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How Dwayne The Rock Johnson Got Ripped For The Fast And Furious Movies

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of the world's biggest movie stars. Point blank, period. And he got there by leveraging his massive physique to credibly star as a world-beating action hero in multi-billion-dollar franchises.

As you might guess, being in the same shape as Dwayne Johnson takes an incredible amount of work. We'd say the tradeoff is likely worth it for the wrestler-turned-A-lister, however, as he's frequently landed on annual lists of the highest-paid actors in the world. He topped Forbes' list of Hollywood money earners for pulling in $89.4 million between June 2018 and June 2019.

But those checks only keep coming as long as the Rock is in superhuman shape to play otherworldly strong characters like Hobbs, the international policeman and bulked-up muscleman in the Fast & Furious movies. And Dwayne Johnson has getting into shape for the Fast family down to a science — here's how he got ripped for the franchise.

The Rock is always in shape

Before you run for the nearest 100-plus-pound weight in order to be the next Dwayne Johnson, it's worth noting that the Rock has been in shape for most of his years on this Earth. The son of a professional wrestler and a WWE star in his own right, the Rock has been chiseled since he was a teenager.

He came to wrestling after already playing a sport that required him to be in incredible shape. He won a national college football championship as a defensive tackle for he Miami Hurricanes in 1991. When a pro football career didn't pan out, he followed in his father's footsteps and joined the WWE in 1996. While he initially performed under the name Rocky Maiva and was pushed as a babyface (wrestling parlance for a good guy), the crowd turned on him after he beat several of the promotion's biggest names.

He turned heel in the late '90s and found success playing the part of an insufferable Hollywood jerk who regularly insulted the audience and his fellow wrestlers. The antagonistic character wouldn't be recognizable to people who have come up watching the Rock play the hero, but neither would his physique. WWE's Rock was incredibly toned, but nowhere near the bodybuilding physique he has today.

Dwayne Johnson tailors his workouts for each movie

The Rock is always big, but he changes his workout based on which character he's playing. For the role of a lifeguard in the Baywatch movie, Dwayne Johnson will make himself much more svelte then the hulking powerhouse of Hobbs.

He was nearly 30 pounds lighter when he hit the beach alongside Zac Efron than he was when he teamed up with Vin Diesel, tipping the scales at 238 pounds instead of Hobb's 260. In a post to social media, the Rock revealed that he was inspired by the beach bods of his cast members, looking particularly envious of Efron's physique.

"From Mitch Buchannon to Luke Hobbs," he shared in an Instagram post addressing his Fast 8 prep. "For Baywatch I came in at 238lbs of lean, mean, rated R comedy machine. Plus, I had to be leaner cause we had to look at my boy [Efron]'s insanely ripped 28 pack abs every day."

The Rock is an open fitness book

While we're talking about the Rock's Instagram, it's worth pointing out that he loves to share his secrets. Dwayne Johnson isn't one to hide his fitness journey, or the insane amount of work he puts in to be in the best possible shape. His Instagram account is littered with videos of his routines, showing the actor lifting Herculean amounts of weight, along with descriptions of which workout he's doing and why.

A representative post shows an incredibly veiny version of Johnson sweating and straining as he prepares to star in DC's Black Adam movie.

"Training and prep for Black Adam has been a grind but this passion project outweighs the sacrifices," he admits. "Truth, justice and the Black Adam way."

The openness led the Rock to share the core of almost all of his workouts.

"My workout is constantly changing and adapting, but for the most part, I do 4 sets of 12 reps with a 60-90-second rest," he said. "I don't play around in the gym. I always aim to be the hardest worker, and I make sure I clang and I bang to the best of my ability."

A word of warning

Before we get into just how Dwayne Johnson bulked up for his role as Hobbs, a word of warning: The Rock is a colossus of a man who has spent his entire life pumping iron. His workouts are built to be grueling even for him, a folk tale giant made literal with arms the size of tree trunks.

What we're saying is, before you try on the Rock's workout, consider your own shape and condition. Tailor the amount of weight and number of reps to what you can reasonably be expected to do. Don't go out there and hurt yourself in the hopes of becoming Hercules overnight. As far as we know, the Rock has never said that "if the bar isn't bending, you're just pretending" and his gym-filled social media feed seems like a space to encourage all people to exercise in the ways that work for them.

In short, use this information wisely. Don't give yourself a hernia trying to look like Hobbs. Even the Rock finds it difficult to pull it off.

Dwayne Johnson's arm workout

Let's start with the first muscle group you're likely to notice on Dwayne Johnson: his arms.

Using his Dr. Bridgestone workout and occasional "Iron Paradise" posts as a guide, you can see the sort of work that the Rock puts in six days a week.

To tone his triceps, Johnson does seven sets of 12 reps of reverse-grip push-downs with a cambered bar. Reverse-grip pushdowns are the same as standard pushdowns, but with your palms facing toward you on the other side of the bar. He moves on to the aptly named, behind-the-head lifts known as skull crushers (three sets of 12 reps), does three similar sets of machine dips, and finishes with seven sets of overhead triceps extensions.

