How The Rock Trains His Core for Shredded Abs at 51

The Rock training his core
Image via Instagram @therock

One of The Rock’s secret abs and core movements is the seated leg raises. 

Dwayne Johnson, famously known as “The Rock,” isn’t only an A-list celebrity known for appearing on the silver screen in movies such as Red Notice. He has a long and impressive history with bodybuilding. He was once married to an IFBB Pro League professional bodybuilder and had a bodybuilding show in development called Athleticon. This article will review one of the ways The Rock works on his abs and core – the seated leg raises. 

Johnson’s dedication and success in bodybuilding have not gone unnoticed. He received the prestigious Mr. Olympia “Man of the Century” ICON award. But Johnson’s physique is not just a thing of the past — as a professional wrestler-turned-actor, he remains jacked and huge to this day.

For someone who just turned 51, The Rock is in fantastic shape. This guy is a fitness icon for many half his age! He regularly shares his workout program, and many are excited to see what has got him as shredded as he is.

One thing many people soon notice about The Rock is his abs. They aren’t the regular six, eight, or even 12-pack many other celebrities have. He shared in an interview that this is due to an injury from his professional wrestling days. He tore his quad off his pelvis, and the chain reaction tore his abdomen wall. 

One thing to note is that he didn’t give up even then because of his commitment to wrestling. The Rock gets up at 4 am and trains six days a week. Even though many would give up after such an experience, he’s still in shape and has devised ways to train his core

In a recent Instagram video, The Rock shared one of his trusted core, and ab-building routines — bench seated leg raises. The key for him has been to focus on strength rather than aesthetics. The Rock wrote on Instagram: 

“I’m the last dude to give abdominal advice, but after I tore my abdomen wall during a wrestling match (fun pain), I had to really concentrate on ab exercises that strengthened my entire wall and core again.” 

Full Name: Dwayne Douglas Johnson (The Rock)
Weight Height Date of Birth
260 – 270 lbs 6’5” 05/02/1972
Occupation Era Nationality
Professional Wrestler, Actor 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s American

The Rock Core Exercise — Bench Seated Leg Raises

Below is a video The Rock uploaded to his Instagram recently of him performing bench seated leg raises:


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A post shared by Dwayne Johnson (@therock)

Bench seated leg raises are a variation of leg raises that help strengthens your core. With this ab movement, the resistance comes from your bodyweight. So it’s easy to add them to your workouts at home or in the gym. All you need is a flat bench.

Doing leg raises is a better way to activate the “global” muscles (muscles of the outer core that help stabilize the torso) than even planks (1). Your rectus abdominis is a global muscle, so the seated leg raises are an excellent move to implement if you want to build a six-pack. In addition, you can increase ab hypertrophy by using ankle weights during this exercise.

How to Perform Bench Seated Leg Raises

Bench seated leg raises are done sitting almost at the edge of the bench. Lean back to between a 60 or 45-degree range and then grip the sides or the end of the bench. Bring your legs up too, but keep them hanging off the bench. Squeeze your abs and then raise your legs up and down to complete a rep. Throughout the movement, try to maintain a tight midsection

The Rock makes them harder by taking his hands off the bench, but you should only do this if your stability is rock-solid hence The Rock’s name. 

Bench seated leg raises have been around for a long time and are a trusted way to work your core and abs. Many bodybuilding legends and fitness professionals recommend this routine for building strong abs. It trains the entire core and helps you improve on other movements like deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and rows since strong abs have carryover to those compound movements. 

Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Bench Seated Leg Raises

One mistake people with this routine is not concentrating on their abdominals during their reps. This could lead to lower back pain and injury. To avoid this, focus on your engaging your abs during each rep. 

Raising your legs too high during this exercise will shift the focus from your core and abs to your back. You should avoid swinging your legs during the up and down movements to hasten the reps. This exercise requires maintaining control and keeping your core under tension for longer for better ab hypertrophy (2).

Finally, ensure you breathe correctly during seated leg raises to avoid feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Breathe in when lowering your legs and out when lifting. Taking deep breaths as you exercise will help you get enough oxygen flowing in your body.

Bench Seated Leg Raises Muscles Worked


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A post shared by Dwayne Johnson (@therock)

Leg raises work on your core and abs, which stand out and help give you that muscular physique when you have little body fat. While several of the muscles in your abdomen are targetted, the rectus abdominis receives the most work. 

When done properly, seated leg raises can also target your obliques. These muscles act as stabilizers during the hip flexing movement that you do with leg raises. Working on your obliques can help with coordination and balance.

Your hip flexors are many muscles that run from your pelvis to your thighs, and seated leg raises also target them. Your iliopsoas are your primary hip flexor muscles and are made of the minor and major psoas and the iliacus (3). Strengthening these muscles with leg raises is crucial to movement and helps to activate the core when the thighs are raised higher than the hip level. 

Final Word

Bench seated leg raises are significant for strengthening your core and lower body. This leads to better coordination and stability when doing your other weight-lifting routines. In addition, the Rock says, “I’ve found that a strong core/tight abdomen wall is super beneficial to your gains.” 

Bench seated leg raises will help you tone your body and build a six-pack. In addition, it bolsters your abdominal muscles, and you can add challenging variations to maximize your gains. So feel free to try bench seated leg raises the next time you train your core muscles. 

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  1. Park, D. J., & Park, S. Y. (2019). Which trunk exercise most effectively activates abdominal muscles? A comparative study of plank and isometric bilateral leg raise exercises. Journal of back and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, 32(5), 797–802.
  2. Mang, Z. A., Ducharme, J. B., Mermier, C., Kravitz, L., de Castro Magalhaes, F., & Amorim, F. (2022). Aerobic Adaptations to Resistance Training: The Role of Time under Tension. International journal of sports medicine, 43(10), 829–839. 
  3. Cronin, C. G., Lohan, D. G., Meehan, C. P., Delappe, E., McLoughlin, R., O’Sullivan, G. J., & McCarthy, P. (2008). Anatomy, pathology, imaging and intervention of the iliopsoas muscle revisited. Emergency radiology, 15(5), 295–310.
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.