Can you achieve the Rock’s physique all natural without steroids?

Hello and welcome back to all my natural bodybuilders.

I’m usually not a huge fan of the “natty or not” craze. Sure, it’s super popular and we can get tons of clicks with dramatic headlines about whether or not celebrities are on steroids.I’m not doing that: I’m discussing what you can aim at achieving naturally. That’s more interesting.

I care about what you can aim for and where your standards should be.

Setting your goals too high will leave you disappointed but setting them too low will demotivate you. So let’s look at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and what natural bodybuilders should consider when using his physique as a role model.

Who is the Rock?

Unless you have been leaving under a rock (lol), you should know who Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is. The Rock is a movie star and a former WWE competitor. His father was also a bodybuilder who competed for the WWE. That’s a pedigree of great genetics and an upbringing that prides physical strength.

The rock's dad
The Rock’s dad and his impressive chest!

Not only that, but the Rock briefly played football in his youth. While his career didn’t turn out to be what he wanted, he still had a powerful, commanding physique that you’d expect from a heavy duty American Football athlete.

This article is not a biography and I do not think this is what you came for. It’s important to remember, however, that the Rock is a charismatic, competitive man and a professional actor.

His career – both in the WWF/WWE and then also as a film actor – depends on him being the big strong guy. It’s why he’s become such a successful man and one of the most iconic physiques in popular culture. He’s hired on for his commanding physique, as well as having the time and support to make the most of it.

the rock's wwe
The Rock’s impressive frame

Is the Rock natural or on steroids?

The Rock would probably say “It doesn’t matter what you think!”. And that’s true – it doesn’t matter what he’s doing.

The Rock’s favourite quote: “It doesn’t matter what you think!”

We will never know if the Rock is on steroids right now – he’s not being tested and it’s his personal business. What we can say is that there are tons of reasons he might use them – including building serious mass into his 40s as a busy man whose career depends on being jacked out of his mind.

The Rock has admitted to steroid use before, and it’s clear that he’s bigger and leaner than ever. It’s a fair assumption that the rock isn’t natural – he’s enormous and has some of the conditioning quality you only see in smaller men or steroid users.

Can you achieve the Rock’s physique naturally?

Sure, the Rock isn’t natural, but does it mean you cannot reach his physique naturally?

I believe the Rock’s physique is too massive to what’s achievable at a natural level. He’s a huge guy with a great level of conditioning and low bodyfat. It’s hard to achieve both of these as a natural bodybuilder.

We all know the story: you can be big, lean, or natural – you can only pick two. Perhaps the three when you’re natural and have been training intensely for more than 10 years.

The Rock is big and lean, because he’s chemically enhanced. As a natural bodybuilder, you want to aim for big or lean, or a balance of the two – not the size and conditioning of the Rock at the same time.

the rock flexing
The Rock flexin’

Believing you can reach this type of physique while staying natural would be setting unrealistic goals and putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s not useful to set goals based on other peoples’ bodies, and even more so when those role models are professionals using gear, nutritionists, and committing themselves fully to training.


It’s easy to develop symptoms of bigorexia/body-dysmorphia or be tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs when expectations are too high.

Believing you can reach this type of physique while staying natural would be setting unrealistic goals and putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s easy to develop symptoms of bigorexia/body-dysmorphia or be tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs when expectations are too high.

Why it makes more sense for the Rock to use steroids than the average gym goer

When we talk about the Rock, we are talking about a movie star and someone who has been competing for the WWE. His choice to take steroids in my opinion makes more sense than for the average gym-goer: he’s not there for health, he’s got a professional image and a personal brand to maintain.

the rock movie star
The Rock is a movie star

Nowadays what we can see is a massive rise of steroid use in the fitness industry and as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, there are now complete newbies and amateurs who have not even trained for a few years who are already using anabolic substances. 


