June 12, 2020 10 min read
If those two words didn’t make you visualize a hulking man-made from slabs of muscle, you must be living under a rock.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been a mainstay on the Silver Screen for nearly two decades now, appearing in many popular films in the past few years. His trademark million-dollar smile and bulging muscles have garnered him fans all over the world—and while we might be able to help you with the latter, you’ll have to talk to your dentist about the former.
People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2016, there’s no denying that The Rock has the physique of a god, or at least a demi-god (if you’re looking at 2014’s Hercules). While his charisma and trash-talking in the WWF helped him rise to prominence, no one can deny that his sculpted body has helped to catapult him into being one of the highest-grossing box-office stars of all time.
And sculpted he is. The man looks like someone took a chisel to his namesake. And the thing is, anyone can look like The Rock with enough dedication and hard work. I know, it’s an easy thing to say and an entirely different story when it comes down to actually doing it. But Johnson’s made it easy—sharing his workouts and diets for different movie roles throughout the years. So, without further ado, let’s check out what The Rock is cooking.
While Johnson is mostly known as an actor and wrestler, he’s also a television host, producer, and author. It goes without saying that The Rock is busy. To fit his busy schedule into his life, he wakes up at 4 a.m., stretches, and does anywhere from half an hour to an hour’s worth of cardio.
In terms of working out, it can be anywhere from 3 to 4 hours—sometimes up to 6, daily. What’s important to keep in mind is that The Rock doesn’t just train for himself (even though that’s a big part of it), but he’s also training for movie roles. This means bulking, cutting, and bulking even more. At the whims of what the role calls for, Johnson not only keeps to his fitness regime religiously but also adapts his routines for what his roles call for.
For example, in the aforementioned Hercules, Johnson was eating 7 times a day rather than his regular 5. Yet he still wanted to be lean for the role, in order to exude that Herculean look as well as he could. And he definitely pulled it off. On the other hand, however, roles in movies such as G.I. Joe called for a bulkier look, taking up the namesake of his character, “Roadblock”.
And a roadblock he was (and still is). But while training like Johnson himself is a noble goal in itself, that kind of dedication to the craft takes years to fine-tune. He himself has said that bodybuilding turns into a science, where one has to bulk up in this one spot or trim something from another. While his dedication is incredible, what’s even more amazing is his adaptability. It is, after all, relatively easy to fall into the routine. It’s much more difficult to have to change your routine constantly, while also keeping up the same baseline and not falling off at any point.
So, while a lot of motivational and educational information can be gleaned from looking at The Rock’s routine, it’s just as important to applaud the man for his flexibility in adapting to different goals and requirements. This is why it’s important to set goals for yourself, record milestones, and keep up with whatever routine you set yourself. That’s what Johnson teaches us, along with teaching us how to have rippling muscles.
As we mentioned above, The Rock works out 6 days a week, for about 3 to 4 hours daily. He splits his days into legs, back, shoulders, arms/abs, legs, chest. He likes to get his workout out of the way in the morning in order to get the hard work out of the way and start off the day on the right foot.
For many of his roles, he’ll use a system called pyramiding. This essentially means starting off with a higher amount of reps and a lower weight, then slowly progressing each week into higher loads and fewer reps.
How this translates into Johnson’s workouts, is that he’ll do 4 sets of 12 reps the first week. Then, the second week might have 10 reps with a higher weight, and so on until four weeks have passed. Once a new month begins, Johnson once again starts with 12 reps, but this time with a higher weight. Although he doesn’t usually post the amount of weight he uses when he shows his fitness regime, he does max out the weight while keeping perfect form. Which is good advice in general—not just for those wanting to look like The Rock.
Here’s an example of how this could look like:
Getting in shape for a particular movie role usually takes 3 to 4 pyramids, or months, of training. Of course, this is entirely dependant on what the role calls for, and it’s not like he doesn’t train just as hard when he’s not looking towards the goal of a role. Otherwise, the 4 sets of 12 reps seem to be standard for most of his exercises.
Another interesting thing to note is the amount of cardio he does. While cardio isn’t normally associated with being bulky, The Rock maintains up to an hour of some kind of cardio, daily. This keeps his physique shredded and definitely helps when it comes to muscular endurance.
