The James Bond Workout

When you have a license to kill, you’ve got to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

So what did James Bond do for his workout?

From the James Bond novels, we know that 007 liked to do all sorts of physical activities that could count as exercise: boxing, judo, swimming, and skiing. He was also a golfer, so he got some activity in that way.

As a Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve, Bond likely incorporated some of the calisthenics he learned from the military into his workout routine. It’s possible that he even drew inspiration from the Cold War HIIT workout, 5BX.

You can see these influences in the workout 007 does in From Russia With Love. In that novel (one of the 5 best books in the Bond canon), Fleming describes a short calisthenics routine that his secret agent does that’s capped off with a “James Bond shower”:

There was only one way to deal with boredom — kick oneself out of it. Bond went down on his hands and did twenty slow press-ups, lingering over each one so that his muscles had no rest. When his arms could stand the pain no longer, he rolled over on his back and, with his hands at his sides, did the straight leg-lift until his stomach muscles screamed. He got to his feet and, after touching his toes twenty times, went over to arm and chest exercises combined with deep breathing until he was dizzy. Panting with the exertion, he went into the big white-tiled bathroom and stood in the glass shower cabinet under very hot and then cold hissing water for five minutes.

A pretty quick and straightforward bodyweight workout, that we’ve illustrated for reference above. With one adaptation: Bond scholars and aficionados have never figured out exactly what Fleming meant by “arm and chest exercises.” We substituted chair dips; they work both the arms and chest. You can imagine in your own arm and chest exercise if you’d like. Performing that portion of the workout, and all the rest of them, in a tux with a pistol and martini glass on hand is optional, but highly encouraged if you’re an operative training to face the unique challenges of international espionage.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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