Find Out How The Rock Uses Drop Sets To Maximize His Muscle-Building Workouts

Hands picking up heavy dumbbells from rack
(Image credit: Ridofranz / Getty Images)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson knows a thing or two about building muscle—just look at the size of his biceps. He’s also known for sharing gym tips for his 391 million Instagram followers to try.

The most recent sneak peek into his enviable Iron Paradise home gym was taken from a late-night chest, triceps, calves and cardio session. On the last set of each exercise, he employs a drop set to completely exhaust the targeted muscles. 

The video post shows him hitting a set of eight dumbbell bench presses with 100lb weights, quickly followed by an eight-rep drop set at 60lb. 

Both sets have a three-second eccentric (the downward portion of the movement), followed by a one-second pause at the chest then an explosive concentric phase, driving the weights upwards. 

Tempo training increases the time under tension of the active muscles—in this case the chest, with the shoulders and triceps playing a supporting role—which can lead to greater growth.

Drop sets are designed to take your muscles to complete failure, allowing you to squeeze every last ounce of effort out of each body part. 

They’re easy enough to use in your training too, especially when you’re training with dumbbells. Using biceps curls as an example, start by simply completing a set to failure with your working weight. Then pick up a lighter pair before cranking out another set of curls to failure using your (already fatigued) biceps. 

If done right, your proverbial guns should be smoking by the end of the final round.

Drop sets provide an alternative to the straight sets approach employed by most hypertrophy training programs, and can help you smash through plateaus and achieve a strength-boosting, muscle-building stimulus during your workout. They can also improve your muscular endurance, as an added bonus. 

The average drop set session is likely to leave your muscles unable to perform basic tasks (try touching your shoulders after the biceps finisher above), but that doesn’t stop Johnson finishing his workout with 20 minutes of light cardio. 

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.