Best Hypertrophy Exercises – Everything you need to know

Have you ever looked at bodybuilders and wondered what their secret is? It’s not just spending hours in the gym lifting weights; it’s about focusing on the best hypertrophy exercises. These exercises are the golden key to unlocking impressive muscle growth. 

But what exactly makes these exercises stand out? And how can you incorporate them into your routine to see real results? Let’s dive in and discover the path to transforming your physique.

In the vast world of fitness and muscle building, knowing which exercises truly work for hypertrophy—muscle growth—is crucial. This isn’t about randomly picking weights and hoping for the best. It’s about strategic selection, understanding the mechanics behind muscle growth, and consistently applying these principles. 

This guide isn’t just another fitness article; it’s a comprehensive blueprint designed to elevate your muscle game to new heights. Whether you’re a beginner or have been in the game for a while but not seeing the results you want, you’re in the right place.

table of contents

1. What is Hypertrophy? keyboard_arrow_down
2. Best Chest Exercises for Hypertrophy keyboard_arrow_down
3. Expert Tips and Insights on Best Hypertrophy Exercises keyboard_arrow_down
4. Additional Tips and Advice keyboard_arrow_down
5. Conclusion keyboard_arrow_down
6. Key Points keyboard_arrow_down
7. FAQs keyboard_arrow_down

MORE keyboard_double_arrow_down LESS keyboard_double_arrow_up

What is Hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is the process of making your muscles bigger and stronger through specific types of exercise. But it’s not just about size; it’s about increasing strength and improving overall health. Focusing on hypertrophy can help you build a balanced physique, improve your physical performance, and boost your confidence.

However, not all exercises are created equal when it comes to building muscle. The best hypertrophy exercises target multiple muscle groups, allowing for a balanced growth and reduced risk of injury. 

But what exactly are these exercises? Find out in the next section!

Best Chest Exercises for Hypertrophy

Embarking on the path to upper-body strength requires a roadmap of effective exercises. These aren’t just random movements; they’re carefully selected challenges, backed by both science and the experience of countless fitness enthusiasts. 

Here, we explore the 11 best exercises that promise not just growth, but significant enhancement of your upper body’s capabilities.

Bench Press

Dubbed the king of chest exercises, the bench press is indispensable for anyone serious about hypertrophy. It works not just your chest, but also engages your shoulders and triceps, making it a compound exercise with widespread benefits.


A true measure of upper-body strength, pull-ups target your back, arms, and shoulders. They are a versatile exercise that, depending on your grip, can alter the focus and intensity of the workout.

Overhead Press

This powerhouse move targets your shoulders, triceps, and even your core, enhancing your upper body strength and posture.

Bent Over Row

By challenging you to lift weight against gravity while in a bent position, this exercise strengthens the entire back and improves muscular balance and posture.


Often referred to as the upper body squat, dips heavily target your triceps and chest, contributing to arm and chest development.

Bicep Curls

A fundamental exercise for arm hypertrophy, bicep curls are crucial for building arm size and strength.

Tricep Pushdowns

For those aiming for well-defined arms, tricep pushdowns focus on the back of the arms, promoting symmetry and strength.

Incline Dumbbell Press

This variation of the bench press puts more emphasis on the upper chest, contributing to a more balanced and fully developed chest.

Pendlay Rows

Named after the legendary weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay, this rowing variation builds explosive strength in the back, enhancing both size and power.

Lateral Raises

Ideal for targeting the side deltoids, lateral raises widen your shoulders, contributing to that sought-after V-shaped upper body.

Face Pulls

A unique exercise that targets the rear deltoids and traps, face pulls are essential for improving shoulder health and posture.

Are you ready to take on these challenges and transform your upper body? Stay tuned as we delve deeper into creating a workout regimen that brings these exercises to life, ensuring you’re on the fast track to hypertrophy success.

Expert Tips and Insights on Best Hypertrophy Exercises

According to Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., CSCS, a professor of exercise science at Lehman College in New York and a leading authority on muscle hypertrophy, progressive overload is the most important factor for muscle growth. This means increasing the amount of weight or reps over time to challenge the muscles and stimulate growth.

