All photos: Instagram
What makes The Rock’s workouts unique? There’s the intensity, but there’s also some exercises. The Rock also has an amazing home gym. (In fact, he has more than one.) Iron Paradise probably has equipment not found in the place you workout, like a belt squat machine, for example. So, in selecting the following five exercises, we’ve limited ourselves to those you can do in almost any training space. These are the five exercises that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does that you probably don’t do but probably should do. Give them a try.
1. MACHINE SPLIT SQUAT (A.K.A. THE MUTHAF*CKAS)
HOW TO: Set up in a split-stance position. Your forward foot remains flat on the floor; stay on the toes of your trailing foot. Drop straight down by further bending your knees. At the bottom, touch your trailing knee to the floor (your forward thigh should be approximately parallel to the floor; your trailing thigh should remain horizontal throughout each rep). Return to the starting position. These can be done on a vertical squat machine, like The Rock, or a Smith machine.
THE ROCK SAYS: “Slow tempo: 2 seconds down, 2 second pause at bottom of movement, 2 seconds up. 3 sets. Rep range: failure. These are nicknamed ‘The Muthaf*ckas’ so have fun.”
2. THIGH ABDUCTION
HOW TO: Thigh abduction (a.k.a. hip abduction) is the movement of the legs away from the midline of the body. A lot of guys have never sat in the adduction/abduction machine, thinking it’s a “girl thing”; or, if they have, it’s more likely they’ve only done adductions, working the inner, upper thighs. The Rock acknowledges this, but he’s man enough to do abductions because they work areas he might otherwise miss—the smaller butt muscles (gluteus minimus, gluteus medius), and the outer hips (tensor fasciae latae). From a legs-together position at the start, pull your legs apart as far as possible.
THE ROCK SAYS: “After supersetting leg extensions & leg curls, as a finisher I’ll end with the abductor machine. Slow tempo till failure, then half reps till failure again. Prefer taking my arms and grip out of the movement by crossing them, to ensure strictly working glutes…Be intense, challenge yourself & remember this shit is hard, so work your ass off and have a little fun.”
3. WIDE ONE-ARM PULLDOWN
HOW TO: The Rock does this on a Hammer Strength iso-lateral row machine, gripping the outer lever bar, not the handle. The key is to begin each rep with your arm up and reaching as far out as possible, so your elbow is only slightly bent. (The Rock is 6’5”. You’re probably shorter, so stand on plates or blocks, if necessary.) Then pull your elbow down and in to your side. If your gym doesn’t have this Hammer Strength machine, use a single D-handle attached to an overhead cable (at a pulldown or cable crossover station), reach up and out, and take a wide stance to give yourself a firm base.
THE ROCK SAYS: “Blood flow finisher. If your gym has an iso-lateral high row, try coming to the outside and change your grip to high and wide. Control your movement for an insane isolated lat stretch and contraction.”
4. SEATED LEANING DUMBBELL SHRUG
HOW TO: This works both the upper trapezius on your shoulders and the mid and lower trapezius on your back. While seated and holding two dumbbells, lean slightly forward. Keep your elbows bent so you can bring them higher and better target your mid-back (lower trapezius). Squeeze your scapula at contractions.
THE ROCK SAYS: “Finishing exercise: slight forward lean shrugs hitting deep in the lower traps. Relentless sweating and inaudible grizzly bear grunts are mandatory.”
5. NECK RAISES
HOW TO: If your gym doesn’t have a neck machine, you can get a good workout doing neck raises (forward, left, right, rear) off a bench or at home off your bed. If you’ve never trained your neck before, skip resistance, get full reps and go for high-rep sets (up to 100 per direction). As you grow stronger, you can add resistance, like The Rock, by holding a plate (cushioned with a towel) against your head.
THE ROCK SAYS: “Years of pounding from football and wrestling forced me to always work my neck. Extremely beneficial and I highly recommend you guys stretch out and work your neck muscles a few times a week. We all live crazy stressful lives and that stress goes directly to your neck and back. Keep those areas strong. Talkin’ to all you ladies, too. The 45lb. plate and thick silverback neck is optional.”