Training Like a Champ: Get Fit Like Chris Bumstead

Key Points

• Chris Bumstead, the reigning Mr. Olympia Classic Physique, began competing in bodybuilding in 2014.

• Chris Bumstead has an incurable autoimmune disease called immunoglobulin A nephropathy, which is also known as Berger's disease.

• He is also an entrepreneur who is involved with numerous businesses.

Mr. Olympia Classic Physique is one of the most sought-after titles in fitness, requiring unparalleled discipline in every aspect of life. Bodybuilding competitions have existed since the early 1900s, with participants pushing the limits of human strength. Chris Bumstead is the reigning king.

Who is Chris Bumstead, and how did he get to the top of the bodybuilding world?

Here’s the "who" and "how" about this bodybuilding superstar and the workouts that made him a champion. 

A Young Chris Bumstead: How It Started

As of 2023, 28-year-old Chris Bumstead weighs between 264 lbs and 215 lbs, with the lower weight being his competition goal. 

Bumstead — known to many as "CBum" — is 6’1”. His net worth is an estimated $5-6 million. 

He is more than just Mr. Olympia Classic Physique, with numerous championships and an out-of-gym career with several business endeavors. 

Bodybuilder posing

Chris Bumstead’s Early Life

Bumstead grew up in Ottowa, Ontario. He was born on February 2, 1995, and was involved in sports from an early age.

The young Bumstead dabbled in basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and ice hockey. In high school, he intensified his training for these sports. This led him to the weight room, where his story really begins. 

From ages 14 to 19, Bumstead grew from a lean 170 lbs to a muscular 225 lbs as he learned his way around the weight room while training for sports. In 2014, Bumstead met someone who would take him from an athlete to a bodybuilding champion: Iain Valliere.

Valliere was dating (and is now married to) Bumstead’s sister, Melissa. When he met CBum, Valliere was already a bodybuilder. Five years older than Bumstead, Valliere earned his pro card in 2014, but he also had a keen interest in training others.

Valliere taught Bumstead the ins and outs of bodybuilding, coaching him through his first competition in 2014. In 2015, Bumstead officially debuted in the men’s junior division of the CBFF Canadian National Bodybuilding Competition. He won. 

In 2016, he turned pro. 

Bodybuilding Competitions and Bumstead's Career

To become a professional bodybuilder at the highest level, you must earn your pro card from the International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB). The road to obtaining that pro card isn’t easy. 

The National Physique Committee, or the NPC, is the amateur bodybuilding league under the IFBB. The organization hosts numerous official competitions at varying levels, all leading up to their national-level contests.

To become an IFBB pro bodybuilder, you must first win your way through regional NPC competitions, then NPC national qualifier shows, and finally the NPC National shows. With a first-place national badge, you turn pro.

At just 21, Bumstead claimed the IFBB North American 2016 Bodybuilding Championship, officially bringing him into the world of pro bodybuilding. 

Mr. Olympia: Divisions

In 2017, Bumstead competed in his first IFBB Mr. Olympia contest, the world’s most prestigious men’s bodybuilding competition. 

The Mr. Olympia contest has three divisions: Bodybuilding, Men’s Physique, and Men’s Classic Physique.

The Bodybuilding division is about sheer size and mass. Athletes push the limits of how physically large and muscular they can make their bodies.

The Men’s Physique division is based on Body Mass Index and features competitors with leaner, more cut bodies. Males in this category wear board shorts to compete.

Muscled man doing dumbbell curls

Finally, the Men’s Classic Physique division is somewhere between the two. Chris Bumstead is the reigning king of this division.

Competitors in the Men’s Classic Physique division are significantly larger than those competing in Men’s Physique but with more of a standard body type than those in the Bodybuilding division. These competitors aim for high muscle mass — with large legs, arms, and broad shoulders — but also to maintain a small waist and focus more on aesthetic qualities. 

Bumstead’s Mr. Olympia Journey

Bumstead seeks his fifth title as Mr. Olympia Classic Physique in Orlando in November 2023.

It didn’t take him long to become a champion.

In Bumstead’s 2017 debut at the Mr. Olympia contest, he notched second place in the Men’s Classic Physique division, just three points behind Breon Ansley of the U.S. In 2018, he was runner-up again, finishing one point behind Ansley.

His first title came in 2019 and he has held it ever since.

Overcoming Disease: Bumstead’s Challenges

The road to Mr. Olympia Classic Physique wasn’t smooth for Bumstead, thanks to health challenges that threatened his career before he could even earn his first Mr. Olympia title. 

Immunoglobulin A nephropathy, also known as IgA nephropathy or Berger’s disease, is an incurable autoimmune kidney disorder. Immunoglobulins are vital proteins that work as part of the immune system to help protect the body from viruses. When people have IgA nephropathy, their immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies are defective. 

“It’s an autoimmune disease where your immune system is attacking the kidney tubules, the filtering apparatus of your kidney, your glomeruli,” explained retired bodybuilder Dave Palumbo, who owns Species Nutrition. “Basically, your immune system thinks [your kidney] is a foreign body and is trying to destroy it.”

Symptoms include urine in the blood, back pain, high blood pressure, and swelling. In Bumstead’s case, the swelling was a serious issue. 

Just before his second Mr. Olympia contest, Bumstead’s legs and body swelled significantly, resulting in a stay in the hospital. He made it out to claim runner-up in the contest. He declined complete treatment until after the competition to avoid interfering with his final weeks of training.

