There is nothing quite like being humbled by the fitness regimen of an octogenarian, which is why you might want to proceed with caution. POLITICO reporter Ben Schreckinger recently got a glimpse into the workout of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it’s entirely possible you’ll need to work your way up to it.
Political pundits have been focused on the health of the 83-year-old Ginsburg (who has a birthday coming up on March 15) due to her liberal leanings and the desire to see her remain on the bench for the duration of a Republican presidency. Part of what keeps her sharp is a twice-weekly exercise protocol developed by her personal trainer, a Sergeant First Class in the Army Reserves named Bryant Johnson.
While the hour-long workout can vary at times, Johnson explained that it more or less looks like this: After a five-minute warm-up on an elliptical bike, Ginsburg does some light stretching (toe touches, seated ankle-grabbing with legs extended) followed by a strength routine. Johnson uses weights that Ginsburg can heft for 10 to 13 reps, including a 70-pound bench press, chest flies, lat pulldowns, and leg presses, all using a machine. Ginsburg then performs one-legged squats by extending one leg and rising from a seated position 10 times per leg.
The latter effort seemed to give Schreckinger pause. "This was not easy," he wrote. The squats are followed by two sets of 10 pushups and 30-second planks, which is a bit like holding a pushup posture on your forearms to work your core.
Next, Ginsburg uses an exercise ball to perform dynamic dumbbell presses and curls before moving to an 18-inch platform that promotes knee stability. That’s followed by more leg exercises and squats on a Bosu ball. Finally, Ginsburg catches a medicine ball from a seated position, stands, and tosses it back to Johnson. The effort is meant to replicate getting up from a toilet unassisted, an important skill for any age.
Despite being a good half-century younger than Ginsburg, Schreckinger said the workout left him "sore, disoriented, and cranky." If you haven't hit the gym in awhile, it might be prudent to consult with a doctor before attempting the Ginsburg protocol.