For his biceps, the Rock isn't reinventing the wheel — it's all variations on curls. Seven sets of low cable curls, three sets of machine preacher curls, three sets of regular preacher curls, and three sets of double bicep curls are how he maintains his cantaloupe-sized arm muscles.

Dwayne Johnson's chest and back workout

Of course, the rest of the Rock's body is no joke. He's fit everywhere you look — and his chest and back exercises reflect that. He frequently does chest exercises that go until he physically collapses. His supersets (sets without rest in between) will frequently include weight training directly into pushups.

He does seven fly sets with cables and four fly sets at an incline. He moves on to one-armed incline and flat dumbbell presses before closing out with four supersets that include 12 reps of a flat dumbbell fly and push-ups until he falters. It's not a chest day for the squeamish.

His back exercises are equally frightening, with eight sets of lat pulldowns for 12-15 reps only scratching the surface. He moves on to seven sets of modified rows before closing with another four supersets of rows, a hyper-extended behind-the-back lift, and sets of 20 dumbbell shrugs.

Dwayne Johnson's lower body workout

We're running out of ways to say that the Rock's workouts are next-level nutty. And you don't get to be a walking Adonis by skipping leg day, so his lower body routine is similarly unhinged. Dwayne Johnson dives into everyone's least favorite gym day with abandon, doing incredibly long sets more times than most would dare. His leg presses are 25 reps long. He does 15 lying leg curls per set.

The Rock starts his workout with the unholy barbell glute bridge, which is lifting up to a bridge with a weighted barbell across your lap. He does this 12 times per set and handles four sets. After another four sets of modified leg presses, the Rock closes his workout with four sets of glute-ham raises (those vampire's coffin-looking exercises that force people to lift themselves using their isolated glute and hamstring muscles).

While you can easily find videos of the Rock hip-thrusting well over 450 pounds, his trainer Dave Rienzi notes that he rarely maxes out in various leg and glute exercises. Rienzi shared in an interview with Men's Health that such strenuous exercise could make it hard for The Rock to act after leaving the gym. 

"Because he's an actor and he's an action star, and his roles are very physical, I can't structure out programs that are too taxing on his nervous system," Rienzi said. "If he's squatting 500, 600 pounds, obviously that'd be very taxing on his nervous system and his adrenals and he wouldn't be able to perform properly onscreen."

Six days on

When the Rock has a movie to train for, he hits the gym hard. In an interview with Bodybuilding, he said that he'll be in the gym six days a week and frequently wakes up before dawn to run before his workouts.

"I start working out pretty early, around 4AM When I'm filming, I do cardio and I lift before going to set," he said. "I train about six days a week, and even when I'm not filming I get up between 3 and 5AM just to train."

Johnson said that training before most people are awake allows him to let go of any possible distractions and starts his day on the good foot.

"I love training when the sun is coming up because it allows me to put on my headphones and step off the crazy treadmill that is everyone's life. I have my headphones on and I'm listening to my music, and I'm 100 percent focused," he shared. "Working out anchors my day."

Dwayne Johnson's diet

It takes a ton of food to power the Rock's muscles. The number frequently cited in news stories is 6,000 calories, which he gets by eating somewhere between five and seven meals per day.

"It's all measured depending on what I'm training to achieve. Usually I start off my day with some dead cow and oatmeal for breakfast," he shared regarding his diet. "The other staples in my diet include chicken, steak fillets, egg whites, oatmeal, broccoli, halibut, rice, asparagus, baked potato, leafy salads, peppers, mushrooms, and onions, and then also some casein protein."

A post of a typical breakfast to his Instagram includes buffalo meat, eggs, and cream of wheat.

Hugh Jackman went through the Rock's diet to bulk up and explained that he was eating every two hours, scarfing down meals that included tons of protein and green vegetables.

"It was like, two chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, beans and maybe some carbs," Jackman said in an interview with Oprah.

Even the Rock has cheat days

Not even the Rock is all work and no play. He frequently shares his cheat days to Instagram, and the meals he's earned are suitably oversized. Websites around the internet have feasted on the ready-made content of Dwayne Johnson's days off, listing his calorie-heavy pig-outs with awe.

The Rock's cheat days vary from six entire sushi platters to five pints of ice cream. His most beloved cheat day, one that's talked about in hushed tones by fitness websites to this day, came after nearly half a year of strictly clean eating. He housed 12 pancakes, four pizzas, and 21 brownies with a stein of milk. The Rock promised to beat that day after the filming of Hercules wrapped. 

"When I wrap it'll be 172 days straight (new personal record) of a strict & intense 7 meals a day diet for the role," he wrote. "This cheat day will be fun."

Some people might view the Rock's indulgent days off as a little over the top,  but we certainly aren't going to be the ones to tell him. Besides, you can't argue with results.