“Since I’ve used your grips, my straps just sit in my gym bag collecting dust.”

Manu on Stage Orange Trunks.cropped


Manu Hubbard is a sheriff’s deputy, family man and bodybuilder based in Southern California. He was the 2018 Los Angeles Men’s Physique Overall Winner, both Open and Over 35 Masters, at Jon Lindsay’s Muscle Contest in Culver City, California.

He is also a Big Back Grips user! We first met Manu at the 2018 LA Fit Expo, where we handed him a sample of Big Back Lifting Grips. Little did we know that, a few years later, Manu would be the very first person to place a Big Back Grips order when we launched our brand new website design in the spring of 2020! So, of course we wanted to learn more. (And you can learn more about Manu on his Instagram page.)

Manu in competition

BBG: Manu, when did you start competing? What was your first contest?

Manu: My first competition was September 5th, 2015 at the Muscle Contest Fit World, in Culver City.

BBG: We heard that you had some issues on that first contest. Can you tell us what happened? What exactly caused the problems, and especially what it taught you that other competitors might learn from?

Manu: Oh wow!! Okay, with bodybuilding, when you’re on stage, you have to deplete water and that is pretty much done within the last couple of days before show day.  Well, I depleted a little too much water. I looked good but I paid a price for it. I experienced uncontrollable cramping throughout my whole body, and it was very painful.  I was able to perform for prejudging but was unable to continue for finals.  What it taught me was I had to methodically deplete water and listen to my body.

BBG: But then, in 2018, you totally cleaned up at the NPC/IFBB Los Angeles Championships in Culver City: Physique Overall Over-35 Masters and Overall Open! Very impressive. How did that feel?

Manu: That show right there, it was amazing!  I hooked up with my coach Alfred Gonzalez at his gym in Fontana. When we first met, he told me I had potential and I could win. I listened to every word he said regarding working out and dieting. I felt very confident as I performed on stage, and I could not believe the outcome. Not only did I win the Masters, but I took Overall in the Open. I felt like I was on top of the world; winning two swords and representing myself, my coach and my profession correctly.

Bodybuilder Manu Hubbard alone on stage at the LA Championships with Victors Sword

A good trainer brings an extra set of eyes

Bodybuilder Manu Hubbard front and back shot at the USAs.

BBG: Are there any other contests, since then or upcoming, that you want to mention?

Manu: One week later, after the Los Angeles Championships, I competed at the Muscle Contest USA’s. I must say that show had a lot of talent and we came shredded and ready. But I was a little too small compared to the competition. I don’t remember what place I took but it was second calls outs, I think.

We took almost a year off of to build muscle and competed in the NPC Master Nationals in Pittsburg July 19th 2019.  I took 7th overall in class “F.”

BBG:  You have an exceptionally proportional physique. How long have you been lifting and what are your current stats?

Manu: Thank you. I am blessed to have symmetry.  My upper body complements my lower, but I think I can focus on my lower body more.

I’ve lifted weights since 1998 when I was in the US Navy.  It wasn’t nothing too extreme, but I kept in shape.  I continued my lifting throughout my life but really focused in 2015 when I did my first competition.

BBG: You mentioned your coach, Al Gonzalez. How is having a coach is different from trying to do it on your own?

Manu: The man, the myth, the legend, Alfred Gonzalez. This man has changed my body a complete 180 degrees.  He focused on my weak points and is very old-school in reference to the gym.  Nothing fancy, just the same movements and he expects you to grind.

Having a pair of eyes in addition to your own is one of the best things I think any competitor can benefit from. They will see things you don’t and will tell you your flaws even if you don’t like it.

Deputy Sheriff Manu Hubbard

BBG: Our favorite question: Where did you first come across Big Back Grips and what do they do for your workout? Why use BBGs instead of straps? And how does your coach feel about your using them?

Manu: January 26th, 2020, at the LA Fix Expo, I was working at the “Gritt Apparel” booth and you walked up to me. You asked me to try out the grips. I used them first for back workouts and I absolutely loved them. I have strong hands, but I also had surgery on my right ringer finger which causes me to lose my grip easily. I typically used straps for that reason, but since I’ve used your grips, my straps just sit in my gym bag collecting dust. The grip on your product is amazing and I feel like my wrist is not being pulled while using them. Also, I feel my forearms have gotten stronger.

