Inside country music titan Zac Brown’s Rolling Iron Paradise
ZAC BROWN WORKS a sweat on this sunny Georgia morning. He hops up and down, powers up an Arc Trainer, completes an hour of cardio. It is one of Brown favorite machines because it’s easy on his surgically repaired spine and “heats everything up”.
On this day off from the Zac Brown Band’s Out in the Middle Tour, the 44-year-old will work his upper body, specifically his chest, triceps and abs, for an extra hour. ZBB The return of luxury album is out September 30e, and will feature “Out in the Middle” with Blake Shelton, “Wild Palomino” with Cody Johnson and “Stubborn Pride” with Marcus King and Jamey Johnson. Brown and his group travel with a full gym — a rolling Iron Paradise outfitted with machines, free weights, and even a sauna — tucked away in a tractor-trailer. As he punches through two sets of pec flies — starting with 40-pound dumbbells for 15 reps before moving to 20 for another 15 — Brown looks more like a running back than the known Grammy Award winner for his feel-good songs like “Chicken Frit”, “Knee Deep,and “local”. He switches to the cable system for three more rounds of pec flies before starting to work on his core.
“One thing I’ve noticed, just bouncing around on the road on a bus for days and days straight, you bend over,” Brown says. “I had L5 issues, a bulging disc and couldn’t move my leg. I had to have surgery last year to get some of the waste out. Now the singer is emphasizing the basic movements to help stabilize his spine. Today, he spins through planks, crunches and decline crunches with minimal rest between sets, while working a good foam. “It’s work hard, man,” he says. “You get what you give, everything you put into it. The more time passes, the more drive you gain and you want to feel good.
Now on his ninth North American tour, Brown has come a long way from his early days, when he and his drummer toured out of a truck for a decade before having their first radio hit in 2008. He was asked s he was on a training regimen back then, he said, “Yes, we would drink a bottle of Jäger before the show, during the show and after the show.”
Brown credits a rock legend for guiding him to fitness: “When I met Springsteen, I said, ‘Tell me something that helped you stay in shape.’ He was like, ‘Man, you need to sweat an hour a day. I don’t care what you do, it doesn’t matter. You need to sweat an hour a day. I was like, ‘You’re the boss. Let’s do it.'”
Whether on tour or at home in Fayetteville, outside of Atlanta, with her five kids, Brown lifts at least five days a week in addition to doing an hour of cardio, paddleboarding or hiking. Her fitness goal this year is to get in the best shape of her life. He has always been a little heavy and finally wants to lose weight. “I don’t want to lose mass, but I just want to reduce my body fat percentage and be able to push myself so I can do them better when I do the activities I love.”
In addition to helping Brown sing and play guitar better, the exercise helps him mentally. “If I go four or five days without training, everything seems to be a little darker than it should be. Your perception of things is really all you have. I can tell some days when I wake up if I’m a little off. Those are the days I have to push myself to go and do it,” he says. “You don’t want to, but that’s what gets you out of that funk, sweating it.”
Brown is here for the long haul. “I want to run in the mountains when I’m 70. I don’t want to be alcoholic, flushed, hunched over, unable to move. You start to crumble when you don’t deal with it,” he says. “Anything that makes me feel the best so that I can be the best for my children and my people is my goal. The older I get, the more I want to be able to go out and explore, dive deeper, going out in the woods. That’s a huge motivation for me. I want to be a ripped old dude.
Recreate Zac Brown’s upper body workout with a few dumbbells.
1. DeadLift Dumbbell
Four sets of 12
2. Hammer Loop
Four sets of 15
3. Dumbbell Lunge
Three sets of 12
4. Tricep extension
Three sets of 15
5. Lateral Raise
Three sets of 20
This story appears in the September 2022 issue of men’s health.
Branden Peters lives in Atlanta and writes about sports, fashion, footwear, entertainment, tech and everything in between.
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