Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been on the Supreme Court for 25 years today — here's the workout she uses to stay on top of her game

Elana Lyn GrossI worked out like Ruth Bader Ginsburg for two weeks.
  • Many began to speculate when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would step down from the bench after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday.
  • But Ginsburg is not defined by her 85 years of age. She works out with her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, twice a week for an hour.
  • Her workout is a series of full body strength exercises that target arms, chest, legs, back, shoulders, glutes, and abs.
  • I decided to give Ginsburg’s workout a try for two weeks – here’s what happened.

If you are looking for evidence that 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t retiring anytime soon, just try her workout.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, people began speculating when the liberal bastion might step down from the bench. But Ginsburg works out with her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, twice a week. She has called him “the most important person in her life.”

Johnson and Ginsburg have been doing the one-hour workout that he details in his book, “The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong and You Can Too” for 18 years, aside from the three years he was deployed in Kuwait.

The workout starts with a five-minute warm-up and light stretching followed by a strength training session that includes push-ups, planks, chest presses, squats, and hip abductor exercises, then another round of stretches to cool down.

Here’s what happened when I tried the workout for two weeks.


I am no stranger to working out.

Elana Lyn GrossMe, after completing my first half-marathon.

I have completed four half-marathons and go to fitness classes frequently, but I haven’t done much strength-training recently because I was training for my races. I was expecting to be sore after the RBG workout.


I was up for the challenge of working out like Ginsburg, especially if it came with an honorary JD from Columbia University, a seat on the Supreme Court, or just great biceps.

Elana Lyn GrossIt’s tough to read and run.

But I didn’t realise that I would want to recuse myself when I saw that pushups were followed by medicine ball pushups and two different types of planks.


If you work out from home, you’ll need dumbbells, resistance bands or tubes, a door anchor, a medicine ball, a Swiss ball, and a stool or ottoman.

Elana Lyn GrossStudying before starting the strength training exercises.

I worked out at my local gym, because I didn’t think I’d be able to get into the Supreme Court gym where Justice Elena Kagan and Ginsburg work out.


It was important to me to get into character in the name of journalism, so I took fashion tips from the book’s illustrations of Ginsburg and, of course, her Supreme Court style.

Elana Lyn GrossMy faux jabot.

No one at the gym stared at me when I changed into my robe and my faux jabot (that’s the name of the ruffle!), but people did come by to chat when they saw me toting the book from machine to machine and studying it diligently before starting a set.


The workout starts with a 5-minute cardio warm-up followed by rotational exercises and stretches. I worked out for a little more than an hour.

Elana Lyn GrossThe book has multiple variations for each exercise, including ways that you can work out at home or use equipment at the gym.

Then you move into a series of strength exercises targeting your chest, legs, back, triceps, legs, arms, shoulders, glutes, and abs. It’s an efficient full-body workout.


You do multiple interval sets and repetitions for each exercise.

Elana Lyn GrossI was quickly feeling the Ruth Bader Ginsburn.

When you are choosing a weight, pick one that allows you to do eight reps without much difficulty, but causes you to struggle a bit for the last two to four reps, Johnson wrote.

He adds that you shouldn’t focus too much on the numbers. “It’s not about how much RBG can bench … it’s about making sure she feels good enough to stay on the Supreme Court bench,” Johnson wrote in the book.


I did the push-ups on my knees and took short breaks when my arms got sore, which is OK because the workout leaves room for building strength.

Elana Lyn GrossJohnson also wrote that you should stop if you feel like you ‘just caught a ride on the struggle bus.’

“Remember, it took Justice Ginsburg years to perfect this routine – even some young ThunderCats can’t complete this workout on their first try. As you first attempt this workout, don’t expect to complete it quickly, easily, or even at all,” Johnson wrote in the book.


The workouts were tough, and I was consistently sore the next day.

Elana Lyn GrossGinsburg does seated chest presses, leg extensions, cable rows, chest flys, squats, triceps presses, side planks, hip abductors, and more.

As an equipment novice, I now feel confident using the equipment in the book because of the detailed steps and pictures of the “Super Diva” herself. (Now I just need to find her “Super Diva” shirt.)


The verdict is still out on how fit I’ll get from the workout.

Elana Lyn GrossDare I say the workout is supreme?

Two weeks and four workouts isn’t enough to see major changes. But I plan to continue, so I can impress the justices when I get my invitation to work out at the Supreme Court.

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