Furthermore, these workouts deal with huge amounts of volume. Make sure that you’re using weights that you’re able to maintain for the designated amount of reps and sets. It’ll help to keep track of your performance in order to be able to tell whether you should add or remove any weight the next time you do the workout. Also, make sure that you’re properly rested and have had enough to eat before attempting these workouts. These high-volume workouts will require a lot of fuel, and if you’re going through these on an empty stomach, it’ll help to supplement through the workout with some carbs.
And in terms of safety, make sure that you have the proper range of motion down before attempting to go through all of the sets and reps. Especially when it comes down to exercises such as back hyperextensions, make sure that you’re able to comfortably do them. With the volume and the range of motion, these workouts can be extra hard on your joints. Getting injured is something you want to avoid at all costs, and we’d all do well to remember that we’re not The Rock.
Day 1: Legs
Day 2: Back
Day 3: Shoulders
Day 4: Arms/Abs
Day 5: Legs
Day 6: Chest
Day 7: Rest
And on the seventh day, he rested. It’s always important to allow your body to recover, and that goes double when looking at the massive volumes shown above. However, a diet can make or break a body, so when looking at what makes The Rock, “The Rock”, then it’s just as important to look at diet.
If you follow any of Johnson’s social media accounts, you’ll probably have seen the insane amount of food the man eats. And speaking of cheat/rest days, there’s always the picture of him with 3 pizzas, 16 donuts, and 4 muffins. And something tells us that that’s not all he ate that day.
While we’re not necessarily advocating for you to go all-in on this, the amount of calories needed to keep up his physique does necessitate the amount of food he eats. More importantly, however, are the strategies he uses in order to keep on top of his diet plan.
One of the most underrated strategies is having cheat days and using them effectively. A cheat day not only gives you something to work towards but also “resets” your mindset in a way that lets you hit the pavement just as hard the next day. Much like a rest day, it’s a way for you to mentally take a break, especially if you’re on a very strict diet plan. At the same time, it’s important to not over-indulge. A cheat day shouldn’t destroy your progress, and it shouldn’t make you feel gross at the end of the day. A cheat day is a tool like any other, and there are good and bad ways of using it.
Johnson also does mean planning, especially when working towards a role’s requirements. Whether you’re trying to cut fat and lose weight or bulk up, meal planning allows you to put all of your energy into making food one night. Once all your meals are prepared for the week, it’s much easier to stick to the plan. It becomes much more difficult to add or subtract or substitute food when it’s already pre-made in some Tupperware. This has the added benefit of saving you time since you can just make a ton of food in bulk and not have to think about dishes, ingredients, seasonings, spices, etc., every single night.
And lastly, the most important aspect of Johnson’s diets is that they’re all very clean. Even when he’s bulking up for a role, he eats complex carbs and proteins. Lots of vegetables, meat, protein shakes. While his diet changes from role to role and from day to day, these are some of the mainstays;
To bulk up like Johnson and keep such a low body fat percentage, it’s absolutely necessary to eat as much and as clean as he does. Below we’ve outlined one of the regular diets that he eats from day-to-day. Following that is a 7-meal plan, which he uses when he’s trying to bulk up for a role. Eating this amount of food, and this type of food, is a job in itself, and the fact that The Rock isn’t completely sick of food by this point is just another amazing quality of his.
The following is the diet he used for roles such as Hercules and Pain & Gain. Adding another two meals to his daily routine, it’s packed with complex carbs and proteins.
Along with all the food he has to eat, Johnson is also known to take a number of supplements to turbocharge his gains.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Shakes:
Whey allows for lean muscle gains, promoting an increase in strength and muscle mass. A mainstay in any routine, whey is sure to boost your performance and strength.
This amino acid supports your immune system, gastrointestinal health, insulin secretion, and muscle protein synthesis. While your body already produces enough for its regular needs, intense exercise depletes it, which is why it’s a good idea to supplement with it.
One of the most researched and effective supplements out there, creatine helps with performance and the production of energy in the muscles.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs):
Unlike glutamine, BCAAs are not produced by your body and must, therefore, be taken in through food. They’ve been shown to build muscle while decreasing muscle fatigue and alleviating muscle soreness.
The grueling routine that Johnson partakes in every day is truly something magnificent. It shines a light on what the human body is really capable of when someone with the necessary drive and intent is in the driver’s seat.
But remember—only The Rock can be The Rock. More than giving us a routine, he gives us something to work towards, and potentially surpass. The main lesson from looking at Johnson’s routines is that hard work pays off. Keep these lessons in mind with your motivation behind them, and one day you might even surpass The Rock.