The Real-Life Diet of Bretman Rock, Who Deadlifted 405 Pounds In a Skirt 

The internet star caught up with GQ about running, lifting, ice baths, and how he eats enough to keep the weight on.
Bretman Rock Deadlifted 405 Pounds In a Skirt
Photograph: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

Bretman Rock—who, for the record, is named after Bret “The Hitman” Hart and The Rock—first shot to viral internet fame on Vine (RIP!) and YouTube by posting makeup tutorials, comedy sketches, mukbangs, ab workout videos, and really anything else he could think of. “Anybody that knows me, girl, I be doing so many random shit, like putting diapers on my chickens,” the 24-year-old told GQ via Zoom from his gym’s parking lot. Since then, he has amassed more than 18 million followers on Instagram, 15.4 million on TikTok, and 8.8 million YouTube subscribers.

From makeup partnerships and an MTV reality series to being the first openly gay man to grace the cover of Playboy, Rock has an impressive and growing list of accomplishments under his belt. With the release of his memoir, You’re That Bitch, the multi-hyphenate entertainer can officially add "author" to the list. 

Rock says many people assume he's not the athletic type. “When you grow up gay as fuck, you're kind of pencilled in as weak and flamboyant,” he says. “It releases such a different serotonin in me knowing that I can lift something heavy, even though I don't look it.” From the fifth grade to high school, Rock was part of his school’s track team (and almost went to college for it), but now he mostly sticks to heavy bodybuilding workouts.

GQ caught up with Rock to discuss how he got into track, cold plunges, TikTok foods, and why working out has given him a new type of confidence.

For Real-Life Diet, GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and other high performers about their diet, exercise routines, and pursuit of wellness. Keep in mind that what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.

GQ: Can you talk to me about how you got into track?

Bretman Rock: All the way back to the minute I was born. I was named after the wrestlers Bret “The Hitman” Hart and The Rock. My dad was really big on sports and my mom was also a sports girl—they bonded through that because she was a volleyball girl and he was a baseball guy. Since I was raised by sports people, with a sports name, I had to be gay and do good in sports. First I did more team playing sports like football and baseball. That's kind of why I stuck to track, because those two sports helped me figure out that I'm not a team player and I love track because either you're fast or you're fucking slow, you know what I mean? There's no such thing as team in track. I stuck with track all the way from fifth grade to high school and I almost went to college for it. But now I just do bodybuilding workouts and I still run as often as I can.

What does your training routine look like these days?

That is a heavy question because every time I tell somebody my training routine they're like, ‘there is no way you work out that much.’ Monday to Friday I’m at the gym and I do bodybuilding workouts where we focus on a different body part every day. Today I did legs, tomorrow I'll probably do back, and the next day I'll probably do chest. On my weekends I love to do group workouts, because during the week it's just me and my trainer and I miss the environment of working out with a lot of people. With my trainer it's like his eyes are on me the whole time. I can't cheat my reps, I can't even look out for air. I do that every Saturday, and then on Sundays I do an active rest day. I'll do a hike, I'll go to the beach, or I'll do a run. I even count babysitting as an active rest day because girl, my sister's kids, they be putting me through it. But I am active all throughout the entire week, bad bitches don't take days off, honestly. As long as I'm doing something active every day, that's really all that matters to me.

You deadlifted 405 pounds in a skirt and made it look easy. What’s the highest you’ve been able to lift?

I added 10 more pounds on each side after that video. I failed, but I picked it up again a week after and I got it: 425 is my PR. But if nobody saw it then is it really a PR?

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I believe you. I have to ask you about your viral "Abs-olutely Not" ab workout routine. Do you still do it?

You know, I always joke about the fact that I don't know how I made that workout and I can't even do it. Every time I still say “abs-olutely” not. So it still holds its name. To be honest with you, I don't do it as often as I used to. A lot of my workouts now are more about lifting.

Your series ‘Ice Ice Baddie’ consisted of you taking a cold plunge every morning. Can you explain what sparked your interest in doing ice baths?

