Hunter Labrada Discusses Training Frequency, Carb Selection, and How to Become a Bodybuilder

Labrada did a Q&A to share his expertise on July 16, 2022.

Hunter Labrada recently updated his training split to lead him into his 2022 Olympia prep. After finishing fourth overall in the 2021 Mr. Olympia contest, the 2021 Chicago Pro winner is vying to dethrone two-time reigning Mr. Olympia champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay in Las Vegas, NV, on Dec. 16-18, 2022.

Part of Labrada’s journey to the 2022 Olympia has been documenting his progress and sharing his training and nutrition insights on his YouTube channel. On July 16, 2022, Labrada did a Q&A with his 11,200 YouTube subscribers, discussing the differences between rice and pasta as a carb source, optimal training strategies, and more. Check it out below:

[Related: 7-Time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath to Join 2022 Olympia Commentary Team]

Rice vs. Pasta

The opening question asked why some bodybuilders prefer rice over pasta while bulking. Labrada affirms that it is mostly preference barring some dietary restrictions being implemented. Pasta has more gluten than rice unless it’s gluten-free or rice-based pasta, which can cause some digestive issues for some athletes.

Carb sources are carb sources.

Labrada is very attuned with his digestion, as many of his meals during his off-season bulk were liquid. While whole foods are the go-to for most people, maintaining a large caloric surplus while enduring a rigorous training schedule can be uncomfortable. Labrada drinks his meals, so he is not training with a distended gut. While that works for someone chasing an Olympia title, it is unlikely to work for a routine gym-goer.

Training Frequency

While training any muscle group is possible, it is unlikely to be optimal. When it comes to training frequency, Labrada’s advice is clear:

You want to train a muscle as frequently as you can recover from it, especially if its a weak body part.

Labrada asserted that no one could recover from an intense training session for a given muscle group in 24 hours, so it does not make sense in his view to train one muscle group every day. Furthermore, the desired benefits are unlikely to arrive from that kind of training frequency. Labrada suggested that training shoulders every day would more likely lead to aching than hypertrophy.


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[Related: Iain Valliere Wins 2022 Vancouver Pro Bodybuilding Show]

Exercise Selection

Labrada was asked about his thoughts on Donkey Kicks as an exercise. While it may be a go-to movement for the person who asked the question, Labrada would never add it to his program due to his hamstring mobility.

In a previous video regarding Labrada’s training insight, he shared the three lenses he uses to determine what movements to add to his programming:

Labrada supports anyone performing whatever exercises they prefer as long as they have sufficient bracing to reap the full benefits of that movement. Likewise, he has nothing against “Bro Splits,” meaning training individual muscle groups on different days. Labrada believes that when used properly, such as a push/pull/leg split, one could optimize their training frequency and limit the wear and tear on their joints.

Early Bodybuilding

When asked how to break into bodybuilding in high school, Labrada advocates staying away from steroids and other substances that could alter one’s hormones. In adolescence, when hormones change naturally, messing with puberty artificially could lead to long-term health issues.

Bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint. You should be peaking in your 30s.

Aside from staying consistent in the gym and thinking long-term, Labrada believes that making it as a bodybuilder is more about discipline than it is about time or money. When working a full-time job or balancing work life and family time with a training schedule, the trick is preparation — maximizing time in the gym with a training plan, meal prepping effectively to ensure proper nutrition with a tight schedule, and understanding how to manage priorities.

Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram