Ask anyone to compile a list of their favorite celebrity physiques and chances are both Dwayne Johnson’s and Henry Cavill’s toned bodies are on top of it. But did you know that their superhero status is a result of the work they’ve done with renowned trainer and kinesiologist Dave Rienzi?
Speak against Men’s health, Rienzi explains how he started working with Johnson in 2010. At the time, The Rock was looking for a trainer who could also manage his injuries sustained from years of playing soccer (oval not round) and competing in pro wrestling. He has since picked up Cavill as a client as well, saying that while the pair have great genetics, their size is also down to hard work.
“Genetics definitely play a role,” says Rienzi, “but it’s also hard work and discipline. I also think a lot of people don’t understand the importance of nutrition, and how to eat consistently if you want to gain muscle.
“I think it’s a combination of genetics, but pure hard work and the passion they put into it, and the priority they have for their fitness goals.”
But what’s the point of coming to Men’s health if we can’t provide a shortcut or two? We asked Rienzi for 5 exercises to prioritize over all others. So if he – and by extension Black Adam and Superman – could only do 5 exercises for the rest of their lives, these are the moves they’d choose.
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(Barbell) hip thrusts
- Lie with your upper back on a bench and your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
- Rest a dumbbell on the crease of your hips and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position.
Rienzi says: “It’s just such an effective exercise for isolating the glutes. The glutes play such a key role in athletic performance, minimizing the risk of injury and reducing the risk of knee pain or lower back pain. So I’d put the hip thrusts on top doing glute posterior chain exercises.”
- Stand up straight with your hands at your sides, palms facing your body. Lunge as far forward as you can with your right leg and bend your back knee so that it almost touches the floor.
- Use the heel of your right foot to push your upper body back to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
- You can perform this exercise with dumbbells to make it more challenging.
Rienzi says:For legs, I’m a big fan of lunges. I like the unilateral movement. So I like the challenge of it. It’s an exercise where you get a really nice deep stretch, and it isolates the legs really, really well. It’s definitely my favorite leg exercise and one exercise I’ve found has given me the most results.”
Dumbbell bench press
- Lie on a flat bench and hold two dumbbells above your chest with an overhand grip.
- Push up until your arms are straight, then lower in a controlled manner.
Rienzi says: “For chest, I have to go with a barbell bench press, an old-fashioned flat barbell bench press. I like the movement and I like the stability of it. Interestingly enough, and you’ll see it in our Black Adam workouts, I like to do high-rep- stuff with the flat bench press. Doing 20 rep sets of a moderate to moderately heavy weight is extremely challenging and really gets a lot of blood pumped into the muscle.”
T bar rows
- Load one side of a barbell with weight and secure the other end in a corner of the gym.
- Spread the bar and grab it by the weighted end. Pull the bar toward your chest, keeping your elbows tight against your body and squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
- Lower to the starting position and repeat.
Rienzi says:T-bar rows are one of my favorites. There’s just something about that exercise; it really, really targets the lats and hits the lats hard as you go up at the top and you pause and hold that peak contraction. You really feel the muscles working. It’s just a great overall exercise to build size on the lats.”
Dumbbell lateral raises
- Choose a pair of dumbbells and stand beside you, palms facing your body. Keeping your upper body still – that means no swinging – lift the dumbbells to your sides with a slight bend of your elbows.
- Raise until your arms are parallel to the floor, then slowly lower to the starting position.
Rienzi says:For shoulders, I love barbell side raises. They really get that cap of the shoulder right. I do a lot of techniques with that where I alternate them from a static position, so you really maximize the tension on the side of the deltoid. It’s also a really crazy burn if done right.”