7 Best High-Intensity Exercises to Get a Muscular Upper Body like Mike Mentzer

Achieve muscular upper body like Mike Mentzer with these exercises. (Image by @mentzerhd via Instagram)
Achieve muscular upper body like Mike Mentzer with these exercises. (Image by @mentzerhd via Instagram)
Ruby khanna

Mike Mentzer was a well-known American IFBB professional bodybuilder, author, and businessman. His training style was basically developed from high-intensity exercises founded by Arthur Jones in 1970. Mentzer preferred heavy weights for his exercises and used drop sets, rest-pauses, and pre-fatigue techniques to complete his workouts.

Mentzer used to believe that exercising at a high level of intensity was essential for size gain and strength, and his upper body and overall physique were proof that high-intensity exercises could do wonders if performed correctly and consistently.

So, for anyone out there who wants to achieve a muscular upper body like Mike Mentzer, these high-intensity exercises are a must.

High-intensity exercises to get an upper body like Mike Mentzer

1) Bench press

The bench press helps develop several muscles in your upper body, including the pectoralis major of your chest, the anterior deltoids in your shoulders, and the triceps of your upper arm.


  • Lie down on a flat bench.
  • Hold a barbell with your hands using an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Engage your core muscles and press your feet into the floor.
  • Slowly lower the barbell towards your chest and then press it back to the start.

2) Dumbbell overhead press

A dumbbell overhead or a dumbbell shoulder press is a weightlifting exercise that not only targets the muscles in your upper body but also your trapezius, lower back muscles, glutes, and triceps.


  • Stand or sit upright and keep your back straight.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a firm grip at shoulder level. Keep your knuckles facing up and thumbs inside.
  • Slowly start to raise the dumbbell above your head at a controlled pace.
  • Pause at the top of the motion and then return the weights to your shoulders.
  • Repeat.

3) Burpees

Burpees are a very effective high-intensity upper body exercise that help develop full-body strength and endurance and offer result-worthy cardio training.


  • Get into a squat position. Keep your back straight, knees bent, and feet at a shoulder-width distance.
  • Lower your hands to the ground in front of you, and with your entire weight on your hands, push back your feet so that you are on your toes and hands in a push-up position.
  • Perform one push-up, but do not allow your back to sag. Once done, kick back by jumping your feet to the initial position.
  • Stand upright and bring your arms over your head. Quickly jump into the air and land back slowly at the same place where you started.
  • As you land with your knees bent, simultaneously take a squat position and complete another repetition.

4) Lateral raise

A lateral raise is a shoulder workout that targets the trapezius in your upper back and the deltoid in your shoulders.


  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Engage your core, keep your spine straight, and slowly lift the dumbbells out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting point.
  • Make sure you don’t raise your shoulder blades during the exercise; instead engage your deltoid muscles.

5) Bent over row

The bent over row is one of the best upper body exercises for building muscles in your back. This exercise can be done either using a dumbbell or barbell.


  • Hold a barbell with an overhand grip at shoulder-width outside yur legs.
  • Slightly bend your knees, hinging them from your hips, and keep your shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Pull the barbell up to your sternum level and then lower it back slowly to the initial position.
  • Perform the move at a controlled pace.

6) Incline flye

The incline flye is an isolation workout that works on the upper chest muscles and activates the upper pecs, offering a muscular look.


  • Lie straight back on an incline bench.
  • Hold the dumbbells over your chest with your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing towards each other.
  • As you inhale, lower the dumbbells until you feel a stretch in your shoulders or chest muscles.
  • Exhale and bring the dumbbells back to the initial point.
  • Return the weights to the centre once you’ve completed the desired reps.

7) Sled push slam

The sled push slam improves your upper body conditioning and increases your muscular endurance. This exercise requires you to sprint, which should be super-intense because you are pushing a sled.


  • Start with loading weights on the sled. Load at least 70% of your maximum pushing capacity.
  • Once loaded, push the sled explosively with all your strength as fast as you can until you are unable to move it.
  • Repeat.


Being a famous bodybuilder like Mike Mentzer is not easy. It requires years of hard work and consistency to achieve success. But, it’s never too late to start - so, if your ultimate goal is to achieve a muscular upper body like the legendary bodybuilder, start training today. Stay consistent, lift regularly, and eat right – all these are the key to attaining incredible upper body muscles.

Edited by Sabine Algur


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