Bruce Lee’s Bodybuilding Workout To Pack On Serious Muscle

The Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Workout is a weight training routine that encapsulates basic but fundamental bodybuilding exercises. Shortly after picking up bodybuilding in the early 1960’s, Bruce Lee tested and formulated his own bodybuilding routine. He combined the best weight training exercises that would cause great muscle stimulation, forcing muscles to grow in both size and strength.

Here’s an overview of the Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Workout:

Bruce lee bodybuilding workout routine

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Workout

To achieve these impressive results, Bruce Lee followed a bodybuilding program detailed below. This photo is an actual image of the bodybuilding routine that Bruce Lee used.

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Routine

1. Squat: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

2. French Press: 4 sets of 76 repetitions

3. Incline Curl: 4 sets of 6 repetitions

4. Concentration Curl: 4 sets of 6 repetitions

5. Push-ups: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

6. Two-Hand (Barbell) Curl: 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions

7. Triceps Stretch: 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions

8. Dumbbell Circle: 4 sets of as many repetitions as possible

9. Reverse Curl (Barbell): 4 sets of 6 repetitions

10. Wrist Curl (seated): 4 sets of as many repetitions as possible

11. Reverse Wrist Curl (seated): 4 sets of as many repetitions as possible

12. Sit-up: 5 sets of 12 repetitions

13. Calf Raise: 5 sets of 20 repetitions

The Bruce Lee bodybuilding routine focuses on developing the triceps, biceps, and forearms. Bruce Lee put great emphasis on training his arms to improve the speed and effectiveness of his punches.

Read Bruce Lee’s Full Body Workout to see how he trained all his major muscles in each workout.

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Workout in Detail

Squat – 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Squats are one of the most important exercises in bodybuilding and they develop one of the biggest muscle groups in the entire body. Squatting makes the quadriceps thick and powerful and develops your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, abdominals, and more. Squats are what gave Bruce Lee his unstoppable endurance, powerful kicks, and well-built legs.

To make squatting more effective, take heavy breaths during each repetition to work the entire body and exhaust the upper body muscles to build size and endurance.

French Press – 4 sets of 6 repetitions

The French press exercise is excellent in building the upper portion of your tricep muscles. Building the triceps are essential in developing well-balanced arm muscles. To get muscular arms like Bruce Lee, working both the biceps and triceps are vital.

To perform, grab a barbell and elevate it above your head. Slowly lower the bar behind the back of your neck and raise it back up to restart. An important note is to keep your upper arms close and ensuring that only the elbows are bent during this exercise.

Incline Curl – 4 sets of 6 repetitions

Isolation exercises like the incline curl create more tension and stress in the biceps on each repetition, the results are bigger and stronger biceps. To perform, grab a dumbbell in one arm and lay the arm on an incline bench. With your arm hanging with the dumbbell and your weight is on your feet, curl the dumbbell up slowly. Feeling the contraction is important in this exercise.

Concentration Curl – 4 sets of 6 repetitions

The concentration curl focuses on building the upper portion of the bicep. To perform, hold a dumbbell and lean your arm against your inner thigh. Curl the dumbbell up and focus on the contraction at the top of the curl.

Push-ups – 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Bruce Lee performed push-ups as part of his weight training routine. Push-ups are an efficient and effective exercise to develop the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Shoulders should be shoulder width apart, your body should be straight, and your stomach should be elevated about 2 inches from the ground.

Two-Hand (Barbell) Curl – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions

The barbell curl is the standard exercise in building the overall size and strength in bicep muscle. Grab a barbell and stand straight with your feet at shoulder width. With your back straight and shoulder blades in place, curl the bar upward to your shoulders and bring it back down.

Triceps Stretch – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions

The triceps stretch is a variation of the French press that isolates the triceps muscle and puts more focus on building tension on the single tricep muscle.  To perform, grab one dumbbell and elevate it above your head. Bring the dumbbell down to the back of your neck and back up again to restart.

Dumbbell Circle – 4 sets of as many repetitions as possible

Bruce Lee built strong and muscular forearms with the dumbbell circle exercise. Dumbbell circles build strength in your forearms, biceps, triceps, and wrists. To perform, take a dumbbell in each hand and elevate your arms outwards on each side of your body. Then rotate the dumbbells in circles in a back and forth motion until you can do anymore.

Reverse Curl (Barbell) – 4 sets of 6 repetitions

Another exercise that Bruce Lee used to build his outer and inner forearm muscles. Similarly to the barbell curl but with an overhand grip, take a barbell and hold it with your palms facing upward. Slowly curl the bar up to your shoulders and back down again.

Wrist Curl (seated) – 4 sets of as many repetitions as possible

Wrist curls are great at building the inner forearms. While seated, take a dumbbell and lay your arm against your thigh with the dumbbell hanging just above the knee. Curl the dumbbell upward using only wrist strength and wrist movements.

Reverse Wrist Curl (seated) – 4 sets of as many repetitions as possible

Reverse wrist curls build the top muscles of the forearms. Take a dumbbell or barbell and lay your arm against your thigh. With the back of your hands facing upward, curl the dumbbell up and back down. Flex your forearms muscles while curling to give your forearms a greater burn and contraction.

