This article was first published in April 2015

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is huge right now. Bigger than huge, he’s positively massive, both at the box office and in literally. Being the seventh film in an action movie series about ever more preposterous car chases, Fast & Furious 7 should be tired and hackneyed, yet it’s brilliantly entertaining, and despite not taking top billing in the cast Johnson steals the show.

His on screen presence is phenomenal, and that’s helped in no small part by just how physically commanding he is. With crazily big biceps and a V-shaped torso Superman would be jealous of, it got us wondering what kind of workouts he has to do to get that big, and whether it’s possible for mere mortals such as ourselves to train in the same kind of way.

If you’ve seen Johnson’s social media posts, you’ll know that he thinks nothing of lifting 50kg dumbbells, as well as putting away thousands of calories in a sitting. But he’s already a very large man, so that’s to be expected. The question is how hard would it be to train in a similar way to him (same exercises, sets, reps etc.) but with lighter weights?

We got in touch with top personal trainer Ashley Kenny, who devised a 12-week bulking plan to start building the kind of size and strength Johnson has. The plan requires you to train five days a week, and you’ll need to ensure you’re taking on plenty of protein (either in your diet or through protein powder supplements). We put it to the test, and can report back that while it’s no walk in the park, it is a doable challenge. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t take long until the sessions become a bit easier and you start to feel, and see, obvious gains.

Unless you are a pretty big guy in the first place, it’s unlikely you’ll have a perfect replica of Johnson’s physique after completing the plan, but you won’t be too far off. Your shoulders will be bigger and broader with visble traps, your pecs will be stronger and more defined, while your thighs will be able to crush concrete as if it was chalk. OK, maybe not the last one, but this is a well-rounded plan that will get you signficantly bigger and stronger. Good luck!

Click here to download the entire 12-week training programme in PDF format

“How to Get a Body Like The Rock” – A 12 Week Programme

This 12-week routine will set you on the proper track to developing a body like The Rock. Please keep in mind that achieving a physique like The Rock’s requires years of hard work, dedication, constant training and a strictly controlled diet.

Recommended weights for use in conjunction with this plan are not included as as they will vary from person to person. However, start with approximately 80% of your single rep max for the 4×4 sets. Remember, you should be working to fail at the number of reps shown for each exercise. You may need to try a few different weights to begin with until you get familiar with your body’s limits.

All exercises should be performed using a safe and controlled technique (consult a professional if you are unsure of proper form) and performed with a spotter when lifting heavy weights.

This program relies heavily on rest periods – make sure you are especially strict on rest periods each session, not exceeding the rest indicated. The short rest periods allow maximum engagement of muscle fibres and ensure the correct energy systems are being used. Failure to stick to strict rest periods will not yield maximum results.

GVT (German Volume Training) – Start with approximately 60% of your one rep max, or a weight with which you could perform a single 20 rep set. You only add weight when you are able to perform 10 reps for each of the 10 sets.

This is a 12-week routine split into three, unequal sections: Section one – weeks 1-4; section two – weeks 5-7; and section three – weeks 8-12.

Section One: Upper Body (Weeks 1-4)

Workout Schedule

Weeks 1 and 3

Day 1 – Chest
Day 2 – Back
Day 3 – Chest
Day 4 – Back
Day 5 – Chest
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

Weeks 2 and 4

Day 1 – Back
Day 2 – Chest
Day 3 – Back
Day 4 – Chest
Day 5 – Back
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

Chest Workout

Warm up – Dumbbell Chest Press: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Bench press: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

2 Bench press: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

3 Cable fly: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

4 Cable fly: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

5A Weighted dip: Sets 3 Reps 6 Rest 0sec

5B Tricep pushdowns: Sets 3 Reps 8 Rest 60sec

6A EZ bar bicep curls: Sets 3 Reps 6 Rest 0sec

6B Dumbbell hammer curls: Sets 3 Reps 8 Rest 0sec

6C Bench tricep dips: Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Back Workout

