3 Muscle Building Tips From the Rock’s Strength Coach

  • Strength and conditioning coach Dave Rienzi said three tips from the Rock’s workouts can boost your gains. 
  • Negative or eccentric reps increase tension during exercise to build more strength and muscle. 
  • Exercises like earthquake bar presses and barbell hip thrusts can also help max out strength. 

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s strength coach shared three key tips for maxing out your strength in the gym, which the Rock himself said he includes in his training. 

Strength and conditioning coach Dave Rienzi, who co-founded the ZOA energy drink brand with Johnson, shared the advice in a June 22 Instagram post.

The tips include specific exercises and techniques you can add to your current workout to gain muscle and build overall strength and fitness, like negative reps and stability training. 

Negative reps can boost muscle-building

Rienzi’s number one tip is to include negative reps — the part of an exercise that involves lengthening the muscle or lowering weight. 

Also called eccentric exercise, negatives create a lot of tension on the muscle, which is ideal for making gains to both strength and muscle size. Typically, negatives are done on a slower tempo, such as a count of three, for even more tension. 

Examples include the lowering portion of a leg press, squat, or bench press, or bringing the weight back to the starting position in a shoulder press or bicep curl. 

Rienzi recommends slowing the reps so they last about four seconds, and using the technique for two to three exercises per workout for best results. 

Negatives can also help you work on more challenging exercises and variations and also build strength, with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, especially as a beginner, experts previously told Insider. By focusing on the eccentric exercise, you can build the muscles for moves like pull-ups even if you can’t do any yet. 

Stability training creates more resistance for better gains

Rienzi’s second tip is to work on stability drills, particularly for the upper body.

His example is an earthquake bar bench press. Unlike a traditional barbell, which uses weight plates that slide onto the bar itself for secure and even weight, the earthquake bar is loaded by hanging weights on either end. 

The result is that the weights shake during the exercise, creating additional resistance from multiple directions and forcing your body to work harder to control the movement. Research suggests the exercise can activate more muscles and help boost your gains. 

Posterior chain exercises can build big lower body muscles

Rienzi’s third and final tip is to include exercises like barbell hip thrusts and reverse hyperextensions, which work the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and low back. As some of the largest muscle groups in the body, the posterior chain is key for generating explosive power.

Heavy compound exercises that hit multiple muscles at the same time are an efficient way to build muscle and strength, without spending long hours in the gym. 

Targeting each muscle group twice a week is enough for gains, experts previously told Insider. 

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