By Becky Randel | Photography by Evelyn Robles

Dave Rienzi is responsible for some of South Florida’s hottest bodies, including the strong, fat-free physique of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (check out recent pictures of him filming “Baywatch” in Miami for proof). In 2014, after years of working privately with his clients, Rienzi opened Rienzi Strength & Conditioning (705 Shotgun Road, Sunrise; rienzistrength.com), which, he says, “brings together the industry’s best fitness specialists with individuals who are serious about change and getting the most out of their workouts.”

The elite staff works privately with the likes of NFL athletes, celebrities and professional wrestlers—in addition to The Rock, who Rienzi has been training since 2011. Rienzi explains that he’s had to create a host of unique exercises for Johnson due to his diverse film slate. “He continuously modifies his physique for roles,” Rienzi says. “As a result, his training protocol is constantly changing and requires great attention to detail.”

Naturally, the two have become very close. “We consider ourselves brothers,” he adds.
Fortunately, you don’t have to star in a “Fast & Furious” sequel to benefit from Rienzi’s expertise.
The workout guru, who’s also a professional bodybuilder, offers five tips to help you tighten up for swimsuit season—including the much-buzzed-about stomach vacuum technique.


  1. Fasted Cardio: Cardio training first thing in the morning—on an empty stomach—is an excellent way to burn fat. In a fasted state, your body will utilize stored fat as its primary fuel source. Intensity is key. Keep your heart rate between 130 and 140 beats per minute.
  2. Train your transverse abdominals: The deepest of the abdominal muscles lies below the rectus abdominis. The key to activate the TVA is to perform the stomach vacuum: Lie on your back with your knees bent and tuck your hips slightly. Blow all of the air out of your lower abdomen, pull your belly button as far as you can and hold it. Take shallow breaths and end the set when you can no longer hold the contraction. Perform three sets each workout, starting with a 20-second interval per set; the goal, ultimately, is to reach a 60-second hold period.
  3. Time your rest periods: This is a simple way to increase the efficiency of your workout. For compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pressing), keep the rest period between 60 and 90 seconds. For isolation movements/single-joint movements (curls, kickbacks, lateral raises), keep rest periods between 30 and 45 seconds.
  4. Add in plyometric movements: Plyometric movements are explosive exercises that require maximal muscle fiber recruitment and power output. This elevates your heart rate and burns more calories. Add one to two plyometric exercises to each workout. Try box jumps and lunge jumps on lower-body days, and medicine ball overhead slams and medicine ball chest passes against a wall on upper-body days. Perform three sets with 10 to 15 reps of each.
  5. Get eccentric and stimulate new muscle growth: The eccentric phase of the repetition (or negative) is the portion of the rep where the muscle lengthens. To start implementing this technique, focus on controlling the weight slowly on the way down. This may require you to decrease the weight you normally use. It’s a highly effective technique that will fatigue the muscle more with significantly lighter weight.

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