Dwayne Johnson smiling

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is absolutely smashing the action movie genre these days, with some of the world’s most successful high-octane box office hits on his resume. Starting his career as a professional wrestler, Johnson has always maintained a healthy and bulky physique, which has been very helpful in tackling the demanding action roles he’s taken on in the last several years.

For movies like The Fate of the Furious, Rampage, and Baywatch, Johnson needed to be at his peak performance. He often tailors his training needs based on what was required of him in each movie. The actor also is very open about his routines and how he keeps his body in tip-top shape, sharing his workout plan along with his diet on Instagram.

It’s been known for years that Johnson would portray the notorious DC villain Black Adam, but he officially began training to play the antihero in January 2020, according to Men’s Health. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, production halted for Black Adam, but filming officially picked back up in April 2021, meaning the star had well over a year to perfect his physique to fit his new costume.

In addition to his vigorous regimen, Johnson has also dedicated time to perfecting his roles in other aspects. Let’s break down all the ways Johnson is getting ready for Black Adam.

Note: Johnson’s diet and exercise routine is specially designed for his body and his needs, based on the expertise of doctors and trainers, as well as his own knowledge. Please do not attempt to follow his Black Adam plan without discussing it with your own doctor or trainer.

Learning the literature and studying lines

Prepping for Black Adam doesn’t just include perfecting his body. Johnson has studied the lore and origins of the infamous DC Comics villain. Johnson is known to be playing the character as more of an antihero with an "eye for an eye" attitude.

Johnson noted in a February 2021 Instagram post that he enjoyed learning the mythology behind the character, which he described as "fun." We also know he’s been prepping by studying his lengthy script, which he also showed a copy of on his Instagram page, complete with watermarks of his initials. Three weeks away from filming, Johnson noted he was up past midnight learning his lines, ready to give us the best Black Adam he can. He’s constantly repeating his character’s mantra on social media, amping up fans around the globe who are finally excited to see him on screen: "Well, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day. And tell the world that everything’s okay. But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back. ‘Til things are brighter…I’m the Man In Black."

Setting up the Iron Paradise

Anyone who follows Johnson on Instagram knows that much of his time is spent in the Iron Paradise. This is the name given to his gym, which he’s reconstructed at all of his homes, in addition to the traveling gym that comes with him when he’s on location filming different movies. Johnson has noted several times on his Instagram feed that the Iron Paradise contains around 40,000 pounds of steel and iron, and this setup is a necessity for him when preparing for a project.

According to Garage Gym Reviews, the Iron Paradise normally seen on his Instagram feed is at his Miami residence, though he also has a nearly identical gym on his Virginia ranch. The gym is equipped with dumbbells that go up to 150 pounds, as well as 12-sided iron-grip plates. The Iron Paradise also includes a Kabuki Transformer Bar, as well as equipment made by Star Trac.

What’s not in the Iron Paradise is just as important as what is. Johnson’s gym is free of televisions, mirrors, towels, and even water stations. When the actor hits the floor, it’s go time; there’s no room for distractions or vanity.

Morning cardio workouts

Johnson isn’t a one-and-done when it comes to stepping into the Iron Paradise. He’s all about two-a-days, and sometimes three-a-days. The actor is in and out of his gym constantly, with no time of the day off-limits. He always starts his training days the same way: with a morning cardio workout. These morning cardio sessions are absolutely crucial to the rest of his day in the gym, and he has no issues waking up at the crack of dawn to get things going. Johnson goes back in forth between 30-50 minutes on either the treadmill or elliptical, which sends him into a solid sweat.

"I love putting in that hard work as early as possible to get my day started off on the right foot, mentally and physically," Johnson told Body Building in mid-2020. "Depending on the role I’m training for or playing at the time, I usually smash out about 30-50 minutes on the elliptical cross trainer first thing in the morning, whether I’m at home or at a hotel, after drinking a cup of coffee. But when I’m at home, I like to hit the road as well. And after cardio, I eat breakfast."

Focusing on split workouts

Johnson is in the gym six days a week, which means there isn’t enough time to dedicate a whole day to one zone of his body. Therefore, the superstar has mastered the art of the split workout. Each day, Johnson will focus on two to three body zones and put all his energy into getting those areas to their peak. Since Black Adam is remarkably shredded even among the toned physiques of most comic book heroes, Johnson can’t slack. The actor really prepped for the DC movie during quarantine in 2020, sharing his weekly split workout with his 200 million Instagram followers.

