Kenneth ‘Flex’ Wheeler still watches the Open class with a close eye since retiring decades ago. In an Olympia TV video, Wheeler was critical of Andrew Jacked’s and Hunter Labrada’s recent performances at the 2023 Texas Pro last weekend.
Even though he was unable to claim a Mr. Olympia title, Flex Wheeler remains one of the most recognizable bodybuilders in the history of the sport. From the 1990s to the 2000s, he built his legacy with jaw-dropping aesthetics, combined with a slim waist and round muscle bellies.
Even though Ronnie Coleman prevented him from winning a Sandow trophy, Wheeler still carved out a successful career, having collected a total of four Arnold Classic victories (1993, 1997–1998, 2000). Wheeler’s bodybuilding contributions are set in stone as he was honored with the 2023 Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Open class saw two big names secure their entries for the 2023 Mr. Olympia recently. At the Tampa Pro earlier this month, Hunter Labrada looked to be at his all-time best and earned gold. Then, he took on Andrew Jacked weeks later but was unable to stop the Nigerian native from getting his qualification.
The sport’s biggest event of the year goes down November 2-5 in Orlando, Florida. With the 2023 season well underway, Wheeler discussed the two stars who have set their sights on another Olympia contest.
Flex Wheeler Talks Weak Points of Andrew Jacked & Hunter Labrada 11 Weeks from 2023 Mr. Olympia
Terrick El Guindy, an IFBB Pro League judge, says Andrew Jacked was fidgeting at the 2023 Texas Pro during the back double biceps pose. Wheeler believes Andrew lacked mind-muscle connection in his back which is what led to the pose looking ‘amateur.’
“One of the things that I want to point out is it looks like Andrew Jacked is adjusting his back double biceps constantly. He’s not hitting it and holding it, you see, there’s constant movement on his back double biceps,” said Terrick El Guindy.
“That’s your sign that you’re not having any contraction, you feel absolutely nothing from the rear. That comes into just posing, posing, posing, posing, so much that you’re tired and you can barely stand up. That’s the same analogy you have on stage: there is no mirror to look at.
You have to have that connection. It doesn’t seem like he was practicing on his rear double biceps a lot – it’s almost an amateur thing, you fidgeting around, looking around and all that, trying to re-contract and all that stuff, that’s a pure sign you don’t have it locked it,” said Flex Wheeler.
Simply put, Wheeler believes Jacked won in Texas because he was prettier and leaner. Given Hunter’s physique updates leading up to last weekend, Wheeler was disappointed in his overall conditioning.
“He’s prettier and a little bit leaner. I was somewhat kind of disappointed in Hunter, I’m going to call him privately. But if you looked at some of his – and this happened all the time, too often. If you look at his pictures going into the show, he was shredded, especially in the last photos. That was not the same guy on stage. He was bloated.
It seemed like he was really bloated and his stomach area, it seemed like his legs were washed out from that deep striation that he had. The Christmas tree was definitely not there. If it was that same physique he had a few days out from the show, it would have been a whole different story for him,” said Flex Wheeler.
Flex said Jacked used finesse to hide his underwhelming hamstrings against Hunter in the side triceps pose. However, Wheeler underlined that Andrew’s back double biceps pose did him no favors on stage.
“So many of these guys have so much potential and lackluster, but as far as Andrew’s side tricep and Hunter’s side tricep, it’s because it’s not only a side tricep pose. That’s what people have to understand. No more than a front double bicep is a front bicep pose, it’s a complete pose.
What Andrew is doing is he’s hiding that he doesn’t have as powerful hamstrings as Hunter does. It’s him doing the best at what he has. I’m not sure because we’re looking at a still photo. I don’t know if the judges are calling for like they normally do, they call for that mandatory tricep. Then they switch gears and go into their own. That’s what it is, that’s what he’s doing.”
If Jacked can keep filling up his frame with quality muscle, Bob Cicherillo predicted he’ll be in the first call-out at 2023 Mr. Olympia.
“Andrew Jacked is pretty much a novice when it comes to the years he has and the actual stage time. He’s still figuring it out which is a pretty scary proposition when you consider when this guy finally gets it down and he continues to figure out where that balance is between coming in full and conditioned and then he can’t afford to come in a skinny out,” said Bob Cicherillo.
“I’ll tell you this: he’s getting pretty close. You might see the best version at Olympia and if he does, you’re absolutely going to see him in the first call-out.”
Flex Wheeler and Andrew Jacked have a history. In 2022, Wheeler was responsible for coaching Jacked in conjunction with ex-trainer George Farah. Wheeler, who is highly regarded for his posing mastery, would often help Andrew through sequences before competitions. Wheeler and Jacked have similarities too as both men have used flexibility to their benefit on stage.
Jacked appeared to move on and now trains under the guidance of the late Shawn Rhoden’s former brigade: Chris Aceto and Chris ‘Psycho’ Lewis. Considering the improvements Andrew has made under their wing, fans are thrilled to see Jacked take on his sophomore Olympia appearance in less than three months.
Hunter Labrada, meanwhile, intends to use his runner-up performance to Andrew as fuel for his next outing. With Labrada and Jacked both having a win over one another, fans look forward to seeing who will come out on top in November.