John Cena’s workout plan nowadays is very different to his WWE program. See both below!

How John Cena Buit His Legendary WWE Body

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

11 min read

Yesterday was John Cena’s 46th birthday, although rumour has it he kicked out at 45.

He spent the day like any other – in the weights room.

Mr. Cena is the co-owner of Hard Nock’s South, where he regularly trains alongside many of his WWE colleagues and, birthday or not, he’s about to embark on the next phase of his intense WORKOUT program.

This comprehensive guide will show you EXACTLY how the 16x WWE champion built the body you know from Wrestlemania (full routine below), and it will also show you the subtle tweaks which he has made to his classic routine as he grew older, to ensure he could stay in tip top shape as he swaps the squared circle for the silver screen.

We will also discuss his preferred nutrition strategies, and even which supplements he uses.

Hit the entrance music!


Table of Contents

How John Cena Built His Classic WWE Body

John Cena workout routine

Let me start by saying that John Cena is a very strong individual.

Like, scary strong.

I know that may seem obvious if you’ve seen him in a WWE ring loading 500lb monsters onto his back, but that doesn’t even do this man justice.

You see, Cena’s natural talent for strength training dates way back to the late 90s, where he regularly shattered records at the original Hard Knocks Gym, Massachusetts. Believe it or not, you can still find his name scrawled on the walls of the gym, with many of his records still intact to this day.

Heck, I’d place a bet right now that he can gargle peanut butter.

But it may come as a surprise to learn that Cena did not build his classic WWE physique this way.

Instead, he ditched classic strength training when WWE called, and fell into a trap many wrestlers succumb to; he trained like a bodybuilder. Eventually he did revert back to what he does best (we’ll cover that later), but the vintage Cena physique you saw in his battles with Triple H, Randy Orton and CM Punk was achieved via a bodybuilding routine which John followed religiously for almost 15 years (from his early 20’s through to his mid-30’s!).

With this routine, John used a traditional “bro split” which involved training 5 days per week and hitting each muscle group once. This workout routine is a lot of volume, given that it doesn’t include his in-ring work and was done alongside one of the most chaotic travel schedules I’ve ever seen.

He often leant towards higher rep ranges, rarely going below 10 reps even on compound lifts, which is a good way to perform such a high volume routine as it greatly reduces the risk of injury and still allows for muscle growth via metabolic stress.

(Note: When I say “high reps” I do not mean “light weights”. You have to bear in mind Cena performs 15-20 reps with weights most people wouldn’t even use for 5 reps!)



John Cena’s Workout Plan: 2000-2012

John_Cena_workout_routine

DAY 1: CALVES, LEGS & ABS

SEATED CALF RAISE x10-20
(10 sets)

BODYWEIGHT CALF RAISE x10
(4 sets)

STANDING SINGLE LEG CURL x20-25
(4 sets)

LEG PRESS x20
(5 sets)

LEG EXTENSION x15
(4 sets)

BARBELL SQUAT x10
(4 sets)

HACK SQUAT x15 – SUPERSET – SINGLE LEG EXTENSION x10
(3 sets)

CRUNCHES x60
(1 set)

DAY 2: CHEST & ABS

INCLINE CHEST PRESS MACHINE x20
(4 sets)

INCLINE BENCH PRESS x20
(4 sets)

PEC DECK x15
(4 sets)

CABLE CROSSOVER x15
(4 sets)

BARBELL BENCH PRESS x10
(3 sets)

CRUNCHES x60
(1 set)

DAY 3: BICEPS, TRICEPS & ABS

PREACHER CURL x12
(5 sets)

STANDING BARBELL CURL x10-12
(3 sets)

SEATED DUMBBELL CURL x10-12
(3 sets)

CABLE CURL x10-12
(3 sets)

ROPE PUSHDOWN x20 – SUPERSET – SINGLE-ARM CABLE PUSHDOWN x10
(3 sets)

EZ-BAR SKULLCRUSHER x15-20
(6 sets)

OVERHEAD EZ-BAR EXTENSION x20
(3 sets)

SEATED OVERHEAD DUMBBELL EXTENSION x20
(3 sets)

TRICEPS DIPS x10-20
(4 sets)

CRUNCHES x60
(1 set)

DAY 4: SHOULDERS & ABS

REAR DELT FLYE MACHINE x20
(5 sets)

SHOULDER PRESS MACHINE x20
(5 sets)

LATERAL RAISE MACHINE x20
(5 sets)

SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS x10
(5 sets)

DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE x12
(3 sets)

