THE ROCK IS one of the most reliable workout chroniclers in Hollywood, so it should come as no surprise when he takes to Instagram to share clips of his fitness routine. Unlike most other celebs, however, you can often learn a thing or two if you take some time to check out his iron-pumping footage.
The Black Adam star, otherwise known as Dwayne Johnson, recently posted a video of a particularly tough few sets at the Iron Paradise, his next-level at-home gym. Thanks to the clip (and his instructions in the post’s caption) we learned a little bit more about the methods the big man uses to achieve his superhero-level shape. What’s more, he specifically challenged his followers to get after it and try the workout themselves. For this Instagram-worthy workout, he targeted both chest and back in a series of supersets (meaning, he’s doing two movements back-to-back with little to no rest).
Johnson wrote that his chest-back split consisted of eight exercises total, with four stations that each featured two exercises. He’d perform those movements back-to-back in supersets—but his specific approach is something that is worth giving some attention. The video showed Johnson hitting reps of a dumbbell incline bench press, followed by a close-grip neutral cable row.
Instead of grabbing the heaviest weights he can handle and eking out a few reps, Johnson had a different goal. The aim is to hit a high volume of repetitions at a moderate weight—yes, 75 pounds apparently qualifies as “moderate” if you’re The Rock—then adjusting the tempo of the final rep to emphasize time under tension to really reap the muscle-building benefits out of the set. Twenty reps per exercise, with an extra five second hold on the final rep to really emphasize the burn. “Volume and blood,” he wrote in the caption. This is a staple of bodybuilding splits, where the focus is on getting as much work to the muscles as possible to stimulate growth.
Johnson trains with this technique often. His coach, Dave Rienzi has mentioned that he typically programs moderate weight at high repetitions in the past. “Doing 20 rep sets of a moderate to moderately heavy weight is extremely challenging, and really gets a lot of blood pumping into the muscle,” he told Men’s Health UK.
If you want to try building out the rest of this workout with the remaining three chest-back supersets, we have some suggestions: our favorite chest exercises and back exercises. Just make sure that whatever you do is with a moderate load given your own level of expertise. If that means you’re close-grip bench pressing and dumbbell rowing 20-pound weights, so be it. That volume will catch up to you quick, and by the time you hit the five second holds, you’ll be feeling a ridiculous pump.
Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.
Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.