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The Rock’s Diet and Workout Plan Is Extreme — What to Know

Though the name likely needs no introduction, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors known for his large, strong physique.

Equally as dedicated to his workouts as his career, the Rock is infamous for his demanding workout routines paired with a high calorie diet to meet his energy needs.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to exercise and eat like the Rock, this article will tell you more about the food he eats and his workout plan.

The Rock eats a lot of food to sustain his body’s needs. He sticks to a pretty strict diet most days, but he does indulge in his favorite foods from time to time.

Calories per day

Because he’s so active, most days the Rock will eat over 5,000 calories. To put this into perspective, that’s about twice the number of calories recommended for most men his age (1).

He needs this energy to sustain his workouts and continue to build significant muscle mass.

Foods he eats

For 6 days a week, the Rock sticks to a very strict diet. He uses his rest day as a day for “cheat meals,” which he believes allows flexibility and prevents him from feeling deprived.

According to his Instagram and online interviews, on an average day, the Rock will eat 5–7 high protein meals, with cod, chicken, steak, eggs, and protein powder as his main protein sources.

He also eats plenty of complex carbohydrates with rice, sweet potato, oatmeal, and baked potatoes being some of his favorite choices.

For fat, he adds lots of healthy fats from peanut butter, eggs, coconut oil, and fish oil supplements.

He adds at least a cup of vegetables to the meal, which provides a good amount of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Foods he avoids

Aside from cheat days, the Rock limits his intake of foods that are highly processed and high in calories due to their sugar and refined carb contents.

Beyond this, the Rock does not follow a specific restrictive diet that removes any food groups.

Summary

Except for his cheat days, the Rock eats a minimally processed, high calorie, and high protein diet that does not restrict any food groups.

For 6 days a week, the Rock follows a strict high protein diet. On Sundays, he lets loose with an “epic” cheat day.

His usual diet

Most days of the week consist of 5–7 meals to fuel his highly active lifestyle.

While each day will vary, the Rock sticks to main staples in his diet, such as lean proteins (cod, steak, chicken, eggs), complex carbs (rice, potatoes, oatmeal), and mixed vegetables.

“Power Breakfast” (meal #1)

According to his Instagram, the Rock enjoys a “Power Breakfast” after he finishes his first workout of the day:

  • flank steak (8 ounces)
  • eggs (whole and egg whites)
  • brown rice (1.5 cups)
  • sautéed mushrooms, onions, and peppers

Mid-morning (meal #2)

  • cod (8 ounces)
  • sweet potato (12 ounces)
  • vegetables (1 cup)

Lunch (meal #3)

  • chicken (8 ounces)
  • white rice (2 cups)
  • vegetables (1 cup)

Mid-afternoon (meal #4)

  • cod (8 ounces)
  • white rice (2 cups)
  • vegetables (1 cup)
  • fish oil (1 tbsp.)

Late afternoon (meal #5)

First dinner (meal #6)

  • cod (10 ounces)
  • white rice (2 cups)
  • salad (leafy greens)

Second dinner (meal #7)

  • egg white omelet (10 eggs)
  • vegetables (1 cup)
  • fish oil (1 tbsp.)
  • whey protein (30 grams)

The Rock gets a bulk of his calories throughout the day from protein and carbohydrates and a moderate amount of fat. His diet is balanced with lots of vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates.

Post-workout shake

The Rock also sometimes consumes a post-workout smoothie within 10 minutes of finishing his workout.

According to his Instagram, his post-workout smoothie contains:

  • 65–70 grams of whey protein
  • 1 apple
  • 30 grams of carbohydrate powder
  • 1 scoop of electrolyte powder
  • creatine
  • water
  • ice

Cheat day

The Rock allows himself one “epic” cheat day — usually Sunday — to indulge in foods he restricts during the week. He states that cheat days should be as extreme as possible, since they’re “earned.”

These cheat meals can involve various food combinations, such as 12 pancakes with peanut butter and syrup, 3–4 double dough pizzas, a box of donuts, sushi, pasta, bagels, two “Big Daddy” burgers with the works, french fries, and plenty of desserts.

While his cheat meals vary considerably, most of his cheat days likely surpass 5,000–7,000 calories.

Summary

On most days, the Rock follows a strict high protein diet that surmounts to over 5,000 calories per day. On his cheat days, he allows himself to eat whatever and however much food he wants.

With the Rock eating over 5,000 calories most days, you may wonder if this is healthy.

Nutrition

Per the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR), the average person should consume 45–65% of their total daily calories from carbs, 10–35% from protein, and 20–35% from fat (2).

