We may have all contemplated the more cerebral matters in life in those immediate moments of recovery after a particularly punishing strength or treadmill session, but the concept of embedding deep thinking into the process of pumping iron isn’t something typically aligned to gym culture.
Perhaps it’s Dwayne Johnson’s place to change that. After all, if a movie and fitness icon with a global reach of devoted followers can’t do it, then who can?
RSNG spoke to The Rock about the importance of thinking fit as well as acting fit, and to find out his ultimate weekly workout.
RSNG You’ve spoken before about coming back from life’s disappointments and moving forward to fulfil your goals – do you ever look back? DWAYNE JOHNSON (THE ROCK), ACTOR ‘Oh sure, you must. It’s easy to lose sight of why you are where you are; and at the same time it’s really valuable to remind yourself of the big plan. Sometimes time passes and it’s easy for people to get distracted and lose the vision.’
RSNG But do the disappointments of the past ever trouble you? DJ ‘Am I strong enough to screen out all the bad stuff? No, I’d say I’m not. You know, you don’t want to pretend stuff didn’t happen in the past because that’s no good either. It’s your past that defines you but it’s your future that makes you.’
Exercise and weight training is the ultimate route towards inner peace and wellbeing
RSNG Statements like that kind of make you seem like one of the deepest thinkers in Hollywood... DJ ‘Who told you that, haha? I think there are lots of deep thinkers in Hollywood. In fact, I would say most of us think a bit too much. I do believe that fitness, working out and training will give you the biggest clear space you can have, and if you fill that space by thinking hard and working stuff out, then great.’
‘Exercise is such an intensely personal experience and it is so consumed with constant checks and adjustments, how can you not get a sense of yourself?’
RSNG What do you mean by ‘checks and adjustments’? DJ ‘Think about it. When you are bench pressing, you are listening to your body on every fraction that you push, every millimetre. As your arms straighten, your brain is in overdrive – it is assessing, responding, checking.’
‘I’ve said it before but I think exercise and weight training is the ultimate route towards inner peace and wellbeing, because the process is so personal. There is no-one else in there. It’s right up there with yoga and meditation – it’s the most personal experience you can have.’
RSNG But no-one is going to shed pounds just by thinking about it? DJ ‘No but you can prevent sliding towards a point where you are moving into excess. This is the big thing that people struggle with a lot of the time – if you actually really listen to your body when you sit down for a meal, that whole sensation of ‘hungry’… it will go away quicker than you think. And we have this thing about finishing a plateful. Why? Stop eating when you want to stop.’
‘I eat six meals a day but I am spreading out quantity through small portion sizes – I am listening all the time… most of the time!’
You’ll find that with practice you can talk yourself out of most temptations
RSNG You must have a bigger main meal in the evening? DJ ‘Yes but it’s the same ideas all the way through the week. It’s steak, chicken, fish; with white rice, broccoli, asparagus, small carbs and lots of water.’
RSNG Is it easy to stay motivated without the lure of ‘treat food’? DJ ‘Sometimes, no; but for me, I break it down into three stages: Firstly, I have to look at the goal. If my goal is getting in shape for a film then that’s my first focus.’
‘Secondly, is something I call ‘the mid-moment’. It’s saying, however much I crave something, when I imagine myself eating it is it worth the disappointment of knowing I’ve given in… even, is it worth the extra time I will need to spend to burn that excess back off.’
‘Thirdly, it’s the distraction – it’s the brain’s ability to say, “hey, I know you want this thing real bad, but consider all those other good things you’re going to have and do before the day is out.”’
‘You’ll find that with practice you can talk yourself out of most temptations.’
WHAT NEXT? Can you get close to replicating The Rock’s weekly fitness routine? (Spoiler alert – no you can’t, unless you’re already a beast, so take it slow and steady by doing cut-down versions of the following workouts and gradually building them up. Give your body a chance to rest and recover by starting with more rest days too.)
Day 1: Legs Barbell Walking Lunge – 4 sets x25 reps Leg Press – 4 sets x 25 reps Leg Extensions – 3 sets x 20 reps Barbell Squats – 4 sets x 12 reps Hack Squats – 4 sets x 12 reps Romanian Deadlift – 4 sets x 10 reps Seated Leg Curls – 3 sets x 20 reps Thigh Abductor – 4 set x 12 reps
Day 2: Back Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown – 4 sets x 12 reps Bent Over Barbell Row – 4 sets x 12 reps One Arm Dumbbell Row – 4 sets x 12 reps Barbell Deadlift – 3 sets x 10 reps Pull-Ups – 3 sets Dumbbell Shrug – 4 sets x 12 reps Inverted Row – 3 sets Hyperextension – 4 sets x 12 reps
Day 3: Shoulders Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 4 sets x 12 reps Standing Military Press – 4 sets x 12 reps Front Dumbbell Raise – 4 sets x 12 reps Side Lateral Raise – 4 sets x 12 reps Reverse Machine Flyes – 4 sets x 15 reps Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Raise – 4 sets x 12 reps
Day 4: Arms/Abs Dumbbell Bicep Curl – 4 sets x 15 reps Hammer Curls – 4 sets x 15 reps Spider Curl – 4 sets x 12 reps Triceps Pushdown – 4 sets x 15 reps Overhead Triceps – 3 sets x 15 reps Hanging Leg Raise – 4 sets x 20 reps Rope Crunch – 4 sets x 20 reps Russian Twist – 4 sets x 20 reps
Day 5: Legs Barbell Walking Lunge – 4 sets x 25 reps Leg Press – 4 sets x 25 reps Leg Extension – 3 sets x 20 reps Barbell Squat – 4 sets x 12 reps Hack Squat – 4 sets x 12 reps Romanian Deadlift – 4 sets x 10 reps Seated Leg Curl – 3 sets x 20 reps Thigh Abductor – 4 sets x 12 reps
Day 6: Chest Barbell Bench Press, medium grip – 4 sets x 12 reps Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 sets x 12 reps Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 sets x 12 reps Flat Bench Cable Flyes – 4 sets x 15 reps Incline Hammer Curls – 4 sets x 12 reps Dips, Chest Version – 4 sets x 10-12 reps
Day 7: Rest The Rock’s rest day typically encompasses replenishing his muscles with heroic cheat meals.
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.