Bruce Lee’s six-pack abs are one of the greatest prominent features on his physique. The Bruce Lee ab workout was designed in order to get the best abdominal development that he can obtain to supplement his martial arts and fitness training.
Having a strong core was fundamental for Lee’s success in martial arts and strength training—the visually appealing, rock-hard six pack abs was only added benefit.
–John Little, The Art of Expressing the Human Body, 1998.
How to Get Six Pack Abs Like Bruce Lee
Bruce put a great emphasis on working on his core muscles because he believed that the human body is “the greatest target and the least mobile.” In theory, he believed the more muscles you develop around your stomach and abdominal area, the more efficient you are at taking more blows. In addition, Lee also built his wide lats to be somewhat of a shield for his back.
Bruce Lee formulated his own ab workout routine after studying books and bodybuilding guides to find the best exercises he could find for developing a strong core.
He chose 5 ab exercises that he found to be the best for ab development, thickness building, and overall strengthening of the abdominal muscles.
Bruce Lee’s ab workout is basic, consisting of only the most fundamental ab exercises that can get the job done. It was Bruce’s tenacity and unhuman-like hard work that made his abs workout different.
It was Bruce Lee’s repetition count that made his ab routine not for the faint of heart. Bruce Lee did hundreds, and often times, thousands of repetitions of ab exercises for many sets of each abs workout. Also, noted in Lee’s daily workout routine is that he worked out for 7 days straight while performing ab exercises every day.
Along with Bruce Lee’s full body workout, he achieved a body that some people can only dream to have—a thin waistline that showcased his well-defined abs, aesthetic V-taper upper body, and along with his developed lats, chest, and shredded shoulders.
Read here about Bruce Lee’s diet and how he achieved nearly zero percent body fat.
Bruce Lee Ab Workout: Build a Steel-Cut Six Pack
Bruce Lee did these 5 basic abs exercises to build his core and to develop his six pack abs. The number of days he trained his abs are not exactly known, only because he would train his abdominal muscles and core on any given day.
Bruce Lee’s daily ab workout included:
- Waist twists – 4 sets of 90 repetitions.
- Sit-up twists – 4 sets of 20 repetitions.
- Leg raises – 4 sets of 20 repetitions.
- Leaning twists – 4 sets of 50 repetitions.
- Frog kicks – 4 sets of 50 repetitions.
Training Equipment for the Bruce Lee Ab Workout
The training equipment that Bruce Lee used for his ab workouts is standard workout equipment that is useful for the gym and outside the gym. Bruce would typically train at home, sometimes in front of the TV set.
- Pull-up bar for performing leg raises and frog kicks.
- Flat bench for performing leg raises.
- Light bar for performing twists.
- Dumbbell for performing side bends.
Bruce Lee Ab Workout: 5 Daily Ab Exercises
1. Sit Up & Advanced Sit up
One of the most common ab exercises that exist. Bruce Lee performed his own version of the sit up, which targeted his upper abdominal and intercostal muscles.
To perform Bruce Lee’s version of the sit up, you will need an abdominal board or a slanted board. Once you’re on the board and safely secured, slightly bend your knees and move your torso upward until you touch your chest against your knees. Hold the contraction for a few seconds and lower your torso back to starting position.
A more advanced variation of this exercise is putting both hands behind your head and when you move upwards with your torso, touch one elbow with the opposite knee and repeat for each side. According to Bruce Lee, adding variations to the setup like twisting will boost the effectiveness of this exercise.
2. Leg Raises & Advanced Leg Raises
Leg raises are the Godfather of ab exercises for developing the lower abdominals.
You may require a flat bench to perform this exercise or find something that’s sturdy that will support your bodyweight.
While lying flat on the bench, firmly grasp the underside or back bottom portion of the bench, elevate the legs about 18 inches pass parallel and slowly lower your legs back down.
An advanced version of the leg raises exercise that Bruce Lee performed was on a chin-up bar, where he would hang onto the chin up bar and lift his straighten legs up to a 90 degrees angle and back down.
3. The Twist
Bruce Lee performed the twist exercise in order to build his oblique muscles and to which also developed his strong, lean waist.
To perform this exercise, you will require a long stick or light bar to put behind your neck. Stand up in a straight stance and position the bar behind your neck with both hands firmly grasping each side of the bar. Bend your torso downward as far as you can and touch the right end of the bar to your left foot and reverse with the left side of the bar and right foot. Repeat this exercise until exhaustion. The number of repetitions that Bruce Lee determined was effective for this workout was 50.
4. Frog Kicks
The primary goal of the frog kick exercise is to stretch and tighten the lower abdominals. Also an excellent exercise for developing the most difficult area of a six pack abs. To perform this exercise, hang on a pull-up bar and while your knees are bent, lift your legs up against your chest and back down.
5. Side Bends
Side bends primarily targets the oblique muscles and strengthens the sides of the abdominals. Bruce Lee’s philosophy on working his core and abdominals is to work on every area and section of that abdominal muscle group just like he would for any other muscle group. Side bends are crucial in the Bruce Lee ab workout to fully exhaust the obliques and completely develop the outer side portion of the abdominal muscle.
To perform this exercise, you will require a dumbbell to hold on either side of your body when doing this exercise. With your feet firmly planted to the floor, stand in a straight position and grab one dumbbell on one hand. Bend your torso towards the side that you are holding the dumbbell and feel a tight contraction on the side of your abdominals. Slowly move back to starting position with the dumbbell slowly coming up. Repeat this step for 5 to 20 repetitions on each side for 4 sets.
Bruce Lee Ab Workout Tips and Rules
Bruce Lee believes in working fast but keeping a steady mindset. When performing ab exercises, go at a quick pace but also concentrate. Concentrate on the contraction of the abdominals on each repetition.
When you’re feeling exhausted and your abdominals feel overworked, go for half repetitions or shorter range of motion repetitions for a total burn out set. This is what leads to well-defined abdominals and greater six-pack development.
Bruce Lee always ends each ab workout by performing a static contraction exercise. A static contraction exercise involves contracting the muscle being worked without any movement. Also known as maximum intensity training, this form of exercise stimulates muscle growth and is intense as it sounds.
The optimal way to build a six-pack and strong core is to not overwork the abdominal muscle. A sufficient amount of rest and a well-balanced diet is necessary for your abdominals to develop.
Source material and factual content of Bruce Lee’s Ab workout and training referenced from the book “Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body by John Little.”