Wiz Khalifa lies under the weight rack, hands grasping a barbell a few feet above. He tightens his abs and squeezes his glutes, then pulls his chest to the bar. He’s tackling one of his favorite moves—the inverted row, a devastating bodyweight exercise that blasts lats, biceps, and forearms. “I love inverted rows,” says the rapper. “They’re good for my back. I’ve got a really wide-ass back for some reason.”
Khalifa’s been building muscle onto that back—and the rest of his wiry, six-foot-four frame, too—for the past seven years, and in that time he’s come to crave the training process. That’s why the 34-year-old shows up at Unbreakable Performance, an MMA gym in West Hollywood, five or six days a week. And he doesn’t just do the exercises; he studies them.
“I feel like it’s a constant learning process,” he says. “When you’re training, you’re always picking up new methods or techniques, or you’re doing things better, whether it’s months in advance or three months after you start or three years after you start. I love that feeling.”
Along with making and producing music, Khalifa is growing his side gigs: Khalifa Kush, a marijuana brand, and HotBox by Wiz Khalifa, an online delivery-only restaurant. He also churns out regular content for his massive social-media fanbase, which includes more than 35 million Instagram followers and more than 25 million YouTube zealots.
But the moment he hits the gym, he forgets all that. Right now he’s working through a 90-minute session with trainer Zach Goetz. Khalifa starts by hitting the weights and doing bodyweight resistance exercises (like those inverted rows), and he ends the workout by redlining his heart rate with 30 minutes of kickboxing. The sweat forces his mind off his music and businesses, and that actually supercharges his creativity. “I love what it does for me mentally,” he says. “I get to clear my head, come up with different ideas.”
Khalifa also gets to gain size and strength. He’s up to 170 pounds, 30 more than he weighed when he first walked into the gym in 2017. Back then, music was his sole focus and nights partying were the norm. “I’ve been in the studio, smoking weed, and eating pizza for ten years,” he remembers thinking. “There’s no way that can be good for you. Look, it’s time to do something good for yourself.”
So Khalifa strolled into Unbreakable for the first time, aiming to build muscle and get stronger. And a month later, he was training with Goetz, the gym’s director of strength and conditioning.“As slight as he was,” says Goetz, “he was a guy who was serious about his craft. I don’t think he ever does anything without the intention of being great at it.”
Khalifa’s gym focus has led him to devise a strict training plan. He blasts legs and core on Monday, does chest and shoulders or arms on Tuesday, then attacks his back and core on Wednesday. He repeats the entire cycle Thursday through Saturday before taking Sunday off. He forges ahead even when he can’t make it to Unbreakable, bringing equipment with him when on tour, or training in his new home gym when recording sessions go into overtime. “It could be 2:00 a.m. and I just laid down a crazy-ass verse,” but he can still train, he says.“And I just wanted to get it in real fast. It’s right there.”
Somehow, Khalifa says, he has to get his workouts in—if only because they’ll help him reach his new fitness goal: He wants another 15 pounds of muscle.“When it is there,” he says, “I’m going to be built like a house.” And he’ll tell you exactly how he got that far, too.
No equipment? Try this bodyweight blast, which Khalifa uses when he’s on the road.
Do 4 sets of 20 reps of each move
Get in pushup position. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Then spread them and push the floor away. That’s 1 rep.
Stand with your back and arms pressed to a wall, arms bent. Slowly straighten your arms overhead. Return to the start. That’s 1 rep.
Get on all fours. Lift your right knee from the floor and rotate it outward, aiming to get your shin parallel to your torso. Lower. That’s 1 rep.
A version of this story originally appears in the May/June 2022 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “6AM WITH… WIZ KHALIFA”.
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