by Matt Weik
In November 2018, we all watched as Hunter Labrada won his IFBB Pro Card after winning the NPC Nationals. As many of you already know, Hunter is the son of the great, Lee Labrada – a champion in the sport of bodybuilding who currently owns Labrada Nutrition.
When it comes to legacy bodybuilders, the only two current competitors are Hunter and Sergio Oliva Jr. (son of Olympia winner Sergio Oliva). For a few years now, I’ve been watching Hunter come up in the ranks and watch him transform his physique into what it is today and I must say, he’s come a long way and was completely deserving of his pro card win.
Hunter Labrada brought an amazing package to the stage and won in a very deep line-up of super-heavyweight bodybuilders at nationals. There isn’t much you can pick apart on Hunter as he has a nearly complete package up on stage. He carries some decent size and his conditioning is always on point. His legs are always diced with great separation. The only things that I could really say he should improve on are his abdominals and chest.
I’m being hyper-critical since there isn’t much you can say negatively about Hunter’s physique, but his chest could use a little more size and his abdominals could be a little more defined. The abdominals could be a water retention/carb issue as they are somewhat soft in some poses and angles, but the great thing is he does not have any distention which can be a huge point of differentiation when he stands next to many of the other IFBB Pros on the stage today. So, with how he looks, can Hunter Labrada win in 2019?
Can Hunter Labrada Bring It in 2019?
I most definitely think this off-season Hunter Labrada will make some major improvements and further create a winning physique. The biggest challenge he faces is how will he look next to some of the mass monsters like Roelly, Bonac, Ramy, and Phil. When it comes to complete packages like what Hunter brings to the stage, he has a very classic bodybuilding look to him. He’s not cartoonishly big, yet he’s not “small.” He’s somewhere in the middle – but that’s also la-la-land. To compete, I believe Hunter will need to continue adding size to his frame while keeping things tight and continuing to nail his conditioning – think of a look similar to what Rhoden brought to the 2018 Mr.Olympia.
There will definitely be some smaller shows that I can see Hunter jumping in and being a contender for the win. Yet, there are certainly others (like the New York Pro, Pittsburgh Pro, and a few others) where Hunter can get lost in the mix of some mass monsters. But, depending on how his off-season goes, he could wipe away any doubt and stand next to some of the big boys and compete for a top-five placing.
Could Hunter Labrada eventually do what his father never could and that’s win the Olympia? At this stage, it might be too early for talks of that caliber, but in a few years that might be a discussion we need to have depending on how he progresses and if he can stay healthy.
When it comes to Hunter’s physique, as mentioned earlier, his legs are a strong point and, in my opinion, look better than most who step on the Arnold Classic stage. He has great arms and good definition from the back. If he competes in the Arnold Classic can he break the top 10? I think he definitely has a shot. Top 10 at the Olympia if he can qualify? That’s pushing it but anything can happen between now and then.
Big Shoes to Fill
While never actually winning the Olympia, Lee Labrada has come close in 1989 and 1990 with 2nd place finishes. He finished his career with 22 bodybuilding wins to his name and was inducted into the IFBB Pro-Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2004.
Lee had a very complete physique and while not the biggest bodybuilder on stage, he has what we consider the classic lines for a bodybuilder – especially in his era. While the times have changed in the sport, Hunter would be wise to listen to and take advice from his father. Can he win more than 22 shows to top his father? Honestly, it’s hard to say but I’m going to say no for the time being. Maybe in a year or two when we see some changes to not only Hunter’s physique but also how the sport is changing and evolving, we can bring the topic back up.
All in all, Hunter is a fantastic bodybuilder and I think there are a lot of people excited to see him win his pro card and end up on an IFBB bodybuilding stage. He has some amazing genetics and his work-ethic can take him far. It will be interesting watching him as he starts making his way onto the pro stage in 2019. I, for one, hope to see his hand raised in many shows as I think he’s good for the sport and a good kid in general.