Weight: 185 lbs
Body of Work: 5.0, Sweat/Suit, Country Grammar
Image courtesy of Universal Records
The multiplatinum hip-hop star works hard to stay fit, but he also enjoys an occasional indulgence. When he dropped by our offices recently, the perpetually buff rapper was snacking on a 100 Grand candy bar and a pack of fruit Mentos. Yet, from the look of his six-pack, the damage was limited.
Since he broke into the music biz with Country Grammar back in 2000, Nelly has started his own clothing line, bought a minority stake in the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, sold millions of records, and put on nearly 30 pounds of muscle. His latest album, 5.0, drops right after the release of Celebrity Sweat—a DVD that reveals his training secrets. "In the gym, I try to do everything I can," he says. "I isolate, I do cables, I use the Smith machine, I bench."
When his schedule isn't loaded, Nelly lifts five days a week. "If I'm busy, I get in two or three days just to maintain." Timing is never an issue. "If I'm recording, I'm in the studio until six or seven in the morning," he says. "Then you go home, get that nap, get to the gym anywhere from 9 p.m. to midnight. Sometimes later."
For cardio, Nelly focuses on his love of sports. "I don't do treadmills," he says. "I did try a cycling class, but a 55-year-old lady kicked my ass and I was done." Mostly he plays basketball. "It gives me everything," he says. "I get the agility, the stretching, the stop and go, the jumping. Full court, you're getting the sprinting in, too."
His eating plan is just as straightforward. "I used to be a vegetarian, but now I eat chicken. I eat turkey. I'm not a great cook, but I do it well enough not to starve."
A favorite muscle-building meal? "My specialty is probably turkey burgers. They're the best—Swiss and American cheese, lettuce, Thousand Island dressing." Thanks to good genetics and all that dedication, the only time he had to change his meal plan was after landing a role in The Longest Yard, when he needed to bulk up. "They wanted me to play a running back, and I looked like the water boy," he says with a smile. "I thought it was best to look the part."
In his workout DVD (available at celebritysweatnelly.com ), Nelly hits his chest hard with pyramid-style training. On exercises where the reps decrease with each set, he adds weight to keep his muscles working hard and his body from guessing what's coming next. A typical routine:
Incline dumbbell press
REPS: 15, 12, 10, 8, 6
Flat Smith machine bench press
REPS: 15, 12, 8, 6
REPS: 30 (10 each of high, middle, and low cable crossovers done without rest)