That is to say that there is no point following the Rock’s footsteps. You’re not a professional wrestler or movie tough-guy. You’re not paid on the basis of your physique, or the most highly paid actor in the world.


You’re also not a gym veteran of 20 years, like the Rock. You’d have no reason to take the health risks, nor the multi-million dollar salary that requires you to stay in peak physical condition all year around.

Although you can’t reach the Rock’s physique naturally, there are things you can learn from him

You don’t need to be sad about not getting as huge as the Rock. Sure, it’d be awesome, but we can still learn from the Rock, his physique, and his training.

The Rock training tips

  • The Rock in an interview for bodybuilding.com mentioned that he likes to train as hard as possible early mornings.

The Rock’s schedule is absolutely insane. The guy is working hard from morning to evening and gets very little “me time”. Early morning training is perfect for this kind of busy lifestyle where every minute counts – and it makes sure the training is done before work or family commitments pop up.
This gets him prepared for the day and puts him in the right state of mind from the get-go. It’s not the best time of day to train for results, but when you’re the Rock – busy as hell and on gear – it’s the best choice.

  • The Rock believes in lifting heavy weights, you can’t get bigger if you aren’t lifting heavier overtime.

A classic: lift heavy.


We didn’t need the rock to tell us that, but the big, powerful physique that the Rock shows off in all of his work comes from heavy lifting.


If you’re not lifting heavy, you’re missing out on a whole energy system in your body and the maximal muscle fibre recruitment that comes with heavy lifting. You want to put these at the start of your training sessions so you can give them the focus – and weight – they need.

  • The Rock trains 6 times a week

Although you might want to say it is easier if using performance-enhancing drugs, working out 6 days a week is also totally possible for a natural bodybuilder.


It takes some clever training plans and a good recovery routine – tons of food and sleep – but it can be done. You just need to make sure that your loading and training plan are set up for 6 days a week, rather than just adding more days to a 3-a-week program.

  • Dwayne Johnson has a plan

You can’t get the best results without a plan. Especially when you’re natural.
Good training is all about getting the most recovery and growth stimulus off of the least recovery demands.
It’s crucial to know what you’re doing and organise your time and effort to give yourself all the advantages.

How to get closer to the Rock’s body shape naturally?

Although you will not be able to build a similar physique to the Rock naturally, you can train to look closer to this type of physique, if that is your goal and inspiration.

The Rock body analysis

The Rock’ body shape will have certainly been influenced by the use of PEDs, mostly for his traps and shoulders as an example. But we’re going to look past these hormonal changes, while trying to keep it specific to the Rock’s defining features.

The Rock’s chest

His dad definitely had a massive chest, and the Rock’s chest is good but not as good as his shoulders. You can tell from a young age that the Rock had a very wide frame – and building up a strong silhouette with large, well-defined pecs and delts are key to the Rock’s enormous frame.

the rock shoulders young

The Rock’s shoulders

The Rock’s shoulders are pretty insane. Although the use of performance-enhancing drugs is known to help out areas like traps and shoulders, the Rock already had a wide frame and big shoulders when younger.
We want to develop the shoulders deliberately as natural bodybuilders, since these areas tend to look particularly small without anabolics. Focus on side and rear delts for a 3d delt profile and to give you that classic “wide” look.

The Rock’s back

The Rock has got a thick and wide back, the result of using heavy lifts and focusing on power-demanding sport like American Football. This includes strong traps, especially, where the Rock’s physique is defined by a combination of chemical help and deliberate training.

the rock back

You want to put time and effort into both the upper and lower traps as a natural bodybuilder to get the best results. Again, you’re making up for a lower testosterone count and should take the time to work harder.

The Rock’s abs

The Rock’s physique isn’t about bodybuilding – his abs are not as tightly defined as a bodybuilder and his waist is thick. It’s the physique of a big, powerful man – and not one concerned with proportion.
He’s in his 40s now and he’s still ripped, but they’re not the “aesthetics” classic. The Rock is lean, but he is more focused on being large than utterly shredded, which might explain how he’s so muscular but doesn’t focus on his abs.

the rock abs

A thick waist and muscular core are the focus, the result of the heavy lifting mentioned above.

