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Bruce Lee Workout Routine

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Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

"Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him."

- Bruce Lee

You may know of Bruce Lee as a action movie star and a martial artist from the 1960's, but if you consume media today it's hard to escape his influence on the culture. You'll find references of Bruce Lee in many films, songs and books till today. His action choreography and style has had a major influence on how we action scenes are shot today. Back then they used to rely on editing and excessive cuts to feign action on the screen. Armed with his fighting skills Lee didn't have to and he'd just take fully framed, longs shots that were revolutionary for the time.

Bruce Lee's films have inspired Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's work. You'll find references to the iconic yellow jumpsuit and multilevel quest sequence in Kill Bill 2, and recently his character appeared (And made some controversy) in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Many consider him to be one of the founding fathers of Mixed Martial Arts and UFC.

When I read the Tao of Jeet Kune Do for the first time, I realized you could envelop a great deal of practical knowledge with a few meaningful quotes. The book made it to the top 2 on the list of best gifts for Bruce Lee fans on Science of Gifts for a reason. It's the most thoughtful thing you can gift to a casual fan who may not be aware of Lee's philosophical teachings.

Bruce lee was very serious about his fitness. He trained every day and had a clean diet. He was very consistent; he never let his work or anything else interfere with his training.

In fact, even when he had to travel for filming, he took along his running shoes. I even read a story about him packing his equipment for a trip to Hong Kong. He did not pack any of his cloths. He said he could buy them cheap in Hong Kong. He just packed training equipment and said with a satisfied look on his face, ‘Now I’m going to be able to do lots of training.'

What we can take from this is how important it is to be dedicated to your dreams. Bruce Lee’s dream was to be the greatest fighter of his time. He wanted to be in his best possible shape and have all the characteristics of a great fighter.

He wanted to change the world with his ideas. And that he did.

If you want to know his complete workout and martial art training routine. Buy his book Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: The Complete Edition On Amazon. You'll find everything about his fitness and martial arts training in this 483 page illustrated book.

Following I discuss Bruce Lee's workout routine with some suggestions to begin with.

Get prepared mentally

I know you have heard this before and ignored it. It sounds like it came out of a self help book, but this is the most important thing to do. If you are not mentally prepared for something, you are likely to give up the moment something goes wrong; your mind is always looking for the smallest excuse to quit.

To mentally prepare yourself, you must know what you are doing. Prepare for the obstacles that might come into your way, and find a way to deal with them. If you don't have time for going to the the gym; workout at home. No equipments at home; make your own.

You can read my post on Bruce Lee's quotes for inspiration.

Enter The Dragon.

Enter The Dragon.

Stick to a routine

Don't change routines every week. Find a routine that suits your purpose and stick to it for at least a month. If you don't see any improvements, move on to a different one, but if you see enough gains, in strength or muscle, stick to it for a while longer, and see how it turns out.

If you switch your routines too soon, you will not find one that will work for you, however, if the workout is causing you injury or pain, then go ahead and find a new one. Look out for shoulder pain. You don't want to injure your shoulders.

Important lifts

With years of experimentation, Bruce Lee had pretty much figured out what worked for him and what didn't. His most favorite lifts were squat, bench press, dead-lift, good morning, and the barbell curl. Although good morning is a great lift for working out the lower back, it puts enormous pressure on the spine when working with heavy weights, and it can cause injury. Stiff leg dead-lift is a better option.

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Although I think I get enough work for my lower back from regular deadlift, you can add stiff DL or GM to your workout if you want to.

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

- Bruce Lee

Planning a routine for you

Know this -- If you want to be a professional fighter, you will have to train like one; there is no way around hard work. Same thing goes for a natural bodybuilder; you can't get a body like a bodybuilder if you don't train like one.

The good news is if you are just looking for a strong and ripped body like Lee, you can get it without spending half the day working out in the gym.

Bruce had a hardcore training regimen that most of today bodybuilders, and martial artist will piss their pants trying. Most of his workout consisted on training drills that enhanced his fighting skills.

I, in this article, am going to provide you with his power training routine. Note that I made some changes using my knowledge and experience in this field. Bruce was always learning, improving. He wouldn't want us to do the exact same thing he used to do. It's been over 40 years since his death, and a lot of advancement is made in this field. It's our duty to continue from where he stopped.

Sample exercises for all muscle groups

Back: Deadlift, pull ups.

Legs: Squats, deadlift.

Chest: Bench press, inclined bench press, dips, and push ups.

Shoulder: Overhead press.

Abs: Leg raises, alternate leg raises, L sits, and V sits.

