The Rock’s Workout Video Shows Why He’s a Traps King

The Rock’s Workout Video Shows Why He’s a Traps King

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is as well-known as any cultural figure as a wrestler, an actor, and increasingly as an entrepreneur—but the big man is a musclehead at heart. He has one of the most discussed (and most often replicated) workout regimens in the fitness world. When he opens up to his massive following and posts a clip of his training, people (read: us) pay attention.

Most recently, Johnson shared a clip of an exercise that doesn’t often make his training day highlight tapes. The video shows the Black Adam actor standing within a weight rack, blasting Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” and gripping a barbell with both heavily chalked-up hands. He shrugs his shoulders to lift the bar straight up, close to his torso, pauses for a beat, straining to keep the weight up, then lowers back down. He’s ripping through the reps deliberately, taking a moment at the bottom position between each rep before a quick gathering movement into the next one.

If you didn’t already recognize the exercise, Johnson is doing shrugs. The movement can be a valuable tool to build up your traps muscles, especially when you use a barbell with a heavy load. We can’t see exactly how many plates Johnson has on the bar, but if you listen closely, you can hear clanks—so it seems that he’s using one of his favorite gym tools, metal chains, to provide some variable resistance to his workout (he also called out the chains in the post’s caption). While Johnson cheats a bit with the dip between reps to help manage the weight, he’s still able to finish through each lift with good form.

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Johnson also avoids two common mistakes people usually make when they do shrugs. First, he’s simply raising the weight up and down. Some bro science holds that you should roll your shoulders through each rep—that’s not useful. You’re wasting movement and missing out on trap engagement when you do anything other than lifting straight up and down. Secondly, Johnson is keeping his gaze straight ahead instead of looking down at the weight. He’s not doing that just to mug to the camera; he’s keeping spine in a neutral position, which allows you to engage the traps correctly.

Want to use shrugs in your own workouts? Consider swapping out the barbell and use a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells to start so you can focus on your form. Check out our guide for the movement here.

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.

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