Sussex Performance Centre

5 Exercises To Get You In Movie Superhero Shape

Ask anyone to put together a list of their favourite celebrity physiques and there’s a very good chance that both Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill’s muscle-bound bodies sit atop of it.

But did you know that their superhero statures are the result of the work they put in with celebrity trainer and kinesiologist, Dave Rienzi?

Speaking to Men’s Health, Rienzi explains how he started working with Johnson in 2010. Back then, The Rock was looking for a trainer who could also manage his injuries, sustained from years of playing football (oval not round) and competing in pro wrestling. Since then, he’s also picked up Cavill as a client, and says 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 if you want to gain muscle you need to eat and you need to eat consistently.

“I think it’s combination of genetics, but sheer hard work and the passion they put into it, and the prioritisation that they have towards their fitness goals.”

Men’s Health asked Rienzi for 5 exercises to prioritise above 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.

(Barbell) Hip Thrusts


  • Lie with your upper back resting on a bench and your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
  • Rest a barbell 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 and then slowly return to the starting position.

Rienzi says: “It’s just such an effective exercise at isolating the glutes. The glutes play such a key role in athletic performance, minimising the risk for injury and reducing the risk of knee pain of lower back pain. So I would put the hip thrusts at the top of glute posterior chain exercises.”



  • Stand upright with your hands at your side, palms facing your body. Lunge forward as far as you can with your right leg, bending your trailing knee so it almost brushes the floor. 
  • Use the heel of your right foot to push your upper body back to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg. 
  • You can perform this exercise holding dumbbells to make it more challenging.

Rienzi says: “For legs, I’m a big fan of lunges. I love the unilateral movement. So I love the challenge of it. It’s an exercise where you get a really nice deep stretch, and it really isolates the legs very well. It’s definitely my favourite leg exercise and an exercise that I’ve found has gotten me the most results.”

DB Bench

  • Lie on a flat bench holding two dumbbells over your chest with an overhand grip. 
  • Push up until your arms are straight, then lower under control.

Rienzi says: “For chest, I have to go with a dumbbell bench press, a good-old, flat dumbbell bench press. I love the movement, and I love 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 benchpress. Doing 20 rep sets of a moderate to moderately heavy weight is extremely challenging, and really gets a lot of blood pumping 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. 
  • Straddle the bar and grip it at the weighted end. Pull the bar towards your chest, keeping your elbows tight to 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 favourites. There’s just something about that exercise; it really, really target the lats and hits the lats hard when 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.”

Dumbell Lateral Raises


  • Pick a couple of dumbbells and stand with them by your sides, palms facing your body. Keeping your upper body still – that means no swinging – lift the dumbbells out to your side with a slight bend at your elbows. 
  • Lift until your arms are parallel to the floor then slowly lower to the start position.

Rienzi says: “For shoulders, I love dumbbell side lateral raises. They really get that cap of the shoulder well. I do a lot of techniques with that where I alternate them from a static hold, so you’re really maximising the tension on the side deltoid. It’s also a very crazy burn when done properly.”

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