The Rock’s arms

The Rock’s arms are pretty huge. He has between relatively average bicep structure – neither short nor long – which is a good position to be in. While his biceps are pretty thick, they also show a decent peak due to the sheer mass.

the rock arms

His triceps seem to be of a good size, but it is hard to see on the pictures. The Rock has great triceps, again due to reliance on heavy compound exercises like bench press, dips, and shoulder presses

The Rock’s legs

The Rock’s legs are of a decent size compared to the rest of his body. They were much bigger when he was in American football due to both his overall bodyweight and the higher demand on strength and power for sports than acting!

the rock legs

His calves are neither too short nor long, they’re pretty average on insertions but – again – look great because of the sheer mass.

How to train to “look like” the Rock?

To look like the Rock, we’ve put together a simple split routine that works 6 days a week.

Monday: Chest

Tuesday: Back/Shoulders

Wednesday: Biceps/Triceps

Thursday: abs

Friday: Back/shoulders

Saturday: rest

Sunday: Legs/abs

In this routine, we will do a big chest session on Monday. We want a bigger chest but that is not our priority. It’s just a great chance to develop the chest – and shoulders – together.

Tuesday is the point of this routine: big shoulders and a huge back. In our back exercises, we will include deadlifts, which contribute to a significant amount of leg training with only one dedicated training day on Sunday.

On Wednesday, we are working on our arms. This should help us develop our arms in harmony with the rest of the body. Note that your biceps will already be working out quite a lot on the back days with exercises like pull ups. Pressing exercise helps to develop the delts and triceps, supporting well-rounded growth.

On Thursday, you can do some abs but also take the day to enjoy some rest which will be well deserved.

On Friday, we are back with the back and shoulder workout which will be very similar to the one we have done on Tuesday. We are sticking to very similar exercises so we can specialise and improve quickly, as the shoulders and back are the focus of the Rock’s plan.

On Saturday, we are resting again. It is important to have a rest day after the back day for your legs day.

On Sunday, we are doing legs and abs.

Here is how the program can look like:

Monday:

Bench-press: 5×5

Dips:5×6-8

Inclined chest flies:4×10-15

Tuesday:

Deadlift: 4×6

Pronated Pull-ups: 4×6-8

Upper row: 4×25-30

Sitted barbell military press: 5×5

Lateral Raises: 5×15-20

Rear delts raises: 3×15-20

Wednesday:

Inclined curls in superset with skull crushes: 6×8-10

Supinated pull-up in superset with close grip bench: 5×6-8

Hammer curls in superset with dips: 4×6-8

Thursday:

Crunches: 4×10-15

Leg raises: 3×10-15

Friday:

Deadlift: 4×6-8

Pronated Pull-ups: 4×6-8

Shoulder dumbell presses: 4×6-8

Upper rows: giant sets 3×100 repetitions (see the article on doing 100 repetition sets)

Lateral raises: 6×12-15

Rear delts raises: 3×20-25

Saturday: rest

Sunday:

Squat: 5×5 + 1 set max reps

Bulgarian split squats: 4×8-10

Romanian deadlift: 4×12-15

Calves raises: 3×8-10 + 3×20-25

Conclusion:

The Rock’s physique isn’t natural. That doesn’t mean we can’t point out what we like about it and use that to inspire our own training.


The balance of proportions and the focus on size and strength are perfect for all kinds of trainees – and all kinds of body goals. This program is a great way to get into the gym 6 days a week and build up your own physique with the same focus on a commanding silhouette.

It won’t turn you into the Rock – but it might help you bring out that little bit of the Rock spirit from your own training. At the very least, you’re going to get bigger, stronger, and come out looking much better.