The Most Dominant Man on the 2022 Olympia Stage
There were some fierce battles onstage at the last Olympia among the various men’s divisions. In Men’s Physique, three-time Olympia champ Brandon Hendrickson squared off against eventual winner Erin Banks. The 212 division saw two former O champs, Kamal Elgargni and Shaun Clarida, face a vastly improved Angel Calderon Frias from Spain, with Clarida recapturing his title. And in the Mr. Olympia, it went down to the wire between Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan, with The Persian Wolf walking away with the Sandow trophy. But with all due respect to the incredible newcomers Ramon “Dino” Queiroz from Brazil and Germany’s Urs “The Miracle Bear” Kalecinski, 27-year-old Chris Bumstead won his fourth Classic Physique Olympia title the minute he stepped onstage. Many had felt his condition had slipped a notch from his win in 2020 to 2021, but at a little over 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, C-Bum was shredded, dry and deeply separated to a degree we had never seen before. He oozed a quiet confidence with a smile, and the crowd went bonkers with his every move.
Soon after, no less than Arnold Schwarzenegger himself told Nick Miller of “Nick’s Strength and Power” in a subtle way who he thinks has the best physique alive today when he said, “I think it is crazy in a way to have a Classic Physique category. Simply because that should be the Mr. Olympia. I think it’s odd that they had to literally create a Classic Physique competition to give to the person that has the best quality body.”
Needless to say, Bumstead won his fourth Olympia title with a perfect score. You can argue about who the best Open or 212 bodybuilder today is, but when it comes to Classic, only a fool would argue that Chris is not the king. I will probably piss a few people off when I say that I don’t see his reign ending any time soon.
The Pro Creator Takes on C-Bum
For his entire bodybuilding career, all the way from his first local contest at 19 to his first three Olympia wins, he was coached by Iain Valliere, boyfriend and then husband of his older sister Melissa Bumstead, herself a Figure pro. In the summer of 2022, rumors began to fly that Chris was moving on to Hany Rambod as his coach. Hany should require no introduction to MD readers. With 22 Olympia wins to his credit, his clients have included Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford. On October 24, Chris released a video and formally announced the partnership. “We started talking in August about him helping me,” Chris said. Ironically, scores of videos were made by various outlets declaring they were working together months before they actually were. Hany stated that Chris asking him to be his coach came totally out of left field.
“I’ve never started working with someone who was already winning the Olympia. In the past when I worked with other athletes, it was always someone who had started with me, had won the Olympia with me, or had come back after losing the OIympia like Jay did in 2009. As I got to know Chris and his process, I felt I could definitely help him.”
Chris was excited to see what they could accomplish together. “I’m pretty laid-back, loose and chill,” Chris said. “With Hany, everything’s got to be perfect. He’s very meticulous. I think we will complement each other because he can fill in the gaps if I am overlooking anything. He will tell me what to do and I will just do it.”
Hany’s only reservation was that he prefers to have a full year with any client prior to a competition in order to take them through a full off-season to make any needed improvements and get to know how their body responds to different variables. In this case, he only had 16 weeks. “Ideally, I would have liked to start working together in January or February, but the stars aligned right now and we’re going to take Chris to the next level and bring the best version of Chris possible.”
That’s exactly what we all saw in Las Vegas, which begs the question: if Hany was able to do that much with Bumstead, now that they will have nearly an entire year to train and prepare for the 2023 Olympia, what’s next? We all saw what Rambod did with Derek Lunsford’s physique between the 2021 and 2022 Olympia shows. Granted, unlike Derek, Bumstead has a weight cap and can’t afford to gain much more scale weight. That doesn’t mean Jedi Master Hany can’t utilize novel training and nutrition techniques to help Chris improve certain areas and bring his physique that much closer to perfection.
Do You Really Think a Little Biceps Tear Will Stop Him?
If there is still an area you can point out as lagging on Bumstead that doesn’t match up to the rest of his spectacular physique, it’s his biceps. His back was also often maligned as sub-par, but Chris did manage to bring it up substantially while training in quarantine in 2020. As much as Bumstead’s 2022 Olympia look was his best to date, it was obvious something had happened to his left biceps. It appeared to be inflamed even through the dark stage coloring. The rumor mill went to work in the blink of an eye, speculating that Chris had attempted to inflate his biceps with site enhancement oil to gain an even greater edge against his challengers, and the shot had gone bad. Chris got sick after the Olympia and we had to wait two weeks before he posted an explanation of what happened Olympia week, which went as follows (edited for length):
“I tore my biceps. I don’t know how it happened. On Wednesday I first noticed a little bit of pain. This was the day of weigh-ins, so I was pulling water trying to make weight that night at 8:00 p.m. Super depleted and lean, your body is more susceptible to injury obviously. The next day I felt a little more pain. It hurt when I was posing. Friday it hurt a good amount and I tried not to pose too much. Normally I like to pose when I’m carb-loading to move the carbs through my body, but it hurt so I held back. At night it was swollen and I tried not to think about it. I woke up the next morning and it was more swollen. It got in my head and stressed me out.”
