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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was guaranteed to bring high levels of flash, tenacity, and intensity any time he stepped into the ring back in his days at WWE to his current status as the most in-demand action star on the big screen. So, how does the rock build that amount of mass and muscle—especially in his legs, which can be notoriously hard to bulk? The Rock’s strength-building, muscle-defining leg workouts have been shared consistently via social media and fitness magazines and have captured the attention of the masses and may leave you feeling stronger and more motivated.
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If you are preparing for your next jungle adventure, a high-stakes rescue mission, or you simply want to find an incredible workout in the gym that will leave you dripping in sweat, look no further than the Rock’s leg workout. The lower body muscle builder below includes staple movements featured in many of The Rock’s leg routines.
Who is The Rock?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (sorry, not sorry), you probably know that Dwayne “The Rock’” Johnson was a Division I NCAA football player for the Miami Hurricanes, a WWE superstar, won countless championship title belts, and still is a mainstream Hollywood movie star, an icon, and a legend.
Outside the long list of accomplishments, The Rock is well-known among lifters for his home gym setup—practically an iron paradise—and gritty workouts. Take a glance at his social media, and you’ll find yourself locked into viewing one of The Rock’s grueling workouts that help keep him in action-ready shape.
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What is The Rock’s Leg Workout?
“Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?” with his hard-hitting, leg-defining lower-body workouts? The Rock’s leg workouts are not for the faint of heart. These bodybuilding training sessions use giant sets of 4 to 5 rounds of 4 to 5 exercises, 15 to 20 reps, and no rest between exercises, only rounds for an intense leg day workout.
Sprinkle in controlled three-second negatives (or eccentric training) for each movement, and you’ll want to make sure that you pack a little extra something—like the best pre-workout for muscle gain—in your gym bag as you prepare to tackle this challenging leg workout inspired by the one and only Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
If you happen to be missing some of the necessary equipment, don’t hesitate to substitute dumbbells for barbells, load the movements with kettlebells, or even learn how to do a leg press at home with bands in place of the leg press machine!
- 10-20 minutes of light cardio to get the blood flowing.
Giant Set: 4 rounds of 15-20 reps. No rest between exercises, but catch your breath after each round (you’ll need it).
- Leg Press: 15-20 reps
- Barbell Romanian Deadlift: 15-20 reps
- Raised Bulgarian Split Squat: 15-20 reps
- Seated Single Leg Curls: 15-20 reps
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- Chain Lunges: 2 sets to failure. Don’t have chains? You can perform barbell or even workout sandbag lunges
Why we love it: The leg press exercise helps drive strength, size, and power development in your lower body. Leg press machines allow you to safely load heavier weights and target different muscle groups based on your foot position. You can vary your movement using single or two-leg variations, controlled negatives, and even incorporate lighter loads with speed for explosive lower-body gains. The leg press will light up your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves!
How to do it:
- Position your back against the seat and grip the handles.
- Place your feet flat on the sled, hip-width apart.
- Release the safety lock and lower the sled with control.
- Let your knees bend at a 90-degree angle as you lower the sled.
- Push your feet through the sled, extending your knees to drive the weight back up.
- Repeat for desired reps.
Why we love it: The Romanian Deadlift ( or RDL) falls right under the traditional deadlift for superior pulling strength movements. An RDL workout targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings and helps improve mobility for your backside, making it one of the best hip hinge exercises you can perform in the gym or in your home garage set-up.
How to do it:
- Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, placing your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Place your feet at hip width and keep them flat on the floor.
- Bring the barbell to a standing position.
- Unlock your knees and push your hips back as you begin to hinge.
- Keep the barbell close to your body as your chest comes slightly forward.
- Slowly descend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings
- Push your feet through the floor and drive your hips forward.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.
Raised Bulgarian Split Squat
Why we love it: A slight variation to the renowned (for better or worse) Bulgarian Split Squat, the Raised Bulgarian Split Squat is a must-have in your workout program if you are looking for those next-level gains. In The Rock’s leg workout, this exercise takes your split squats to a deeper level—literally.
A raised bulgarian split squat allows you to train through a greater range of motion, complimenting quadricep growth with newfound glute development. Note: You’ll want to avoid stairs at all costs after banging out a few sets of these bad boys!
How to do it:
- Place your front foot flat on an elevated surface two to three inches high with your front shin vertical.
- Position your back foot on another elevated surface, slightly higher than your front foot. Have your rear knee under your hip.
- Begin in a high lunge position and slowly lower your knee towards the ground, pausing an inch or two above the floor,
- Drive through your front foot, feeling your front quad and glutes squeeze.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.
Seated Single-Leg Curl
Why we love it: In The Rock’s leg workout, the seated single-leg curl isolates and allows you to attack the hamstrings for increased muscle size and endurance. Unlike other movements where grip or position factors in, the seated position supports your body, allowing you to squeeze every last rep out of your hamstrings during your straight and drop sets.
