Leg workout with The Rock The 6 best leg workout tips from Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson’s steely legs have made the sought-after Hollywood star look better than many an action double in one blockbuster or another. On social media, the Hollywood actor and bodybuilder occasionally gives insights into his tough workouts. But this is not for beginners. After all, the former wrestler has a 20-plus year sports and action hero career to build on, and has spent a lot of time in the gym learning from the best trainers, like celebrity coach Dave Rienzi.
To look anything like the 50-year-old does today, it takes years of training, a good disposition, and a lot of grit to stick with the workout routine and diet plan. As his trainer Rienzi told our U.S. colleagues at Men’s Health: "A lot of people his age are trying to get the physique. We try to develop the physique. It is very unique."
You can also! But maybe you start first with our 8-week leg training for everyday action heroes:
- Training plan
- Full body training with focus on legs
- perfect for the home gym
- 26 exercises in picture and video
- 28 pages, available on all devices
- Training plan
- Full body workout with focus on legs
- perfect for home gym
- 26 exercises in picture and video
- 28 pages, accessible on all devices
Goodbye stork thighs! Because with this plan, we’ll show you how to build visibly more muscle on your legs in just 8 weeks, even in the home gym. We’ll train your whole body, but of course the focus is on thighs, glutes& Co. So nothing stands in the way of the power legs anymore. So what are you waiting for?
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These are the leg exercises of The Rock
Nevertheless, even amateurs can learn some of Dwayne Douglas Johnson’s favorite exercises and learn a few things for their own training. A general and specific warm-up for the muscles to be used is, of course, obligatory beforehand. In addition, you should be familiar with your maximum weight and already know how much you can lift to stay in the so-called hypertrophy range at no more than 10 repetitions to build muscle especially effectively. How to determine the right dumbbell weight.
Did you know that even a rock like Johnson has serious knee and back problems?? For him, these are obviously no obstacle to train with a lot of weight. However, he pays attention to a few things. His top exercises for the lower body:
1. Hip Thrust
Above all, The Rock relies on hip thrusts with a barbell on the pelvis. The advantage: When lifting hips on a bench, there’s not as much weight on the knee joints as with squats and lunges. Means: Even with knee problems, as the actor knows them and therefore had to give up his football career already in university years, the Leg Day does not have to be cancelled. The prerequisites are the right exercises, absolutely correct execution and slowly approaching the right weight. "Making sure the glutes are firing properly is actually key to his pain-free workout, especially when we’re training the legs", explains his trainer.
2. Leg press
Dwayne Johnson also works the leg press in a knee-saving way – but with one leg. The trick: The Rock uses one leg with so much weight that only 8 to 10 repetitions are possible, and if nothing else, he does the same number of repetitions on both legs. But that’s not all: At the very last repetition he holds the tension for a few seconds. Only after that the other leg follows, with which he logically trains in the same way. So he challenges both legs to the limit in four sets alternately.
Squats come to Johnson only after his muscles have been well warmed up by the Hip Thrusts and the leg press in a guided movement. For the squats, too, only 10 to 12 repetitions in three to four sets are planned for maximum muscle growth. When training freely with the barbell, he likes to use additional accessories: His favorite tool is heavy chains. With these he increases the weight of the already considerably loaded barbell a bit more, but at the same time he can put more tension on the quadriceps. Plus: Johnson takes full advantage of the squat rack to work cleanly and with focus. He uses a safety bar to ensure a calculated range of motion that limits stress on the knees and lower back. Technique is everything.
The actor makes the last exercise in this hard leg workout more functional, i.e. he trains several muscle chains and joints in one movement. His favorite piece of training equipment, the chains, must not be missing in the process. For this he does without the barbell for the lunges, but does significantly more repetitions than usual. 3 times 30 repetitions are on the plan here. Alternatively, use Bulgarian Split Squats, backward lunges with the back leg on a bench. He starts with two chains on his shoulders, puts one of them down after ten repetitions and the last ten lunges he just about wrestles off with his own bodyweight, which with his stately 118 kilograms and after the previous training looks anything but a walk in the park:
A Leg Day deluxe, or? You see, it takes nothing more than four optimally coordinated exercises for maximum muscle, performed with heavy weight, minimal rests and to exhaustion. By the way, according to fitness trainer Rienzi, this Leg Day, including warm-up exercises, fascia roll and final mobility workout, lasts around 90 minutes. Johnson often trains after midnight or in the early morning hours.
Presumably, the action hero can crack nuts with his butt by now. According to his conventional bodybuilding split, arm workouts are then called for the next day:
6 training tips from The Rocks Leg Day
To understand how an actor manages not only to internalize his roles down to the last detail, but also to gain full control over his physical appearance – and, unlike many other Hollywood stars, to keep or. continue to develop – is not enough to acquire The Rocks repertoire of exercises. You have to look at the whole training concept of Dwayne Johnson and his coach Dave Rienzi. First and foremost, of course, this includes a sophisticated diet – according to Instagram, the Johnson family enjoys the cooking skills of a private chef. For details on The Rock’s meal plan, check out this article.