Bumstead focuses on avoiding triggers and excessive stress on the immune system to protect his body from flare-ups.

Training Like Chris Bumstead

Bumstead’s training journey started in high school when he began lifting for sports. Training is Bumstead’s career; his schedule and commitment level reflect that. 

So what does it take to train like a champion bodybuilder? 

Bodybuilder lifting weights

Chris Bumstead’s Lifting Routine

To train like Chris Bumstead, first head to his YouTube channel, where he regularly posts videos about his lifting routine, diet, and career. 

Before you start, don't expect to be deadlifting over 600 lbs like Bumstead does. One video shows him hitting a 675-lb deadlift personal record. Even so, replicating his workout splits strengthens your entire body.

Push, Pull, Legs Split

A Push, Pull, Legs (PPL) split differs in that it splits up your workouts into three groups rather than five body part groups.

As the name suggests, a push day includes exercises that are a push motion (like shoulder press or bench press), a pull day includes exercises that are a pull motion (like cable rows or lat pull downs), and leg days are all lower body exercises.

The muscle group split for a PPL workout split is as follows:

  • Push day: triceps, chest, and shoulders

  • Pull day: Back and biceps

  • Legs: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves

There’s no set order for a PPL split, Bumstead explains on his YouTube Channel. 

“It’s really important to know your body and put the rest in where you want. It’s not concrete,” Bumstead says. He adds that you don’t have to stick to push, pull, legs. You can switch up the order as you see fit. 

Bumstead has six workouts in his PPL routine: push day, pull day, leg day, then repeat. He has two variations of each (push day 1 and 2, pull day 1 and 2, and leg day 1 and 2), so he never does the same workout twice in one week.

Here is an example of each workout day, with the exercises and layout directly from Bumstead’s YouTube channel.

Man doing chest press

Push Day: 

  1. Barbell Press 

  • Two heavy sets of five to eight reps, one “back off” set of 10-12 reps

  • Incline press or flat press works for this exercise

  1. Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Three sets of higher volume, 10-12 reps each

  1. Chest Flys (Superset With Tricep Extensions)

  • Three sets of 10-12 reps of chest flys

  • Four sets of 7-10 reps of tricep extensions

  1. Lateral Raises

  • Four sets of 10-12 reps; keep rest time under one minute

  1. Dips

  • Three sets, each to failure

  • Stay upright to keep the tension on the triceps rather than the chest

Pull Day: 

  1. Pull Downs

  • Two warm-up sets followed by three sets of 8-10 reps, with the final set being a drop set

  1. Bent over rows

  • Two warm-up sets, two heavy sets of six to eight reps, one back-off set of 10-12 reps

  1. Slight incline seated dumbbell curls

  • Four sets of 10-12 reps

  1. Pull Ups

  • Three sets, each to failure

  1. EZ Bar Curls

  • Two sets of 8-10 reps, then two sets of 40-second sets

Man doing pull ups

Leg Day: 

  1. Lunges

  • Three warm-up sets followed by three working sets of 12-15 reps each leg

  1. Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) or Deadlifts

  • Two warm-up sets followed by three working sets of 10-12 reps. If deadlift, the working sets should be six to eight reps.

  1. Hip Thrusts or Glute Kickbacks

  • Three sets of 10-12 reps

  1. Seated Calf Raises (Superset with Hamstring Curls)

  • Two sets of 10-12 reps of calf raises, then begin the following superset. 

  • Four sets of 10-12 calf raises

  • Two sets of 8-10 reps of hamstring curls, then two sets of 40-second sets

Lifting Terminology

If you’re new to lifting, here are a few key terms Bumstead uses in his training program that explain how to replicate his workouts.

Rep: Short for repetition, a rep is one repetition of an exercise, like one bicep curl or pull-up. 

Set: A specific number of reps you perform of an exercise before resting. You typically do three to six sets of an exercise, each containing 6-15 reps — or more! 

Superset: Doing two different exercises back-to-back without rest between sets. 

Drop Set: A set of an exercise, typically the final set or two, in which you reduce the weight by 10-30% and increase the number of reps, sometimes to failure (see below). For example, in Bumstead’s Pull Day, the final set of Pull Downs is a drop set, meaning you would decrease the weight from the previous sets but do as many reps as possible. 

To Failure: Rather than doing a predetermined amount of reps, you do an exercise until you can’t do another rep. 

Back-Off Set: A set of the same number of reps, but with a slightly reduced weight.

Well-Rounded Success

With a net worth of $5-6 million, Bumstead’s success extends beyond the squat rack. His income streams (aside from the $50,000 check he won for each of the past two Mr. Olympia titles) include multiple business endeavors as Bumstead has built his brand.

Bodybuilder pose

Those endeavors include CBum Fitness, his apparel brand (and bodybuilding coaching app); Raw Nutrition, a supplement company; and his social media on YouTube and Instagram, which have nearly 15 million followers combined as of April 2023.

In his personal life, Bumstead is engaged to Courtney King, a bikini model, trainer, bodybuilder, and former Ms. Olympia, who shares his passion for fitness. 

Train Hard, Dream Big

While not everyone is a future Mr. or Ms. Olympia, there's nothing wrong with setting big goals for yourself. Bumstead's programs and online content can coach you. Even if you're not aiming to become a bodybuilder, he offers sage advice on getting fit.

Your journey to better fitness starts with your decision to take that first step.

Head to FitnessCorner for free resources and guides on your weightlifting or fitness journey.

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