Dwayne Johnson's Rock-Hard Hercules Workout And Diet Plan

To play the son of Zeus in the upcoming blockbuster ''Hercules,'' Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson took his training to an entirely new level. In this interview, the movie icon reveals how you can build the body of a demigod.

After watching Hercules" in theaters on July 25, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson wants you to come away with one thing on your mind: that you've just witnessed the biggest, meanest, baddest and, more importantly, most definitive version of Hercules ever seen on the big screen.

For the majority of Hollywood's action stars, the task of realistically portraying an ancient Greek demigod would be more challenging than combining all 12 labors the mythical son of Zeus had to undertake. Many have tried in the past, and many have failed. Even for Johnson, with 260 pounds of muscle already clinging to his massive 6-foot-5 frame, it would prove no mean feat.

But after spending the majority of his life in the gym training to be a professional football player, world-renowned pro wrestler, and one of Hollywood's highest-ever grossing movie stars, it was a labor he had all the weapons to overcome.

Here, in his own words, Johnson reveals how he obtained the skin-stretching muscle he needed for his starring role as Hercules, and explains why nutrition is the most important facet of getting big.

Hercules official trailer
Watch The Video - 1:25


Herculean Effort

When you're an athlete-turned-actor who already has a physique idolized by millions around the world, you might think it would be easy to rest on your laurels. Not so with Dwayne Johnson. That's why he was Hollywood's highest-grossing movie star of 2013, with his four films pulling in $1.3 billion at the box office.

If there's one thing life has taught the former national championship-winning footballer, it's that you only get what you're willing to put in. That's why he dedicates so much of his time and energy to making sure he's at his physical peak when he steps onto the movie set.

"For different roles my condition and training and diet does alter," Johnson states. "Depending on the role, it will really dictate the type of training I do. For 'Hercules,' it was a 22-week diet, while for 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' it was about a 14-week diet, and for 'Pain & Gain' I wanted to come out looking bulky, big, and dangerous, so we adjusted accordingly.

"When you're playing a character like the son of Zeus, you only get one shot."

"For 'Hercules,' I went for the demigod look: big and mean. When you're playing a character like the son of Zeus, you only get one shot. The intensity of the training was definitely up, as was the volume of training. I really wanted to make it the definitive version of Hercules. We wanted to make it darker in tone and we based it off Steve Moore and Admira Wijaya's 'Hercules: The Thracian Wars' graphic novel, which is pretty dark."

He adds: "And then the intensity of preparation for the movies depends on the role. The training, nutrition, fight choreography, weapons training, and stunt planning are all altered accordingly. I always go in committed and try to make it the best it can be. For 'Hercules,' I wanted to respect the mythology, or with "Fast & Furious," I wanted to respect this massive franchise. For the G.I. Joe movies, it was similar because it's already an established brand and already an established character. You've got to look the part."

To look the part for "Hercules," Johnson elevated his training significantly, using a six-days-on, one-day-off schedule for six months to help him bulk up. At the beginning of each morning, Johnson would complete a 50-minute cardio session before working on a specific body part depending on what day it was, with his legs being the only muscle group that received more than one workout per week.

"I start working out pretty early, around 4 a.m. When I'm filming, I do cardio and I lift before going to set. I train about six days a week, and even when I'm not filming I get up between 3 and 5 a.m. just to train. I love training when the sun is coming up because it allows me to put on my headphones and step off the crazy treadmill that is everyone's life. I have my headphones on and I'm listening to my music, and I'm 100 percent focused. There's no wasted time or effort when it comes to me and the weights.

"I work out for about 90 minutes, or maybe an hour and 45 minutes. When I hit the gym, I'm coming! I train hard, I come to kick ass—clanging and banging. With something like "Hercules," I was in costume and make-up for a few hours before shooting, so I'd have to get in the workout early."

And while other actors may slack off with their training schedules once they've got a movie in the can, Johnson is among the minority of people who is in the gym all year round.

"Working out anchors my day," he says. "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 feels good."

A Feast For the Gods

Although Johnson will be the first to tell you his vigorous training sessions have helped him get where he needs to be physically, he also follows an incredibly strict diet before and during filming.

But once again he felt he needed to up his game for "Hercules," so Johnson and his nutrition team created his "12 Labors" diet, filled with large amounts of protein, carbs and fats, to make sure he was in the best shape of his life.

"Generally, I eat six or seven times a day," he says. "It's about getting enough protein to aid lean muscle growth, and everything is very precisely measured depending on what targets I'm looking to hit for that day. Lots of protein, good carbs, and veggies. Nutrition is so important, it can't be stressed enough.

"For 'Hercules,' it was a 22-week diet, full on. I'd eat a bunch of egg whites, filet mignon, chicken, fish, oatmeal, broccoli, asparagus, a baked potato, cream of rice, salad and complex carbs. All of this measured and weighed."

'I'd eat a bunch of egg whites, filet mignon, chicken, fish, oatmeal, broccoli, asparagus, a baked potato, cream of rice, salad, and complex carbs.'

He adds: "It was all about hard work, discipline, and balance. I had carbs with every meal, so there was always a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Then part of my daily regime was my glucosamine and then also a multitude of multivitamins. Then I had glutamine, branched-chain amino acids, chondroitin, and one protein shake a day, which I drank after training."

After years of playing football and being a wrestler in the WWE, Johnson has had his fair share of injuries, and now at 41 years of age it's become even more difficult to get into top-notch physical shape without his body falling apart.

