If you’re a fan of pro wrestling, then you may have been watching All Elite Wrestling lately. Their weekly show, Dynamite, features stars both who are both on the rise and legends who have been performing for many years — including Billy Gunn.
At age 58, Billy Gunn, best known as one half of the New Age Outlaws with tag-team partner Jesse James during the ’90s D-Generation X Heyday, is still as impressive of an athlete as any of the performers that are much younger , including his two sons Austin and Colton. Being a part of the Gunn Club is something that Billy enjoys as much now as he did when he was at his peak during the ’90s Monday Night Wars era.
“It’s amazing. I coach them literally all the time, said Gunn. “It’s fun because I’m as passionate now as I’ve ever been. They wanted to do it, but our deal was they had to graduate college first. To do what I do at my level and to do it with them is so good. It’s still also fun that people still want to see me. I don’t want to let them down.”
Gunn, who is 6’5” and around 270 pounds, can be seen performing the same moves at the same intensity with the same energy that he did when he was in the early days of his career. He was also passionate about training, which is why he always had to hit the weights before he performed in whatever city he was in. There just wasn’t much structure to his approach in his first few years as there has been in his last few.
“It was typical training back then. Go in the gym and lift heavy weights,” said Gunn. “The thing back then was to get off the plane, get in a rental car, eat something, then go to the gym and annihilate yourself because you didn’t know when you would get to train again.”
Noting that the athletes in those days were in the “body” business instead of the bodybuilding business, Gunn also didn’t have a major diet in place, either.
“I didn’t really have much of a nutrition plan. There’s a difference between eating good and eating healthy. I was eating OK, but being on the road makes it very hard. To be honest, there wasn’t much thought put into it.”
Whatever Billy Gunn was doing in those days was obviously working as he says one of his training feats was hitting a 700-pound squat. That was before the back, neck, and several other bodyparts began feeling the physical toll of the road and the ring. Aside from having neck surgery in 1995, he injured his left shoulder when putting fellow Hall of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley through a table with his finisher, the Fameasser.
“I caught the table and it slung me sideways. I landed on my elbow and it blew my entire shoulder out,” he recalled. He returned to the ring eventually, but he injured the same shoulder again six months after that.
“I think my shoulder injury was actually worse than my neck.” he said. He would ultimately have surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, AL. While he would be return to the ring and the gym, it was clear that he had to have more structure to his fitness plan if he was going to stay healthy.
“As wrestlers, we want people to see how hard we work in the gym. So, we work on the big muscles. Unfortunately, we don’t pay enough attention to the small muscles,” said Gunn. Dr. Andrews said that when we don’t work on the small muscles that are underneath the bigger ones, it leads to problems. So, I started working on the smaller connecting muscles because even though we don’t see them, we still need to train them to keep them strong, and to keep the joints healthy.”
Ever since, Billy Gunn paid more attention to the smaller muscles he talked about as well as tendons, and ligaments. He pays more attention to his mobility as well. The major point of emphasis going forward was his shoulder, and he commits to doing band work for several minutes when it comes time to focus on the delts.
“I use the bands that are a little lighter, and I go through a lot of motions for my shoulders and rotator cuffs. I just want to get everything fired up.”
Movements that can be done include pull-aparts and single arm band presses or lateral raises. Another drill he likes to do is bending over with a small weight in his hand and doing arm circles in each direction with the weight while being bent over. This helps him prepare the entire body for the work that may be ahead of him.
“I don’t just go in and starting jacking weight. Doing the small things like that make a difference because it’s letting your body know that you’re about to put in work.”
Gunn also uses a similar strategy for hips and legs, which allow him to continue squatting and deadlifting. Even as he approaches 60 years old, he still believes the big movements work, and he doesn’t want to skip out on doing the hard things in the gym.
“When you stop doing things like that, it gives people more excuses why they don’t, and I’m not like that,” Gunn said emphatically. He also sought out the help of his friend and multi-time M&F cover model Mike O’Hearn.
“He’s amazing. He’s so knowledgeable, and that’s why I have him around,” he acknowledged. “He’s helped me learn how to warm up, focus on mobility, and get things moving so that when it comes time to move the heavier weight, the body is ready to do it. I may not know much about bodybuilding, but I have a friend who is one of the best ever at it. So, I use that to my advantage.”
Recovery outside of the gym matters too, and Billy Gunn has placed a lot of emphasis on that aspect as well. He gets regular massage sessions and stretching time in before he goes on TV every week. It’s actually something he places on high priority so he can train the way he wants to.
“I have a busy schedule, but I find a way to get it in because it makes me feel better. If my mind says that I’m better, then I know I’m okay,” he explained. “I don’t get massages to get petted, I go so I know I’m ready to go when needed.”
Last but not least is the nutrition. Gunn said his food plan is now on point, and he makes sure he has everything he needs at home or before he hits the road. He will take pre-made meals with him when he travels to the next TV taping or pay-per-view event.
“I didn’t realize how important food was until a couple of years ago because I had good genetics. While genetics aren’t everything, they do help,” he admitted. “As Mike pointed out to me, the gains don’t start in the gym, they start with what you eat. Everything your body does is based off of what you put in it.”
He also has added in supplements to his plan, and he even has his own preworkout thanks to BPI Sports. “Gunn Powder” is an energy-based preworkout that helps him get ready for the next workout or match.
“Of course, pre-workouts are the big thing, and I’m a big pre-workout guy,” he confessed. “So, to have a preworkout with my own picture and name on it is a dream come true.” He is proud of having Gunn Powder available, but he wanted to make sure that it delivered for the customers just like he delivers for his fans when he is in the ring.
“It may sound cliché, but it had to be something that I and they were passionate about having. It had to be done right,” said the Gunn Club leader. “It’s made exactly like I want, it’s what I actually use, and it does have a little more stim to it because I am a stim guy myself. People that want extra energy before they train will love it.” Gunn Powder is available at www.bpisports.com.