After his morning cardio sessions, Johnson breaks down each of his days as follows:

  • Monday: Chest, calves, and abdomen
  • Tuesday: Back, neck, and abdomen
  • Wednesday: Deltoids and abdomen
  • Thursday: Arms, calves, and abdomen
  • Friday: Chest, back, and abdomen
  • Saturday: Legs, calves, and (you guessed it) abdomen

Chest and tricep days

In one of his official Black Adam training Instagram posts, Johnson broke down his entire workout for his chest, as well as his triceps. For the former, the actor does three giant sets with four exercises per set to hit all parts of his chest. Then he progresses to fly movements, which involve fully extending the arms and rotating them in circles while keeping the elbows from bending. Following that up are chest presses, then incline presses, and then the real killer: bodyweight dips. Johnson reps these out until failure — i.e., until his body physically won’t let him do more.

"That is a son of a b*tch," Johnson says in his Instagram post, regarding the body dips. "The work is very hard but it’s why we play the game," he also admits in his caption. He notes that rest between these workouts should be minimal, or only long enough for a brief recovery.

For triceps, it’s basically the same setup: another three huge sets, broken down into four different exercises. "Push yourself to the limit but be smart with the weight. No ego training," he says. "Plus, if it comes easy — it’s boring."

Leg days

In a midnight training session for Black Adam, Johnson explained his entire leg workout on Instagram. He noted that this is his hardest workout, which is why he saves it for last on Saturdays. The Ballers star made sure to tell his fans that stretching before leg days is imperative, suggesting 20-30 minutes when you’re tackling a workout this intense.

These giant sets start with leg extension and curls and are followed by compound pressing movements, chain lunges (fit with 100-pound chains around his neck), shark pit squats, and barbell squats. "Multiple rounds of these giant sets. These are a real b*tch so get your mind right and push yourself," Johnson says of his leg sets. Then it’s time to focus on his hamstrings and calves. "It’s a lot of hard work (especially balancing everything else life throws our way) but I really enjoy the challenge of new goals," he says. "New things to build. Pushing myself. It gets my blood going."

Shoulder days

Johnson’s shoulder days are all about maximizing the blood volume, which he noted in an Instagram post dedicated to that area of his body. It’s all to fine-tune and etch the muscles, he says, which need to keep their fullness and their hardness, especially given his strict diet. According to Muscle & Fitness, these shoulder workouts include dumbbell lateral raises, EZ bar front raises, shoulder presses, and a second set of lateral and bar front raises to follow.

This specific workout was tailored by Johnson’s personal trainer, Dave Rienzi. Rienzi designs his buddy’s workout specifically for The Rock’s body and his needs, depending on the film he’s shooting. In a post the trainer shared on his own Instagram timeline, he reminds his followers that not everyone should attempt these rigorous workouts. "DJ’s content is created through an actual workout that I structure in advance depending upon his physical state," Rienzi stated. The famous Hollywood trainer has also worked with the likes of Henry Cavill as he geared up to play Superman.

Back and bicep days

As Johnson heads to the Iron Paradise on Mondays to "clang and bang," as he says, he prepares for all supersets for his back and biceps. "There’s a lot of blood and volume being pumped into the muscle," he notes in another Instagram workout post. According to Men’s Health, this back workout consists of pull-ups, dumbbell bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, seated cable rows, and dumbbell shrugs.

For his biceps, it’s all about the reverse curls, spider curls, standing bicep curls, and tricep extensions to finish it out. Johnson calls it an "insane pump and intense workout," which is helping him to become the "Dirty Harry of Superheroes." Johnson has also noted in his back and bicep Instagram video, that learning the story of Black Adam is just as important as mastering the physicality of becoming the "Man in Black" and "makes for a [one-of-a-kind] prep I’ve never experienced before in my career."

Post-workout intake

Johnson has made it clear that he starts his morning cardio off on an empty stomach, so that means there’s lots of intake after his second workout of the day. The first thing he inhales just after his Black Adam training is his post-workout protein shake. He shared the recipe for his recovery beverage to Instagram, which includes 65-70 grams of protein powder, 35 grams of carbohydrates, one whole apple, one scoop of electrolytes, creatine, water, and ice. "Don’t over look the importance of getting in your protein/carb/sugar immediately after your workout," Johnson reminded his fans. "It’s that critical time where your muscles will optimally absorb these nutrients after you’ve torn the muscles down from your workout."

About an hour after he drinks his smoothie, Johnson will have his last meal of the night which he says is rather "boring." This includes chicken breast, greens, and two cups of rice, which leads us to one of the biggest factors in prepping for Black Adam: the diet.