How to do it:
- Take a seated position with your back flat against the seat and place the backside of your lower leg on the leg curl pad.
- Squeeze your hamstring and drive the weight down, allowing your knee to bend.
- Return your working leg to the starting position with control, feeling the hamstring lengthen.
- Repeat for desired reps, then switch legs.
Why we love it: Chain lunges to failure will wrap up this workout by challenging your core and lower body strength, single-leg stability, and leg endurance. Plus, you look pretty cool when repping out an intense workout with chains wrapped around you. If you don’t have chains available, you can still perform these heavy lunges with a barbell or sandbag (as shown).
How to do it:
- Rest the weight being used around your upper back.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed forward.
- Step forward with your left foot and lower your right knee until it’s a few inches from the floor.
- Push through your left foot to straighten your legs and return to the starting position.
- Repeat on your right side and continue for the maximum amount of reps.
How to Train Like The Rock
The Rock’s workouts contain principles he consistently applies to training to stay fit, look shredded, and keep himself healthy in and out of the gym.
Train Smarter to Train Harder
An overarching theme in The Rock’s workout posts on social media and exercise programs: train smarter to train harder. You can find The Rock emphasizing the concept of moving weight that is just heavy enough with excellent form and focus. Not only will you see an increase in strength and size, but you’ll also notice improvements in movement and potentially avoid injury1.
Be creative in your training, applying ideas like giant sets, controlled three-second negatives, and drop sets to failure to maximize your gym time.
Giant sets, like their cousin, the superset workout, are a form of circuit resistance training2 that allows you to group exercises in the weight room. They are an effective training method that can enable you to train multiple movements continuously, saving time while burning more calories, improving lean muscle mass, and developing muscular endurance. Make sure not to rest between exercises and snag that recovery for a few minutes between rounds.
The Rock advocates using tempos, pauses, and controlled negatives in his workout programs. Controlled negatives emphasize the concept of time under tension3, allowing increases in strength while avoiding injury, enhancing muscle size, and improving movement quality. No matter your training goals, controlled negatives are a surefire way to get the most out of any workout.
Sets to Failure
The principle of performing sets to failure can be found in The Rock’s leg workouts and most of his training programs. In a January 20164 study published in the National Library of Medicine, researchers found that sets to failure help increase muscle recruitment, improve muscle size, and increase strength, especially when performing resistance training at lower weights.
Avoid going to failure for each movement in your workout; instead, use them as a finisher toward the end. You’ll train harder/smarter and squeeze a little extra out of those last few repetitions in your workout.
The Rock’s Leg Workout: Final Thoughts
It doesn’t take much time to realize that all of The Rock’s workout routines come with structure, attention to detail, purpose, and a little grit. It all starts with the idea of training smarter to train harder. Leave the ego at the door if you believe you are going to be able to crush The Rock’s workouts with heavy weight.
Instead, focus on moving with intent for this leg training session. Allow the craftiness of giant sets, tempos, controlled negatives, and drop sets to failure to push you past your plateaus and get you closer to those fitness goals you’ve been chasing.
The Rock’s Leg Workout: FAQs
Does The Rock do squats?
The Rock’s leg workout routines include incredible squat variations. Rock uses belt squats, barbell squats, box squats, and split squats as go-to movements in his leg workouts. Don’t be afraid to vary up these movements to challenge yourself!
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How long does The Rock lift weights?
The Rock starts his training days with 30 to 60-minutes of warm-up exercises and a 90-minute strength workout. Take note of his dedication to preparation followed by execution.
How do you get muscles like The Rock?
You’ll need a heavy dose of hard work, effort, consistency, a solid strength-based workout routine, and a well-balanced mass-building diet to get muscles like The Rock. Hit those tough workouts with intent and recover even harder.
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- Gabbett TJ. The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:273-280.
- Chtara M, Chaouachi A, Levin GT, Chaouachi M, Chamari K, Amri M, Laursen PB. Effect of Concurrent Endurance and Circuit Resistance Training Sequence on Muscular Strength and Power Development. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Jul;22(4):1037-1045. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31816a4419.
- Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DWD, Little JP, Cochran AJR, Hector AJ, Cashaback JGA, Gibala MJ, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiol. 2012;590:351-362. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200
- Nóbrega SR, Libardi CA. Is Resistance Training to Muscular Failure Necessary?. Front Physiol. 2016;7:10. Published 2016 Jan 29. doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00010
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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was guaranteed to bring high levels of flash, tenacity, and intensity any time he stepped into the ring back in his days at WWE to his current status as the most in-demand action star on the big screen. So, how does the rock build that amount of mass and muscle—especially in his legs, which can be notoriously hard to bulk? The Rock’s strength-building, muscle-defining leg workouts have been shared consistently via social media and fitness magazines and have captured the attention of the masses and may leave you feeling stronger and more motivated. » Read more about: The Rock’s Leg Workout: For Action-Movie-Ready Leg Gains » Read more