Calves: Jump rope, vertical jumps.

Forearms: Dead hangs on pull up bar.

Bruce Lee performing his legendary 2 finger push up

Bruce Lee performing his legendary 2 finger push up

Bruce Lee's Full Body Workout

DayMuscle groupsExercise


Legs, back, arms

Squats/ deadlift (5X5), pull ups or bicep curls (maxX5)


Abs, forearms

Leg raises (20X3), L sits (1 minX5)


Legs, chest

Squats/ deadlift (5X5), bench press/ Incline bench press (5X5)


Abs, calves

Leg raises (20X3), L sits (1 minX5), verticle jumps


Legs, shoulders

Squats/ deadlift (5X5), overhead press (5X5)



Alternate leg raises (10X3)




Workout guidelines

For a lean physique like Bruce Lee, keep the reps between 3-5. Keep the sets between 3-5 (Except for hard gainers). Bruce did a lot of cardio, which prevented him from bulking. If you don't do much cardio, limit your food intake; avoid overeating. Avoid foods containing gluten, such as rice, wheat, etc. Limit your fat intake to minimum. Eat less salt.

The Pyramid

Bruce used pyramid sets method in exercises such as, bench press, barbell curls, overhead press, etc. He did this to maintain his speed while still gaining strength. He started with light weights and high reps, adding more weight each set while decreasing the number of reps. Then, when he would reach his max, he'd start lowering the weights again.

This method is time consuming, and you can safely ignore it if you wish.

Tips for ectomorphs

Ectomorphs, also called as hard gainers, are guys with small joints and a high metabolism. They have a hard time gaining muscle, maintain low body fat, and have a small frame.

Your goal should be to add some lean muscle to your frame. You can lose what little body fat you have later.

  • You may want to try doing more sets (8 - 10).
  • 5 is the ideal number of reps per set.
  • If you are not lactose intolerant, milk can help in gains. Don't consume too much though.
  • Try to eat enough calories for recovery.
  • Eat protein rich foods.
  • Eat fiber.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • You might want to avoid physically demanding activities when bulking up.

The book You Are Your Own Gym - The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises has everything you need to know about gaining muscle mass for ectomorphs. Including accurate and effective advice about nutrition.

Tips for mesomorphs

Mesomorphs have good genetics for muscle gains, and can gain muscle more easily than ectomorphs. They are naturally muscular and have bigger joints.

Your goal should be to lose the body-fat and get ripped. Cardio 3 times a week is advisable.

  • Jump rope is your best friend.
  • 5 sets for each exercise.
  • Avoid fatty foods.
  • Eat vegetables.
  • Try to eat enough calories for recovery.
  • Eat protein rich foods.
  • Eat fiber.
  • Drink lots of water.

Tips for endomorphs

Endomorphs are people that have a hard time losing weight. They have big joints, wide waste, and a slow metabolism.

A good diet plan is your best bet. Without that, the only thing the cardio sessions will do is to exhaust you.

  • Jump rope is your best friend for life (30 minutes a day).
  • 5 sets for each exercise.
  • Avoid fatty foods.
  • Eat vegetables.
  • Try to eat enough calories for recovery.
  • Eat protein rich foods.
  • Eat fiber.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Avoid foods with gluten.

"Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him."

- Bruce Lee

Thank you for reading!

Thanks for reading! If you have any doubts on the subject, please feel free to ask.

That's it people; you now know everything you need to get a ripped body like the little dragon. Get ready for work.

© 2014 Dattaraj


emielnik on March 01, 2017:

This man was a legend and an inspiration!

John from India on December 20, 2016:

Interesting article.........Thank u

Dattaraj (author) on November 29, 2014:

Mike, not everyone can spend 6 - 8 hours a day for training. And as I have mentioned in the article, not everyone responds the same to a routine. Bruce Lee spent more than six hours training for martial arts. Most people don't have a lifestyle like that, so they wont get the same results as Bruce.

He also did the pyramid sets to maintain his speed while still gaining strength and muscle, and his workouts lasted very long. The workout I have provided here is designed to get a physique like Bruce Lee.

It's 2014 not the 70's, so there apt to be some changes.

Mike on November 28, 2014:

this is not real Bruce Lee's routine check the real in to the book "The art of expressing the human body"

Dattaraj (author) on July 12, 2014:

Hey, Carrie Lee Night.

Thank you for reading. And yes -- he was extraordinary. There can be no other Bruce Lee.

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on July 11, 2014:

Interesting hub :). Bruce Lee was phenomenal :)

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