Photo: Courtesy of Andre Rush
Andre Rush, also known as the Ripped Chef, doesn’t blend in with a crowd that easily. A military veteran who served as White House chef in four presidential offices, Rush first caught our attention in 2018 when a Photo of him working in the White House went viral. Everyone wanted to know: who was the chef with the huge biceps?
Rush, who weighs 285 pounds?He actually has huge biceps – 24 inches – big enough that he has to slit the sleeves of his chef uniform to make them fit. These biceps have earned him the reputation of “the strongest chef in the military” (and the nickname “Tiny”).
Rush’s formidable weapons were developed thanks to a lifelong fitness habit that included regular weight training, not to mention stunts like 2,222 pushups per day, to help raise awareness about military service and suicide prevention.
All of this training comes on top of a long, successful career in the military where he had to balance his fitness and diet with a busy schedule that has taken him around the world and seeing him cook in almost every setting imaginable.
Since rising to prominence, Rush has branched out into a number of new ventures including signing a contract for a television show, Chef in the City, as well as speaking at a number of events. Here at Lifehacker, we wanted to know how he manages to juggle his intense fitness and nutritional goals with a full work schedule. As it turns out, consistency (as well as a love of flavorful foods) is key.
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Juggling work and fitness is a lifelong endeavor
Rush credits his ability to balance work and fitness with his upbringing in Mississippi, where his father took him to work as soon as he could run. “That was the norm for the south at the time,” said Rush.
As a high school student, Rush also played soccer and ran athletics, which led to his lifelong fitness habit and the first time he honed his ability to juggle workouts with a busy work schedule. However, he had to be flexible when exercising as he did not always have access to the equipment he needed and his schedule did not always allow him time to use the school gym. How about joining a gym? “The YMCA cost money,” said Rush.
Rush recognizes that everyone is different and that people have different goals. His advice is to think of fitness as a lifelong pursuit rather than a means to an end where it is important to focus on the essentials, performing every day and being ready to work hard. “This is a trip,” said Rush.
Enjoy your food
Since he’s a chef, it would be rather suspect if Rush were content to eat meal after meal of dry, unseasoned chicken breasts and steamed broccoli. Food should taste good even if it serves a different purpose.
“I hate boring food,” said Rush. “I hate when you can’t taste, enjoy, and be satisfied with your food.” As a chef, Rush has developed a number of strategies to meet his nutritional needs without resorting to the boring food he often comes across at bodybuilding events .
When it comes to protein, Rush alternates between chicken, fish, and beef. Although beef has a bad rap among the health conscious, it finds that it goes for the lean cuts. “Eat in moderation,” he said. To mix things up and add flavor, he suggests getting creative with using herbs and spices.
One of Rush’s latest projects is a collaboration with Southern Comfort on Trail ReMix, a sweet and salty student mix of alcohol-infused jerky to raise the bar for high-protein snacks. In addition to being high in protein, “it has the carbohydrates I need,” said Rush. “It tastes really good.”
Fitness requires listening to your body
Rush realizes that what works for him doesn’t always work for others. “You have to listen to your body,” said Rush. “Understanding the basics and being knowledgeable is more important than anything.”
From an early age, Rush has been paying attention to what his body tells him, whether it be to adjust his diet or change his fitness routine. He credits this awareness as an essential part of achieving his fitness goals.
He always urges people starting a new fitness program to see their doctor first, which includes doing blood tests. Once you’ve incorporated this information into your fitness plan, it’s important to focus on being consistent and working hard while also paying attention to what your body needs.