In the battle for bulging biceps, Hollywood’s turned into a full, well, arms race.
While stars get more shameless with on-screen flexes, those superhero physiques aren’t faked. These guys are putting in work.
Dwayne Johnson’s so committed to his workouts that he’s got a mobile version of his bananas Iron Paradise home gym that travels with him to movie sets. Mark Wahlberg’s insane training starts at 2:30 am. And Terry Crews lifts for at least one hour, five days a week.
Props to these guys and those pythons. Here are 10 celebs with next-level arms—and the exact workouts that produced their camera-ready cannons.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock’s biceps date back to his WWE days but his Instagram proves he’s still putting in the work today.
DJ’s arm-building workout includes barbell curls, cable curls, preacher curls and reverse curls, according to a Muscle and Fitness interview.
The Rock doesn’t just lift a few heavy reps and expect to see gains—although he definitely doesn’t shy away from a fully stacked barbell—and most of his exercises range from 8 to 12 reps for a few sets.
He’s also a big fan of the EZ bar—as evident by this Instagram post—which offers better range of motion and less strain on your wrists.
This Aussie never disappoints and his workouts are proof that Thor’s guns aren’t CGI. Personal trainer, Luke Zocchi, told Men’s Health that when training for Thor: Ragnorak, Hemsworth wanted to be more functional than big. “He hated being big and not being able to move.”
“We still did traditional bodybuilding, but added in a lot more functional movements,” Zocchi said, describing their quality-over-quantity approach. “We’d train 3 to 4 times a week and hit the main muscle groups.”
For a serious Thor-like pump, Zocchi said Hemsworth’s arm-busting workout focused around supersets, pairing standing cable bicep curls with standing cable tricep bar push-downs, standing dumbbell curls with bench tricep dumbbell skull crushers, and seated dumbbell incline curls with cable tricep rope push downs.
When he’s not hosting America’s Got Talent, Crews is in the gym one to two hours five days a week. If you can get past the 54-year old’s washboard abs, you’ll notice some seriously shredded arms.
Crews told SixPackAbs.com that his two favorite, “simplest, most wonderful” bicep-building exercises are straight barbell curls with a 45-pound bar and two 45-pound plates.
For added muscle separation and definition, Crews adds in wide-grip pull-ups.
Celeb Health Habits
Peep any of the Hollywood multiphypenate’s Instagram post and you’ll see he’s always flexing (usually at 4 am). If you had Wahlberg-like biceps, high chance you would too. A staunch supporter—and investor—of the gym F45, Wahlberg is always getting a pump in one of their LA facilities.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Wahlberg shared one of his favorite biceps exercises: a curl lunge with a twist.
Perform a two-arm bicep curl as you descend into a lunge position. At the bottom of the lunge, twist the weights overhead into a press.
While this complex exercise keeps Wahlberg in shape at 51, he never shies away from straight curls either (as he effortlessly lifts these 30-pound dumbbells in this Instagram post).
Evans was your typical “college workout”-type before training for Captain America—he focused on big arms and strong abs, trainer Simon Waterson told Business Insider.
While the two worked hard to mix in heavy lifting and dynamic circuits to improve “the aesthetic and the athletic” movement required for the role, Evans still needed to keep his already bulging bis in Marvel shape.
“We would take two muscle groups, whether it was chest and back or biceps and triceps and we would just destroy those muscles, literally, for about two hours,” Evans told Men’s Health. This kept Evans’ muscles stimulated for maximum growth.
Superman has ungodly strength, but Cavill doesn’t lift heavy. His workouts are higher reps with lower weight to get “as much blood as possible” in his muscles, he told CelebWell. “You’re doing micro tears and you’re creating size in the muscle and not necessarily a huge amount of strength,” Cavill says.
Strength coach Dave Rienzi—who also trains The Rock—shared one of Cavill’s go-to arm busters with Men’s Health: isometric-hold biceps curls. Isometric exercises build and maintain muscle, while stabilizing your joints for less pain and reduced risk of injury.
Here’s how to do it: Curl both dumbbells and hold at the top. Squeeze your right biceps muscle and lower the left dumbbell. Curl that dumbbell back up. Then squeeze your left biceps and lower the right dumbbell.
Hollywood’s funny frontman has completely changed his physique over the years thanks to help from his full-time trainer Ross Everline.
Given Hart hates leg day (“He thinks I’m always trying to make his butt big,” Everline told Muscle and Fitness), the star goes big on his arms.
Everline doesn’t train Hart with Olympic lifts or complex machines, but instead goes old-school with push-ups, rows, curls, and dips in circuit-style formats to crush Hart’s upper body and give his arms a stand-up appearance.
Hart takes his gun show on the road; he’s even been known to do 500 pushups in the middle of a plane cabin.
After being cast as Drax the Destroyer in Avengers, Bautista wanted to look more like a superhero, he told Men’s Journal. He hired trainer Jon Bennett and the two focused on a three-day training split of push, pull, and leg days. Bautista’s biceps got work on the pull days with reps ranging from six on the low end all the way up to 12.
Exercises like single-arm dumbbell preacher curls, incline curls, and single-arm machine rows were performed at slower and more controlled tempos. “It really was complete muscle isolation,” Bautista said.
From Les Mis to Wolverine, Jackman has always been, well, jacked. When training for X-Men: Days of Future Past, Jackman worked with trainer David Kingsbury to “adapt and improve the previous plan to take Hugh to the next level,” Kingsbury told Muscle and Fitness.
The 5-day training routine was geared towards maximizing muscle growth and biceps were on the menu twice a week. Exercises included standing Zottoman biceps curls, dumbbell hammer curls, cross body curls, and the classic barbell biceps curl.
More recently, Jackman’s been in the gym with trainer John Quint and posted this Instagram of some one-arm preacher curls.
Stand with your feet staggered and lean one arm over a 45-degree angled bench. Curl the weight towards you keeping your arm flat on the bench. Squeeze your biceps at the top and slowly lower back to the starting position.
The English actor—known for his roles in Umbrella Academy and Game of Thrones—has a great tip for building his biceps; manmakers.
Hopper told Men’s Health that manmakers not only produce solid biceps but also tackle a full body workout in one go.
“A manmaker is basically a lot of stuff on the floor,” Hopper said. This includes exercises like push-ups, dumbbell rows, and thrusters using two dumbbells. “What’s great about that is you get multiple reps of various different movements, all compound movements—you’re using more muscle parts.”