Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson is the epitome of the gentle giant. Standing at 6’5” tall and weighing in at more than 250 pounds, he presents an imposing physical presence. Yet he is as gentle as a teddy bear. His dynamic personality, awesome athletic ability, and empathy for others set him apart as a genuine real-life icon. In this article, we reveal the Rock’s amazing life story and break down his workouts so that you can train like Dwayne.
The Rock’s Early Life
Dwayne Johnson was born on May 2nd, 1972 in Hayward, California. Both his grandfather and father were professional wrestlers, which made it pretty clear in which direction Dwayne’s life was going to go. His father, Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson, was Canadian born while his mother was of Samoan descent.
Rocky began teaching wrestling moves to Dwayne from the age of six. Rocky’s pro wrestling career saw the family moving often. As a result, Dwayne went to school in New Zealand, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Georgia.
The Rock Football Career
At the age of 17, Dwayne made the decision to focus on a football career. He attended Bethlehem Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He quickly became a local football star, securing a football scholarship to the University of Miami in 1990. There he played defensive tackle for the Hurricanes. In 1991, he was part of the national championship team.
Dwayne was well on his way to an NFL career but that goal was curtailed when he suffered a serious back injury during his senior year. He went on to play for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. Times were tough for Dwayne. He slept on a mattress he’d pulled out of a dumpster in a tiny apartment and existed on just $200 per week. Then he was dropped from the team.
The Rock’s Wrestling Career
Dwayne returned to Miami and set his sights on following in his father’s footsteps as a professional wrestler. In May of 1996, he was offered a small contract by the WWE. He began wrestling under the name of Flex Kavana. The first couple of years were tough, with average earnings being around $40 per night.
Things started to turn around for Dwayne in 1996 when his name was changed to Rocky Maivia and was cast as a good guy by the WWE. In 1997, he won the Intercontinental Championship belt. Then, in 1997 he changed his name and his image one again. He was now ‘The Rock’ and he was portrayed as a bad guy by the WWE. His new personality was bold and large and he loved to refer to his character in the 3rd person. His most famous line was, “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?”
In 1998, the Rock became WWE Champion. He was now their brightest star.
The Rock’s Movies & TV
On March 18th, 2000, The Rock hosted ‘Saturday Night Live.’ This showed him and others that he was an entertainer, not just a wrestler. His Saturday Night Live appearance got the attention of Hollywood. His first movie was ‘The Mummy Returns’ in 2001. His appearance was so well received that he scored the lead role in ‘The Scorpion King’ the following year. Over the next two decades, The Rock has gone onto establish himself as a powerful force in Hollywood. He is now one of the most bankable stars on the planet, finding great success in action and comedy movies alike.
The Rock’s first appearance on TV was in a 1999 episode of ‘That 70’s Show’ when he played himself. Over the next 10 years, he made regular TV appearances, often playing himself. Between 2015-2019 he played Spenser Strathmore in the popular Ballers, which he also executive produced. He is currently the creator, executive producer, and host of The Titan Games.
The Rock’s Workout Routine
The Rock trains early – like 4 am early. His workout begins with 30-50 minutes on the elliptical machine. He’ll then break for breakfast before hitting the weights with what he calls ‘clangin’ and bangin’.’ He follows a conventional body split routine that sees him in the gym 6 days a week. He does 4 sets of 12 reps with a 60-90 seconds rest between sets. Here’s how he splits his training:
- Day One: Legs
- Day Two: Back
- Day Three: Shoulders
- Day Four: Arms/Abs
- Day Five: Chest
- Day Six: Legs
The Rock’s Cheat Meals
The Rock is an extremely disciplined eater. He eats 5 meals per day, with a focus on lean proteins, starchy carbs, leafy vegetables, and healthy fats. However, once per week, he allows himself a cheat meal. He has become famous for his cheat meals. Here are 5 of the craziest:
- 12 pancakes, 4 Pizzas, and 21 brownies
- 5 pints of ice cream
- Banana chocolate chip pancakes and tequila
- 5 Milk chocolate and salted caramel cookies
- 6 Sushi platters and a plate of cookies
A Typical Workout
Here is The Rock’s chest workout:
- Elliptical Machine: 30-50 minutes
- Barbell Bench Press (medium grip) – 4 x 12
- Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 x 12
- Dumbbell Bench press – 4 x 12
- Lying Cable Chest Fly – 4 x 12
- Incline Hammer Curls – 4 x 12
- Chest Dips – 4 sets to failure
The Rock’s Lockdown Workout
When he’s on the road, The Rock takes a complete gym, known as ‘The Iron Paradise’ with him. Over the months of lockdown during the Coronavirus lockdown, he didn’t have to travel anywhere and The Iron Paradise was right at home with him. It’s no surprise that he ramped up his training during the lockdown. With two upcoming movies – Netflix’s Red Notice and the DC movie Black Adam – to get in top condition for, he was determined to get in the best shape of his life during the enforced downtime.
Dwayne wrote the following on his Instagram page. . .
I promised myself that when we did get put on lockdown that I was going to train my ass off, harder than I’d ever trained before, and try to raise my own personal bar in terms of intensity. I have enough rage that I need to work out, anyway, so I’m working out extremely hard!
He went on to share his lockdown workout schedule on Instagram. Here is how he structured his training week. . .
- Monday: Chest, calves, abdominals – cardio
- Tuesday: Back, abdominals, neck – cardio
- Wednesday: Deltoids, abdominals – cardio
- Thursday: Arms, abdominals, calves – cardio
- Friday: Chest, back, abdominals – cardio
- Saturday – Legs, abs, calves
- Sunday: Day off
As we can see, Dwayne was dedicated to going full-on six days per week. The workouts were high volume AND high intensity. He hit the big body parts of his torso – chest and back – early in the week. Then two days focused on his smaller body parts. Friday and Saturday were huge days, with chest and back one day and legs the next. This was followed by a much-needed rest day.
Here is the back workout that The Rock followed to build that impressive back thickness and V-Taper that is the foundation of his upper body mass. . .
- Pull-Ups – 4 sets to failure
- Dumbbell Bent Over row – 4 sets of 12/10/8/6
- Lat Pulldown – 3 sets of 12
- Seated Cable Row – 3 sets of 12
Workout notes from the Rock. . .
- Perform your pull-ups from a dead hang to a full contraction on every rep. Squeeze the shoulder blades together in the top position. Keep your legs straight and do not use momentum. Rest 60 seconds between reps.
- On bent over rows keep a tight core and bend over so that your torso is nearly parallel to the floor.
- When doing lat pulldowns, do not allow your torso to lean back throughout the exercise. The only movement should be the arms pulling down.
- When doing the seated row, doing them in a drop set manner. When you have done 12 reps, drop the weight stack by one plate, and then immediately do as many reps as possible with good form. Drop once more and again go to failure.
How to Train Like The Rock
There is only one way to train like The Rock. When you walk into the gym be absolutely determined to be the hardest working guy in the building. Give 100% focus to every rep of every set that you perform. To do that, you have to imagine that you are going to war with the weights. Tell yourself that they are mocking you, telling you that you are weak, useless and unable to handle them. Make it your job to put them in their place. Then start clangin’ and bangin’ like nobody’s business – that’s what The Rock does!