The highly anticipated 2023 Mr. Olympia takes place this weekend November 2-5 in Orlando, Florida. With the Men’s Open division chock-full of highly talented bodybuilders, connoisseurs of the sport are left wondering how the show will end. Among them is bodybuilding legend Lee Haney who gives his advice to reigning champion Hadi Choopan. In addition, he also weighs in on Hunter Labrada’s progress.
Hadi Choopan snatched the title last year from former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay. After working his way up for years, Choopan finally pushed through the ranks and earned the win. Making history as the first Iranian bodybuilder to become Mr. Olympia, Choopan received a hero’s welcome upon his return home.
His hard work has continued into 2023 as he prepares to make his first title defense. It appears this win won’t come easy as many other competitors are vying for his crown. This includes his fellow teammate Derek Lunsford, a former 212 Olympia winner. Another bodybuilder hoping to elevate his standing in the sport is Hunter Labrada.
Hunter Labrada, son of veteran Lee Labrada, has a lot to prove as he prepares to battle the Men’s Open lineup at the 2023 Mr. Olympia. Having previously fallen below top five and taking seventh, Labrada is coming back with a vengeance.
Between his training sessions with his father Lee Labrada and changes to his diet, Labrada hopes to make a move in the right direction. Fearing this year is a ‘make-or-break’ for his career, he is leaving nothing to chance in his pursuit of glory.
Lee Haney Shares His View On Hunter Labrada Going Into 2023 Mr. Olympia And Gives Hadi Choopan Advice
Lee Haney, an eight-time Mr. Olympia champion and bodybuilding legend, can see the progress Hunter Labrada has made. Haney feels that he is right on track with his physique and will only continue to improve.
“Hunter has made some incredible accomplishments. His conditioning in his last show was incredible. He looked great. Totally different than what I saw in the Olympia last year. He’s right on point. He’s got great shape, great structure from his dad, so I like the balance and symmetry of his physique also.”
“Lee is not his trainer either or his coach. Yeah [it’s smart]. You know how kids are, dads and kids are, that sort of don’t work out” Lee Haney revealed.
In regards to Hadi Choopan, Haney fears that the champ is going to put on unnecessary size. Haney believes Choopan needs to focus on developing more muscle mass and maintaining balanced proportions.
“If he’s trying to put on more size than his frame would allow him to and to look balanced – he had a nice balance about his last year, very good muscle maturity and separation. All of that was there, that’s what gave him that number one and winning the Olympia.
So he’s got to be careful he doesn’t try to out-size some of the competitors because that’s not who he is. If he puts on too much weight, he can take on a squatty appearance. You want to stay away from that. I would say he needs to focus on continuing to develop more muscle maturity, more muscle separation, and a beautiful posing routine, that’s what I would say. Make sure he takes care of his symmetry and don’t develop squatty powerlifting legs.”
“I’ve watched a lot of guys do that, they have these ugly legs that look like tree trunks. There’s no balance to them and no rhyme or reason to their shape and form. You look at Ronnie, as big as Ronnie Coleman‘s legs or even Tom Platz’s, they still fit. They still fit.”
Though Hadi Choopan and Hunter Labrada are already massive opponents to face off against, Haney highlights other big names in the Men’s Open division to keep an eye on.
“Definitely [stature could prevent Choopan from success]. Samson, he’s a monster. Jacked, he looks incredible. Both of these brothers look great man. Very good lines, they come in with great muscle separation, it’ll be hard to beat either one of these guys,” said Lee Haney.
“That’s why Hadi has to continue to play his game and hope these guys don’t come in better shape than he does. That’s the deal right there.”
With taller-framed athletes looking to make waves this year, Haney believes they have a solid shot at disrupting the lineup.
“Exactly. If you’re a big bodybuilder man you need to take up the whole stage I mean Arnold told me that. Arnold said when you’re big you got to pose big. He said don’t pose small and squatty because you’re not a short guy. So they [Andrew Jacked and Samson Dauda] need to be very careful choosing poses that align themselves with their physiques and their frames.”
The Men’s Open Division is teeming with masterful physiques but one in particular will be missing from the stage this weekend. Nick Walker suffered a hamstring tear that caused him to regretfully pull out of the 2023 Mr. Olympia. As a mass monster and freak of the division, Nick Walker had the ability to blow the competition out of the water and take the win. Before the setback, Walker was adamant that this would be his year.
While it is unfortunate to be missing such a major player in the sport, the 2023 Mr. Olympia is filled to the brim with talented bodybuilders who have honed their physiques all year. Fans can catch all the action this weekend on November 2-5 in Orlando, Florida, where only the greatest will prevail.