Sit-up – 5 sets of 12 repetitions

Sit-ups are essential in building a strong core and developing the overall abdominals. Bruce Lee would do sit-ups daily and during his weight training exercises. Lay on the floor with your knees bent and both your arms behind your neck. Move your entire torso upward and touch your head against your knee.

Calf Raise – 5 sets of 20 repetitions

Bruce Lee would do calf raises to increase the size of his lower leg. He would use a block in his calf workouts and stand his toes on the block with his heels on the floor. Then he would flex his calves and elevate his heels until they are up to his toes. He would go for a full extension and flex his calves at the top to increase the effectiveness of the workout.

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Results

bruce lee bodybuilding

How effective was Bruce Lee’s bodybuilding routine? The Bruce Lee bodybuilding program proved to have positive results on Bruce Lee’s overall muscle development and gave him an insanely developed upper body, lats, calves, and six-pack abs.

Along with Bruce Lee’s diet, he followed a bodybuilding workout regimen that increased stamina, strength, and packed on pounds of muscles in less than 2 months.

By introducing a weight training program to his routine, Bruce Lee miraculously transformed his physique into a bodybuilder figure but was much more ripped and lean than average bodybuilder.  He developed huge lats, a heavily built back, and shredded abdominals.

With a combination of having a bodybuilder diet and an insane amount of daily cardio, Bruce Lee lowered his body fat and slimmed his waist by half an inch.

From May 27, 1965, to July 10, 1965, Bruce Lee recorded his overall muscle development and gains that he had made in just 44 days from a simple, bodybuilding program that he developed himself.

Detailed below are real records of Bruce Lee’s muscle gains that he recorded himself and included is the real Bruce Lee bodybuilding program that he used to achieve unbelievable results.

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Gains After 2 months

1. Increased 2 1/2  inches on his chest

2. Increased 1/4 inches on his neck

3. Increased 3/4 inches on both his right and left biceps

4. Increased 3/4 inches on his left forearm

5. Increased 1/2 inches on his right forearm

6. Increased 1/2 inches on his left and right wrists

7. Increased 1 1/2 inches on his left thigh

8. Increased 1 1/4 inches on his right thigh

9. Increased 5/8 inch on his left calf

10. Increased 1/2 inch on his right calf

11. Decreased 1/2 inch from his waist

Note: Bruce Lee’s weight was 133 lbs and height was 5’7 at the time.

Beginner Gains or Pure Hard Work?

Bruce Lee’s bodybuilding program had tremendous results in just less than 2 months. It wouldn’t be foolish to think that dramatic results of Bruce Lee’s 2 months of bodybuilding were the result of the bodybuilding phenomenon known as beginner gains or newbie gains.

However, if we calculate in the fact that Bruce Lee at the time, before starting his bodybuilding program, was already a seasoned athlete with a tremendous amount of training hours clocked in. This impressive feat was the result of Bruce Lee’s dedication to always improve in areas he was lacking in.

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Routine: Workout Equipment

Detailed below are the workout equipment that Bruce Lee would use apart of his weight training and bodybuilding workouts.

  1. Barbell Olympic bar: A weighted bar that can be used in exercises such as the squat, French press, bicep curls, and forearm exercises.
  2. Incline bench: The all-purpose seated platform that is used in various chest exercises are great for isolation exercises like the incline curl.
  3. Dumbbells: Bruce Lee used dumbbells in various weights in order to do different bicep, tricep, and forearm exercises.
  4. Wrist Blaster: A modern forearm equipment that is similar to the forearm exerciser that Bruce Lee would use in workouts to work the flexor and extensor muscles of the forearms.
  5. Hand Grip Strengthener: Improves strength and flexibility of the wrists. Great for working out your wrists and forearms daily.

Bruce Lee Bodybuilding Philosophy, Weight training, & CrossFit

A good rule of thumb for anyone doing the Bruce Lee bodybuilding routine is to train often and switch routines often. What I mean is, Bruce had a wide range of workout regimens in his training arsenal. His daily workout schedule was hectic, he Lee would sometimes train up to 7 days a week and 12 hours a day.

Throughout his phase of lifting weights, Bruce Lee had his hand at weightlifting, isometric training, weight training, and bodybuilding. Each routine with its own principles and aspects that Bruce would train for different purposes and goals.

In Bruce’s Lee bodybuilding phase, he was primarily careful about building too much muscle. In this sense, his muscles would not have a beneficial effect on his martial arts if they were too big and had no functional purpose.

“The athlete who is building muscles through weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time.”

Perhaps one of Bruce Lee’s greatest facts about him was that he was able to adopt a broad range of fitness philosophies and training methods into his life. Bruce saw each training method as a tool to improve upon areas that he was lacking on.

If his punches were too weak, he knew needed to do isometric training, which is the quickest way to build raw strength. If he looked deflated on a movie set he knew he had to utilize weight training methods to lift heavy weight and pack on muscle mass.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bruce would read bodybuilding magazines he found on newspaper stands and study them thoroughly. He would find interesting workouts or a bodybuilding article speaking highly of a new training method.

Through this method of adopting different weight training principles and having several friends mentoring him on basic bodybuilding principles, Bruce Lee was able to develop his own training routines that he would use throughout his career.

Can you imagine if a high-intensity fitness program like CrossFit existed back then? Bruce Lee would surely dominate the scoreboard in the CrossFit games. He was not only strong, but also quick on his feet, flexible, and versatile in every aspect.



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