The Rock Back Workout - Train Like Dwayne Johnson

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: May 10, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Dwayne The Rock Johnson spent his entire wrestling career showing off his huge upper-body muscles. And if you look at old photos of him in the ring, it's obvious that his back muscles are extremely well defined.

To come up with new back workout ideas, I spent some time with the team researching interviews, social media posts, and YouTube videos where Dwayne Johnson shares details about his workouts.

Here's what we've put together to help you gain more muscle definition in your back.

The Rock's Stats

  • Born: May 2, 1972
  • Height: 6' 2”
  • Weight: 262 lbs
  • Chest: 50 Inches
  • Waist: 35 Inches
  • Biceps: 23 Inches

Train Your Back Like Dwayne Johnson

The Rock showing his back and doing pull ups

If you want to exercise like Dwayne Johnson, then you have to make sure that the last rep of each set brings on a significant amount of burn.

And with this back workout, you'll start struggling as you progress through the sets.

To be able to push yourself harder and gain more muscle and fitness in less time, you should also consider taking a quality men's pre-workout supplement.

Related: The Rock's Home Gym: Iron Paradise

Seated Cable Rows

To get started, let's head for the cable machine and adjust it to a seated-row setup. It's one of my favorite compound exercises for the back because, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine, it engages multiple muscle groups [1].

I also find it's easier on the spine than the bent-over row, so keep that in mind if you have back trouble.

Aim for a maximum of 12 reps, and increase the load for each set while decreasing the reps. 

Deadlifts

Pick a realistic weight and practice the movement with a personal trainer to make sure you keep your back perfectly straight. It's one back workout where you can't afford to make mistakes, but the rewards for the lower back area are excellent.

I remember when I first started doing deadlifts; I had to be very cautious about my form. Now, it's a staple in my routine for strengthening my lower back, and the results have been nothing short of amazing.

Lying Back Flyes

Grab a couple of dumbbells and head for a flat bench. Lay down on your chest with your chin at the top of the bench and the dumbbells on the ground on each side of the bench.

With just a slight bend on your elbows, start the upward movement slowly and bring the dumbbells up to shoulder height. You'll feel this in your shoulder blades on the last rep.

Wide-Grip Pull-Ups

The Rock doing wide grip pull ups

If my client can do more than 15 to 20 wide-grip pull-ups, then I recommend getting a weighted vest to add more strain and keep the reps down.

Set yourself up with your hands more than shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from you.

Also, don't speed up this exercise. According to another study in the National Library of Medicine, slow and steady will increase time under tension for better results [2].

Cable Crossovers

You're heading back to the cable crossover machine, and you'll need to find the two cables that allow you to pull them in opposite directions toward each other.

It's important to make sure your initial setup puts some strain on your muscles before you start.

With your arms crossed in front of your body, pull each cable perpendicular to your body until your hands reach shoulder height.

Battle Ropes

A man holding battle ropes

Next up comes one of those workout options that people either love or hate.

Either way, there's no denying that the battle rope is a great way to build up muscle in your lats and shoulders, and when you push yourself to failure on each set, then you'll see some excellent results for your fitness levels as well.

Lat Pulldown

And the final cable machine exercise is some work for your upper back and shoulders.

Set up a wide lat pulldown bar for your height and grip it with your palms facing forward. Pull the bar down below your chin and hold it there for two seconds to increase tension.

And as with all the other exercise routines above, you'll be adding more weight after each set.

Related Articles:

"Success isn't overnight. It's when every day, you get a little better than the day before. It all adds up."

- Dwayne Johnson

Evolution of The Rock's Back Workout Over Time

Throughout his acting career, The Rock has undertaken various roles that required him to adapt his physique. For films like "Hercules" and "Fast & Furious," he engaged in specialized training programs that targeted specific aspects of his back.

This involved high-repetition, volume-focused workouts to add size or intense interval training for leaner, more ripped muscles.

In recent years, The Rock has embraced functional training as part of his overall fitness regimen. His back workouts now incorporate exercises like kettlebell swings, battle ropes, and stability ball exercises, adding a new dimension to his training.

As he has aged, he has more focus on injury prevention, joint health, and flexibility. Yoga and mobility exercises have become integral parts of his routine to ensure he can sustain his level of physical activity.

Nutritional Aspects of Back Muscle Development

For those emulating The Rock's back workout, aligning their diet with their fitness goals is essential:

  • Protein: The Rock incorporates a high-protein diet to aid in muscle repair and growth post-workout. The recommended protein intake varies, but a general guideline for muscle building is approximately 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Carbohydrates and fats: Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide sustained energy, crucial for enduring intense workouts like those of The Rock. Fats, especially healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, are vital for joint health and hormone production, which in turn support muscle growth.
  • Hydration and supplements: Water plays a significant role in transporting nutrients to the muscles and removing waste products. Additionally, supplements such as BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids), creatine, and omega-3 fatty acids can complement a balanced diet, aiding in muscle recovery and growth.

I also adjusted my diet to be high in protein and balanced with complex carbs and healthy fats, which made a noticeable difference in my muscle recovery and growth.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744434/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285070/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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