The Rock’s diet appears to be slightly lower in carbohydrates and fat and higher in protein. He might benefit from including slightly more fats in his diet. However, he may be using healthy fats in his meals (e.g., olive oil) that he inadvertently forgot to mention.

Overall, the Rock eats a nutritious diet full of lean protein, complex carbs, vegetables, and healthy fats. Further, his focus on consuming homemade, minimally processed food keeps his added sugar and sodium intakes low (except for his cheat days).

Based on his personal reports on his social media, the Rock doesn’t appear to eat much fruit and focuses on eating vegetables as his main source of antioxidants.

Effects on weight gain

The average active man needs approximately 2,400 to 3,000 calories per day, most of which should come from minimally processed foods and a balance of protein, fat, and carbs (1).

However, a person’s calorie needs will vary depending on their body size, activity level, medical condition, and personal goals (1).

While it’s unknown how many calories the Rock burns each day, he has substantial muscle mass and a high activity level. His metabolic rate and calorie needs are likely higher than the average male (3, 4, 5).

Plus, he likely has goals to continue to build muscle, which is easier to achieve when in a slight calorie surplus and consuming a very high protein diet (6).

That said, the Rock’s diet is very high in calories and would likely lead to weight gain for the average person who does not have the same muscle mass, metabolism, and activity level as the Rock.

Instead, you’re better off following the general concepts of the Rock’s diet and dialing down the portion sizes and number of meals. For example, aim to eat a balanced diet and have lean protein, complex carbs, and vegetables at each meal.

Muscle growth

To achieve muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth), you need to consume adequate protein and incorporate resistance training into your routine (7, 8).

The Rock eats plenty of protein and is likely well above the recommendation of 0.73–0.9 grams per pound (1.6–2.0 grams per kilogram) for building muscle mass (9, 10, 11, 12).

That said, the majority of research suggests exceeding the protein recommendations does not pose any health risks for most people. Though, most research has only investigated doses up to 1.5 grams per pound (3.3 grams per kilogram), which is less than what the Rock consumes (13, 14, 15, 16).

Further, most research supports high protein diets when paired with heavy resistance training to build muscle mass. Though, there’s debate as to whether protein intake exceeding 1 g/lb/d (2.2 g/kg/d) provides any additional muscle gain (17, 18).

You can likely get away with much less protein and still achieve muscle growth. For most people, aiming for 20 to 40 grams of protein per meal is a good goal that’s relatively easy to achieve (19, 20).

Cheat days

The topic of cheat days is fairly controversial.

For some people, cheat days may feel like a chance to indulge in foods that are normally restricted or limited, and they may serve as a form of motivation to eat well throughout the week (21, 22, 23).

The Rock’s cheat day is extremely high in calories that mostly come from high calorie foods and lots of added sugar. However, one day of indulgence is unlikely to lead to dramatic weight gain or negative health effects.

That said, using cheat days isn’t always a good idea, especially if you’re having multiple cheat days a week. Instead, you may want to include some treats throughout the week, so you don’t feel deprived (24, 25).

Further, cheat days aren’t for everyone. If you’re unable to control your food intake on a cheat day, this may be a sign that you’re over-restricting too much during the week. This is especially prevalent in people who follow very low calorie diets on noncheat days (24, 25, 26).

Clearly, the Rock enjoys his cheat day. However, you can still achieve your nutrition and fitness goals by eating foods you enjoy each day — think pancakes and chocolate, along with your salads and whole grains — rather than going to extremes.

While some people enjoy cheat days, and they work for them, it may not be appropriate for people with a negative relationship with food or a history of disordered eating (24, 25, 26).

Summary

For the average person, consuming the Rock’s diet would likely lead to weight gain. Instead, it’s best to follow some of the general principles of his diet (high protein and minimally processed) while customizing it to your own needs.

The Rock works out in his personal gym, known as the Iron Paradise. While his workouts vary based on his upcoming movie roles and personal goals, his most popular workout routine is the Hercules workout.

His workouts begin with 30–60 minutes of cardio followed by his first meal, the “Power Breakfast.” After, he spends around 90 minutes doing strength training.

According to the Rock’s social media, the Rock’s workouts are high intensity and involve heavy resistance. Therefore, your exercises should include heavy weights that you can safely use to perform all sets and reps.

That said, it’s important to tailor your workouts to your personal experience, goals, fitness level, and preferences. So you may wish to adjust the number of sets or reps and select exercises that work best for you.

