Men’s Open bodybuilder Hunter Labrada fell short of the top sixth at the 2022 Olympia. He’s working this off-season to climb the Olympia ladder to compete against the top in the division, such as Hadi Choopan, Derek Lunsford, and Nick Walker, again. To do so he will have to win a pro show during the 2023 season.
Labrada feels one way to improve his physique is by thickening his back musculature and deepening their separation. He uploaded a YouTube video to his channel on April 2, 2023, breaking down training cues for his back and hamstrings day. Check it out below:
Hunter Labrada’s Pull Workout
Here’s a breakdown of the back and hamstring exercises Hunter Labrada performed:
- Warm Up —Face Pulls
- Unilateral Pulldowns
- Unilateral Machine Seated Rows
- Rack Chins
- Seated Machine Rows
- Lying Hamstring Curls
Warm Up — Face Pulls
Before getting into the pull movements, Labrada warmed up his shoulders via face pulls. He used straps as the handles to enable external rotation to target the rear deltoids. The external rotation should happen at the shoulders, not from the core or by moving the rib cage up.
Pull the elbows straight down to the hips (not back) to engage the lower lats. Exertion for this movement is high. Labrada recommends resting before switching sides.
Unilateral Machine Seated Row
This exercise was done on a PRIME machine, targeting Labrada’s lower lats. “Think about keeping shoulder depression the whole time,” Labrada advised. “When we’re rowing, doing pulldowns, or anything targeting the lower lats, create an arching motion with our humerus.”
This exercise is performed on a Smith machine with legs straightened and propped up on an incline bench, mimicking a wide-grip pull-up. Labrada believes rack chins are more effective than pull-ups for targeting the upper back because the legs are stabilized on the weight bench to keep the body upright, preventing the involvement of the lats.
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Labrada incorporated a mechanical drop set on the second set. To do this, his training partner lowered the incline of the bench to flat. Having Labrada pull his weight up on the Smith machine while his legs were resting on a flat bench allowed Labrada to eke out a couple more reps.
Any upper back work, whether it be a pulldown or a row, all we’re after is full protraction and retraction.
Labrada aimed to raise the shoulder girdle as high as possible for protraction to get the scapula and elbows retracted down and back. This allows the traps, teres, and other back muscles to fully spread and contract.
Seated Machine Row
Labrada moved to bilateral movements and performed the seated row on a Magnum machine. Labrada remarked:
When I say protract on this one, I don’t mean to let your spine flop over. Your spine is beyond rigid and braced the whole time.
Labrada added another intensity set to this exercise by combining a rest-pause and drop set. He took a small break between sets, lowered the weight, and did as many reps as possible.
Lying Hamstring Curls
We’re trying to keep our hips, knees, and ankles straight with the pit of our knees.
The elbow and knees are hinge joints — they only move one way; not meant to move laterally. So the legs should be narrower than shoulder-width, and the ankles should be dorsiflexed — raising the foot towards the shin. Once the feet flare inward or outward, the knees are out of alignment.
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Labrada thinks about driving his hips down to the bench and keeps his quads in contact with the pad. The shoulders are down and back, the hands firmly grasp the handles, and the lats engage to pull oneself into the pad to prevent the opposing weight from jerking the lifter back.
Barbell Deadlifts and Hyperextensions
To conclude his pull-day workout, Labrada hit deadlifts and hyperextensions. On the hypers, getting the hamstrings and glutes involved more than the lower back is the goal. To do this, Labrada sets the pad on the machine low — below the hips — to keep them mobile. Think about keeping the hips forward and driving the knees into the padding.
Hunter Labrada used wrist straps throughout his workout to pull heavier weights without worrying about grip as a limiting factor. Labrada typically does two pull workouts weekly — one back and biceps and one back and hamstrings. We’ll see if his back improvements help him capture another pro win and qualification to the 2023 Olympia.
Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram