Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is larger than life (and too large for one article)—both when it comes to his physical size and his personality. The slabs of muscle he’s packed on for his acting career have only further cemented his place as one of the best looking and highest-paid actors of the 2010s.
Nearing 50 years of age, Dwayne Johnson hasn’t slowed down at all. From a star wrestler in the WWE to a star in Hollywood, you have to place respect on the hustle. And instead of just maintaining his muscle mass, he seems to be continuously packing on pounds of muscle. The behemoth of a man takes on a herculean schedule to remain in shape not only for movies but between movies as well, getting up at 5 in the morning every day for a multi-hour workout routine.
Add to that the amount of food he eats—probably double the meals of your average person—and you have a recipe for a truly special physique.
But even with all the hard work and nutritional expertise under your belt, there’s no outrunning father time when it comes to physiological changes. I mean, a lot of us are already complaining about aches and pains past the age of 30, let alone 50.
So, it’s obvious that the recipe for The Rock’s physique contains a number of supplements that help his body heal and grow, while also helping him prevent any common injuries. Down below we’ll look at what makes The Rock such a well-oiled machine.
Before we get down into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to keep in mind that the supplement stack that follows will only really be useful for very high-performing individuals. Many of the benefits from these supplements are also found in whole foods that are clean—that means avoiding junk food, sugars, and “white” carbs.
If you’re a high performing athlete in lifting or bodybuilding (or even just a little older), then the following will be useful for you in your fitness journey. But just as with food, remember to shop around and be a conscious consumer when it comes to buying high-quality supplements over poor quality ones.
Otherwise, not only will it most likely be a waste of money, but it might even get in the way of your progress. Furthermore, and you’ve probably heard this a million times before, but no supplement is going to be a stand-in for hard work in the gym and good nutrition. You could take all the supplements in the world of the highest quality and you’d be treading water without a good exercise routine and proper diet plan.
So, keeping these principles in mind, let’s get down to it.
Without a doubt, whey protein is the go-to for most people when it comes to muscle building supplements. It’s one of the primary proteins found within milk products and a by-product of the cheese-making process (the watery stuff on top of a newly opened container of yogurt).
From this state, it’s processed into the recognizable powder form which can be added to just about anything for an extra boost of protein.
Whey contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs but cannot produce by itself. One of the most researched supplements ever, it’s really no surprise at all that The Rock uses this fantastic supplement.
But what does it actually do?
Whey protein is a great way to put on extra muscle mass and strength after a heavy weight training workout. Furthermore, it cuts down your recovery time because it helps speed up your muscle recovery after intense exercises. And to add even more to that, it’s also been shown to help in wound healing—even when it comes to burns.
While most people get enough protein through a healthy, varied diet, there’s no arguing against the benefits of whey protein if you’re someone who works out often. And even if you’re not working out all that much but you want to put on some weight, whey is a great and healthy way to boost your protein and calorie intake. Just keep in mind that if you have a dairy allergy, whey protein is definitely not the way to go. There are other, just as great options out there that provide many of the same benefits while being hypoallergenic.
Not to mention that a lot of whey powders are absolutely delicious because of the flavorings in them, making them extremely versatile in protein shakes.
Milk contains two types of proteins—whey and casein. While whey makes up 20% of milk protein, casein makes up the other 80%. As with whey, casein is a complete protein, which means that it provides all of the essential amino acids. But more importantly, it contains a high amount of leucine which is the amino acid responsible for muscle growth.
While casein has many similar benefits to whey protein, the biggest difference lies in how fast the protein is digested.
Or rather, how slow. It’s known as a “time-release” protein since it takes a number of hours to digest in the gut. What this means for your muscle growth is that you’ll be receiving a low-level dose of protein over a much longer time than with whey. People such as The Rock utilize this aspect of casein by taking it before bedtime and allowing the muscles to have some fuel to prevent them from breaking down.
How this works on a technical level is that the total amount of protein burned for fuel over a 7-hour period is reduced. What this means is that there’s a greater amount of protein in your system, which is a key factor in maintaining and growing your muscles.
Not to mention that diversity is a great benefit to your body. Since it’s structure is slightly different, you’ll be getting some amino acid diversity (even though both have enough essential amino acids to count as full proteins). Instead of your body becoming reliant on one type of protein, it’s good to introduce some variety.
Along with the two supplements above, creatine is also one of the most researched supplements ever. It’s a molecule produced in the body from amino acids—created in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas (to a lesser extent).
Its role is in storing high energy phosphates which are then regenerated into ATP—ATP being the primary energy carrier in your body. This aspect of energy production is especially important when it comes down to conditions where your body is demanding a high amount of energy, such as intense exercise or even mental activity.
Therefore, the main benefit of creatine is a significant improvement in power output during resistance exercises. Since you’re able to go harder and go longer, you should see benefits in an increase of lean muscle mass, and all-around muscle and strength gains. Even when it comes to anaerobic running, creatine seems to help as well, although not to the same extent as in resistant training.
There’s also been some research done on creatine’s effects on cognitive ability. While the initial studies have been promising, there still needs to be some research done. The claims seem to revolve around reduced mental fatigue, especially during intense mental activities, sleep deprivation, and even brain injuries.
We’ve already mentioned essential amino acids above in the context of protein, but the BCAAs are special. They consist of three essential amino acids:
These amino acids are grouped together for two reasons. First of all, they’re the only amino acids to have a chain in their molecular structure that branches off to one side (hence the name). Secondly, they’re mostly broken down in the muscles rather than in the liver—unlike the other essential amino acids.
