Dustin Lynch has made music success look easy, at least that can be the perception when your debut album reaches No. 1, as the country music superstar achieved in 2012.

However, before his string of gold and platinum hits and packing arenas worldwide while touring with a musical who’s who, such as Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Brad Paisley, and Kane Brown, Lynch’s road to country music stardom first sounded like the makings of a perfect country music song: a used van, a beer and fast-food diet, followed by some simple yet unforgettable advice—from an old man sitting alone at a bar.

“I don’t know what his past was… it seemed to me like he had been in the business for a while by just his demeanor,” Lynch recalls. “He said the key is just being prepared when an opportunity presents itself for you. If you want to be an artist, be prepared. And I’ve never forgotten that. That was heavy.”

Preparation has become Lynch’s life mantra. In other words, behind every success story is the unseen work and preparation it takes to remain on top of your profession, and the Tennessee native is no exception. Following debut success, Lynch has gone on to record eight No. 1 songs, 10 gold and platinum singles and over five billion streams worldwide, and now his latest work, Killed the Cowboy, looks to continue that success streak. Maintaining that edge is a neverending physical and mental process, Lynch admits, but the layout for the process becomes more manageable and not so insurmountable as it once was.

“I don’t think it’s easier, I think I have a better formula,” he says. “I think I’ve become a lot more efficient with how I’m writing. The bar is just as high … When you release a song and you see it on the charts next to your heroes, that’s the playing field. That’s the bar we’re competing with.”

Closing in on age 40, Lynch has to keep elevating his physical preparedness in order to keep raising the musical bar. His diet has surely been upgraded from those early days of late-night drive-thrus, Lynch also hits the weightroom at least three days a week. From there his fitness levels are enhanced by his daily dose of outdoor adventures.

When on tour, immediately after soundcheck Lynch and his bandmates are off to trek the local trails for both inspiration and perspiration. When at home in Tennessee, Lynch can be found hunting, hiking, motocross riding, as well as waterskiing. The outdoor activity not only restores him physically, it also gives him the opportunity to mentally reboot for the next project.

“I always remind myself that you’ve got to live in order to have something to say,” Lynch says. “You can’t be scared just to go and be. Usually, when I’m not focused on having to come up with something, I live a little bit, then I can kind of section off some creative times around that and write about what I went through.”

Training for the Tour and the Trails

When you’re a country music star, sometimes it’s actually OK to skip leg day, especially when you’re about to perform in front of thousands of fans later that evening. Although Dustin Lynch is never prepared to throw in the towel when it comes to training, he’s discovered—through agonizing trial and error— that it’s OK to reducing the intensity on show day.

“I learned the hard way,” Lynch says. “During one particular session it was a heavy leg day and I wound up having baby deer legs afterward. When I hit the stage that night, it was not fun at all trying to walk around in cowboy boots with shaky calf muscles.”

Lynch has compromised by scaling back at times but never completely shut down his fitness regimen for any reason. As his career workload becomes more demanding, especially when on tour, he relies more heavily on three to four days of a rigorous weightroom routine.

The heavy lifting not only helps him maintain a chiseled athletic look, but the adrenaline pump carries over to his high energy performances that last for more than 90 minutes. “I like to go hard in the gym and for whatever reason, the pump, the blood that gets flowing, I sing better,” he says.  “The day of the show I’d love to go out and really get a good workout in. I just have to watch how much I do.”

The gym is just one part of what keeps Lynch concert ready. While performing in front of large crowds is his first love, being able to get outdoors and work out in nature is an important element that keeps the star both physically and mentally prepared.

When the bus pulls in to the next concert destination, Lynch pulls up the AllTrails app and begins exploring the local terrain. This year, places like Denver; Bend, OR; and Keuka Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region served up some of the best outdoor workouts for he and his bandmates.

“I ended up finding a bunch of [local experts] throughout the tour this summer and after knocking out soundcheck we’d head to the lake and get some surfing before showtime. So it ended up being a great summer.”

However, the outdoor enthusiast admits to having to tone down—reluctantly—some of the high-risk maneuvers for the sake of making it to the show on time, and in one piece.