Schoenfeld recommends allowing adequate rest between sets and exercises to maximize muscle recovery and growth. A general guideline is to rest for 2-3 minutes between sets of upper-body exercises to allow for sufficient recovery.

Furthermore, Mike Israetel, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Temple University and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, recommends focusing on the time your muscles spend under tension during each set. A longer TUT can lead to more muscle damage and growth, so aim for 30-60 seconds per set for upper-body exercises.

Lastly, take a look at this Instagram post from JPS Elite Personal Trainers where they offer some valuable tips on Hypertrophy exercises:

Additional Tips and Advice

Below are some additional tips pertaining to your nutrition and rest to keep in mind for when you do the best hypertrophy exercises. Let’s take a look.

Pre-Workout Nutrition and Hydration

What you consume before hitting the gym can make or break your workout:

  • A meal rich in complex carbs provides the sustained energy needed for intense workouts.
  • Drinking water before, during, and after your workout keeps your performance at its peak and aids in recovery.
  • A moderate amount of protein pre-workout can kickstart the muscle repair process early.

Post-Workout Recovery and the Importance of Sleep

The period after your workout is crucial for muscle growth. Here’s how to optimize your recovery:

  • Consuming a mix of carbs and protein after your workout replenishes energy stores and aids in muscle repair.
  • Consider supplements like BCAAs or creatine to support recovery and growth, but remember, they’re supplementary to a balanced diet.
  • Quality sleep is when most muscle repair and growth occur. Aim for 7-9 hours per night to ensure your body fully recovers.


The journey to hypertrophy is as rewarding as the destination, offering not just physical transformation but also lessons in discipline, resilience, and self-improvement. 

As you embark on this path, remember that every lift, every meal, and every night of rest is a step closer to your goal. Embrace the process, celebrate your progress, and keep pushing forward with the best hypertrophy exercises. The ultimate reward is not just a more muscular upper body, but the realization of your full potential.

Key Points

  • The best hypertrophy exercises involve exercises with increased range of motion, more time under tension, greater load, and a focus on the eccentric portion of the lift.
  • For maximizing muscle growth, compound exercises like bench presses, squats, and deadlifts are highly beneficial.
  • An efficient hypertrophy workout plan for advanced lifters includes exercises such as bench presses, pull-ups, seated dumbbell shoulder presses, bent-over barbell rows, and barbell bicep curls.
  • The best hypertrophy programs are tailored to the individual’s experience level, with specific templates recommended for new lifters and more advanced options available for seasoned lifters.
  • Nutrition, particularly a balance of proteins and carbohydrates, plays a crucial role in supporting muscle growth and recovery.
  • Quality sleep and proper recovery are essential for muscle repair and growth, highlighting the importance of rest in any hypertrophy training regimen.
  • Understanding the difference between strength training vs weight training is vital for targeted muscle growth, with strength training focusing on increasing overall muscle strength and weight training often involving higher reps for muscle endurance and size.
  • Consistency, technique, progression, and a well-rounded approach to training, nutrition, and recovery are key to achieving significant upper-body hypertrophy.


What Type of Exercise is Best for Hypertrophy?

For maximizing muscle hypertrophy, exercises that incorporate an increased range of motion, more time under tension, greater loads, and a longer eccentric portion of the lift are typically most effective. 

Muscle hypertrophy also benefits significantly from Maximal Voluntary Isometric Contraction (MVIC) and proper loading/unloading techniques. Compound movements like bench presses, squats, and deadlifts, which target multiple muscle groups, are particularly beneficial for stimulating muscle growth.

What is the Most Efficient Hypertrophy Training?

An efficient hypertrophy training plan for advanced lifters includes a mix of exercises that target major muscle groups with adequate volume and intensity to stimulate growth. A sample workout plan might look like this:

  • Bench Press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Pull-Ups or Weighted Pull-Ups: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Barbell Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

This plan focuses on key exercises that promote muscle hypertrophy by challenging the muscles with sufficient resistance and volume.


Follow Valen Steven for a dose of fitness enthusiasm, evidence-based advice, and a roadmap to achieving your health and wellness goals.

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