Unless you’re a music star performing in front of thousands of people, or maybe a competitive physique athlete, you’ve probably never dealt with Ryan Montgomery’s dilemma come leg day.
“Because I wear jeans on stage, and because of the upward angle, it makes my legs look bigger than they really are,” says the 23-year-old country music artist, who’s gracing more stages than ever these days. “You get those fricking big legs in the jeans, and it makes your upper body look awful on stage. So, I’m always trying to achieve a balanced look.”
Whatever Montgomery’s doing in the gym is translating nicely to his music career. Young as he is, he’s been at it for over a decade already. The South Florida native started writing music and performing at age 12, after first picking up a guitar at age 5. At 18, he was playing live at bars. The next year he “got the crazy idea to take my truck out to the middle of a tailgate before a Brad Paisley concert,” which made him something of an overnight sensation.
Since then, he’s been recording songs, headlining small regional shows, and even sharing the main stage at larger country music festivals. To date, Montgomery has over 9 million combined online streams, with both singles and EPs landing on the iTunes top 100 charts.
As Montgomery says in his single “Sundown Saturday Night,” he’s undoubtedly “livin’ the dream.” Young, good-looking, successful, his future growing brighter by the day — and fitness is at the center of it all.
Dan Solomon, president of the iconic Mr. Olympia world championships of bodybuilding, recently met the rising country star. “I was impressed by his energy, his focus and his desire to promote a fit lifestyle to his fans. This young man has a bright future.”
Star in Training
At 6’3” and a lean 180 pounds, Montgomery looks the part of a country music leading man. (Never mind that one of his idols, Kenny Chesney, is only 5’6”, yet still pretty chiseled himself.) As a kid, he was as serious about sports as he was music, competing at a high level in both water skiing and ice hockey. He started playing basketball in high school, which eventually led him to the weightroom.
Now in his early 20s, it’s pretty much all music and fitness, and he’s excelling at both for the same reason: consistency. Montgomery is a creature of habit. He blocks off at least a couple hours every morning to work on music – writing songs, playing guitar or piano, creating new melodies, etc. – in his home studio in West Palm Beach. Every afternoon he tends to the business side of his music, as his career is still 100% managed by himself, family, and friends. No big management company and no record label (yet). At around 4 p.m., six days a week, he trains without fail.
“Fitness is my sanctuary,” says Montgomery. “Just like the sports I grew up doing, that’s what I found in the gym, and that’s still what I have in the gym every single day. I turn my phone off, start every workout with five minutes of meditation, and I’m just super Zen-ed out and I crush it.”
That sanctuary is right there at his house, in fact. Montgomery has curated a fairly decked out home gym complete with a power rack, full rack of dumbbells, and a cable pully system. When he’s on the road performing, he’ll find a commercial gym or use whatever his hotel has available.
“I never miss a workout,” he says. “It’s like an identity thing for me. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a workout on the road. I’ve had times where I’ve landed in Nashville at 8:00 at night, gone to the studio and then out to dinner with people, and then worked out at 10:30 before going to bed. If we’re traveling, sometimes I’ll train in the morning before sound check, or in the afternoon. I don’t even think about it. I just get it in.”
Clearly, fitness isn’t just a hobby for Montgomery. He considers it a job requirement. When he performs, he’s all over the stage, running around, jumping. His crew knows to always have towels handy because he sweats so much during performances. He needs to be fit to do all of that. And, of course, appearance matters when you’re front and center on stage.
“I have to look good, I have to be in shape cardio-wise, and I have to feel good,” he says.
“You always want to accept yourself, however you look. But for me personally, when I don’t look my best, I don’t feel my best. It comes across in my energy and in everything I do. When I’m not taking care of my fitness, I don’t stand the same way, I don’t perform the same way, I don’t sing the same way, I don’t treat people the same way. When I feel good about my fitness, it carries through everywhere in my life – on stage, in interviews, with my confidence and self-assuredness. It’s like the foundation block of my life.”
The Year that Changed His Life
2020 was a bad year for pretty much everyone, but for where Montgomery was in his career it was especially challenging. He released his first single (“Drop a Tailgate”) along with a self-titled, six-song EP (extended play) in June 2018. In January 2020, he released another EP (“Buzzed at First Sight”) and was poised to have a big year touring all over the country. And then came Covid-19, and the music died (at least temporarily). He couldn’t tour, he couldn’t play live events, the momentum he’d built the previous two years was all but gone.