BARBELL SHOULDER PRESS x10
(3 sets)

CRUNCHES x60
(1 set)

DAY 5: BACK & ABS

WIDE-GRIP LAT PULLDOWN x20
(5 sets)

BENT-OVER BARBELL ROW x12-20
(5 sets)

ONE-ARM DUMBBELL ROW x12-20
(5 sets)

BARBELL DEADLIFT x8-15
(4 sets)

HIGH PULL x20
(4 sets)

PULL UPS x15-20
(4 sets)

BARBELL SHRUGS x20
(5 sets)

CRUNCHES x60
(1 set)



John Cena diet

John Cena’s Diet

After reading the bodybuilding-style workout program shown above, John Cena’s diet probably looks exactly how you’d expect.

Cena went “all in” on this lifestyle, and the majority of his diet could’ve been ripped straight outta the pages of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.

Here is a typical day of eating from his WWE run from 2000-2012.

BREAKFAST

OATMEAL WITH APPLESAUCE AND RAISINS
2 WHOLE EGGS WITH 6 EGG WHITES

MORNING SNACK

PROTEIN BAR

LUNCH

2 CHICKEN BREASTS
BROWN RICE
VEGETABLES

AFTERNOON SNACK

1 CAN TUNA
WHOLEWHEAT PITA BREAD

POST-WORKOUT SNACK

BANANA
WHEY PROTEIN SHAKE

EVENING MEAL

CHICKEN OR FISH
PASTA OR BROWN RICE
VEGETABLES
SALAD

EVENING SNACK

CASEIN PROTEIN SHAKE
LOW FAT COTTAGE CHEESE

JOHN CENA

Of course, the numbers are what really matters when it comes to nutrition plans and John Cena was regularly putting away over 4000 calories per day to support his hectic training program and busy wrestling schedule.

While many people struggle with rigid diets, they often appeal to elite athletes because of their no-nonsense nature. Many of his WWE pals, including Triple H and Dwayne Johnson, have enjoyed great success with similar nutrition plans.

Sometimes, the old way is the best way!

However, one old bodybuilding approach he’s not a fan of is the ever-popular “cheat day”.

“I’ve always hated the term ‘cheat day’, because I beleive it’s the start of a slippery slope.

You start taking these unscheduled days off whenever you don’t feel in the mood, and they turn into weeks off, and then finally you stop entirely and you’re no longr doing anything at all. I like pizza and donuts as much as the next person, but you have to make a choice.”



John Cena’s Supplements

which supplements does John Cena use

Let’s get something straight…

Taking these supplements will NOT make you look like John Cena.

Here’s a guy who has dedicated his life to being in shape, and is well-known for being one of the strongest competitors in the history of sports entertainment. So don’t be expecting miracles just because you drink the same protein as him, got it?

Here’s John Cena’s current supplement stack:

PERFORMIX ION PRE-WORKOUT

John Cena pre workout

Here’s a direct link to this.

PERFORMIX RECOVERY INTRA-WORKOUT

Performix

Here’s a direct link to this.

PERFORMIX ioWHEY PROTEIN

which whey protein does John Cena use

Here’s a direct link to this.

BODYBUILDING.COM SIGNATURE PROTEIN CRUNCH BAR

John Cena supplements

Here’s a direct link to this.

BODYBUILDING.COM SIGNATURE CASEIN

John Cena WWE workout plan

Here’s a direct link to this.


How He Changed His Training After Retiring From WWE

John Cena workout routine and diet

John Cena’s new training program looks nothing like his old program – and that’s a good thing.

I’m a big fan of bodybuilding-style training, but it’s NOT sports specific.

In one of my other training breakdowns I explained how The Undertaker has ditched bodybuilding training and replaced it with, well, training like a wrestler. Cena made the same move back in 2013, and in doing so, both superstars were able to prolong their WWE careers for a few more years!

With a reduced wrestling schedule, he no longer needed to attack his muscles with so much volume in a bid to stay lean all year round. Instead, he could now work within the confines of a periodized strength training plan which was designed to hit a peak at a set point in the future (i.e. Wrestlemania).

This meant John could revert back to the things he does best: heavy compound lifts!

Of course, that doesn’t mean he took it easy, of course. I don’t think he knows the meaning of the word. Here he is training in 2018 to face The Undertaker at WresleMania:

This is an impressive clip for a number of reasons.

First, that’s 5 easy reps with 485lbs. Second, Cena got into this kind of shape for a match he was scripted to lose in just 7 minutes (he could’ve phoned this in, but didn’t), and third, he went on to set a new PB of 650lbs!

