How Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Uses Drop Sets for a Brutal Shoulder Workout Finisher

The "Black Adam" star leaves it all in the gym with this serious shoulder blaster.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson typically treats his 383 million Instagram followers to videos of his intense workouts every week. And he recently took to the ‘gram to highlight his impressive “running the rack” finisher, designed to make his shoulders look like granite. Try it yourself and see if you can hang with “The Great One.”


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A post shared by Dwayne Johnson (@therock)

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Shoulder Workout Finisher

The 6’ 4” movie giant explained that he likes to end his shoulder workouts by performing drop sets with dumbbell lateral raises. In this case, he begins with 50-pound dumbbells for 10 reps, then drops to eight reps as he performs each subsequent set with a lighter weight until he reaches the end of the rack.

Here is what Johnson attempted, taking no specific rest interval and only pausing for a few deep breaths as required.

  • 50 pounds x 10
  • 45 pounds x 8
  • 40 pounds x 8
  • 35 pounds x 8
  • 30 pounds x 8
  • 25 pounds x 8
  • 20 pounds x 8
  • 15 pounds x 8
  • 10 pounds x 8
  • 10 pounds x 8

Now, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that Johnson reached 11 reps with the 20-pound dumbbells but only hit seven when he dropped down to the 15-pounders. In his final set, he only managed six reps, although he did hold the weight for a considerable amount at the top of that final set, earning him extra points for utilizing time under tension.

As his muscles pump and fatigue sets in, it’s possible that Johnson simply miscounted, but his total number of reps still hit 82 out of the possible 82.

Tips for Lateral Raises

Indeed, lateral raises will do wonders for your shoulders, building mass and giving you a wider frame. Just make sure to follow these quick tips:

  • Stand tall
  • Keep your back straight
  • Maintain a neutral grip on the dumbbells
  • Raise your arms to the side until they are parallel to the floor


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A post shared by Dwayne Johnson (@therock)

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The Benefits of Drop Sets

Put simply, a drop set is when a lifter performs one set of an exercise, lowers the weight by 10 to 30 percent, and then does another set for similar reps with little to no rest in between. As “The Rock” showed, you can even string those drop sets together until you work your way down to failure.

And there is evidence that this intensity-boosting technique has some real upside. One study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness from 2018 compared two groups of lifters over the course of six weeks: One that performed drop sets during triceps work and one that stuck to traditional sets. It was found that both groups saw strength increases during this time, but the drop-set group also saw more muscle gain than the other group. (1)

“This is an absolute beast MF of a finisher with great volume and time under stress,” Johnson wrote in his Instagram caption. “And a phenomenal shocker to your muscles and system for progress, gains, and stamina.”


  1. Fink J, Schoenfeld BJ, Kikuchi N, Nakazato K. Effects of drop set resistance training on acute stress indicators and long-term muscle hypertrophy and strength. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018 May;58(5):597-605.

Featured Image: Mark Fann on Shutterstock