Al does not care about me using the grips, as long as I grind and give it my all.

BBG: Can you tell us a little about yourself.  A brief biography if you would. What do you do professionally outside of bodybuilding? What do you for fun outside the gym?

Manu: I’ll be an old 40 years old in September (laughing).  I served in the US Navy after high school for four years. From there I got hired as a Deputy Sheriff for San Bernardino County. I am currently in my 15 plus years with them. And I have worked several different enforcement details. I also played on a law- enforcement tackle football team for 9 years called the Inland Empire Enforcers. We were a non-profit organization that raised money from ticket sales for fallen officers.

Outside of bodybuilding, I’m a family man. I have three little babies who are not babies anymore. I try and give them as much attention as possible because time moves fast. I’ve coached several of their sports teams, football, basketball and track.

My time is limited, and between work, kids and regular life, I’ll go out on occasion. I know, pretty boring to some but for me it’s amazing.

Manu Hubbard flexes bicep at LA Fit Expo 2020 with Ben Garcia
Deputy Manu Hubbard on his patrol motorcycle at Sunset.


Bodybuilder Manu Hubbard sitting on a weight bench applying knee supports

BBG: Where do you work out?

Manu: My primary gym is my coach’s gym, Rocked Up, in Fontana, CA. Other than that, I have serval gym memberships.

BBG: Did you play or excel at any other sports?

Manu: I played basketball, football and ran track in my sports days.  I would like to say I excelled and was pretty good in all three of them.

BBG: What are your biggest accomplishments in your workout history so far? Titles, personal bests, achieved, etc…

Manu: I’ll say my biggest has been doing 150 pounds of incline dumbbell chest, 10 times. Also squatting 405 lbs.  I know it does not sound like a lot for some but for me it was a big deal.

BBG: What is your workout schedule like?

Manu: For the past 2 1/2 years it has been the same

  • Monday -Back
  • Tuesday – Shoulders
  • Wednesday – Arms
  • Thursday – Chest
  • Friday – Full body or back depending on what coach says (laughing)
  • Saturday – Legs
  • Sunday – Rest


BBG: What about your diet, especially your contest prep diet? There have been so many trends, fads, whatever you call them, sometimes completely opposite each other. What works best for you?

Manu: I honestly can’t tell you about other diet trends or fads out there. I follow what my coach tells me to eat and that works for me. It’s that basic.

BBG: Are you generally ripped throughout the year or do you have an “off-season look”?

Manu: Hahahaha, I wish I was. But I do not know too many bodybuilders who walk around like a trophy.  I’m not ripped, stage-ready but you can see definition throughout my body.

BBG: What are your favorite exercises or body parts to work? What do you consider your best body part? Do you have a body part that’s especially challenging to make headway on?

Manu: My favorite is incline dumbbell chest.  I love it because it (obviously) works the upper chest but it also incorporates the deltoids. My traps are probably my best body part; I think they stand out. I am not allowed to work them because my coach says they are too big (laughing).

I’ve started to really work on my back due to the feedback I received from the judges. Our goal is to improve the width of it.

BBG: If someone were going to work out with you, what are they in for, what’s your workout style? What would you want from a partner?

Manu: Come ready to work out for a good solid hour. Your only rest is my working set so get ready to move. Put on your headphones, if needed, and grind. Take whatever stress you have out on the weights.

I would want my partner to be motivated and come from a desire to improve themselves. We are not there for ego lifting. I’m too old for that now.

BBG: What’s your advice to people just starting out?

Manu: Get a coach and listen to him / her, eat right, and give all in the gym.  The results speak for themselves.

Manu's chest workout

BBG: Finally, can you give us your workout for just one body part. Just pick your favorite.

Manu: This is my chest workout:

  • Incline dumbbell – Warm up with 15-20 reps, two times at a moderate weight
  • From there I’ll go up every 15 pounds and do 10-15-20 reps, depending on where I start with the working set.
  • Hammer Strength: 15-20 reps five times
  • Flat dumbbell bench: Usually do 100-115 pounds 12-15 reps five times
  • Incline dumbbell flies:12 reps 40-60 pounds, five times
  • Cables: 20 reps, weight depends on how depleted I am
Manu takes a Selfie at the Bathroom Mirror