"When I hit 40, I really began to start training smarter," he states with a chuckle. "I've always tried to educate myself on my nutrition, about supplements, what I'm eating, when I'm eating, exercises, calories, and so on. Eventually I hired an awesome conditioning coach who helped me.

"He helped me prepare for a variety of these roles, and in between roles, hitting different things. And when we get into our 40s, all of a sudden we start feeling aches and pains. I take glucosamine and chondroitin for my poor joints."

Role Of A Lifetime

With his dedication to fitness and nutrition second to none among Hollywood actors, Johnson has firmly cemented himself as, literally and figuratively, the biggest action hero in the world.

And even though he's dazzled on the big screen as Roadblock in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and Luke Hobbs in the "Fast and Furious" franchise, Johnson believes that playing Hercules is not only the biggest role of his career, but a dream come true.

"When I first broke into movies, Hercules was one of the projects I had in the back of my mind," he recalls. "I always thought, 'Man, I would love to do that one day.' And I always wanted to play a dramatic Hercules, a guy who's survived in barren lands and who is haunted, in a way. Here's a man who has to accept and embrace his own myth.

"This was definitely a passion project for me, and I rocked the leather loincloth like a badass with his battle club. And that damn loincloth, there can be mishaps if you know what I mean--when you're swinging about," he laughs. "I'm really happy with what we've accomplished with 'Hercules.' We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this movie."

Clanging And Banging With Dwayne Johnson

To prepare himself for the role of Hercules, Johnson took on a six-month training schedule which would have challenged the most dedicated athletes and bodybuilders. TRAIN and Bodybuilding.com offer you an outline of Johnson's workout regimen. Remember to do an hour of cardio before you hit the weights.

Monday: Chest
1

Dumbbell Bench Press

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press

2

Flat Bench Cable Flyes

3 sets of failure
Flat Bench Cable Flyes Flat Bench Cable Flyes

3
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

4

Incline Dumbbell Press

5 sets of 10-12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

5

Cable Crossover

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Cable Crossover Cable Crossover

6
Barbell Incline Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Incline Bench Press - Medium Grip

Tuesday: Legs
1

Leg Press

4 sets of 25 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

2

Barbell Walking Lunge

4 sets of 25 reps
Barbell Walking Lunge Barbell Walking Lunge

3

Leg Extensions

3 sets of 20 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

4

Seated Leg Curl

3 sets of 20 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

5

Smith Machine Calf Raise

3 sets of failure
Smith Machine Calf Raise Smith Machine Calf Raise

6

Thigh Abductor

3 sets of 15 reps
Thigh Abductor Thigh Abductor

7

Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 20 reps
Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge

Wednesday: Abs And Arms
1

Barbell Curl

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

2

Hammer Curls

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

3

Spider Curl

4 sets to failure
Spider Curl Spider Curl

4

Triceps Pushdown

3 sets of 10 reps
Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

5

Dips - Triceps Version

3 sets to failure
Dips - Triceps Version Dips - Triceps Version

6

Hanging Leg Raise

4 sets of 20 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

7

Rope Crunch

4 sets of 20 reps
Rope Crunch Rope Crunch

8

Russian Twist

4 sets of 20 reps
Russian Twist Russian Twist




thursday: back
1

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

4 sets of 10-15 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

2

Barbell Deadlift

4 sets of 10-15 reps
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

3

Barbell Shrug

4 sets of 15 reps
Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug

4

Pullups

4 sets of 15 reps
Pullups Pullups

5
Hyperextensions (Back Extensions) Hyperextensions (Back Extensions)

6

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

4 sets of 15 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Row One-Arm Dumbbell Row

7

Inverted Row

3 sets to failure
Inverted Row Inverted Row

Friday: Shoulders
1

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

4 sets of 12 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2

Front Dumbbell Raise

4 sets of 12 reps
Front Dumbbell Raise Front Dumbbell Raise

3

Side Lateral Raise

4 sets of 12 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

4

Standing Military Press

4 sets of 12 reps
Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

5

Standing Military Press

3 sets of 10-15 reps
Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

Saturday: Legs
1

Leg Press

4 sets of 25 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

2

Barbell Walking Lunge

4 sets of 25 reps
Barbell Walking Lunge Barbell Walking Lunge

3

Leg Extensions

3 sets of 20 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

4

Leg Extensions

3 sets of 20 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

5

Smith Machine Calf Raise

3 sets to failure
Smith Machine Calf Raise Smith Machine Calf Raise

6

Thigh Abductor

3 sets of 15 reps
Thigh Abductor Thigh Abductor

7

Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 20 reps
Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge


Sunday: rest

Can You Smell What The Rock Is Cookin'?

Although Johnson didn't have anything in his diet quite like the blood of the Nemean lion Hercules had to kill, that didn't stop him from taking on the tough "12 Labors" diet, which included several protein-packed meals that helped him portray his character's legendary strength on screen.

Meal 1

steak 10oz


egg whites 4


oatmeal 5oz


meal 2

chicken 8oz


white rice 2 cups


broccoli 1 cup


meal 3

white rice 2 cups


halibut 8oz


asparagus 1 cup


meal 4

chicken 8oz


baked potato 12oz


broccoli 1 cup


meal 5

halibut 8oz


white rice 1/2 cup


asparagus 1 cup


meal 6

steak 8oz


baked potato 9oz


salad


meal 7

casein protein 30 g


egg whites 10



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