Warm up – Close grip lat pulldown: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Wide grip pull-up: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

2 Wide grip lat pulldown: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

3 Close grip chin-up: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

4 Close grip negative chin-up: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

5A Weighted dips: Sets 3 Reps 6 Rest 0sec

5B Tricep pushdown: Sets 3 Reps 8 Rest 60sec

6A EZ bar bicep curl: Sets- Reps 6 Rest 0sec

6B Dumbbell hammer curl: Sets- Reps 8 Rest 0sec

6C Bench tricep dip: Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Section Two: Lower Body (Weeks 5-7)

Workout Schedule

Weeks 5 and 7

Day 1 – Quads
Day 2 – Hams
Day 3 – Quads
Day 4 – Hams
Day 5 – Quads
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

Week 6

Day 1 – Hams
Day 2 – Quads
Day 3 – Hams
Day 4 – Quads
Day 5 – Hams
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

Quads And Glutes Workout

Warm up – Bodyweight squat: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Back squat: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

2 Back squat: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

3 Leg extension: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

4 Leg extension: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

5A Barbell lunge: Sets 3 Reps 6 Rest 0sec

5B Barbell calf raise: Sets 3 Reps 8 Rest 0sec

5C Squat jump: Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Hamstring And Lower Back Workout

Warm Up – Burpee: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Stiff leg deadlift: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

2 Stiff leg deadlift: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

3 Lying leg curl: Sets 4 Reps 4 Rest 30sec

4 Lying leg curl: Sets 6 Reps 6 Rest 30sec

5A Barbell lunge: Sets 3 Reps 6 Rest 0sec

5B Barbell calf raise: Sets 3 Reps 8 Rest 0sec

5C Squat jump: Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Section Three: Whole Body GVT (Weeks 8-12)

Workout Schedule

Weeks 8 and 9

Day 1 – Chest and back
Day 2 – Rest
Day 3 – Legs and abs
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5 – Arms and shoulders
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

Weeks 10, 11 and 12

Day 1 – Chest and upper back
Day 2 – Legs and abs
Day 3 – Rest
Day 4 – Shoulders a lats
Day 5 – Biceps and triceps
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

Chest And Back Workout

Warm up – Dumbbell chest press: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

Warm up – Wide grip lat pulldown: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Bench press: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

2 Incline dumbbell fly: Sets 3 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

3 Close grip chin-up: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

4 Single arm dumbbell row: Sets 3 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

Legs And Abs Workout

Warm up – Bodyweight squat: Sets 2 Reps 10+ 60sec

Warm up – Lunge: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Back squat: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

2 Lying leg curl: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

3 Calf raise: Sets 3 Reps 15-20 Rest 60sec

4 Weighted sit-up: Sets 3 Reps 15-20 Rest 60sec

Arms And Shoulders Workout

Warm up – Shoulder press: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Dip: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

2 Dumbbell biceps curl: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

3 Dumbbell lateral raise: Sets 3 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

4 Bent over reverse fly: Sets 3 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

Chest And Upper Back Workout

Warm-up – Dumbbell chest press: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

Warm-up – Wide grip lat pulldown: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Bench press: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

2 Incline dumbbell fly: Sets 3 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

3 Barbell rows: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

4 Single arm dumbbell row: Sets 3 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

Shoulders And Lats Workout

Warm-up – Shoulder press: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Seated barbell press: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

2 Bent over reverse fly: Sets 3 Reps 10-15 Rest 60sec

3 Lat pulldown: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

4 Single arm lat pulldown: Sets 3 Reps 10-15 Rest 60sec

Biceps And Triceps Workout

Warm-up – Barbell curl: Sets 2 Reps 10+ Rest 60sec

1 Biceps dumbbell curl: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

2 EZ bar preacher curl: Sets 3 Reps 10-15 Rest 60sec

3 Triceps dip: Sets 10 Reps 10 Rest 90sec

4 Cable tricep extension: Sets 3 Reps 10-15 Rest 60sec