If you saw Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson in the new Black Adam movie trailer and thought, “I wonder what he does to get in such great shape”, you’ve come to the right place.
As a fitness editor, I spend my days researching the weird and wonderful workouts Hollywood’s elite do to stay in shape (check out Chris Hemsworth’s 800-rep workout and Jennifer Aniston’s 15-15-15 workout here), so I took a deep dive into The Rock’s intense training schedule.
Apparently, The Rock trains for three to four hours a day, six days a week to build his impressive physique. He also famously uses a technique called ‘splits’, where you target one muscle group at a time, meaning he’ll train legs one day, arms and abs the next, then back, and so on, in his well-equipped home gym named “The Iron Paradise”.
When getting in shape to play Hercules Johnson shared his entire workout schedule (opens in new tab). To find out more, I unrolled my exercise mat and gave his arms and ab workout a go — read on to find out what happened.
Looking for more exercise inspiration? Here are the best ab exercises, according to Chris Hemsworth’s PT, a 15-minute dumbbell workout for your arms, and the best workout apps to download to your phone right now.
What is The Rock’s arms and ab workout?
Get ready to lift, The Rock’s arms and ab workout goes as follows:
One hour of cardio
Barbell curl — 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Hammer curl — 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Spider curl — 4 sets to failure
Triceps pushdown — 3 sets of 10 reps
Dips — 3 sets to failure
Hanging leg raise — 4 sets of 20 reps
Rope crunch — 4 sets of 20 reps
Russian twist — 4 sets of 20 reps
I tried The Rock’s arms and ab workout — here’s what happened
I’ll caveat this article by saying what works for The Rock might not work for you, so if you’re a complete beginner or you’re new to some of the exercises on this list, it’s a good idea to reduce the number of reps, start with a lower or no weight, or get a PT to check your form. The Rock didn’t mention the weight of the dumbbells and barbells for this workout, but that shouldn’t bother you if you’re trying to do his workout, as you should always be lifting within your own range.
When I first glanced at this workout, it looks like a lot, but in the name of journalism, I laced up my trainers and ran for an hour, finishing at the gym. As a marathon runner, I’d normally finish an hour’s run and call it a day on the exercise front, but this was only the warm-up it seemed. The Rock didn’t specify running, but as my cardio of choice, I took it easy, rather than pushing the pace, as I knew there was some (quite literally) heavy lifting to come.
For the barbell curls, I opted for a 10kg (22 pound) barbell and did four sets of 10 reps. While this is almost definitely a lot lighter than The Rock would be lifting, the final few reps felt challenging for me, a good sign I was lifting the right weight. For the hammer curls, I used a 6kg (13) dumbbell in each hand, and by the end of the four reps, I could definitely feel I’d worked my arms hard. If you’re working out from home, we’ve hand-picked the best adjustable dumbbells here.
The idea of doing anything to ‘failure’ scares me, but both the spider curls and the dips in this workout taught me that more often than not, I mentally give up before I’m physically tired. On the first set, I did 10 spider curls before putting the barbell down and taking a break. Yet each time I tried to add three reps to the exercise, and on the final set, I managed 20 reps — proof that I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could have done at first.
By the time I got to the hanging leg raises, I realized training like The Rock was no joke — this workout was intense, and at times, felt never-ending, especially when I’d been working out for an hour and 45 minutes by this point. After one set, I gave up, and modified the exercise to lying leg raises for the final three sets.
At last, the end was in sight. With the rope crunches, I set out to increase the weight on the machine slightly each time. This isn’t a move I often add to my ab workouts, but I enjoyed trying something new and really felt like I’d worked into my core by the final reps. Finally, the Russian twists. I felt like The Rock would almost definitely add weight to this exercise, so I grabbed a 5kg (11 pound) dumbbell, and off I went.
Nearly two hours later, I lay on the exercise bench and realized why The Rock’s cheat days are so epic — the man works insanely hard in the gym. He’s proof that to make real gains, you have to put the work in, and while I enjoyed the challenge, I won’t be rushing back to copy more of Johnson’s training plan anytime soon.