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The Steve McQueen Workout

The Steve McQueen Workout


The Steve McQueen Workout: Find out how you can workout like the silver screen’s coolest star..

Let’s face it, at some point in our lives, Steve McQueen has been the man we’ve all wanted to be and you wished you knew the Steve McQueen workout routine. He embodied American masculinity; ruggedly handsome, extremely athletic and effortlessly cool, it earned him the reputation as Hollywood’s “King of Cool”.

He brought an authenticity of character to his roles that appealed to both sides of American culture that was then in a state of flux, bridging a gap between an older and younger generation’s idea of what it was to be a man.

“The King” was also a certified bad-ass when it came to working out. McQueen was ripped, every-inch definitely muscle, but he wasn’t bulky or musclebound. His attitude towards training was progressive and he shunned the growing trend of bodybuilding that was popularised by Arnie and his ilk. Like many of today’s athletes, McQueen was all about function. A leaner, lither physique meant he could continue to race and do his own stunts (a la Le Mans), and this motivated him to stay fitter than any of his Hollywood rivals.

Not much is known about the specifics of McQueen’s workout routines – after all, strength and conditioning was in its infancy as a science – but we do know he was a ferocious trainer nearly all year round. It’s not unheard of him to put five-mile runs down the boulevards of Palm Springs in between filming, followed by two hours hitting the weights in his own gym, seven days a week.

McQueen was also an avid martial arts fan. His friendship with Bruce Lee is the stuff of legend, and McQueen was apparently tutored in Jeet Kune Do to a high grade by the Enter the Dragon star himself.
Jeet Kune Do combines elements of kung fu, boxing and fencing, and was pioneered by Lee in the sixties as an alternative to other martial arts styles he deemed to be not that useful if a real fight were to break out. Lee training McQueen was no happy accident however; rumour has it Lee’s tutelage came under one condition – McQueen helped Lee learn how to act.

And McQueen was no soft touch in the dojo either; his credentials were bolstered when Lee applauded his work ethic, saying: “He’s a hard worker. One day I went to his place to work out and that guy doesn’t know the meaning of quitting.

“He just kept pushing himself for hours—punching and kicking without a break—until he was completely exhausted. His gym clothes were completely soaked by the time we gave up.” No faint praise indeed.
Under today’s microscope his methods may seem slightly excessive, but that’s using a filter with modern sport’s science that didn’t exist 50 years ago. As mentioned, functionality underpinned McQueen’s attitude towards training, and that has to be credited in an era where many actors pumped iron for their physique, or simply didn’t bother at all.

“McQueen was also an avid martial arts fan. His friendship with Bruce Lee is the stuff of legend, and McQueen was apparently tutored in Jeet Kune Do”

We’ve created the Steve McQueen workout that would’ve suited him down to his suede chukkas, and is based on high-intensity, as-many-reps-as-possible (AMRAP) circuit training. McQueen preferred high-rep low-weight work, and this built aerobic and anaerobic endurance simultaneously, something that contributed towards his leaner physique.

So, bite the bullet and give it the Steve McQueen workout go. it should only take half an hour and you can find everything in your local gym.

Remember to rest in between completed circuits for 90 seconds.


Warm Up

Do three minutes on the heavy bag at varying speeds and power. For example, spend 30 seconds hammering in heavy shots to the middle of the bag, then 30 seconds as fast as possible. Repeat until the three minutes are up.

Plate Turns

McQueen’s upper-body work would’ve been geared to combat the pressures of driving a car at speed. Use a heavy barbell plate to build strength in the upper back and sculpt the deltoids.

Holding a barbell plate out in front of you with fully extended arms, twist it to a ninety degree angle in each direction, as if you were turning a car’s steering wheel

AMRAP: 1 min/5 circuits/30 secs rest

Russian Twists

These may not have been popular in Cold War America, but they’re brilliant for building strong abdominals and obliques. Plus McQueen was pretty liberal, right?

Sitting on the floor with your knees bent and feet raised several inches in the air, twist from side to side holding a barbell plate at chest height, touching it down with every extension of the abdominals.

AMRAP: 1 min/5 circuits/30 secs rest

Incline Jabs

Steve-Mcqueen-and-Bob-Rosen. Try the Steve McQueen workout.As McQueen was all about function, it makes sense to use a move that specifically builds explosive power and serious core strength for martial artists.

Using a T Bar or barbell bar anchored in a corner, take a boxing stance (left leg forward, right leg behind) and take the bar in your right hand. With the bar at head height, ‘punch’ forward with as hard as possible, before bringing it back to your head for one rep.

AMRAP: 1 min/5 circuits/30 secs rest

Close-Handed Press-Ups

These modified press-ups place specific emphasis on the triceps and upper pectorals, as well as the abdominals. They can be done in confined spaces, too – POW camps maybe?

Assume a press-up position but with both hands together, forming a diamond shape between thumb and fingers. Slowly lower yourself until your chest is only several inches from the floor and push straight back up.

AMRAP: 1 min/5 circuits/30 secs rest

Kettlebell Squats

Strengthen not just your glutes and quads, but your abdominals and lower back using weighted squats – all areas to focus on for stability and balance, especially if you’re an allAmerican action hero.

Hold a kettlebell at chest height with two hands and your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, squat down so your backside goes past your knees. Surge back up through your heels to standing.

AMRAP: 1 min/5 circuits/30 secs rest

Chin Ups

Get defined arms with the Steve McQueen workout.Chins are more than just a decent chest and bicep builder, they’re a true sign of strength. McQueen would’ve knocked out 20 for breakfast, alongside ten Marlboro reds and a Bloody Mary.

Take hold of a pull-up bar with a narrow underhand grip (palms facing you) and pull yourself up by bending your elbows until your chin reaches the plane of the bar. Lower yourself slowly and repeat.

AMRAP: 1 min/5 circuits/30 secs rest

We promise you the Steve McQueen workout will make you sweat!

Steve-Mcqueen-the-man-and-le-mans. Try the Steve McQueen workout.STEVE MCQUEEN: THE MAN & LE MANS is the story of obsession, betrayal and ultimate vindication. It is the story of how one of the most volatile, charismatic stars of his generation, who seemingly lost so much he held dear in the pursuit of his dream, nevertheless followed it to the end.


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