Dave Rienzi is the long-time strength and conditioning coach for Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill – responsible for the incredible physiques you see on the big screen. Think Dwayne Johnson’s sculpted build in the Fast and Furious franchise and Henry Cavill’s monster-hunting form in Netflix’s The Witcher. He is also an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder, Co-Founder and Chief Health Officer of ZOA Energy and Chief Innovation Officer at The Garcia Companies. Translation: he knows a lot about nutrition and fitness. Recently, Rienzi and The Rock took on their most ambitious transformation yet for the role of Black Adam, elevating Johnson’s physique to a whole new level.
Below, Rienzi breaks down 5 strategies he used to create the maximum impact during this transformation.
FASTED CARDIO TO GAIN MUSCLE OR GET LEANER
“This is a technique I’ve incorporated over the years using either the Stairmaster or Elliptical, and is preceded by drinking 150-200mg of caffeine to amplify fat burning. If you’re looking to gain muscle, this is an excellent way to ramp up the metabolism. It optimizes digestion and nutrient absorption, which allows you to eat the necessary amount of food to gain muscle while keeping the body fat percentage in check.
I also like to incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HITT), typically with 30-45 seconds at a high intensity followed by 1.5-2 minutes at a recovery pace. During a gaining phase, I recommend 20 mins, five times a week. And for a leaning phase, 30 mins six times a week.”
SLOW DOWN THE TEMPO OF YOUR LIFTS
“Controlling the tempo of your lifts allows you to place more tension on your muscle – this stimulates growth while minimizing stress on your joints. I recommend incorporating 3-4 second negatives for 8-10 repetitions with two of your main exercises for each muscle group.”
CONSISTENCY WITH YOUR DIET
“A meal plan is the best way to take results to the next level, setting the stage for true transformation. With consistency, you will learn what foods & macros work best for your body to help you accomplish your goals. You can then adjust your diet accordingly.
I always encourage one to two cheat meals a week, whether you’re on a strict diet or not, to create a mental break. I recommend this both during maintenance and lean-gaining phases. Cheat meals stimulate the metabolism and replenish glycogen stores. I also find them to be the key to long term adherence, as they help prevent burn out.”
PLANKS TO IMPROVE CORE STRENGTH AND STABILITY
“Adding planks to your routine significantly reduces the risk of injury while taking your athletic performance up to the next level. I incorporate various iterations of planks into my clients’ routines, from standard planks to stability ball planks to side planks.
I typically recommend incorporating 3 sets of traditional planks for 45-60 seconds, 3 times a week at the beginning of your workout. Once these become easy, progress to stability ball planks and side planks.”
TRAIN YOUR GLUTES TO IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
“Your glutes play a vital role in athletic performance. If they are not firing properly or strong enough, it can lead to knee pain, lower back pain, and increase your risk of injury. Glute training has been a big part of Dwayne Johnson’s training for years and his famous leg days always start with glute work.
To strengthen your own glutes, try an abduction with a cable or a machine, followed by a hip thrust or reverse hyperextensions. Pause and hold the peak contraction during each rep to maximize your muscles’ activation. I recommend 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise, with 2 second peak contraction holds each rep.”
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