Written By | Luke Darby
The key to staying fit on the go, it turns out, is filling every spare moment with a few sets of Bulgarian split squats.
Ace Hood, the man behind jams like “Bugatti” and “Hustle Hard”—both of which are guaranteed to get you ridiculously amped at the gym, even when you didn’t realize you needed it—is not a professional athlete. He is, however, in insanely good shape, which is all the more impressive given that “staying in insanely good shape” is not a part of Ace Hood’s job description. In fact, given the fondness he has professed in lyrics for things like giant rosé buckets, you might be surprised to learn that the man is an aspiring vegetarian who meditates daily, barely drinks coffee, and extols the virtues of carrot juice.
Ace Hood’s biggest obstacle to staying in shape, actually, is the same as almost everyone else’s: his schedule. (Granted, his schedule involves flying across the country and around the globe to perform while also producing his first independent album and putting out mixtapes in his “spare” time. But still, it’s basically the same problem.) Before hopping on his latest transoceanic flight, he explained to GQ how he makes it all work.
To start off, what’s your workout routine look like right now?
My workout regimen at this point is a lot of body-weight stuff, so stuff that I’m able to do when I travel—when I’m at home and can’t make it to the gym. I like to be able to twist my plan every three months or so.
How do you shake it up?
Usually, some calisthenics. Sometimes I do MMA training, sometimes I go cycling, sometimes I do weight training. Right now I’m in the calisthenics phase, and once that’s over I might pop back into weight training.
Did it take you a while to figure out that system?
Calisthenics is something I picked up later on. Before that, it was mainly weight training, because I played football for the majority of my life. But eventually, you just start having stuff go wrong with your body. Like, my hips started bothering me, and my lower back. So I kind of go back and forth on that.
You’ve said in other interviews that you’ve gotten really into yoga. How’d that start?
I always wanted to do meditation, but I was more inspired to try it when I met my girl. She’s into this holistic lifestyle, so I started getting into meditation, and I ended up connecting with a healer and learning more about myself. It helped me calm down and remain centered. But I’ve been practicing meditation and yoga for about two years now, I think, doing hot yoga and things like that. I meditate every day.
What do you mean by “healer?”
Well, my girl has a healer—somebody who’s helped her throughout the way. For me, a healer is someone who’s trying to become better, to find self-worth. She’s helped me find stuff in my past that I want to clear, and helped me move forward. I have to allow myself to move forward and clear what I was dealing with in the past—beliefs I encountered throughout my life. It’s helped me find my own truth and stand in my own light. So she helps me to identify and be able to purify myself as much as possible.
You’re on the move a lot, so I imagine it’s kind of hard to get a meal routine. What’s a normal breakfast for you right now?
Scrambled eggs, and maybe two glasses of grapefruit juice. A little toast—I have to have a little bit of carbs early in the morning. And some Greek yogurt. I have to have quick meals in order to be able to move. So I don’t spend that much time on breakfast. I have to start out light like that.
Do you drink coffee, or no?
Here and there, man. You know, it’s crazy—I’ve never been a coffee fan, but probably in the last six months or so I’ve been trying it out. I used to think it was terrible until I put some sugar in there. That gets me going. But not often—maybe in a week, I have three cups, or something like that. I’m naturally energetic, man. I just have a lot of energy, so I’m very mindful of what I eat, because some foods bring the energy down, and I don’t want that.
Is there a set time when you get a workout in, or do you just do it whenever it’s available?
Just when it’s available. I’ve tried to create a schedule, but it never seems to work. I’m never in a place long enough to be consistent. So if I’m home for five days, I can create a sense of consistency. I can wake up at 10:00 A.M. and go get a workout at 11:30, which is a good time for me. But any other time? That’s why I have the calisthenics, so I don’t stop working out. I can be chilling and knock out 40 push-ups, or I can be chilling and knock out four sets of abs, or do some lunges, or some Bulgarian split squats, whatever it may be. Wherever I can get it in, I’m going to get it in.
How about lunch?
Lunch for me is sometimes Chipotle. This year, I’ve been doing more meals without meat, but I’m still trying to wean myself off of it because I love chicken and fish so much. So my girl is incorporating meals without meat where I can get more protein. But for lunch, I love chicken wraps and things like that—quick food that’s on-the-go and portioned out so you can’t overeat. And maybe some fresh carrot juice after the gym.
Sorry, carrot juice?
Yeah, carrot juice. Carrot and orange juice, it’s fire.
You mentioned that you’re trying to eat less meat. Are there any meatless dishes that you’ve really taken to?
You can do quinoa with pinto beans—that with some light white sauce on top. I’ll always have broccoli or something like that. The other day I had some pasta with asparagus. That was pretty good—just noodles with a light sauce and asparagus. But I’m working on the whole pescatarian thing.
A lot of athletes we talk to have to be really meticulous about when or how much they eat before a competition. Are you the same before a show?
I can’t eat before a show because of nerves, so I have to eat two hours in advance. I can’t eat twenty, thirty minutes before, or even an hour, just because my nerves won’t allow it.
Is there anything you can’t eat or just absolutely hate?
I don’t like onions. I don’t like tomatoes.
Wait, no onions at all?
Yeah, if I do have them, they have to be very fine and small.
That has to be hard, though. Onions are in everything!
I know, I take them out. It’s just not my thing. For me, man, the interesting thing is that I’m a bland eater because I’m more concerned with how my body would feel and look as opposed to other stuff, so that’s how my mind works when it comes to eating healthy. I could probably eat chicken and veggies or fish and vegetables every day of my life and be alright with it, because I know how my body would look and feel with that.
That’s some impressive discipline.
I want a long life! I want to run around with my kids and enjoy the success and work I’ve put in. I want to be one of those guys who’s 60 or 70 and running marathons. I always want to be active, and I know how much not taking care of our bodies can prevent that. I saw it with my grandparents, rest their souls, and my mother. So it’s important for me to take care of my body, so I can take care of other people, too.