This second point has led people to believe that they play an important role in energy production during exercise.
But they come with a host of other benefits as well. For example, they’re essential building blocks for protein and muscles. They help in regulating your blood sugar levels by stimulating your cells to take in sugar from your bloodstream. And to add to that, leucine is also one of the three— and leucine is believed to be the most important amino acid for muscle maintenance and growth.
But perhaps most importantly, BCAAs help reduce fatigue when working out, and also reduce muscle soreness. The former is likely due to the fact that BCAAs reduce the amount of serotonin in your brain during exercise, thereby reducing fatigue. Studies have also shown that this is the case.
When it comes to reducing muscle soreness, BCAAs lower the blood levels of enzymes involved in muscle damage. This means that you’ll end up recovering faster after an intense workout, and the BCAAs will also provide some protection against muscle damage.
And here, yet again, we have another amino acid. But wait! This time it’s different.
Unlike the amino acids we’ve been talking about up until now, glutamine is produced in the body. What’s the catch? Sometimes the body doesn’t produce enough of it—which is definitely something you want enough of. This glutamine-shortage usually occurs when you’re sick or you’ve just gone through a really intense physical activity. Therefore, glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid.
One of the largest benefits of glutamine is its role in the immune system. It’s a critical source of energy for white blood cells and intestinal cells that protect you from disease.
However, if your body decides it needs more glutamine than you currently have in store, then it’ll decide to break down your muscles in order to get to the protein—and therefore, glutamine—inside of them.
Furthermore, glutamine plays an important role in your intestinal health. Not only is it an important energy source for these cells, it also helps build the barrier between your intestines and the rest of your body. A good way to protect against leaky gut.
And while there’s not a whole lot of evidence (yet) to support that glutamine aids in muscle and strength gain, it can be said that it reduces fatigue and muscle soreness.
Chemically classified as an amino…sugar, glucosamine is best known for maintaining and developing the cartilage in your joints, and overall bone and joint health.
While it’s found naturally in human tissue, taking it as a supplement can protect against inflammation and joint problems. While maybe not something that all the young bloods out there have to think about (yet), it’s definitely a good idea to use as a supplement when you’re pushing 50.
Research seems to indicate that glucosamine protects the tissue in joints by preventing the breakdown of cartilage, and it’s even used in the long-term treatment of osteoarthritis. Furthermore, there’s evidence that shows that it also improves bone strength. When your life is as hectic as The Rocks and your roles are as physically demanding as his, then it’s a good idea to have a bone-back up in case a game-throwing injury happens.
Much like glucosamine, chondroitin is also believed to help prevent cartilage breakdown in the joints. Therefore, these two supplements are often taken at the same time.
Studies have shown that 53% of people who’ve taken this supplement have reported a 20% greater improvement in knee pain, with those suffering from osteoarthritis.
Once again, for someone as active and taking part in demanding movie roles as The Rock—and especially at his age—it’s important to have all your bases covered. With his career spanning football, wrestling, and now having to do some stunts, it’s crazy that The Rock isn’t complaining about his joints 24/7.
If that’s not a glowing endorsement of glucosamine and chondroitin, then we don’t know what is.
Vitamins and minerals help support the healthy maintenance and development of all the tissues in your body. This includes everything from bones, teeth, skin, hair, nails, and most importantly for us, muscles.
A multivitamin is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to keeping your body functioning smoothly. Everything, and we mean everything, comes down to you have a good variety of all the vitamins and minerals that the human body needs. Without them, gains are meaningless if you can’t even get your general health up to par.
There’s been some debate as of late about whether we actually need to take multivitamins since a healthy, whole diet will get you everything you need for your body to function properly. Like with everything else on this list, it comes down to the individual.
The Rock is obviously working at a very high level, especially physically. He consumes a lot because he needs not only to maintain but to reach his fitness goals. While we’re sure that he’s eating whole foods and skimping out on the junk food (except maybe for his infamous cheat meals), an extra multivitamin definitely won’t hurt someone who needs everything that can to stay on top of the game.
As the name suggests, fish oils are derived from fish. More specifically, the term fish oil refers to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid). While this supplement won’t really help you build muscle, it’s just as important for the proper upkeep of your body.
The major benefits of fish oil come in the form of reduced triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure—two things that are very important for overall cardiovascular health. That’s compounded by the benefits which reduce arterial plaque as well.
Furthermore, fish oil regulates the inflammatory response, which might be the reason it improves mood in people with major depression.
Knowing that The Rock takes pre-workout supplements, it becomes a little more reasonable that he can get up at 5 am to hit the pavement and then the iron immediately after.
While not necessarily for everyone, if you’re serious about working out, pre-workout is a terrific way to give everything you got each time without leaving any gains on the table.
Pre-workouts often contain nitric oxide precursors which help to relax blood vessels. This in turn aids in the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. And what does more oxygen and nutrients mean? That’s right: more gains.
Caffeine is also a common stimulant used in pre-workouts, which helps to improve mental alertness, exercise performance, and fat burning. And if you’re getting up at 5 in the morning to train, you’re going to need it.
But like with a lot of supplements on the market, it’s important to be conscious of what exactly you’re buying. Many come with fillers and excessive artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, which is why it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality blend.
While we said it at the beginning already, it’s worth saying again: supplements should be the cherry on top of your fitness cake. You need a healthy dose of proper nutrition, consistent training, and enough rest to truly reap the benefits of everything we’ve talked about above.
Which isn’t meant to dissuade you from following in the footsteps of The Rock. Rather, it’s a challenge.