IFBB Pro League Men’s Open bodybuilder Hunter Labrada is preparing for two shows in the 2023 season ahead of the 2023 Olympics in November. He starts his season at the Tampa Pro the weekend of August 3-5 and intends to compete at the Texas Pro the weekend of August 19. That gives the second-generation competitor at least two opportunities to qualify for the 2023 Mr. Olympia competition, scheduled for November 2-5, 2023 in Orlando, FL
Labrada has openly shared his preparation with fans and followers, as he did at a recent pull session workout published on May 8, 2023 on his YouTube channel. When this workout was filmed, he was 16 weeks away from competing in Tampa. Check it out below:
This was Labrada’s pre-competition training session. His back and thigh muscles were the focus of this workout. The volume of his first training sessions during this preparation is higher than he is normally used to and will decrease in volume as the competition approaches.
Seated machine row
Labrada started with a Rogers seated rowing machine. His heaviest set consisted of five 45-pound plates and a 25-pound plate on each side. By the final set, he was down to four 45s per team. Portions of three sets were shown, the last of which appeared to be a rest-pause set.
Why he does it: Labrada started with a heavy rowing motion to strengthen the back muscles, especially the lower lats. This helps him increase his overall width and make his waist appear smaller.
How it goes: Sit on a machine and position yourself so that a stretch is required to grip the handles. Sit straight and upright, hold the handles and stretch your arms out. Pull the handles toward your chest by engaging your lats while squeezing and locking your shoulder blades. Press and hold this position briefly before returning the handles to the starting position. Allow the lats to stretch before doing the next rep.
Lat pulldown with a neutral grip
The 2021 Chicago Pro winner switched to the lat pulldown for his second exercise. He attached two individual handles to a connecting bar and sat on an adjustable bench with his chest against the back pad. Portions of three movements were shown, but the fourth in its entirety. Labrada performed 10 reps plus one assisted rep.
Why he does it: Although Labrada pulled in a different direction, his target for the second movement was also the lower lats. It’s likely that he feels the need to work his lower lats because he dedicated the first two movements of the session to them.
How it goes: Position an adjustable bench with the back pad in the highest position next to a pulldown station. Grasp the handles and sit on the bench with your chest on the back pad. Pull the handle down towards your upper chest by tightening your lats.
Press and hold this position for a moment before slowly releasing the tension. The lats should be stretched without the fixed weight touching the stack.
High seated machine series
Labrada’s third back move was another seated row, albeit on a multi-grip Magnum machine. He used two of these, doing most reps with an underhand grip. This exercise works the upper back.
Why he does it: Labrada targeted the upper lats, posterior deltoids, and rhomboids, and his underhand grip allowed him to pull further back.
How it goes: Sit on the machine and grasp the handles with your preferred grip. You should be able to straighten your arms while holding the handles without the pinned weight touching the weight stack. Pull the handles inward and contract by pulling your elbows back. After a short hold, let your arms return to the starting position. Repeat for desired reps.
lat pulldown machine
Labrada’s fourth move was similar to his second in that it was another lat pulldown. He used an overhand grip while leaning back at an angle and pulling toward his chest, pre-stressing his mid-back.
Why he does it: The Nautilus machine Labrada used targeted his mid to upper back. This is an important area for muscle separation as the position of the rear double biceps is a requirement for the judges in competition.
How it goes: If you don’t have access to a Nautilus machine, a traditional lat pulldown station will work. When at a cable station, sit with your knees under the knee pads and hold the machine or attachment handles. Bring your elbows down and pull the handle toward your shoulders. Squeeze your upper back down before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat for desired reps.
Lying Leg Curl
Labrada focused on his thigh muscles with the lying hamstrings. The special machine he used allowed him to emphasize the part of the rep closer to the peak of the contraction. Labrada marked three sets; The heaviest weight used was one 45 pound plate and three 25 pound plates.
Why he does it: Labrada wants denser, thicker hamstrings. An interrupted contraction and controlled negative help him control the weight.
“Not moving the weight with the muscle wastes energy and wears out the body.”
How it goes: Lie face down on the bench and place your feet under the footpad. The knees should be connected to the pad on the machine. Bend your legs and lift the footpad toward your buttocks by tightening your hamstrings. When you get to the end of the exercise, slowly return to the starting position and repeat the process.
Labrada said he’s been deadlifting regularly for four months. He began pulling blocks until he had the flexibility to pull off the ground. His heaviest weight was 224.4 kilograms (495 pounds). Parts of a total of five sentences were shown.
Labrada’s final set weighed 206.3 kilograms (455 pounds). He wore a weight belt and supported his grip with sling straps.
Why he does it: The deadlift engages the entire posterior chain, but Labrada seems to be straining his risers and hamstrings because he moves more slowly from the floor to near lockout. Because the exercise was the last in his routine, he didn’t use as much weight.
How it goes: If you’re in a traditional stance like Labrada, stand behind the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lower your torso to get a firm grip on the bar. Bend your knees and position the bar as close as possible to stack your shoulders over your ankles. Don’t allow your feet to move, keep your arms straight and your chest up and proud with your shoulders back.
After contracting, keep the spine and neck neutral before the first pull. Remember to drive your feet through the ground at the beginning of the climb. Once the bar reaches your knees, remember to move your hips forward to stand upright with the weight. Once you achieve the lockout, arch your lower back by bringing your hips forward slightly. Slowly lower the weight back to the floor and repeat for desired reps.
Exemplary back training
Below is a generic example workout that you can try.
- Low row of seats — 2-3 x 8-12
- Lat pulldown with a neutral grip — 2-3 x 8-12
- High row of seats — 2-3 x 8-12
- lat pulldown — 2-3 x 10-12
- lying leg Beckon — 2-3 x 10-12
- deadlift — 3-4 x 8-12
Labrada placed seventh at the 2022 Mr. Olympia, three places behind his place in the 2021 competition. Since he did not finish in the top five in 2022, he needs to win a pro show to qualify for the 2023 Olympia.
Labrada expressed confidence that he can win one or both of the Tampa and Texas shows to secure his 2023 Olympics invitation. He was the 2020 Tampa Pro winner so he knows how to perform on that stage. If he competes in the Texas Pro, it will be his debut in the competition.
Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram
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