Chris Bumstead Builds A Rock Solid Back For 2023 Olympia – Fitness Volt

The bulking phase in Chris Bumstead’s 2023 Olympia prep has come to an end. Recently, CBum tackled a full back workout with Coach Hany Rambod as he gets ready for the next step and posted the video on his YouTube channel.

Bodybuilder Chris Bumstead has contributed greatly towards the rise in Classic Physique division’s popularity. The IFBB Pro is the current and four-time Classic Physique Olympia champion and the most popular active bodybuilder in the world. He has won the title from the 2019 to 2022 Olympia. The 28-year-old is head and shoulders above the rest of the division. However, he does not want to compete for a long time and plans to walk off into the sunset with a few more wins under the belt.

Bumstead’s complete and total domination in the Classic Physique division has led to a lot of anticipation about his chances in the Men’s Open division. He had previously stated that there is ‘too much risk’ to make that transition. However, CBum has been pondering over the prospect of competing against the big guys off late. The Canadian bodybuilder is even confident about cracking into the top 15 at the Mr. Olympia with one year of preparation.

But as of now, Classic Physique is CBum’s home. He has learned valuable life lessons in his bodybuilding journey so far and handles the stress of being a dominant champion really well. Although steroid use has become an inseparable aspect of professional bodybuilding, the Classic Physique king has routinely shed light on the risks associated with them. Bumstead is applying all this knowledge and wisdom as he prepares to secure his fifth consecutive Classic Physique Olympia win in 2023.

Chris Bumstead goes through a back workout

Bumstead’s 2023 Olympia prep is underway and he is following a three-day-on, one-day-off and three-day-on training split. The first three-day-on split starts with a quad-dominant leg session. He then follows it up with a push-and-pull day. The second three-day-on split kicks off with a shoulder day and ends after separate hamstrings day and arms day.

Recently, CBum shared his pull day workout on YouTube where he trained under his head coach Hany Rambod’s watchful eye. So without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the detailed account of this training session.

Close Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown

Bumstead enthusiastically commenced the back training session with this lat-focused movement. Unlike the regular lat pulldowns, the close grip variation engages the rhomboids to a greater extent and also enables biceps and forearm activation.

Coach Rambod carefully observed the form and emphasized arching the back during the exercise. CBum performed all the sets with slow and controlled movements and took a momentary pause at the bottom after each rep. This practice keeps the muscles under tension for a longer time and helps bring about hypertrophy more effectively.


Rambod next instructed his pupil to do this compound bodyweight exercise. The pull-up is an advanced movement that offers tremendous benefits in terms of muscle gain and functional strength.

While many bodybuilders prefer assisted pull-ups to eliminate momentum and jerking motions, Chris Bumstead did the regular pull-ups. Coach Rambod was impressed by the number of reps CBum managed to get in spite of his massive physique.

Bent Over Barbell Rows

After working on vertical pulling exercises that typically contribute towards building a wide back, the famed bodybuilding coach guided the champ to do bent-over reverse grip barbell rows first. While explaining the idea for this exercise, Rambod stated:

“Let’s start getting into that reverse grip, the stuff that we were working on last year. That’s right, to thicken up that back. So let’s do a reverse grip row.”

The Canadian bodybuilder used lifting straps to eliminate grip strength limitations from the picture. He cranked out a few solid sets with reverse grip and then switched over to the regular grip for the remaining sets. Following this, he took to another rowing exercise.

Incline Bench Dumbbell Rows

The incline variation of rows uses gravity to its advantage. Since the body is positioned on top of the incline bench towards the floor, it is not possible to use momentum and jerking motion or rely on other muscles to compensate. Therefore the back muscles have to be the only muscles that pull the weight up.

Bumstead pushed through some meaningful sets of incline bench dumbbell rows to work the back muscles and took to the next exercise.

High Rows

The movement trajectory of the Panatta Super high row machine makes the exercise more suitable for synergetic activation of the rhomboid, teres major and trapezius muscles along with latissimus dorsi.

Chris Bumstead got a few sets of this exercise under his belt to fire up the back muscles further and took to the next exercise.

Standing Cable Pullovers

While most of the back exercises are compound movements, cable pullovers stand as one of the very few isolation exercises that are effective for back growth. Chris Bumstead performed a few good sets of cable pullovers next and took to the final back exercise afterward.


After working the upper and middle back through several exercises, it was time to add some stimulus to the lower back. Chris Bumstead typically performs this exercise on a hamstring day. However, Hany Rambod pushed him to do three to four sets to cap this back session and CBum followed the orders.

Seated Calf Raises

CBum finished the training session with a little bit of calf work in the concluding part of the workout. 

To sum up, Bumstead fired up his back with following exercises:

Hany Rambod’s goal at the moment is to assess Chris Bumstead’s progress so far and then decide the course of action for the rest of his 2023 Olympia prep. After concluding the workout, the famed coach summarized the activity and shed light on the purpose of training to make sustainable gains. He said:

“We got done doing an amazing back workout because we were able to get mind-muscle connection because it’s all about time under tension, mind-muscle connection and not just throwing around heavy stupid weights. So you’ve got to be really smart about your training.”

Chris Bumstead seconded the famed coach’s thoughts and expressed the right approach to training in a brief statement:

“Form and then intensity! Perfect the form and then you can add intensity.”

Rambod responded:

“Then you can add weight as you’re able to get stronger instead of just trying to do it all backwards. You go heavy, your form’s falling apart, you’re more likely to get hurt and you’re not gonna be able to grow.”

CBum teases potential transition to Men’s Open division

Very few athletes in all individual sports are able to achieve the status of a dominant champion. It is common for the experts and fans of the sport to be excited about watching these athletes extend their dominance in a different division/weight class. Chris Bumstead belongs in this category of athletes and there has been a lot of intrigue surrounding his chances in the Open division.

While going through the back workout, Coach Rambod inquired if Bumstead has competed in the Men’s Open division before. CBum replied with a sly smile and said:

“In Open? No. Until this year!”

Hany Rambod tried to decipher the meaning behind the champ’s response and exclaimed:


Chris Bumstead has stated in the past that he will hang up the posing trunks after a few more Olympia wins OR if the bodybuilding lifestyle starts to impact his long-term health. All things point to the fact that the reigning champion may not compete for a very long time in the future. However, it will be interesting to see him try his hand in the Men’s Open division if he so decides.

You can watch the full workout video here, courtesy of Chris Bumstead’s personal YouTube channel: