Mark Webster saw the most ludicrous diet plan on the planet and decided to try it out.
As I wrote last year, the movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, in order to maintain his legendary physique, eats more than 5,000 calories a day. The calories, spread over seven meals, include roughly 2.3 pounds of cod, a fish particularly rich in protein. The rest is eggs, steak, chicken, vegetables and potatoes — all told, about 10 pounds of food per day. In one year, The Rock consumes more than one-third of a ton of cod alone.
Unlike Johnson, Webster is not a former pro wrestler, nor is he a staple of the “Fast and Furious” movie franchise. He does not have a show on HBO. He’s just a normal self-employed guy who’s tried to get in shape over the past couple of years. And when he read about Johnson’s daily routine, he did not feel awe or disgust or fear, but instead saw a life he wanted to try for a month. Here’s that routine:
|MEAL||CALORIES||CARBS||TOTAL FAT||SATURATED FAT||PROTEIN||MEAL MASS|
Webster did this from Feb. 1 through March 1 — and chronicled his progress online (I kept in touch with him throughout). The main takeaway: Being The Rock is exhausting, expensive and exactly as rad as you would think.
Based on the data Webster sent me — scrupulously compiled over the course of this exercise — he spent a total of $1,262 on food. That’s about $42 per day, including $18 worth of cod.
So it costs a lot of money to eat like The Rock, but it also takes time. Every two or three days, Webster said, he spent an hour and a half on food prep. He got a break partway through the challenge when he realized the seafood store would just steam-cook the cod on the spot for no charge. Still, making 30 pounds of food every three days is probably the worst part of the process, he said. For a while his only succor was a daily sweet potato.1
Eating each of his seven daily meals takes about 20 minutes — two hours and 20 minutes a day just shoving meat and vegetables into his mouth. “The biggest thing with the eating is the interruption of your day,” Webster said. “Every few hours, you have to stop and eat again.”
The Rock diet hasn’t affected Webster’s work life, besides the occasional need to sneak out for his protein fix. “I had business meetings at a different office last week,” he told me, “and I had to bring three meals with me, and eat in a conference room while I was having a meeting with other people.”
To offset the calories, he imitates The Rock and does an hour of cardio and an hour and a half on weights six days a week, with one day of rest. “When I read that in the spring, I was so enamored by it,” Webster said. “How does a human being do that six days a week?”
The exercise routine burns about 3,550 calories every day. “It’s sort of modeled on that workout he did for that movie ‘Hercules,’ and he did that for six months. If I did that for six months, I imagine there would be a pretty significant change in my body.”
From Feb.1 to March 1, he worked out for about 60 hours, an average of two hours per day. In total, that’s about five hours a day spent prepping food, eating food and working out. I’ve checked with my sources, and I’ve learned that there are only 24 hours in a day, so this was a massive time commitment.
The upside? Being The Rock is great.
By the end of the project, Webster’s weight had barely moved — already an active person, he started out at 206 pounds and finished 30 days later at 207 — but he had gained a solid amount of muscle mass.
“My arms have gotten a little bigger, the upper parts of my legs have gotten bigger, and I’ve gotten leaner, which is again totally unexpected,” he said. “I feel amazing. I’m 37, I get little aches and pains all the time; I have none of those anymore. I feel better than I did before I was doing this. My resting heart rate has dropped by like four beats per minute over the past month. I feel fantastic.”
While he does many different kinds of lifts, he estimates his strength has gone up 10 to 15 percent across the board. When he started his Rock routine, his incline bench press was 115 pounds; now it’s 150. He was originally doing 80 repetitions of a 180-pound leg press, but now he’s at 240.
Still, it can be laborious.
“It’s a trade-off,” said Webster, presumably between mouthfuls of Atlantic fish. “Apparently The Rock hasn’t eaten candy since 1989.”
The plan is, surprisingly, not for everyone. “You could definitely not go from couch potato to doing this plan,” Webster told me. “You would probably kill yourself. I’ve spent the last couple of years getting into shape.
“That dude works really really hard,” he said about The Rock. “This is what this guy does; this is his livelihood, the fact that he looks like this and trains like this every day of his life while making his movies, being on set 14 hours — that kind of discipline to me is absolutely amazing. To me this is less about ‘Can I look like him?’ and more about ‘Can I work as hard as this dude?’”
In the end, I felt terrible that our interview took time away from Webster that could otherwise have been spent preparing cod. Dwayne Johnson is incredible, and even the best of us can manage being him for only a month.