Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Shares His New Approach to Leg Day at 52 Years Old

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is preparing for his role portraying MMA legend Mark Kerr in the upcoming film The Smashing Machine. Amidst managing his business ventures and rigorous workout routines, The Rock recently revealed a new method for leg training that he finds beneficial at age 52

On June 10, 2024, in an Instagram post, Johnson shared how he tailored training to navigate around his past injuries. Check it out below: 

[Related: Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Roadhouse” Workout, Critiqued by Strength Coach Zack Telander]

Johnson’s New Approach to Leg Day

Johnson revealed he has endured four knee surgeries, along with tears in his Achilles, quad, and adductor. Moreover, the superstar has faced two lower back disc ruptures and a torn abdominal wall.

These numerous injuries necessitate customizing Johnson’s training regimen to prevent further harm, particularly during lower-body exercises. Here’s how he’s adapted his leg training:

Exercise Order

“Over the years and dealing with injuries, I’ve found it’s much more effective and optimal for me to do my squats at the end of my leg workout when my legs are on fire and full of blood and lactic acid,” Johnson wrote on Instagram.

Training legs after a thorough warm-up enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, fostering greater muscle development. Moreover, the accumulation of lactic acid can further boost energy for training, growth, and recovery processes, as it is converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis by the liver and kidneys. (1

Exercise Choices

One of Johnson’s key exercises is the heel-elevated squat, which adjusts for ankle mobility and increases range of motion. This squat variation places greater emphasis on the quadriceps and minimizes stress on the lower back—a significant benefit for Johnson, who has suffered from two disc ruptures. Heel-elevated squats also place less strain on the knees, where Johnson has previously incurred injuries.

Training Method

Johnson performs four sets of heel-elevated squats, comprising 15 reps per set. Research supports more volume for muscle hypertrophy. (2) He selects lighter weights, again prioritizing less stress on his joints.

I can go higher volume with less heavy weight on my back – and get greater gains with much less joint pain.

Johnson performs controlled repetitions with a brief pause at the nadir of each movement. The intentional pause eliminates momentum (i.e., he doesn’t bounce out of the squat).


Johnson performs his heel-elevated squats in a squat rack so the barbell can be re-racked or dumped quickly and safely if necessary. Johnson wears knee sleeves and a weightlifting belt.

Johnson trains with a safety squat bar for ergonomic comfort when bearing loads. Its unique cambered structure is engineered to engage the upper back, core, and legs while relieving pressure from the lower back. Johnson squats on a 30-degree squat wedge for deeper squats that bias quads while promoting an upright posture and less knee strain.


Brooks G. A. (2018). The Science and Translation of Lactate Shuttle Theory. Cell metabolism, 27(4), 757–785. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2018.03.008 

Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 51(1), 94–103. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764

Featured image: @therock on Instagram

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