There are few bodybuilders as open about their process as Hunter Labrada. The fourth-place finisher at the 2021 Mr. Olympia regularly takes to his YouTube channel and Instagram page to answer fan questions, share workout tips, and offer glimpses into his life as an elite on-stage competitor.
During a recent installment of his “Saturday Q&A” series on YouTube, Labrada touched on a range of topics, including how many sets he suggests people do per exercise, his most improved body part, and the one pose he’ll never do on a bodybuilding stage. Check it out:
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How Many Working Sets Per Exercise?
When asked if there’s any value in doing four or more working sets per exercise, Labrada shared his golden rule: He never does more than three. When he does get to three working sets, they are “[Dense] metabolic sets, like I’m aiming for more blood flow and doing as much work as possible.”
In a previous video detailing his Olympia prep training split, Labrada explained his metabolic sets include a fast-paced circuit of presses, flyes, lateral raises, and push-ups to do “a lot of work in a very short amount of time to drive blood flow and finish the muscles off.”
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That metabolic work is in contrast, Labrada says, to aiming for three or more heavy working sets of 10 to 12 reps, where you might have to drop the weight to meet the rep number. In the end, he suggests you could wind up fatigued without enough benefits to back it up. However, this is Labrada’s advice, not a hard-and-fast rule.
Labrada recommends that instead of aiming for more than three working sets, lifters should take a step back, look at the intensity and technique used in the previous sets, and ensure they’re maximizing them.
Food Intake on Off Days
When asked how his food intake changes during his off-season rest days, Labrada stresses that it doesn’t. Outside of not taking his intra-workout shakes, everything else — fats, carbs, protein — stays the same on his days off.
Contest prep is another story. When leaning out before a show, Labrada tweaks his diet to include fewer carbs on off days.
Most Improved Body Part Heading Into the 2022 Olympia
Labrada didn’t pull any punches when asked what his most improved body part will be at the 2022 Olympia.
“I am really excited to show off the amount of progress that I’ve made on my back since the last Olympia,” Labrada says. “It’s always been my weakest body part […] It’s gone from piss poor to mediocre to okay. And this year, I’m trying to get into the ‘good,’ maybe even ‘great,’ category.”
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In that previous video about his Olympia training split, Labrada mentioned that his 2022 prep features a back-heavy pull day that tops out at two working sets for each exercise. Again, he prefers to focus on maximizing form and intensity rather than set/rep volume.
The One Pose You’ll Never See Him Hit on Stage
If there’s one pose Labrada says you’ll never see him hit on a bodybuilding stage, it’s the crab most muscular pose. It’s a variation of the typical most muscular pose where a person’s arms and hands cross in front of the body. It’s not that he hates the pose — he actually says he loves it — he just hates how he looks doing it. Luckily for Labrada, the crab most muscular is not a back pose.
Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram