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September 18, 2017

Eat and Train Like The Rock: Lessons from Dwayne Johnson

If you want to achieve high physical performance, if you want to stay in meticulous shape into middle age and beyond, then train and eat like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Dwayne Johnson is unique and highly accomplished – former professional football player (also won a National Championship in 1991 playing for the University Miami), world-renowned former pro-wrestler with 17 WWE titles, and now Hollywood’s highest grossing movie star and its biggest action hero.

Dwayne Johnson*Before we go further, the person in the photo above is not Dwayne Johnson, but a close facsimile.

Staying in immaculate physical shape and fitness throughout his 45 years of life has been the major key to all his success. This separates Mr. Johnson from many former professional athletes who have allowed their bodies to disintegrate since leaving the sports arena (Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Charles Barkley to name a few).

With so much success behind him perhaps we can learn much from his diet and exercise program.

What does he eat and how does he train to achieve peak performance? Here is what we discovered much of which comes from an article published in Train Magazine on July 16, 2016.

Dwayne Johnson: What He Does

Daily Commitment

The Rock trains six days a week year round. This is unusual for both professional athletes and celebrities or actors. Athletes usually take some time off from training during their off-season and so do actors in between shooting films. Not Dwayne Johnson. He takes Sundays off but that is about it.

Why does he rarely takes break from training?

He says, “Working out anchors my day. For me, training is my meditation, my yoga, hiking, biking, therapy all rolled into one. I love it. Generally, I’m always shooting or preparing to shoot for something, so that’s why I like keeping my conditioning in a certain zone. But even if I wasn’t it would launch my day. It makes me feel good.”

He will vary his training and diet now as an actor depending on the role he is playing, but the daily commitment and dedication to staying fit is with him each day.

What a great lesson. When you are feeling good, why change what you are doing, is our thought. Don’t open the door to slip backwards. This is good advice to follow in retirement. You have to stay in the “game of life.” Develop a positive habit, then maintain it!

Staying fit and eating healthy isn’t for slackers. Getting back into shape after you have slacked off some is difficult and becomes increasing challenging with age. It is easier to stay in shape then it is to regain it once it has been lost. Stay in shape!

Intense Workouts

We have discussed this in prior posts. When you exercise, do so with intensity (see Exercise with Intensity). No lollygagging or pussyfooting around. To make gains with your workouts you have to go beyond what you have done in the past. You will not get better if you run at the same pace, or run the same distance, or lift the same amount of weight. You have to strive to do more. Do more!

Challenge yourself. That is what Dwayne Johnson does. His workouts are intense.

He is an early riser sometimes getting up as early as 3 or 4 AM and starts his day with 30 to 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise – either running, elliptical, or cross-trainer. His workout clothes are drenched with sweat when done with his cardiovascular workout.

He then eats breakfast (we will get into that below).

Then he hits the steel and iron banging and clanging the weights for 90 to 115 minutes.

In preparation for the Hercules (2014) his 22 week training program included:

He lifted weights six days a week exercising a different body part each day. He exercised four body parts each one day a week (chest, abs and arms, back, and shoulders) and legs twice a week.

He performed 6 to 9 different lifts during each workout typically doing 4 sets of 12 reps for most lifts (just 5 exercises for shoulders). Therefore, he is performed 24 to 36 sets totaling 288 to 432 reps a workout. That is some serious banging and clanging.

  • Monday: chest
  • Tuesday: legs
  • Wednesday: abs and arms
  • Thursday: back
  • Friday: shoulder
  • Saturday: legs

Sunday is an off day from weights and cardiovascular. Six days of work and one day of rest. Where else have we seen that concept?

How can you not get more chiseled with that type of program?  Develop a plan, then work the plan!

Dwayne Johnson: Eating Plan

Dwayne Johnson eats early and often (I wonder if he votes the same way).

In order to add more mass to his already massive frame he ate seven meals a day in preparation for Hercules. These were meals, not snacks. His first meal was eaten after his early morning cardiovascular workout.

Below is an outline of his meals (from Train Magazine).

  • Meal 1
    • 10 ounces of cod
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 2 cups oatmeal
  • Meal 2
    • 8 ounces of cod
    • 12 ounces of sweet potato
    • 1 cup of veggies
  • Meal 3
    • 8 ounces of chicken
    • 2 cup veggies
    • 2 cups white rice
  • Meal 4
    • 8 ounces of cod
    • 1 cup veggies
    • 2 cups rice
    • 1 tablespoon fish oil
  • Meal 5
    • 8 ounces of steak
    • spinach salad
    • 12 ounces of baked potato
  • Meal 6
    • 10 ounces of cod
    • salad
    • 2 cups of rice
  • Meal 7
    • 30 grams casein protein
    • 10 egg-white omelet
    • 1 tablespoon omega-3 fish oil
    • 1 cup veggies

As you can see that’s a lot of food. Do you see a recurring theme with most of the meals? Protein, healthy fats, healthy carbs (starchy and non-starchy) with nearly every meal. His veggies consisted primarily of broccoli and asparagus.

Keep in mind he was trying to add muscle mass and that requires ample protein and a training stimulus (weight training). Also given the intensity of his workouts it is essential to reduce post workout inflammation which would be accomplished by healthy fats in fish (cod) and fish oil supplements as well as antioxidants in veggies. The starchy carbs would provide energy to his cells to perform his workouts and recover from them.

Excluding his meal plan for Hercules he typically eats five meals a day, but the content of those meals is much the same, just two fewer meals. His meals are planned out in advance and everything is measured.

Again, he has a plan and then works the plan. That right there is probably the biggest key to any success.

Lessons from Dwayne Johnson

You may not want or have a need to follow Dwayne Johnson’s diet and exercise routine, but we don’t see anything in his diet that most nutritionists would consider unhealthy. In other words, the content of his each of his meals his healthy.  We don’t see any potato chips or chocolate candy, or any processed foods. As he says, “Nutrition is so important, it can’t be stressed enough.”

His workouts are intense along the lines of our recommendations. A workout should challenge you if your goal is to improve in some manner.

But, the biggest lesson we feel you can learn from Mr. Johnson and most likely the reason for his tremendous success is this. He is prepared, pays attention to detail, develops a plan, executes the plan, and executes it with his very best effort. And, that is a winning formula.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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