Skip to main content


  • Tim McGraw plays John Dutton’s great-great-grandfather in the Yellowstone prequel 1883.
  • The country music legend had a competition going on with his co-star LaMonica Garrett when it came to hitting the gym.
  • McGraw would use his gym time for more than just working out.
Tim McGraw as James Dutton in the ‘Yellowstone’ prequel ‘1883’
Tim McGraw | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

1883 star Tim McGraw is serious about staying in shape for his role of James Dutton in the Yellowstone prequel. He hits the gym regularly at 3 a.m. so he can handle the physical demands of the job. But this hardcore habit is about more than just working out.

Tim McGraw plays John Dutton’s great-great-grandfather in ‘1883’

In the new Yellowstone prequel 1883, McGraw and his wife, Faith Hill, star as James and Margaret Dutton — the great-great-grandparents of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton.

The new series is set in the late 19th century when James and Margaret headed west across the Great Plains in an arduous wagon train journey. It tells the story of how the Dutton patriarch and matriarch came to settle the Montana land that would eventually become the Yellowstone Ranch.

Starring alongside the country music superstars is LaMonica Garrett. He plays Thomas, a Pinkerton agent who travels with the wagon train.

LaMonica Garrett can’t keep up with his ‘1883’ co-star

Both McGraw and Garrett spend hours each day on a horse when they are filming 1883, which is quite physically demanding. They’re also out in the sun, working with their hands, eating a frontier diet, and dealing with adverse weather.

Garrett told Taste of Country that he keeps himself in great shape and works out avidly to stay fit for his role. He and McGraw became workout buddies when filming started, but he admits that he can’t keep up with his co-star.

“I get up every morning before work and I hit the weights, I stretch out. And Tim as well; you know, we have this competition going between me and him this whole shoot, who gets in the gym earlier,” Garrett revealed.

‘1883’ star Tim McGraw hits the gym at 3 a.m.

Garrett noted that McGraw is always pushing himself one step further. If he’s got a 5 o’clock call time, McGraw is in the gym at 3 a.m.

“I draw the line somewhere. But it just helps anchor me, to prepare me for what the day brings. Because you’re sitting on a horse for four or five hours. The inside of your legs are done. Your butt is done, your hamstrings are done,” Garrett explained.

For McGraw, hitting the gym so early isn’t just about working out. It also allows him time to prepare each day for his starring role in 1883.

“My workouts are sort of like my meditation in a lot of ways,” McGraw explained. “That’s the time when I go over my lines in my head, and I prepare for the day and try to be ready for what’s going on.”

Tim McGraw is a self-described ‘gym rat’

McGraw is a self-described “gym rat,” but he admits that getting there early each morning isn’t easy. Skipping out on his morning workout isn’t really an option, though, because it negatively affects his workday.

“I have to be in the gym every morning. The toughest part is being up at 3 in the morning every morning in order to make your call times,” McGraw explained. ‘That’s probably the hardest part of it, is getting up at 3, getting your workouts in. Because there’s been a couple of days that I didn’t do that, and the energy is not the same on set.”

The ‘1883’ star has grueling daily workouts

According to Outsider, McGraw has an intense morning workout routine that lasts for about an hour and a half. And it’s not just to stay in shape for 1883. McGraw also has to be physically fit for those two-hour concerts he performs when he’s on tour. When he’s on the road, that’s when he adds in another two-hour workout in the afternoon.

“I learned from my coach early on, Coach Butler, he used to tell us all the time, practice has to be harder than work. You know, practice has to be harder than the game,” McGraw explained.


Where Have ‘Yellowstone’ Fans Seen ‘1883’ Star Isabel May Before?

“So, I live by that philosophy when it’s touring. Like you work really hard all day long, and by the time you hit the show, then you’ve got two hours of doing a show, then it’s fun and easy.”

New episodes of 1883 drop every Sunday on Paramount+.