral raises to mechanical failure

A clinical trial published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness concluded, “Superior muscle gains might be achieved with a single set of drop set compared to three sets of conventional resistance training, probably due to higher stress experienced in the drop set protocol.” (2)

Lunsford will attempt to defend his Mr. Olympia crown for the first time at the 2024 Mr. Olympia on Oct. 10-13 in Las Vegas, NV.


Hirono T, Ikezoe T, Taniguchi M, Tanaka H, Saeki J, Yagi M, Umehara J, Ichihashi N. Relationship Between Muscle Swelling and Hypertrophy Induced by Resistance Training. J Strength Cond Res. 2022 Feb 1;36(2):359-364. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003478. PMID: 31904714.

Fink J, Schoenfeld BJ, Kikuchi N, Nakazato K. Effects of drop set resistance training on acute stress indicators and long-term muscle hypertrophy and strength. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018 May;58(5):597-605. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.06838-4. Epub 2017 Apr 26. PMID: 28474868.

Featured image: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram

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