Bodybuilding star Hunter Labrada
has called last season a slingshot year after taking a step back on the sport’s biggest stage. He hopes to redeem himself at the upcoming 2023 Mr. Olympia
contest taking place in November. In a recent Olympia TV interview, Labrada discussed his mentality, his best poses, the 2023 Texas Pro, and his plans for Olympia in three months.
As the son of bodybuilding veteran Lee Labrada, it didn’t take long for Hunter to acclimate at the highest levels of the Men’s Open. Hunter proved himself as an elite talent at the 2021 Mr. Olympia
, a show that saw him take fourth place ahead of names such as former Arnold Classic champs Nick Walker
and Wiliam Bonac
Labrada, who entered 2022 with confidence and momentum, took most of the year to build his biggest physique yet. However, when he stepped on the Olympia stage, Hunter fell short in seventh place and struggled to dial in his condition and dryness. Even though a spot in the top ten was a highly respectable achievement, Labrada wasn’t satisfied given his status as a former top-five Olympian. In the aftermath, he admitted to problems with his prep and peak
, a conclusion his trainer, Ben Chow, agreed with.
Last weekend, Hunter reasserted himself as a possible Olympia contender with a big win at the 2023 Tampa Pro
. Many agree he brought his best look yet and despite having earned his Olympia invite, Hunter wants to continue the momentum by pushing himself against defending Texas Pro champion Andrew Jacked
Hunter Labrada Talks Upcoming Texas Pro & 2023 Mr. Olympia: “10 People Can Be in The Top 6”
First, Labrada reflected on his last Olympia showing and the ‘180’ turnaround that saw him just claim gold in Florida.
“I’m not going to lie to y’all, last years’ Olympia, I basically went through the most embarrassing moment of my life in front of however many thousands of people in that auditorium and how many people were watching the webcast. Brass tacks of it is I shit the bed last year at Olympia. It was very far from my best.”
“It’s about as big of a 180 as possible right now. This prep was – I’m not going to say perfect – but as close to it as possible. No prep is ever perfect. But the energy was good. The home life was incredible,” said Labrada.
Unlike shows of the past, Labrada said his water retention and sweating issues weren’t a factor on stage.
“It’s a running joke. I sweat my ass off whenever I compete. Like I said, this prep was different, this show was different, the first coat goes on, my skin soaked it up and she was like, ‘Wow, you’re dry.’ As the week goes on we keep putting tan on and this was different. Then obviously, at prejudging and finals, I didn’t sweat.”
In light of Labrada’s seventh-place performance at Olympia, Flex Wheeler believes sometimes athletes need these obstacles because they serve as life lessons.
“Sometimes we just need that kick in the butt, you know. I think it’s a great thing that happened to you [at Olympia] because it made you re-focus. It made you look at this like a business because it is a business. I always said first and foremost, this is a business, because it’s how we pay our bills.”
“It has nothing to do with anyone else, it has everything to do with the fact that eight months ago after the Olympia I said I was going to do two shows before the Olympia because I was going to figure my peak out and this last week in Tampa, I think we absolutely nailed my look on stage but it took a little touch up playing in the beginning of the week.”
“I think it will be the show of the year. I think it will be a good one,” Labrada shared
“Andrew Jacked, Carlos, everybody else. I no longer give a f about your potential, they fell so short of their potential. I’m just going to give credit due when someone puts that hard work in and that goes to you, Labrada. Your talent and your potential, you’re starting to match what we see in you,” says Wheeler. “It’s an honor to see you develop as a Pro.”
Considering the current Open landscape, Hunter believes there are ten guys fighting for six spots at 2023 Olympia.
“If I show up in shape, I think I’m in the top five. If I show up out of shape, I’ll be hopefully maybe in the top 10. It’s one of those things, it comes down to who is going to show up on game day. If we all show up on game day, if feel like there’s ten people that can be in the top six,” said Labrada.
Bob Cicherillo, Flex Wheeler Agree Hunter Labrada Has Potential to Hang w/ Top Guys at 2023 Olympia
Cicherillo and Wheeler agree that if Hunter brings an acceptable level of conditioning, he has the shape and muscularity to push the top names of the division.
“Can he hang with the top guys? Well, he’s been as high as fourth and that’s saying something when you can be as high as fourth in the Olympia, the answer is very simple, yes he can,” added Bob Cicherillo.
“Nothing stands out and you’re so evenly balanced. Everything looks great on you. If your conditioning isn’t spot on because nothing is so overpowering, you’re not like a game changer, but unlike other people where they’re called a quad monster or a gun monster, that’s all they can bring to the show. That’s all people are looking at. As long as you know you do your job, you’re going to be in the mix,” said Flex Wheeler.
Hunter’s Best Pose?
“It’s [side triceps pose] one of them, yeah. Honestly, I’m getting really excited about my back double and rear lat spread are starting to look which is cool because a year ago you could have called them a liability,” said Labrada.
Looking ahead, Labrada said he’s focused on training with intensity levels similar to Branch Warren, Dorian Yates, and Ronnie Coleman
. He added that he’s receiving posing help from his father when crafting routines for the stage.
“It drives me fucking insane. They feel like you can’t work smart and hard. I am taking what I believe is best practices in terms of training and exercises and selection,” added Labrada. “I’m applying that Ronnie Coleman that Branch Warren that Dorian Yates intensity to that way that I’m training.”
“For me when I’m actually doing posing practice, I’ve been working with Joey a lot, it’s a lot more like externally rotate the elbow, get this foot back a little, like the nuts and bolts of actual mandatory posing. It’s not hard for him to do, but it comes so naturally to him, it’s almost hard for him to explain where he really shines, where we have good synergy is when we create the posing routines.”
Ready to go 2-0 this season, Labrada hopes with the latest improvements to his back and abdomen, he can once again defeat Andrew Jacked. Andrew recently competed in March at the 2023 Arnold Classic
, where he gave Nick Walker and Samson Dauda a run for their money in third place.
Labrada is aiming to achieve a top-five placing at the sport’s most prestigious event of the year. Should he prove successful in Texas, the hype behind Labrada would be undeniable heading into November.
Watch the full video from the Olympia TV YouTube channel below: