Dr. Mike Israetel’s Bodybuilding Notes



  1. It’s easier to gain muscle when you’re lean.
  2. Don’t be too restrictive in your diet – it won’t work. Allow yourself some freedoms so you can stick to it.
  3. Have a healthy relationship with food – don’t rush your goals at this expense. He goes as far to say that, « If you don’t have the healthiest relationship with food, it’s imperative to work on that BEFORE you start a diet. »
  4. Muscles have different ‘MRV’s, or Maximum Recoverable Volume. This is the recommended number of sets you should do for each muscle each week. Knowing how they vary can help you plan your training. For example, in the article, Dr. Israetel says side delts can handle around 25 working sets per week. (I don’t do nearly that much, do you?)
  5. He recommends starting with the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) for growth, progressing up to the MRV, then once progression is no longer sustainable without excessive fatigue, deloading.
  6. The minimum hypertrophy threshold is around 60% of your 1RM. Increasing too far above this level of intensity will cause a disproportionate amount of fatigue (bad, if your only goal is muscle).
  7. Some lifts have limiting factors that need to be brought up for them to improve, such as the Deadlift. Other lifts may have limiting factors, but do not require you to specialize on a specific weak muscle (Bench Press).
  8. Varying your training is important for muscle growth, as your body gets used to the stimulus it’s given. This isn’t on the scale of weeks, but rather several months.
  9. You cannot train all of your muscles to their MRV at once due to the limitations of your body’s overall recovery. He recommends focusing on several muscle groups at once while maintaining others to deal with this.
  10. Going to failure will produce slightly more stimulus, but MUCH more fatigue. Use failure sparingly.
  11. As you progress, you will likely have to reduce your volume / frequency to allow adequate recovery. Just one reason to not blindly follow someone else’s program.
  12. Cardio burns more calories for an equal amount of stress – if weight loss is your only goal, don’t wreck yourself lifting or you won’t be able to recover from cardio. His opinion is that anyone who ignores either cardio or reducing food intake is doing themselves a disservice.
  13. Flat and Incline Barbell Bench are the best for chest hypertrophy. Learn to arch! He recommends 15-25 sets per week, for chest.
  14. Because dumbbells require more stability, they should be used for volume, not intensity.
  15. Compound movements for chest take care of most of your front delt training. Additional work should be only 6-10 sets per week, after your chest training.
  16. Side delts should be hit with variations of upright rows and lateral raises (not for your lats). Your technique is especially critical for your side delts to make sure you hit the muscle directly and reduce injury risk. They recover quickly, so MRV of 20-30 sets per week.
  17. Rear delts are hit mostly through rowing, but if improving your rear delts is a big goal, train them very frequently (like every workout).
  18. Arms -> High frequency. Especially your triceps.
  19. Dr. Israetel says he never does cheat curls, but rather sticks to strict technique. Make sure you’re not just feeding your ego. Do you want to look like you’re lifting a lot, or do you want to look like you lift?
  20. For biceps, somewhere around 15-30 sets is your MRV, bets spread out over many sessions (remember, high frequency).
  21. For triceps, Overhead Triceps Extensions, Skull Crushers, Dips, and Close Grip Bench. MRV of 15-20 sets.
  22. Most of your grip training will be done through your other movements, like pulling. If you choose to train your forearms, though, your MRV is around 10-15 sets a week.
  23. Quads can take 15-25 sets a week. The stronger you are, the lower this will be. He recommends having heavy days and light days, due to how fatiguing quad training can be. Oh and heavy leg extensions suck.
  24. Proper technique and form are crucial. He mentions how he does 445lbs for leg press despite having huge quads. Heavy is for compound movements, not isolation moves. We’ve all heard going lighter and focusing on working the muscle, but how many of us actually do it?
  25. Compounds > Isolation, but isolation moves have their place.
  26. Squat.
  27. Hit hamstrings with both hip extension movements and knee flexion movements. (he says Leg Curls specifically, but those aren’t the only knee flexion movements that will suffice). Hamstrings can take longer to recover than other muscles.
  28. Calf exercises should include a deep stretch to maximize muscle damage. If your calves don’t feel sore, you should train them.
  29. For back exercises, stick to 15 to 30 sets per week, depending on your MRV. Stick to strict form, full ROM, and the basic exercises, like rows and pull ups. Also, be patient. If you want a big back, you gotta train for years.
  30. Most trap training comes from other bodypart training, so MRV for direct trap work is around 10-15 sets. Start from full scapular depression and hold at the top.
  31. For glutes, do glute bridges, lunges, glute-ham raise, sumo squats, sumo deadlifts, glute pull-throughs, and glute machine kickbacks. For compound movements like squats, the lower the better, but for isolation exercises, squeeze at the peak contraction.
  32. Different forms of deadlifting have different effects on your muscle growth. If you aren’t sure what they are, then seriously, read the article. Also, keep frequency low.

I left out a LOT of quality information – these are just a few of the key takeaways from his notes. If you read through my list but haven’t read the article yet, then just trust me, his notes are way better than mine. Dr. Israetel is both highly educated and very experienced. What more can you ask for?


Lyle on GI.

Carbohydrates Part 1: Classification and Digestion


Carbohydrates Part 2: Glycemic Index

Ideas to Get as Lean as Possible – Christian Thibaudeau

Eat to make your body as healthy as possible. If it’s not, it will fight you during fat loss process.

Specifically I’m talking about reducing the acid load on your body and fighting low grade systemic inflammation.

Both impair most metabolic processes including fat loss and muscle growth.

For years I made my progress much harder than it should have been (of course I didn’t realize it at the time) by only thinking in term of carbs, protein and fats.

So before thinking about intermittent fasting or a ketogenic diet, do the following:

  1. Eat a lot more green veggies than anything else, and have them in ALL of your meals.
  2. Replace meat by fish. In fact most of your protein should come from fish and eggs (start with half white fish and half salmon and as the diet progresses switch to all white fish and shrimps). Basically avoid meat (because it is pro-inflamatory) and only have chicken occasionally.
  3. Take a « GREENS » supplement like SUPERFOOD twice a day.
  4. Drop all grains except rice in a moderate amount.
  5. Pineapple, mangoes and berries are good choices for carbs but obviously stick to a decent daily carbs amount.
  6. Take CURCUMIN 3x per day with meal along with a fish oil.
  7. I would suggest a lowish carbs approach… maybe 100-150g of carbs per day to start with and add MCT oil for energy if needed
  8. Drink 15g of sodium bicarbonate (arm and hammer) in the morning and evening. I mix mine in water with some sugar free flavoring.
  9. The only nuts you can take are almonds
  10. Avoid dairy products
  11. Your only shake should be your peri-workout drink