Physically speaking, Chris Young is beginning to look more like an NFL tight end than a music superstar.

At 6’4”, 255 pounds, the country crooner looks equally equipped for handling George Kittle-like out routes as he does holding an audience’s attention for 90-plus minutes at each of his sold-out concerts.

This leaner, more athletic version of Young is the result of a 60-pound weight loss transformation coming as the result of his new training program—consisting of working out with a host of  NFL tight ends under the guidance of trainer Jeremy Holt, who’s known for helping develop a host of players such as the 49ers pass-catching All-Pro.

Young’s heavyweight weightroom regimen has been beneficial for his physical and mental strength. As he pushes 40, the opportunity to be able to work out alongside pro athletes and witnessing their fitness feats has helped push the singer to begin pressing and pulling more weight. He enjoys training like an athlete, but prefers the less physical requirements an entertainer’s job requires.

“All of them are my size and all of them lift way more weight than I can,” he says. “I can go over the middle a couple of times, then I’ll be like, take me out. I’m done.”

Musically speaking, Young is at the top of his game, growing into one of America’s top selling country music artists since winning the 2006 reality show Nashville Star. He’s gone on to earn more than 20 platinum and gold records, and his latest, the title track of his recently dropped 18-song “Young Love & Saturday Nights” album, is climbing the country charts.

Fans now will not only see a more muscular version of Young onstage when he begins his US tour in support of his new album, they’ll hear the results of a project that took several years to complete.

“Some of the songs are four years old,” he says. “That’s the crazy part about this record. Some of them are four, some are two years old, and there’s one that just made it at the last minute. I had to finally be like, ‘Let’s knock this out,’ but it’s been a fun process—I actually enjoyed that I had the amount of time to make this record.”

The extended creative process to finish Young Love & Saturday Nights took a physical toll however on his physique. His weight slowly crept toward the 300-pound mark. Taking control of his body and health required not only heavy weightroom activity, but a lighter load on cardio—and zero alcohol for a period of time. Young also put more emphasis on leaner protein choices, like chicken to revamp his diet during this weight loss battle.

“Both of them are a war of attrition,” he says. “It takes time to both gain and lose weight. And most of it was due to eating stuff you shouldn’t and not getting to the gym as often. I will say this I didn’t have any alcohol for a good three months. That definitely was a catalyst to get it started.  But so was diet and being in the gym.”


Heavy Weights the Key to Chris Young’s Heavy Weight Loss

When his tour kicks off April 25 in Tulsa, OK, expect to hear thousands of fans singing along to Chris Young’s long list of tunes such as “Famous Friends,” “I’m Comin’ Over,” as well as being introduced to his newest hit “Young Love & Saturday Night.”

However, you’ll never witness the weight-training troubadour even so much as tap his toes to his signature tunes when it’s played over his gym’s soundsystem. This can playfully happen from time to time, when his gym peers decide it’s time for a practical joke.

“My trainer did this the other day—he put the music on over the speakers,” he says. “I was like, Dude, you’re killing me,” he says. “And then the other guys in the gym were singing along to it. I was like, ‘You’re a butthole.’” [laughs].

But when his song ends and Rage Against the Machine begins to blare from the loudspeakers, Young gets down to business in the gym, including listening to his own list of workout songs. At age 38, he’s come to realize that long-term success in the music business requires staying physically fit. “When you feel good and look good—or even look better—you perform better,” he says.

He admits to ditching as much cardio as possible in his workouts. Instead, he’s begun incorporating other elements to his training, such as plyometric and kettlebell training, particularly kettlebell swings, in order to help with building power and strength. After all, managing the stage night after night requires stamina and strength.  “I think kettlebells are one of the most fantastic things that exist in the gym. There’s so much you can do with them.”

But what Young says he’s relied most from his work with Holt and the players is the heavy emphasis on the fundamentals. He’s been adding more of the major lifts such as bench presses and deadlifts to his routine. For a country singer training like he’s prepping for training camp, he’s proud of the numbers he’s putting up.

“I can bench press more than my body weight I can deadlift quite a bit, but that could be better,” he says. “For my height, my box jump was great too.”