“I thought I was gonna get to complete a new trick over the summer—a shuvit,” he says. “As I started the process of learning it, some of the guys trying to help me were like, ‘This is going to probably result in you losing teeth before you figure it out.’ So I decided to hang it up.”

Country music star Dustin Lynch playing the guitar on stage
Jack Owens

Fame, Fortune & Fine Food

Becoming a bona fide superstar comes with a host of perks—one being a better choice of culinary catering, a major upgrade from Lynch’s early days of post-show fast-rood runs.

“I think since our career trajectory has gone the way it has, we have a little bit more asking power now than when we were a bunch of single dudes in a van,” Lynch says. “Back then our budget had enough for pizza or Taco Bell. We’ve stepped that up a notch.”

A fancier spread isn’t just a luxury for this Lynch. From a health and performance perspective Lynch can see the difference in his energy levels when he’s off the junk food and fueled properly. It’s not just food quality, he’s more aware of macros these days after a failed stint at going carbless.

“As I was looking to get more cut, for whatever reason I had in my head that all carbs were terrible,” he recalls. “I just started really hurting. I had aches and pains from the gym and just feeling like I didn’t have a lot of energy that I was used to having.”

His philosophy centers more around nutrition consistency, a lesson he says he learned early in his career when he got the opportunity to tour country icon Keith Urban. It was witnessing Urban’s repetitive daily routine that kept him in peak performance levels show after show that convinced Lynch to get a better hold of his diet.

Lynch keep an eight-hour feeding window—with plenty of rice and potatoes and other quality carbs to keep energized—the result he says was a nearly10-pound weight loss over the past year.

“It was a great string of lessons I learned from touring with Keith,” Dustin Lynch recalls. “Just watching how regimented he was with how he scheduled his days. out what he ate before and after shows. He was always able to bring the best show we could possibly bring.”

And when he’s not on the road, Lynch is probably in the backyard of his sprawling Nashville farm, partaking in another passion—grilling. The avid hunter is high on big game meat, and oftentimes invites friends and family over for a taste of his signature dish: elk tenderloin coated with a brown sugar-based rub.

“I love wild game. If I have a few weeks at home and I’m wild game heavy, I feel like Superman,” he says. “I think wild game is so next level when it comes how it makes me feel. Maybe it’s not for everybody but that’s what I love. It’s a non-negotiable for me.”

Dustin Lynch
Courtesy of Dustin Lynch

For Dustin Lynch, It’s About Preparing to Make Memories Through Music

With an 18-city Killed the Cowboy tour set for spring 2024, Lynch is preparing to bring a unique blast of energy to each performance. Sometimes, however, even Lynch can’t determine which persona he’ll bring to each city.

“Every show is different,” he admits. “Sometimes I’m in a super playful, goofy mood onstage. Sometimes I’m feeling more serious about myself, and I’m sure that shines a little bit through with each performance, but I embrace all of that.”

With Killed the Cowboy, Lynch who earned an American Music Award nomination in 2022 for the duet “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” (with Mackenzie Porter) admits to bringing a more introspective version of himself to his recording. At age 38, Lynch says this two-year effort focused more on his future, into this piece turned into a midlife introspection on just where at age 38 is his life going to turn over at least the next decades.

brings a more introspective version of  the sixth album for Dustin Lynch, who earned an American Music Award nomination in 2022 for the duet “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” (with Mackenzie Porter). Lynch says this two-year effort turned into a midlife introspection on just where at age 38 is his life going to turn over at least the next decades, with songs such as “Chevrolet” (duet with Jelly Roll), “Honky Tonk Heartbreaker,” and “Only Girl in This Town”

“It explores where I’m at personally, navigating being single while currently trying to find out what I want,” he says. “Am I settling down or am I going to keep enjoying freedom and adventure?”

While his future is tk through song, he planning to be physically and musically ready for the fans. “Our fans are there, coming out and bringing it, so we’re gonna bring it with them,” he says.

And while Dustin Lynch stays in shape while musically contemplating his future, he hopes that his music and concert can make him a musical matchmaker to some other couple.

“What they can expect from our shows is a damn good party,” Dustin Lynch promises. “We want to provide an atmosphere where people can come and let loose and meet some new friends. Maybe even meet your life partner and make great memories with us.”