Exercise scientist Dr. Mike Israetel is known in the fitness world for his insightful contributions to training and muscle growth. In his latest endeavor, he took to YouTube to share his top ten most essential exercises for hypertrophy.
“I would say that I’d have to go muscle group by muscle group to make sure I check off all the boxes. I don’t know if there’s ten muscle groups. The caveat is these are just my personal spirit exercises, the ones I really like, that doesn’t mean they are best for everybody,” Dr. Mike Israetel shared.
Having earned his Ph.D. in sports psychology, Israetel’s understanding of fitness, health, and nutrition set him apart from his contemporaries. As a former professor of the exercise and sports sciences at the School of Public Health at Temple University in Philadelphia, he sports a vast array of knowledge when it comes to muscle growth.
In addition to his work in academia, Mike Israetel has gained notoriety online, thanks to collaborations with other thriving YouTubers, like Jeff Nippard, a natural bodybuilder and powerlifter who uses his channel to offer in-depth workout demonstrations and technique pointers. Taking a breather from the gym, Israetel joined Chris Williamson for a candid discussion about exercise selection.
Exercise Scientist Dr. Mike Israetel Reveals His Top 10 Movements for Muscle Growth
- High bar squats
- Standing overhead barbell press
- Barbell skullcrushers
- Barbell bent rows from a deficit
- Stiff-legged deadlift
- Incline cambered bar bench press
- Super ROM laterals
- Seated incline dumbbell curls
High bar squats
Israetel chose high bar squats because they fatigue him less than other variations.
“Because they hit the quadriceps, adductors, and glutes very well. The amount of fatigue you get from them is less than you would get from other types of squats like low bar squats because until my arms got too big to hold a bar on my back I fit into the high bar position like a glove and I love that.”
Standing overhead barbell press
Next, he explained why he favored standing overhead barbell presses.
“Because I’m like really good at it and it feels great for me to do,” said Mike Israetel. “It’s good for manhood strength. If you can overhead press two plates for reps, you’re a serious motherfucker and people shouldn’t fuck with you probably.”
For the triceps, Israetel would utilize barbell skullcrushers.
“Skullcrushers for triceps. Barbell skullcrushers.”
Dr. Israetel chose pull-ups as one of his back movements.
“Pull-ups for the back. Overhand, chin to bar,” said Israetel. “I can’t rotate my shit in enough to do underhand.”
Barbell bent-over rows from a deficit
He enjoys barbell bent-over rows from a deficit due to the deep stretch offered during every rep.
“So you stand on a little box and you can go super deep in the stretch, touch your tummy, and come back.”
To build his glutes and hamstrings, Israetel prefers the dynamic nature of stiff-legged deadlifts.
“For the hamstrings and the glutes,” said Israetel. “It’s isometric only with bent-over rows, you need a dynamic movement for the hamstrings. It also hits a crap load of your spinal erectors and glutes and all this stuff.”
Cambered bar bench press
For the chest, Israetel chose cambered bar bench presses.
“The cambered bar allows you to go deeper than your own chest level and we have lots of research especially recently, but lots of good theoretical work before that shows us that a deep stretch is a pretty big deal for hypertrophy. It enhances the amount of muscle growth you get rep for rep.”
He shared that dips are important in his routine for lower pec development.
“Dips in addition to that for the lower pecs and just overall manliness dips are sweet.”
Super ROM laterals
Israetel favored a modified version of lateral raises with an increased range of motion for shoulders.
“I need more ego shit so let’s just start calling them Dr. Mike laterals. Dr. Mike everything,” said Israetel. “It’s when you do dumbbell laterals but you don’t stop there, you just go all the way and kind of touch your palms together at the top.”
Seated incline dumbbell curls
As a tenth exercise, Israetel chose seated incline dumbbell curls for bicep growth.
“For biceps. Again, like that, it’s tension with the stretch. Great exercise.”
Dr. Mike Israetel isn’t the only notable figure in fitness and bodybuilding to offer ten essential exercises for muscle growth. Reigning five-time Classic Physique Olympia Chris Bumstead, former seven-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, Open star Nick Walker, nutritionist Stan Efferding, and fitness influencers Sara Saffari and Sam Sulek have all hopped on the trend, offering their selections for hypertrophy.
With his knowledge of workout mechanics and techniques, Dr. Mike Israetel continues to give back to the bodybuilding community. Feel free to try out his ten essential exercises men need for muscle growth!