Though he doesn’t put heavy emphasis on 1Rms, there comes the occasion ego lifting comes into play. After his nationally publicized run-in with Nashville police at a local bar—charges were quickly dismissed after video evidence was released—he says all eyes were on him when he returned to the gym. So of course, he felt the need to stack on more weight.

“The very first day I’m back at the gym, and of course all of the [NFL] guys were back for the offseason,” Chris Young recalls. “So I’m like, I must put up my max. Then I totally ripped everything apart in my body. Everywhere I went, I could [barely] move. But it was fun.”


Food for Thoughtfully Creative Music

Chris Young says the motivation to go all-in on his physique began with one less-than flattering photo. “That was not what I thought I looked like,” he says. “I needed to fix that.”

Although Young doesn’t get too caught up with micromanaging his macros, gone are the days of late-night empty-calorie binges. “I still I had pizza the other night at my house. I had one piece of pizza—not an entire pizza in the middle of the night.”

Now, his emphasis is on keeping his protein up, and carbs lowered while keeping moderate count of his calories.

“It’s calories in versus calories out at the end of the day,” he says. “A lot of people like to make up like these really complicated equations on how to do it. At the end of the day, it is calories in versus calories out.

When he’s not touring from city to city, Young says he’s become a home-cooking homebody in Tennessee. He brags about being able to whip up a killer lemon-pepper grilled chicken and broccolini dish. Young considers it a major menu go-to during the 12-plus months it took to drop around 60 pounds.

“I enjoy it,” Chris Young says. “And there’s just something about if you’re at the house and you’re cooking your own food. You seem to lose weight.”

He’s also fan of eggs, although he thinks they sometimes get a bad breakfast rap. “As long as you’re not making a breakfast sandwich every day, I personally think people who are afraid of eggs are crazy,” he says. “My grandparents are in their 90s and they ate eggs every day.”

Young is a part-time outdoorsman when he’s not spending time selling out concert venues, . When the opportunity becomes available, he enjoys fishing. Sometime’s he’ll throw the day’s catch on the grill for dinner.  Young is also open to adding deer meat to his diet as a viable protein source.

My buddy will hit me up anytime that he goes hunting,” Chris Young says. “He’ll ask if I want some deer meat, and I’m like, absolutely. I know a lot of people are turned off by it, but it’s so lean and a great source of protein. I think it’s a really underutilized form of meat.”

New Version of  Chris Young for a New Tour

With 24 career multi-platinum and gold certifications, including “At the End of the Bar,” his legions of fans and drown out any country music trash talk found on the internet. But every once in a while, one comment slips through that stings. More so, he says, half-laughing, when it comes from your inner circle commenting about your biggest hit.

“It was “I’m Coming Over,” and it was my buddy Johnny Bulford, who actually wrote a song that I cut called “Lonely Eyes,” he says. “I’m still distraught because he was like, ‘I don’t like this one lyric that you did.’ And I’m like, ‘I already put it out, man. I can’t change it now.’”

Although he jokes about the friendly dig, Young realizes that you can never silence the haters—although today he may be strong enough to bench press them all. Sometimes however, real strength requires turning the other cheek to those country music naysayers who flood the social media feeds

“My favorite thing in the world is don’t feed the trolls,” he says. “There’s always gonna be somebody that’s unhappy, who doesn’t like you or think your music sucks. But if you put yourself out there—especially with music—that’s just how it’s gonna be.”

His goal now, in addition to staying lean and football fit for the concert stage, is to bring a better physical and musical presence to each show. “Sometimes you don’t even notice that you have more energy, although you do,” he says.  I think it’s just going through the motions of being on stage and feeling like you’re putting the best version of you forward to the crowd. I think makes you feel better.”

Doing both, he says, requires consistency and a never-break routine.

“It’s the same thing is going to the gym—a routine is a routine. And then if you break it, you gotta get back into it,” Chris Young says. “I don’t think it’s hard for me because I love creating music and I love the whole process and songwriting and everything else. So it’s just sort of, hey, this is par for the course today like we’re doing we’re doing the thing. We’re gonna make some money and hopefully make some good music.”