Open bodybuilder Branch Warren maintains a jacked physique years after his last contest. In a recent video, the bodybuilding veteran shot down a Masters Olympia comeback for next year and discussed the upcoming 2022 Olympia contest.
“I played Russian roulette [with my life] for a long time, and I won. I’m done playing Russian roulette.’ I’m going to stay that way,” Branch Warren shared.
Warren, an American bodybuilder from Tyler, Texas, rose in the IFBB Pro League with hard work and a grit few athletes possess today. His relentless attitude toward work and training were on par with some of the most prolific bodybuilders to walk the earth, like former Mr. Olympias Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman.
During his tenure that lasted over two decades (1992-2015), Warren proved to have a championship-caliber physique, having won the Arnold Classic title in 2011 and 2012. While he never won a Mr. Olympia title, Warren came extremely close. Looking back at 2009 Mr. Olympia, Branch struggled to accept the outcome after beating the reigning champion (at the time) Dexter Jackson.
Warren finished runner-up but was unable to stop Cutler from making history by winning back the title he lost. Nevertheless, Warren boasts an incredible physique and brought a wow factor when he took to a stage. For his latest endeavor, however, Warren is discussing a potential Masters Olympia comeback and his top picks for 2022 Mr. Olympia.
Branch Warren on Masters Olympia Chances: “No Not At All, Zero’
In a recent interview with Dave Palumbo, Warren made it clear that he has no intention of returning to the sport.
“No. Not at all. Zero,” says Warren. “They announced it earlier in the year right, they’re bringing back a Masters Olympia. Johnny calls me and says, ‘hey man did you hear?’ I said, ‘hear what?’ He said they’re bringing a Masters Olympia back. I didn’t say nothing. Then about ten seconds, he goes, ‘yo man, what do you think, do we have another one in us?’ I go, ‘you do,'” Branch Warren said.
Earlier this year, Olympia President Jake Wood hinted that the Masters Olympia show would ‘definitely’ be returning next year (2023). There have been unconfirmed rumors floating around that Masters Olympia will feature a 45+ age cap for the Men’s Open division. In addition, IFBB judge Terrick El Guindy has suggested the potential show will take place next Aug. or Oct. Regardless of the show’s status, Warren isn’t returning to a competitive stage.
“Hell no [I wouldn’t do a Masters Olympia with a 50+ over age limit]. Just like I told him, I said, ‘for me, there’s no positive upside to it. None.’ I go, ‘if I can’t look the way I did when I was 36 years old, I can’t. I’m 47. I’ll be 48 next year. I look almost like I did in my thirties at the top of my game.
Even if I win — that prize money doesn’t change how I live. They are supposed to have a six-figure prize. First place or something, whatever it is, $150,000. it doesn’t make a difference in how I live. Number two, even if I win, it still hurts me because everybody is going to remember that version of me and not the other version of myself or whatever,” Warren said.
Perhaps the most important reason why Branch isn’t making a comeback is that he doesn’t want to take the drugs most consume to stay on top of the sport.
“The last reason — and I’m just going to say it to be honest… I don’t want to take those drugs.”
Warren on 2022 Olympia: ‘Hunter Labrada Can Win If He Brings The Conditioning’
According to Warren, Hunter Labrada is a dark horse to win the contest and dethrone reigning champion Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay. He added that Hunter has been able to add ten pounds of quality muscle to his physique since last year.
“Big Ramy. Hunter Labrada — I saw Hunter Labrada a few weeks ago when I went down to Houston. He’s 5″8′ 284 pounds. He legit added ten pounds of muscle,” Warren said. “As we know, at that point in your career, that’s almost unprecedented. I told him, if he can bring his conditioning better than we’ve ever seen before — he could win if he brings the conditioning. He’s got that physique.”
In addition to Labrada, Warren indicated that 212 Olympia champion Derek Lunsford could surprise some people too.
“I don’t think it’s [going out] on too much of a limb, but I go Derek Lunsford. He was 228 when he did 212. He will be 230 plus going in, if he brings that same conditioning. That fifth spot — man I don’t know. You got Brandon Curry, Nick Walker, I’m not saying they are going to be in the fifth spot, there’s a lot [of competitors],” Branch Warren shared.
Warren isn’t the only veteran confident in Hunter Labrada and Derek Lunsford ahead of the marquee show. Samir Bannout, a former 1983 Mr. Olympia, suggested that Labrada and Lunsford could both do a ton of damage at 2022 Mr. Olympia if they ‘show no weaknesses’ and improve their posing routines.
In the past, Warren and Lunsford linked up for an intense arms workout. While Branch’s technique differs from Derek’s coach Hany Rambod’s, the reigning 212 Olympia champion still got a massive pump.
Warren may have stepped away from the stage, but he still maintains his physique with brutal training sessions. Even though he stays in excellent shape at 47, Branch has no intention of returning to the Masters Olympia stage next year.