How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Angela Bassett stays fit in her 60s

Want sculpted arms like Black Panther star Angela Bassett? Here’s how she does it

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 26: Angela Bassett attends Marvel Studios' "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" premiere at Dolby Theatre on October 26, 2022 in Hollywood, California
(Image credit: Getty Images/Amy Sussman/WireImage)

As a die-hard Marvel fan who hates spoilers, it was always a given that I’d be watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on its day of release. And it’s for this very same reason why I could not, in good conscience, write an article about the fitness regimes of the cast that gave the slightest indication of any potential new Black Panther - if there is indeed one (see what I did there?) - following the devastating passing of the first film’s lead, Chadwick Boseman.

Lucky for me, this tricky task was made all the easier thanks to the awe-inspiring arms of Angela Bassett, who returns as Queen Ramonda for the sequel. Because let me tell you, her insane biceps, triceps and delts – along with her Oscar-worthy performance - manage to steal the show Every. Single. Damn. Time she appears on the screen. Best of all, I reckon 64-year-old Bassett (yes, she really is 64!) does a stellar job of proving that when it comes to maintaining muscle tone and keeping fit, age is just a number. But how does she do it? I put on my detective hat to find out.

How does Angela Bassett keep fit?

It’s fair to say that Angela Bassett has always had an impressive set of guns. But don’t be fooled into thinking that they come naturally. Evidence of Bassett’s dedication to fitness can be seen in every film she’s ever appeared in during her lengthy career, including her turn as Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It. To keep her body in tip-top shape, Bassett swears by a combination of cardio, weight training and yoga - along with a nutritious diet - and ensures she stays committed and accountable by working out with her personal trainer at least twice a week.

“I will show up ’cause I don’t want to waste my money”, she told TV host Laila Muhammad (opens in new tab). “I’ve gotta be accountable and know somebody’s there waiting for me because I know myself, and I will talk myself out of going. I go in the morning because my workout quotient will diminish as the day goes on.”

On her actual workouts, which Bassett tailors to work in conjunction with her strict nutrition regime, she said, “Maybe Monday and Tuesday, I’ll do cardio; Wednesday, Thursday, because I’m eating protein, I’ll do strength building; and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, when I’m eating all that [good] fat, then it’s about deep breathing, a massage, and yoga.”

In addition to her consistent gym sessions, Bassett is also a fan of doing outdoor group activities such as walking and hiking with her friends. “It's about showing up and accountability," she told BlackDoctor.org (opens in new tab). "You have to say, 'Everyone will meet at 8:15 a.m.' I know when I have a real plan, then I'm there. If my friends are waiting, that puts pressure on me not to disappoint them." 

Screenshots from the movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

What is Angela Bassett’s diet regime?

Over the years, Bassett has crafted a strict dietary formula that works for her – and she’s sticking with it. “You can out-eat any exercise routine, so you’ve gotta eat right and clean, at least 80-85 per cent of the time,” she told Muhammad. “Follow a plan, not one that’s too restrictive. I happen to follow one that sort of cycles through [the week].”

The ‘cycle’ Bassett refers to works in harmony with her fitness regime and involves her eating lots of carbs and fruit on Mondays and Tuesdays when she’s doing cardio and consuming lots of protein and veggies on Wednesdays and Thursdays to fuel her muscles for strength training, with absolutely no fats over those four days. Then, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Bassett says she floods her diet with fat, but only the “good fat, though: maybe coconut oil, salmon, almonds, almond butter, olive oil, that sort of thing."

On top of this, Bassett eats only organic produce and makes sure that dairy, bread, and flour are strictly off the menu, swapping regular milk for almond milk and using Ezekiel bread instead, which is sprouted. This regime might sound strict, but the results clearly speak for themselves. As Bassett told Porter (opens in new tab), “I’m regimented and rigorous about what I’m eating. Diet is 85 per cent of the whole thing for me.” 

Who is Angela Bassett’s personal trainer?

While Basset prepared for the first Black Panther film with the movie’s lead trainer Corey Calliet (opens in new tab) - who was also responsible for getting Michael B. Jordan in peak condition for Creed - the man who has been putting the award-winning actress through her paces for at least seven years is none other than Hollywood PT Rob Thompson (opens in new tab), whose clients include actress Regina King and TV Host Nischelle Turner.

Now, when I say I’ve spent hours looking for an Angela Bassett x Rob Thompson workout to find out how he trains her specifically, I mean I’ve spent hours. And the little I’ve learnt from Thompson is that “the work she puts in during her training sessions is remarkable”. 

Bassett is equally elusive, revealing once in a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab), “I started doing TRX training with Rob Thompson of Get Fit By Rob. We start with low cardio — maybe run half a mile, then lift barbells while stepping up onto a bench and do a few machines.”

Now, personally, I think there’s a lot more to Bassett’s workouts with Thompson than she lets on, especially when you look at footage of him training other clients. As well as TRX, he’s clearly a fan of boxing, battle ropes and cable machines, all of which are amazing for working the upper body and core at the same time. Better still, even the best boxing gloves and best suspension trainers are cheaper and easier to store than a full-size treadmill.

And in a 2019 interview with Laila Muhammad (opens in new tab), Thompson revealed that working on posture was key for helping his female clients get red carpet ready. “The main thing for sure is posture, making sure the shoulders are in line, definitely working the upper back, the biceps, and, of course, the abs have to be showing, and the legs have to be right”, he said, before demonstrating some key moves including kettlebell swings, TRX rows, and a squat with a row using a cable machine.

Screenshots from the movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Angela Bassett arm workout

But it’s this full-body workout (opens in new tab) with former Miss California Natasha Alexis Martinez (opens in new tab) that I think gives a real insight into how Thompson works in the gym and how he could potentially train Bassett (skip to 2:56 to watch from the warm-up). After warming up with two rounds of 50 jump ropes and side steps with resistance bands, the main workout includes:

  • Resistance Kettlebell Dead Lifts (12 reps on both sides)
  • Resistance Kettlebell Swings (15 reps)
  • Squat Jumps (2 x 15 reps)
  • Kettlebell Reverse Lunges (2 x 12 reps on each leg)
  • TRX Rows (2 x 12 reps)
  • Two rounds of the following circuit: TRX Single Leg Squats (12 reps on each side); TRX Jump Squats (15 reps); TRX High Pulls (12 reps); Front lunge with medicine ball twist (12 reps on each side)
  • Cable Twists with Arm Pulls (12 reps each side)
  • TRX/Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Tucks (2 x 5 reps, 4 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep)

As you’ll see, Thompson’s workout is intense, fast-paced, packed with variety, and features a lot of compound moves that work the entire body in one hit. In addition, it also appears he likes to come up with moves and circuits on the spot to keep his client’s minds and bodies constantly guessing, which can be a total game-changer if you ask me!

And while this workout is by no means Bassett’s prescribed workout (because, you know, everybody is different), I reckon you too could have ‘Angela Bassett arms’ if you gave this workout a go.

Jo has been obsessed with writing and fitness since her teenage years and spent all her pocket money on magazines and workout VHS tapes. When ITV cancelled Gladiators – causing her dreams of becoming the next ‘Jet’ to crash and burn - she decided to combine her passions and become a fitness writer instead. A qualified PT and author of several fitness guides, she has spent the last 15 years writing for many of the UK’s most respected newspapers, magazines, and online publications. When she’s not interviewing celebrities and athletes or testing fit kit, she can be found watching YouTube breakdowns of the latest MCU releases.