During the judging, he was confident with the package he brought, but he found it impossible to ignore the issue with that biceps. “I kept thinking, here’s this great physique I built, the best package I’ve ever brought to the stage, but – this arm. Everyone’s going to be asking, why doesn’t his arm look right? I couldn’t get that out of my head.”
Adding to the mental pressure he was putting on himself was the fact that many had said his 2021 package had been a step back from 2020, the year he showed the dramatic improvements. After judging, Hany gave him a quick pep talk to reassure him and encouraged him to smile and look more confident up there because he was absolutely crushing it, torn biceps or not. But all the posing he did while being compared with the other top Classic men took its toll. “My arm got worse and more swollen,” he confides. “You can see it in the night show, especially during my routine.”
Again Hany helped him regain his focus and confidence, though it was really a private talk with himself in the mirror behind a bathroom door that let him return to a positive frame of mind. “I realized it could have been much worse, far more torn, swollen, and black and blue.”
A little over a month after the Olympia, Chris filled his fans in on what he’s doing to ensure the injured biceps makes a swift and full recovery. “I’m taking peptides BPC-157 and TB-500, blasting it in there, great stuff for healing injuries. Also, I just did some stem cell injections.” Interestingly, both Ronnie Coleman and Flex Lewis saw excellent results with stem cell treatments, and leading up to the Arnold Classic, Big Ramy was attempting to reverse whatever damage had been done to his lower lats with these as well.
Bumstead Is Not as ‘Blessed’ as His Haters Think
The biceps tear was just business as usual, meaning that he has faced challenges in each prep for the four Olympia titles he’s won, from health issues related to his kidney condition, a hamstring tear, and legal issues close family members of his had to deal with. “This was just a new challenge I had to overcome,” he stated. “I’ve had to learn how to be present and overcome these obstacles, now I had to learn in the moment when there’s a challenge in your face don’t focus on what’s out of your control, don’t focus on something you can’t do anything about right now. You can still enjoy this. You put in the work. Your physique looks great, be confident up there and don’t look at or even think about your arm. That’s another reason I love bodybuilding. It presents these immediate challenges that you have the power to overcome. I get the opportunity to do this. It truly is a blessing, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.”
A Future So Bright, It’s Blinding
The rumor mill loves to tear down those at the pinnacle of success, and from Chris’ first Olympia win in 2019 we were hearing that he was already on the verge of retirement due to his Berger’s disease and his concerns about his long-term kidney health. After that, it was suggested that this or that minor injury was bound to end his career. In his victory speech this past December, Bumstead set the record straight once and for all about this idle speculation. “There’s been a lot of talk about my retirement for whatever reason. I’m not retiring, don’t worry guys, I’m not going away.”
Showing his selfless nature, he took time in that speech to recognize the other 58 men in that Classic Physique Olympia lineup and called for a round of applause, and tearfully reminded us that “you don’t need to be dying to start living,” something a 19-year-old fan of his he had befriended told him just weeks before he succumbed to his third bout with cancer and passed away. I was blinking away tears myself at that moment, not only at the tragedy of a young life lost but that Chris would take time to recognize him and share that important message.
As for Chris, he is now on track to do something no other man since Lee Haney did in 1991, which was to retire at the age of 31 with eight consecutive Olympia wins. Hardcore purists will point out that Lee was Mr. Olympia, and that Classic Olympia titles “don’t count” in the same way. My response to that is, says who? If you use social media numbers as a gauge, neither Hady Choopan nor any other man competing in the Mr. Olympia today is remotely close to Chris Bumstead in popularity. An entire generation of young men are being motivated and inspired by C-Bum and aspire to one day emulate his look. The world is changing, and that includes the sport of bodybuilding. I don’t know if Classic Physique will ever totally eclipse Open Bodybuilding, but the division has the youth, and the youth are the future. And when it comes to Classic, Chris Bumstead is the undisputed king.
Instagram @cbum (14.8 million followers)
YouTube @ChrisBumstead (3 million subscribers)
Ron Harris got his start in the bodybuilding industry during the eight years he worked in Los Angeles as Associate Producer for ESPN’s “American Muscle Magazine” show in the 1990s. Since 1992 he has published nearly 5,000 articles in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, making him the most prolific bodybuilding writer ever. Ron has been training since the age of 14 and competing as a bodybuilder since 1989. He lives with his wife and two children in the Boston area. Facebook Instagram
2014 CBBF Sudbury Championships – Junior Champion, Open Heavyweight and Overall
2014 CBBF Ontario Championships – Junior Champion, Fourth, Open Heavyweight
2015 CBBF Canadian Championships – Junior Champion, Third, Open Heavyweight
2016 CBBF Canadian Championships – Second, Open Heavyweight
2016 IFBB North American Championships – Heavyweight Winner
2017 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro – Classic Physique Champion
2017 IFBB Toronto Pro – Classic Physique Champion
2017 IFBB Classic Physique Olympia – Second Place
2018 IFBB Classic Physique Olympia – Second Place
2019 IFBB Classic Physique Olympia – Winner
2020 IFBB Classic Physique Olympia – Winner
2021 IFBB Classic Physique Olympia – Winner
2022 IFBB Classic Physique Olympia – Winner