In addition, such a high intensity workout (extreme weight plus short rests) is also about a balanced training frequency: it’s not for nothing that he trains a different part of the body every day (you can read more about split training here) and keeps one rest day per week, so that the muscles used can regenerate sufficiently. Good and sufficient sleep also plays a role here. You can learn more about regeneration here.
All this is nothing new for you? Great, then take a look at the professional training lessons you can learn from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnsons can look off:
1. Use drop sets
As you have seen from the example of the leg press or the lunges, Dwayne Johnsons like many other bodybuilders relies on drop sets. This is a reduction set, initially working with maximum weight until nothing works anymore. But then you don’t pause, you drop some weight or grab a lighter weight and wrestle a few more reps out of yourself. This pushes the muscle load to the limit. According to a 2018 scientific study, just one drop set can provide significant muscle gains compared to conventional three-set training.
Drop sets are particularly useful for isolation exercises or as an intensive finisher at the end of a strenuous training session. You can take an example from The Rock, who throws off the chains during the lunges or works on the leg press with one leg at first, but in the end gets more repetitions out of it by adding the other leg and finally holds the tension statically for a moment longer in order to challenge his muscles to the very last.
2. Don’t train for more than 2-3 weeks with the same plan
Dwayne Johnson and his coach Dave Rienzi update the training plan every two to three weeks to keep Johnson’s muscles growing with new stimuli. Often it is enough to exchange only a few exercises and to turn also times at the order or at the tempo. In the future you should also claim this for yourself. If in doubt, consult an experienced trainer or get professional plans for your goals from us.
3. Stay focused until the set breaks
Johnson deliberately keeps the recovery breaks between sets strenuously short. Fitness trainer Rienzi justifies it in such a way: "The legs need only 1 to 1.5 minutes of rest between the sets. This technique makes the muscles tired, but does not build pressure or stress on the nervous system and adrenal glands." You need to know that very intense and long workouts that last more than an hour or even more are stressful for the body. This can, if you keep overloading your body during training and don’t take break days, disrupt the interaction of hormones, such as receptors no longer working properly and the axis of hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal gland becoming too active. This causes an excess of the stress hormone cortisol, which blocks other important processes in the body: The consequences of this can be concentration disorders, metabolic disorders, diabetes, a weakened immune system and even depression, as the Techniker Krankenkasse explains in an article.
You don’t want that! You don’t want to get sick or break down physically, but you want to build up a lot of muscle mass quickly. For this, it is important to challenge the muscles properly, but in a well-dosed and focused manner: Train concentrated until the set break and leave your smartphone on the left – do not drag out the breaks unnecessarily. This way you can achieve more in less time, don’t stress your body for too long, are back home faster and can devote yourself to other things in peace and quiet.
4. Train unilaterally more often
Professional coach Rienzi is a big fan of unilateral exercises: "I like to incorporate them because it corrects muscle imbalances that you might not even notice." This is where, in addition to the major muscle groups, the deep core muscles come into play, which are responsible for helping you maintain body tension and find balance. So you get a wonderful coordination training for your head as well. So unilateral or unilateral training is a great change for body and mind.
5. Challenge muscles with multiple exercises
After a certain level of training, it’s hard to really fatigue the muscles. Dwayne Johnson therefore uses the effect of several exercises in a row without rest, i.e. superset training, instead of straining his knee joints with countless squats under record weights. "Because he is an actor and action star, and his roles are very physical, I can’t structure programs that put too much stress on his nervous system.", explains Rienzi. "Of course, if he’s rocking 500, 600 pounds, that would put a lot of strain on his nervous system and adrenal glands, and he wouldn’t be able to perform properly on screen." This is where the topic of stress, cortisol and concentration comes into play again. That’s why Rienzi likes to do a lot of pre-fatigue techniques with him: first the leg press, then squats. Maybe this is also an option for you?
6. Use additional equipment
Sometimes the way to the gym is too far or training outside the home is difficult due to Corona or other adverse circumstances. Okay, but don’t skip it and get creative! If you don’t have any heavy weights at hand, see if you can’t move other loads for training purposes. How about the full beer crate in the basement or a fallen log in the forest? Maybe your dad has some heavy tow ropes or chains lying around in the basement. In the end, however, any bodyweight training is better than none at all for maintaining muscle and training progress. And if you have the chance to train in the gym, try out other machines or equipment that you didn’t know what to do with before. Get advice! Even a pro like Dwayne Johnson still trains with a trainer and isn’t above using a safety bar on the barbell for the benefit of optimal technique.
Conclusion: Advanced users in particular benefit from finetuning
Especially those who have been strength training for a long time know that it’s not only about regular training and an adapted diet. But also on enough weight plus the so called Time under Tension, focus and technique as well as constantly new training stimuli. In this respect Dwayne Johnson is a strong role model. Who, by the way, posted on Instagram, "Go through hell training, especially on leg day. Legs distinguish men from boys. Never skip Leg Day!" In this sense: let your legs burn!