At the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest in December 2022 in Las Vegas, NV, Hunter Labrada did not rank as highly as he’d hoped. The fourth-place finisher in the 2021 contest dropped to seventh place behind Samson Dauda, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, Brandon Curry, Nick Walker, Derek Lunsford, and winner Hadi Choopan.
Labrada took to his YouTube channel for the first time since the 2022 Mr. Olympia on Feb. 8, 2023, to share his thoughts on the competition and his plans for 2023. He will compete in at least two pro shows regardless of the first show’s outcome in 2023, though he will need to win at least one to qualify for the 2023 Olympia in Orlando, FL, on Nov. 2-5, 2023. Check out the video below:
The main reason Labrada intends to compete twice in 2023 before the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest, should he qualify, is to identify better how to peak properly. Although Labrada is one of the best bodybuilders in the world, he doesn’t believe he has ever properly peaked on the day of a contest in his career, both amateur and professional.
I’ve never been 100 percent on stage. At the level I compete and want to excel at, you can’t not be your best.
Since the 2022 Olympia for Labrada, Labrada’s priority has been streamlining his digestion and dialing in his food. He felt that his off-season training for the 2022 Olympia was practical in that he put on muscle tissue where he wanted to, primarily his back, and was the heaviest weight he’d ever been — about 294 pounds — without much additional body fat.
The issue Labrada felt he encountered leading up to the show was a plateauing of his weight at about seven weeks out. Although his weight was still trending down, his physique wasn’t sharpening as fast as he needed it to. To do so, he took a steeper drop in calorie intake that he felt cost him some of the muscle tissue he had packed onto his back.
The new tissue that you add is the first tissue that goes whenever you’re dieting, especially dieting hard.
Once in Las Vegas, Labrada felt confident and “expected a much better look” than he brought on stage since he was pleased with his package in the days before pre-judging. Ultimately, the 2022 Olympia left Labrada with “a weird taste in [his] mouth” despite ranking as the seventh best in the world.
I’m not going to say it was a failure, but it definitely wasn’t a success.
Labrada did not share additional specifics about what he didn’t like about his physique on the Olympia stage. While he believes it was “far from his best,” he thinks it’s the best package he’s ever brought to a bodybuilding stage. Though, as mentioned, he also doesn’t feel he’s ever captured his actual best on show day.
[Related: Shaun Clarida Incline Presses 140-Pound Dumbbells 5 Weeks Out From the 2023 Arnold Classic]
Priorities for the 2023 Off-Season
Labrada will focus on adding muscle to his lower back — his erectors and lower lats. He feels “everything needs to be thicker” but emphasizes the need to target his back first and foremost. Additionally, the off-season priority is optimizing digestion to minimize his waistline.
His diet will include whole foods, but Labrada has shared how he often uses liquid meals to consume calories not to distend his gut or upset his digestion. By adjusting his diet this way, Labrada can better train vacuum poses each morning, which he’s found “made a big difference.”