Check this out:

John Cena workout routine

So let’s take a look at John Cena’s full workout routine in 2023.

As you’ll see below, he now works in 6 week blocks and stays within low rep ranges, focusing on building sheer strength and power. There are only four sessions per week to allow for full recovery between each sesson, and Cena states that, given his focus on strength and the longer rest needed between each set, his modern day workouts might look “boring AF” to anyone who isn’t a fan.

He now also places extra focus on developing his hamstring strength, something he has considered one of his weaknesses over the years.

“Focus on strengthening your weaknesses. If you have disproportionate hamstring strength, like me, do not ignore it. Face it and prioritize it by making it a focal point of your training plan. It’s not hard to do.”



John Cena’s Modern Day Workout Routine

John Cena workout routine 2020

DAY 1:

BARBELL SQUAT
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Week 1: 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4: 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5: 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6: Test your max

BARBELL FRONT SQUAT
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Week 1: 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4: 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5: 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6: Test your max

LYING LEG CURL
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
3 sets of 6 reps

DAY 2:

BARBELL BENCH PRESS
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Week 1: 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4: 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5: 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6: Test your max

PAUSE BENCH PRESS
Week 1: 8 single reps, with a 2 second pause at the bottom, using your max weight from the previous exercise
Week 2: 6 single reps
Week 3: 5 single reps
Week 4: 3 single reps
Week 5: 3 single reps
Week 6: 3 single reps

ONE-ARM DUMBBELL ROW – SUPERSET – INCLINE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS
Weeks 1-3: 4 supersets of 8 reps on each exercise
Weeks 4-6: 4 supersets of 5 reps on each exercise

PULL UPS – SUPERSET – DUMBBELL PULLOVER
Weeks 1-3: 3 supersets of 10 reps on each exercise
Weeks 4-6: 3 supersets of 5 reps on the first exercise (weighted) and 10 reps on the second exercise

DAY 3:

BARBELL SNATCH
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Week 1: 4 sets of 3 reps at 75%
Week 2: 4 sets of 3 reps at 80%
Week 3: 4 sets of 2 reps at 83%
Week 4: 4 sets of 2 reps at 85%
Week 5: 2 sets of 2 reps at 90%, followed by 3 sets of 1 rep at 95%
Week 6: Test your max

BARBELL POWER CLEAN
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Week 1: 4 sets of 3 reps at 75%
Week 2: 4 sets of 3 reps at 80%
Week 3: 4 sets of 2 reps at 83%
Week 4: 4 sets of 2 reps at 85%
Week 5: 2 sets of 2 reps at 90%, followed by 3 sets of 1 rep at 95%
Week 6: Test your max

BARBELL FRONT SQUAT
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Week 1: 3 sets of 8 reps
Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps
Week 3: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week 4: 4 sets of 3 reps
Week 5: 4 sets of 2 reps
Week 6: Test your max

DAY 4:

BARBELL PUSH PRESS
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Weeks 1-3: 3 sets of 5 reps
Weeks 4-6: 3 sets of 3 reps

CLOSE-GRIP BARBELL BENCH PRESS
(Perform as many warm-up sets as necessary then hit the following working sets)
Weeks 1-3: 3 sets of 5 reps
Weeks 4-6: 3 sets of 3 reps

DUMBBELL SKULLCRUSHERS >> CABLE BACKHAND >> SEATED DUMBBELL CURL
3 tri-sets of 6 reps on the first exercise, 10 reps on the second, and 8 reps on the third.

BRADFORD PRESS >> BARBELL REVERSE CURL >> BARBELL SHRUGS
3 tri-sets of 8 reps on the first exercise, 8 reps on the second exercise, and switch between 6 reps and 12 reps on the third exercise every week.

John_Cena_workout_routine_2020

One thing’s for sure: John Cena is a legend.

To have trained this hard for this long, while managing one of the most ridiculous schedules of any celebrity in the world, speaks volumes for the man’s work ethic!

If you enjoyed this article on John Cena’s training methods, you might also enjoy reading my training breakdowns for The Undertaker and The Rock.

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Get More From Russ!

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

One response to “How John Cena Buit His Legendary WWE Body”

  1. Reece Anjil avatar
    Reece Anjil

    I’ve always wondered how his routine might have changed as he grew older. He always looks great, but clearly less ‘bodybuilder’ in his later days. He seems like he’s going back that way now he does movies, but I guess that’s because there is much less risk of injuries now?

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