Dieting

Johnson’s diet is just as imperative to his prep for Black Adam as his workouts are, and he’s got the science down to a T. When talking with Body Building, he broke down his meals and what some of the most important staples are when it comes to his diet.

"Diet-wise, I generally eat five meals a day. I’m very prepared and organized, and everything is planned out in advance. 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 says. "The other staples in my diet include chicken, steak filets, egg whites, oatmeal, broccoli, halibut, rice, asparagus, baked potato, leafy salads, peppers, mushrooms, and onions, and then also some casein protein."

In a March 2021 Instagram post, Johnson said that all of his food is weighed and measured so all his "conditioning can come in on point." A traditional breakfast during Black Adam training for Johnson includes whole eggs and egg whites, beef tenderloin, oatmeal and blueberries, and gluten-free Ezekiel English muffins with smart butter. Lunch and dinner are a little more flexible, and Johnson often fits in more than just the three traditional meals per day. The man is 6’5" tall and weighs 260 pounds, after all.

Cheat meals

Johnson’s followers on Instagram have come to love his cheat meal posts, where he shares the absolutely insane, over-the-top indulgences as he finally gets to scarf down after waiting all week. Cheat meals come on Sundays, his day off in the gym, and can be for any meal of the day. These meals are so important to someone like Johnson training for a huge role, as they offer a sense of normalcy in a time otherwise dedicated to rigorously strengthening your body.

Per dozens of posts on his Instagram feed, Johnson’s cheat meals often included several pounds of sushi, double cheeseburgers, peanut butter pancakes, ice cream, various cookies, turkey subs, and fudge brownies. The actor loves a "midnight sugar train," which is evident in the choice of many sweet delights. His cravings also change based on where he’s currently residing, as he has many favorite local hotspots. One thing that always remains the same, however, is Johnson’s love of paper plates and plastic utensils.

Getting the right amount of sleep

With only so many hours in the day, Johnson needs to plan out his 24 hours carefully, and that means cutting back on sleep. The actor has to make sure there’s no wasted time, meaning he only allows himself about three to five hours of sleep a night, according to an interview with Variety.

"The only thing that’s regimented is I have to wake up before the sun gets up, and I have my two hours alone when no one else is up and the house is quiet," Johnson said. "I often sacrifice two hours of sleep just so I can have the quiet two hours that I need before the whole house wakes up, including the animals." During this alone time, he likes to meditate and lay out his plans for the day. He also mentioned that time alone is crucial to prepping himself mentally for what he has ahead, including his grueling workouts.

Healing his temple

Recovery doesn’t just mean a cooldown period after leg presses, but also how Johnson takes care of his body as a whole. While he’s known for sharing his workouts and cheat meals on Instagram, the action star also shares photos of himself taking care of his body in special ways, including cupping and acupuncture.

In an Instagram post where he showed off the gnarly circles on his back after a round of cupping treatment, Johnson used one of his motto: "We only get one body, so we gotta take care of it." The more he can heal his body and keep it feeling fresh, the more he can push it in the gym, giving us the best Black Adam we can get.

"Always looking for new techniques to keep this 250-million-year-old dinosaur body balanced and optimal with not only all my past injuries but my daily grinding family/work/training/repeat schedule. It all takes it toll, so being proactive is critical," he’s also said.

In a post where he documented an acupuncture session, the superstar also mentioned all the issues his body has faced over the years, and why taking time out to heal is so important. According to the former wrestler, he has suffered from a "torn quadricep off [his] pelvis, torn adductor off [his] pelvis, triple hernia surgery, ruptured Achilles’ tendon, completely [sic] shoulder reconstruction, three low[er] back disc herniations," and "two low[er] back disc ruptures."

Family breaks

Maintaining one’s mental health is critical, and Johnson takes it seriously while embracing a new role or business venture. The actor takes time out of his very busy schedule to get some much-needed family time with his children and wife, while he tackles his preparation of Black Adam.

Every once in a while, Johnson posts a sweet video with himself and one of his daughters on social media, which often puts him in some super girly situations. They aren’t ones he takes for granted, however. "Life is so busy. Pulls at us from every angle. Nonstop. These li[‘]l quiet moments, with my babies — man[,] I need these," Johnson noted in a post with his daughter.

His daughters have even noticed all the hard work he’s put in for Black Adam; in one of The Rock’s funniest Instagram posts, the girls try to figure out what’s wrong with his calloused hands.