Before starting this exercise program, speak with your healthcare professional or a trainer to figure out how to modify it for you.

Day 1: Chest and upper body

  • 30–60 minutes cardio
  • barbell bench press (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • incline dumbbell press (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • flat-bench dumbbell press (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • dumbbell flys (8–12 reps, 3 sets)
  • incline hammer curls (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • chest dips (to failure)

Day 2: Legs

  • 30–60 minutes cardio
  • walking lunges with barbell, chains, or dumbbells (20–25 steps, 4 sets)
  • leg extension (15–20 reps, 4 sets)
  • leg press (25 reps, 4 sets)
  • hack squats (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • single-leg hack squats (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • Romanian deadlifts (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • hamstring curls (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • barbell squat (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • hip abduction machine (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • standing calf raises (50–75 reps, 4 sets)

Day 3: Back and traps

  • 30–60 minutes cardio
  • pullups (4 sets to failure)
  • single-arm dumbbell rows (8–12 reps, 4 sets each side)
  • hammer strength double-arm rows (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • lat pulldowns (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • cable rows (pyramid drop sets; start with 12 reps, then 10, 8, and finish with 6)
  • shoulder shrugs with dumbbells (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • back hyperextensions (8–12 reps, 4 sets)

Day 4: Shoulders and upper body

  • 30–60 minutes cardio
  • shoulder press (pyramid drop sets; start with 12 reps, then 10, 8, and finish with 6)
  • seated dumbbell shoulder press (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • standing dumbbell lateral flys (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • single-arm cable lateral raises (8–12 reps, 4 sets each side)
  • reverse dumbbell flys (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • bent over dumbbell lateral raise (8–12 reps, 4 sets)

Day 5: Legs

  • 30–60 minutes cardio
  • walking lunges with barbell, chains, or dumbbells (20–25 steps, 4 sets)
  • leg extension (15–20 reps, 4 sets)
  • leg press (25 reps, 4 sets)
  • hack squats (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • single-leg hack squats (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • Romanian deadlifts (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • hamstring curls (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • barbell squat (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • hip abduction machine (8–12 reps, 4 sets)
  • standing calf raises (50–75 reps, 4 sets)

Day 6: Arms and abs

  • 30–60 minutes cardio
  • dumbbell curls (12–15 reps, 4 sets)
  • hammer curls (12–15 reps, 4 sets)
  • preacher curls (12–15 reps, 4 sets)
  • tricep pushdowns (12–15 reps, 4 sets)
  • tricep overhead extension with rope (12–15 reps, 4 sets)
  • rope crunch (20 reps, 4 sets)
  • Russian twist (20 reps, 4 sets)
  • hanging leg raises (20 reps, 4 sets)

Day 7: Rest day

Summary

The Rock’s Hercules workout involves 6 days of strength training and cardio with a rest day.

The Rock’s diet and exercise program is extreme and likely unsuitable for most people.

First, most people do not need to eat as many calories as the Rock. Instead, it’s best to follow a similar eating style (i.e., a high protein, minimally processed diet) and consume portions that are better suited for you.

His cheat day strategy might also not be a good fit, as you’re likely better off incorporating those foods in your diet every day in smaller amounts rather than denying yourself foods you enjoy all week.

His workouts are high intensity and designed for people who have experience with resistance training. If you’re a beginner, you may want to decrease the intensity (e.g., fewer sets, reps, and weight) and focus on proper form.

You may also want to add another rest day if you find that this program is leaving you excessively sore. Working with a qualified professional can help ensure you’re performing the exercises safely and effectively.

Finally, remember that the Rock’s physique is likely a combination of good genetics, hard work ethic, access to the best food and training equipment, and a team of top nutrition and fitness professionals.

So use his diet and fitness program as a guideline that you can modify to your physique, preferences, budget, and goals.

Summary

Leave the Rock’s diet and workout to the Rock, and instead use it as inspiration to suit your own personal calorie needs, preferences, and goals.

Along with great genetics, hard work ethic, and a team of professionals behind him, the Rock’s high protein diet and intense resistance training program help him build tremendous muscle mass.

That said, most people do not need to eat nearly as much food as the Rock does. Instead, it’s best to use his high protein eating style as a guide and tailor it to your calorie needs.

If you’re interested in trying his workouts, remember that the Rock has been training for decades. While you can use his workouts as a guide, be sure to customize it — especially if you’re a beginner — to match your current skill set, strength, and fitness goals.

And remember, the Rock’s results didn’t come overnight. Be patient and adapt your workouts and diet to suit your needs, preferences, and lifestyle.

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