Bodybuilder Hunter Labrada Talks Best Foot Position for Quad-Focused Squats and Tips for Training Mid-Back

The 2022 Mr. Olympia contender offered some tips for bigger quads and a stronger back.

If you’re not keeping up with bodybuilder Hunter Labrada’s YouTube channel, you’re missing out on a weekly crash course in general fitness and bodybuilding. He already gave his thoughts on training frequency, rice vs. pasta, and the right way to warm up.

During a Q&A with his 12,600-plus YouTube subscribers on Aug. 6, 2022, Labrada went into detail regarding the best foot position for quad-focused squats, how to optimally target the middle back, and some tips for how to consume adequate protein during the workday. Check it out in the video below:

[Related: Bodybuilding Legend Lee Labrada Shows Off His Shredded Quads at Age 62]

The Best Foot Position for Smith Machine Squats

As Labrada detailed during the Q&A, foot placement alone won’t provide the most quad stimulation while performing squats.

“All that we’re after—if you’re after maximal quad stimulation—is getting as much knee flexion as possible,” Labrada says. “A couple of things are going to do that: A.) foot placement [and] B.) your whole body position.”

Going off the point about body position, Labrada says to make sure your chest is out and strong and that your back is straight — both points illustrating that you should be braced and not allow your back to move into flexion. On a Smith machine squat, in particular, Labrada says that you should “break at the knees,” rather than the hips, and to drive your knees out over your toes.

Back to the foot position, Labrada says the general rule of thumb is to have “your heel underneath your shoulders as a starting point.” He stresses that “the more underneath your feet are to you, the more knee flexion you’re going to be able to get in the hole.”


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[Related: Try These 9 Squat Cues The Next Time You’re Under A Barbell]

How to Build the Mid-Traps and Rhomboids

Another question posed to Labrada was how to work the middle of the back, specifically the mid-traps and rhomboids. For this, Labrada says to focus on getting the scapula to move more during row exercises. By getting your elbows back as far as you can at the top of the row, you can maximize scapular retraction.

Labrada suggests sticking to chest-supported rows so as to not ket your body move off the pad through the entire range of motion. Doing so cuts down on extraneous back movement during the exercise and allows you to concentrate on pulling the elbows back.


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[Related: 10 of the Best Back Exercises for Beginner to Advanced Weightlifters]

Thoughts on Michal Križo Križánek Competing at the Olympia

Bodybuilder Michal Križo Križánek is certainly a big topic of conversation in the bodybuilding world right now. Four-time Mr. O Jay Cutler recently said Križánek would be “dangerous” should he appear at the Olympia, and now Labrada seems positive about Križánek potentially joining him on stage.

His physique’s awesome—he’ll handle his own on a pro stage. He needs to earn a pro card and qualify first, though.

On his podcast, Cutler said Križánek is going to compete at the EVLS Prague Amateur show in late August and would potentially follow that up with the 2022 Prague Pro on October 29 in the hopes of an official Olympia qualification.

Getting Enough Protein During the Work Day

When asked how he would get enough protein if he worked a 9-to-5 job, Labrada was blunt: always be prepared. If you have a desk job with some flexibility, prep your meals in advance and eat them throughout the day. If you don’t have that luxury at your job, he suggests sticking to shakes that can be consumed quickly without needing to take a long break.

It is way worse to not eat than it is to drink half a cup of oats and a scoop of whey blended with some peanut butter and a banana.

In general, though, he said his advice for anyone is to stick to blended foods that are easy to eat and digest during the workday, no matter what kind of job you have. For him, it’s a safe bet to get the protein needed.

What’s Next for Hunter Labrada

The 2022 Mr. Olympia contest will be Larbrada’s third time stepping on bodybuilding’s biggest stage. He placed eighth in his Olympia debut in 2020 and jumped up to fourth place the following year. Labrada recently showed off his new eight-week training split for the 2022 Olympia, with a renewed focus on improving his back before the big show.

Image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram