The Tennessean: Aaron Tippin: From '120-pound weakling' to still fit at 56

May 10 | Posted by: AT Team

When Aaron Tippin signed his record deal in 1990, he was known as "that muscle guy." He wrote songs, worked on cars in the parking lot at Acuff-Rose Music Publishing and sold vitamins and protein powder to people on Music Row for extra money.

Tippin went on to chart country hits including "You've Got to Stand for Something," "There Ain't Nothin' Wrong with the Radio" and "Blue Angel" over the course of his career. Twenty-five years later, Tippin doesn't spend as much time on tour as he used to, but he remains devoted to the gym. At 56, he still works out six days a week — fewer if you don't count the cardio days, and Tippin doesn't.

He works out combinations of muscle groups two or three at a time and then moves on to a new group or cardio training the next day. "If you look at it mathematically, if you do a routine every week, you only get to do it 52 times a year," Tippin said. "That isn't a lot. It inspired me to work harder. You just need to put the effort into it."

Tippin, his wife, Thea, and their sons, Ted, 17, and Tom, 14, live in an expansive log house past the outskirts of Rutherford County. When Tippin's daughter from a previous marriage moved in with them to attend college, they built her a small apartment attached to their home. After she graduated, the Tippins converted the area to a home gym that they all use. The area has dozens of pieces of exercise equipment in it ranging from weight benches and treadmills to more specialized apparatuses for those more dedicated to lifting weights than the at-home amateur. Bodybuilding posters hang on the walls. His passion for bodybuilding started out as a hobby meant to distract him when his first marriage ended decades ago. He was partying too hard, she threw him out, and it was a wake-up call. He needed to clean himself up and he started going to the gym. When he found a bodybuilding book by Bill Pearl in a discount bin at GNC, he picked it up. The sport, he believes, saved his life. "I said, 'I won't live past 30,' " he said. "I got into weightlifting and I loved it. I was the 120-pound weakling." Tippin said he had to force-feed himself to gain weight. He doesn't have that problem anymore. "I could be 200 pounds faster than anybody out there," he quipped.

The singer got interested in supplements and said that if it was sold in a health-food store, he would buy it. He mixed his own amino acids in capsules and drank gallons of sassafras tea, which now comes with its own list of safety concerns. "I had one (combination of acids) for working out and one for sleep," he said, explaining the importance of sleep in bodybuilding. "All the damage you've done that day, that's when you're going to heal the muscles up." When his recording career picked up, Tippin made sure to do his workouts first thing in the morning regardless of which town he was in. These days, if he goes back to the same city, he may not remember which venue he played in all those years ago — but he can still find the gym. In those days — his 20s — Tippin said that when he wanted to get ready for a weightlifting competition, he would go into his diet mode for a month and be ready to go.

Now, he said, it would take him three months to accomplish the same thing. Dr. James Powers, associate professor of medicine, internal medicine physician, at Vanderbilt, said it's common for people to have to work harder in the gym or be more careful in their diet to achieve the same results as they age because their metabolism slows down. "If you don't exercise, you'll gain weight eating the same amount," he said. "That's hard to understand and make work in a person's life." Tippin is used to it by now and as a rule is careful about what he eats. The singer, who recently released the commemorative "Aaron Tippin 25" album, keeps his diet full of protein and high-fiber vegetables. Turnip greens, green beans and sauerkraut are his favorites along with carrots, which have a higher sugar content so he doesn't eat as many. When he snacks, he eats cheese, nuts or beef jerky. Tippin also takes a break when he wants it. He is a pilot and he and his pilot friends have an annual meeting in Florida during which they go to bars, and eat burgers and doughnuts. He's going to do that, too, but knows he'll have to pay for it when he returns home. "There is no free lunch," he said. "I'll have to get away from the desserts. My little saying is, 'You're as fat as you want to be.' "

To continue reading the original article, CLICK HERE.

Syndicate contentSubscribe to the news RSS feed