“That was when my whole life changed,” says Montgomery, now two years later. “I remember vividly, I was sitting on my bed, and it was like an awareness moment. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, I can either get depressed and throw a pity party for myself, or I can focus on controlling the things I can control so that when the world rebounds, I can be at my best for it.’”
Montgomery, along with two friends/training partners (Zahra Fayad and David Anderson), trained nearly every day at his house with the public gyms locked down. Montgomery also made it a point to read a book a week and ended up reading 52 books in 2020.
“I got in the best shape of my life, both physically and mentally, that year,” he says. “It was the biggest blessing for me. I wouldn’t have been ready for that next step of success in my career had I not had that time.”
Montgomery’s career has taken off since then, with new releases in both January 2021 and January 2022, the latter containing his hit single “Chasing Sunsets.” Because training played such a major role for him during Covid, he now sells two different workout programs on his website — one for men, one for women and featuring Fayad. (Visit RyanMontgomeryMusic.net/fitness)
“When I was learning about fitness, there were so many different programs out there, but what seemed to be missing was something for the average person,” says Montgomery. “There’s CrossFit, there’s bodybuilding, and all these different kinds of things. But what about the person like me who likes country music and still wants to drink beer and doesn’t want to have to make any sacrifices? That’s what my programs are for. I made it very simple. It’s basically the training structure and diet that I follow. There’s a gym version and a bodyweight-only version. I wanted to create something for my fans and for anybody who just wants to have abs and still live an awesome life and have some muscle [laughs].”
Bright Lights, Bright Future
“Youth is wasted on the young,” they say, but Montgomery doesn’t seem to be wasting any time, talent, or resources. His touring schedule is expanding beyond just regional, and his iTunes library keeps growing. At 23, he’s still a baby in the country music world. Kenny Chesney didn’t release his first album until 26. Same with Tim McGraw. Garth Brooks, and Brad Paisley were each 27. Montgomery has a long way to go to catch those guys, but he’s on the right path.
“The goals I have now were never my goals when I started,” says Montgomery. “Before, I would have been happy to just play my local amphitheater and do a club tour one day, you know? Now, my goals are as big as they can possibly be. I want to be headlining stadiums. I want to have number one songs. I want to play in front of a hundred thousand people every night. That’s the next step.”
It’s not just about those hundred thousand people in the stadium, though. And it’s not just about fame and hit singles and reaching Chesney’s stratosphere. All would be nice, but Montgomery has goals to impact people with more than just music.
“I want to make sure that my life means something to other people, and that’s why I love music so much – it connects people on a spiritual level like nothing else does,” he says. “When you’re in the gym, you throw in a certain kind of music and your workouts are a hundred times better. Music, to me, is that legacy. Anything I can do to give back is what I want to do. That’s why I wrote that fitness program, just to say, ‘Hey, this is what I did in 2020 to get through a tough year. I hope it helps you.’ Those are my two big objectives: blow the life up as big as it can get, and hopefully help everybody else do the same thing and live the magnificent lives they want to live.”
Ryan Montgomery’s videos, fitness programs, merchandise, links to his music, and more can be found at RyanMontgomeryMusic.net.
|Ryan Montgomery’s Weekly Workout Schedule|
|DAY||MUSCLE GROUPS TRAINED|
- Montgomery finishes every workout with a half-mile run for cardio/conditioning, going as fast as possible.
- He works abs at the end of every lifting session. “And I actually just started doing a little bit of arms every day,” says Montgomery.
- His Monday and Tuesday workouts (chest/triceps and back/biceps, respectively) are heavier than his Friday and Saturday workouts hitting the same muscle groups, with reps as low as 6 reps. Friday and Saturday workouts tend to be higher in volume, with reps in the 12-20 range.
- His leg workouts consist mainly of high-rep sets (up to 25 reps) on compound exercises like squats and lunges; explosive plyometrics and jumping; and isolation movements like leg extensions and leg curls.
- Montgomery does his workouts at a fully equipped gym. However, when he’s travellng and is unable to train at a regular gym, he makes do with the hotel gym or bodyweight exercises and running outdoors (ie, on the beach).