If I’m being honest with you, I just wanted to make content. I was watching a lot of videos of white straight men doing it on TikTok, and I was like, if these white straight men can do it, best believe my gay ass could do it every morning. A quote that really stuck to me was that if you can get in a cold tub every 7:00 a.m., then you can get through anything throughout your entire day. Nothing can bother you. A part of that is honestly correct. It truly has helped me a lot with my mental clarity. I feel like I'm less anxious throughout my day. Time is honestly what gives me the most anxiety—it's so cliche to say, but the two hours go by so fast and it makes me feel like I'm taking my day slower. It helps me stop and think. There's the body benefits as well, I really feel like I'm cracked out every time. I probably can't say that in the article, but I really feel like I could do a whole entire marathon after the ice plunge. But I’m gonna be honest, I did that for two weeks straight every day, and after the two weeks I was like, I cannot be fighting my demons every 7:30 a.m. I need to just do this when my body needs it because I don't wanna hate it.

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How long did you stay in the tub? And what’s the lowest temperature you were able to handle?

Two minutes and two minutes only. I don't know who is lying to their mom saying they stay there for 10 minutes. Why would you lie? Because you know you're not.

The machine only goes down to 37° degrees, that’s the lowest I could go.

Do you usually start your day early?

All my things have to get done in the morning, all my meetings, I try to get everything done by 1 p.m. so that I have the rest of the day for myself and do whatever I want. Anybody that knows me, girl, I be doing so many random shit, like putting diapers on my chickens. That's why I gotta do everything in the morning.

What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

One breakfast, two lunches and one dinner. My breakfast is usually by 8 a.m. I do egg whites, turkey bacon and greens like broccoli. For lunch I do white fish, greens and grains. Then a second one of those, sometimes I'll switch it up with chicken. For dinner I freestyle—sometimes I'll have Korean barbecue or I'll go to my mom's house. Dinner is the only one where I don't really count every single thing. And not that I'm always counting my meals throughout the day, but it's just to make sure I'm eating a lot because I work out so much. The last time I worked out a lot and wouldn't eat enough, I was losing so much weight I felt like I was gonna vanish. Every time I would go for a run my assistant would be like ‘girl, what are you trying to lose, your life?’

For protein I try my best to eat it and not rely on protein shakes. It's giving bulking season slash cutting season all throughout the year. I'm hot throughout the season, period.

What are some of your favorite foods? You’ve mentioned before you’re a big fan of balut, the popular Filipino dish that consists of boiling a fertilized developing duck egg and eating it from the shell.

People think I'm just saying it for clout, but you don't understand. When my mom had me in her stomach she had cravings for balut and that's why I'm the only hairy person in my family—but that's for another article. If you open my fridge it's just a bunch of fruits. I have so many strawberries, grapes and blueberries. I love me a good grape from Costo, they're so crunchy. A lot of my favorite foods lately have been TikTok foods. There's this one girl that eats caviar with everyday stuff, she'll even eat it with Doritos, and I'm like, girl, that is me as fuck. Also the one of the fruit roll-ups with ice cream, period. That one's really good. Especially if you put chamoy on top.

Do you take any supplements?

In the mornings I take multivitamins and fish oil. The only other supplement that I take is protein and I'll do that with lactose free milk on the days where I know I'm probably not gonna get my second lunch in. And then at night I take magnesium and ashwagandha.

When you do drink your protein, do you go for whey or plant-based?

I take whey even though I'm lactose intolerant as hell. Why do all the plant ones taste like cardboard? I have not found a plant-based protein that's actually good, if you guys know one write me in.

What has committing the time to your physical health done for you mentally?

Not to sound very cliché, but working out has given me such a different type of confidence. When you grow up gay as fuck, you're kind of pencilled in as weak and flamboyant. But when I step into the gym and all the straight guys are hyping me up when I'm lifting, or just knowing that I can push through even though I don't want to, it truly gives me such a different ego boost than maybe putting on makeup does, or having a nice outfit does. It releases such a different serotonin in me knowing that I can lift something heavy, even though I don't look it.

Last question, curious to know if you work out with music or without? What’s currently playing in your gym playlist?

If I'm being honest with you, I did have a no music era and I would only play root chakra noises for one hour straight. But now, at the gym that I go to they just be playing bachata and Hispanic music all the time. I'm like half Hispanic at this point. I’d be doing salsa on the treadmill, bitch.

This interview has been edited and condensed.