There's a lot of confusion online in regards to Men's Physique, Men's Classic Physique, and…
A lot of men were very inspired by ‘The Godfather of MMA’ and his movies in the past, and want to get the Bruce Lee Body, and with good reason. The movies were awesome, and the dude was a shredded badass.
Today I’m going to delve into some of the training routines and diet tactics he followed and described in ‘The Art Of Expressing The Human Body’, and add my take on things, so that you can maximise your chances of getting shredded yourself.
Bruce Lee Weightlifting
A common question that guys often ask is, “did Bruce Lee lift weights?”. The answer is a resounding YES.
- He followed a full body split, rather than a bodybuilding-style ‘bro split‘
- He scaled back a lot on the total volume, which is a key driver of muscle growth (especially combined with diet, which we’ll get to in just a minute), as he didn’t want the ‘bulk’
The Bruce Lee Body Full Body Workout
So here’s the routine he used to do to get the lean & shredded-rather-than-bulky physique he was famous for.
Clean & Press 2×8
This movement was the foundation of his muscular power, meaning the velocity by which he moved weight. This movement involves exploding the barbell from the floor and up to your shoulders. Then the second part of the movement involves pressing it over your head while maintaining stability.
He also performed each rep with little rest time, meaning that it was more of a combination of explosive power and cardio – perfect for MMA really, as opposed to pure power which is what Olympic lifters train for.
Barbell Curl 2×8
These were performed every time in Bruce’s workout, and were the staple for his arm development (a lot of bodybuilders would agree that the barbell curl is king for biceps).
These gave him not only the bicep development, but also the pulling & grappling power he was after in his training.
To perform this exercise correctly, simply get an EZ bar (better for your wrists) and grab the bar at shoulder width. Raise the bar from an elbow-extended position, up to the top until your biceps are at peak contraction. Then lower back down SLOWLY to keep the tension on your biceps.
Behind The Neck Press 2×8
The behind the neck press gave him a ton of additional shoulder strength (and useful overhead strength) in addition to the clean & press. They also developed his shoulder & tricep muscles significantly.
But one important note here, is that you don’t have to do this exercise behind the neck, because it might not be the best for your shoulder health (depending on your flexibility). A perfectly acceptable substitution for this would be the military press.
The exercise technique requires a barbell being rested on your neck/upper traps, and then being pressed above your head. You do need decent shoulder flexion to perform this movement on a consistent basis, safely.
Barbell Squat 2×12
This was the only real lower body hypertrophy exercise he did. He knew that he didn’t need big legs, just enough muscle to drive maximum force/power.
In order to perform this movement correctly, you’ll need a squat rack with a barbell resting on your upper traps/shoulders. Then squat down nice and deep (your hips should be as low as your knees), then rise back up to the standing position.
This exercise is king for quad, glute and hip development, and Bruce found that 12 reps gave him a more useful workout than 8 reps. He rested for only a short time between sets, so 2×12 with little rest definitely had a minor cardio component to it (especially when you consider that the entire workout was done with little rest in between sets).
Barbell Row 2×8
This one was even more important for his grappling strength than the barbell curls, as this exercise really engages your rhomboids and rear delts. It also trains them how to work as a unit, which is really critical for fighting and any kind of performance.
To perform this exercise, you want your knees bent and your back straight, with the barbell resting on the floor at your feet. Maintain this tight position, and pull the bar up to your midriff. Pause for a second, to ensure maximum muscle tension. Then lower the weight back down SLOWLY to the starting position.
Barbell Bench Press 2×8 (The Bruce Lee Chest Workout)
This is a big one for overall upper body strength and pushing power. Having said this, Bruce wasn’t doing it for 8 sets of 15 like most bodybuilders would do every Monday. Building a huge chest wasn’t really his priority.
With the bench press, you want to make sure you shoulder blades are pinched together and your back is tight throughout the entire movement. Lower the barbell down towards the lower portion of your chest SLOWLY, then press upwards until almost lockout.
The Bruce Lee Body Diet
Bruce Lee was shredded, and the reality is that unless you’re a professional athlete who is paid to train 30+ hours per week, and is therefore essentially being paid to burn calories, you’re not going to train your way to being shredded 24/7.
That’s your diet’s job.
And Bruce Lee’s diet did the work for him (in combination with training 24/7 like an athlete), with a strong focus on protein and an insistence upon NOT fuelling his body with junk food.
What did he fuel his body with exactly?
If you want the Bruce Lee Body, be prepared to consume plenty of protein shakes. Check out this grass-fed whey protein isolate powder by Bulk Supplements (tastes great):Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate Powder
Protein is the king macronutrient of body composition. Obviously it helps to build lean muscle and retain is while being shredded and/or dieting. But it also limits your appetite and therefore makes it FAR easier to lose body fat and get completely diced.
By the way if you’re looking to get down to 10% body fat with Intermittent Fasting, I’ve already coached 7,000 men how to do this. Get your FREE guides by entering your email below:
Healthy Chinese Food
So we know that Bruce wasn’t a fan of fuelling his MMA with junk food, and he wanted to maximise his performance by eating properly.
But what exactly is healthy Chinese food? Here’s some examples of healthy, high protein meals that he used to eat on a regular basis, and you can copy if you want the Bruce Lee Body:
- Beef in oyster sauce (with rice, I believe)
- Steak or liver 1-2 times per week
- Shrimp with veggies + tofu
- Chicken with veggies + tofu
So as you can see, the underlying theme here is that there’s always a strong protein serving, with veggies most of the time. It’s a great combination for micronutrients and vitamins too, especially with the red meat/veggies combo.
He avoided junk food, he avoided sugar-dense foods, and his main carb source was rice by the looks of things. I can’t see any mention of alcohol intake either, so it’s no wonder he managed to stay shredded.
This is an excellent diet to maintain a super low body fat level year round, without losing muscle.
Bruce Lee Body Fat
Speaking of which, what was his body fat %?
My guess is that he was 7-8% year round. Peeled. So the question then becomes, how can you achieve that, so that you can get the Bruce Lee Body?
- Get into a calorie deficit, by getting onto a proper Intermittent Fasting meal plan
- Maintain a high protein intake every day, by focusing on meat, fish, and protein shakes every time you put something in your mouth
- Avoid junk food & sugar like the plague
- Train full body 3x per week, and get on a strict lifting regime
- Train MMA as much as humanly possible – Monday to Saturday for at least one hour would be ideal, with Sunday as a recovery day
I hope you’ve found this information to be useful, and also inspiring for your fitness goals. If you’d like to focus on fat loss, so that you can achieve a Bruce Lee Body, I can help you.
I’ve got three FREE fat loss guides waiting for you right here, with far more in-depth information than outlined in this article: