B. Lee's routine (coming from "The Art of Expressing the Human Body")

Discussion in 'Other' started by pet', Dec 9, 2018.

  1. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    Ultimately, I dug a lot into S&C and MA / combat sport training. I recently stumbled across this website: http://www.workoutlikebrucelee.com which is based on the book "The art of expressing the human body", from J. Little. This website is very faithful to the book.

    The book, and thus the website, makes some kind of compendium of Bruce Lee training, over the years. This is quite difficult because it evolved in function of his goals and researches.

    Below, I put some links of the actual trainings:
    "For Strength, Power & Muscle Definition"
    Clean & Press (2 sets x 8 reps)
    Squats (2 sets x 12 reps)
    Pullovers (2 sets x 8 reps)
    Bench Press (2 sets x 6 reps)
    Barbell Curls (2 sets x 8 reps)
    Good Mornings (2 sets x 8 reps)
    + a lot of intense shadow boxing

    Circuit training
    Overhand Pull-ups
    Seated Leg Press
    Standing Leg Thrusts
    Shoulder Press
    Standing Calf Raises
    Alternating Cable Curls
    Standing Unilateral Horizontal Arm Adductions
    Bench Press
    Kneeling Lat Pulldowns
    Triceps Push-Downs
    Running (full pace for 90 seconds)
    Standing Wrist Rollers
    Neck Flexion/Rotation/Extensions
    Several options here: either max reps in 30 / 60s, or using a weight allowing 8-12 repetitions. In both cases, no rest between the exercises. This can be alternated with the following: Bruce Lee Fitness

    And below, the ab routine. I was pretty surprised by the fact he modified the ab training quite a lot, from day to day. Sometimes, it was high reps with "easy" moves, sometimes, lower reps with hard ones.
    Bruce Lee Abs Workout for a Bruce Lee Six-Pack Stomach

    Basically, he did the strength training 3 times a week, and the conditioning 3 times a week. In all cases, he practiced MA everyday (including shadow boxing, sparring, etc...).

    Pound for pound, Bruce Lee was incredibly strong with a great endurance, and had a nice and athletic bodycomposition. Considering nutrition, he mostly relied on healthy Chinese food and veggies / protein smoothies.

    What do you think guys - this is a very open debate - about his training ? How would you compared it to S&S for instance (which basically also fits well combat requirements, health, strength and endurance) ?

    "For Strength, Power & Muscle Definition"
    Bruce Lee Body Training Routine for Strength, Power and Muscle...

    "Circuit training"
    Bruce Lee Circuit Training & Cross Training

    Bruce Lee Diet & Nutrition

    Kind regards,

    ali and Valeriy like this.
  2. q.Hung

    q.Hung More than 300 posts

    a maximum program vs a minimum program
    Bauer and pet' like this.
  3. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    I like the fact that this program seems to work in proper strength and conditioning (S&S like) while aiming at improving body composition at the same time (assuming nutrition is on the point).

    Did you already try something similar ?

    Kind regards,

  4. q.Hung

    q.Hung More than 300 posts

    Hello @pét' i mean SnS is a minimum program, and Bruce's is to maximum every aspect of perfomance. it's hard to compair between those 2
    pet' likes this.
  5. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @pet', it's a great book. Loads of information with some of his own training notes.
    He basically did everything, experimenting with many varied approaches. Leaving aside his daily martial arts training, if there was any emphasis on something over something else he valued ab, grip and forearm training. Kind of not true because he did the lot but he rarely skimped on them and, perhaps many may not realise, he ran everyday.
    "Of course, I run every day. I practice my tools (punches, kicks, throws etc.) I have to raise the conditions daily.

    Everyday at 4.00pm I'll run 2 miles, paying no attention to the weather."

    He didn't just jog, he varied everything, walk, sprint, jog, backwards, jog, crossovers. He also did steady distance too, upto 6 miles.

    There are similarities with Sf, certainly from a health first perspective, Lee valued strength certainly - isometric holds being a staple too - but the training was brutal, not S&S in anyway.
    I trained wing chun/ Escrima years ago, my coach was coached by Inosanto and we trained fatigued and often with our non dominant side, a hallmark of Inosanto style...if you get hurt or you are too tired what you gonna do?
    So every day is bus bench work. Great for a young martial artist, too much for everyone else I'd say. Great reading though.

    "When you are a martial artist, you are a nut; you go to extremes to improve yourself" He says. And that's pretty much it, extreme, high level training, focused, planned and constant.
    He stayed away from food with empty calorie. Avoided refined sugars, excessive fats, fried food and alcohol.

    "And one way is to eat only what your body requires."

    ....I've had a look see at the website.....the book is better!
    Harald Motz and pet' like this.
  6. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    Thanks @ali ! Very interesting :)
    Do you think it could be doable for some weeks ? As a "cycle" (so not on the long term)

    Kind regards,

  7. vegpedlr

    vegpedlr More than 500 posts

    I read and enjoyed the book. There are two GPP barbell programs that I like and have often thought about trying.
    pet' likes this.
  8. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Wouldn't like to say @pet'! Which one? A sample in the book is a 22 consecutive days plan! Good luck, haha!

    Chuck Norris comments:

    "No other human being had ever trained the way Bruce trained - fanatically. He lived and breathed it from the time he got up at 6 o'clock until he went to bed at night. "

    The book looks at how his training evolved from his training notes and how he tweaked elements....where his 'take what is useful, discard the rest' presumably. He dropped a lot of forms latterly. He had practiced them for hours everyday, mind and focused more on speed and the delivery of power to be more efficient in those techniques. So his training and sessions are a reflection of his training philosophy over years.
    I know you are proficient at a lot of bodyweight strength..... What are you looking at working on next?
    I'm never going to say don't do a Bruce Lee training session! Go for it.
    He used kettlebells too, you know.
    He did one arm rows, 8-12 reps. In pounds, he had a 25,50,75 and 100.
    Picked up the next heavy bell and repeated. Ahead of his time, yet again.

    Throughout his evolution he always kept some ab work, saying:

    "my strength comes from the abdomen. It's the centre of gravity and the source of real power"

    A Kb row and hanging leg raise, a minimalist Bruce Lee?
    Chuck in a run, bag work, sparring, circuit train, constant grip work and 4 hours of daily wing chun for the full Bruce?
    The choice is up to you !
    pet' likes this.
  9. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    thanks !
    Would you know a sustainable protocol aiming for strength and power, but also aiming at improving body composition, other than s&s ? (i alreday reached simple and was close to solid, so i'd like to change a little)

    I practice french boxing quite intensely and run a 19:5 IF

    Kind regards,

  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @pet', what's an "IF?"

    Maximum versus minimum - a good way to put it.

    We should learn the principles that great athletes follow, but few of us should try to follow their training schedules, IMHO.

    This is what I find so wonderful about the programming at StrongFirst - it is maximum result for minimum effort, there is a focus on the cost of the training to the organism, there is recognition that many of us lead very busy lives and can't try to have "complete" programs but rather want programs that reward learning and reward efficient practice of strength and conditioning skills. Even in competition cycles, I've often trained by starting lifting less than 30 minutes before I had a student scheduled to walk through my front door.

    I want to be clear that I haven't trained for maximum results, really _ever_. I train in a way that fits into my life, and sometimes I decide to make my training a bigger focus than others, but it's still all in the context of a full life outside of the gym, one in which I can't afford to be burned out or overly tired from my strength and conditioning training.

    Read about Bruce Lee's training, but if boxing is your thing, practice boxing and do a minimalist strength training program - that's the best use of your time, IMHO.

  11. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    I hasten to add that, if maximum performance at a particular sport is your goal, StrongFirst can help you with that, too. But if high level sports performance is your goal, then you should also be receiving advice from a competent, experienced coach in your sport.

    We have StrongFirst-certified instructors who worked with national-level athletes in a wide variety of sports, but they are usually the strength-and-conditioning specialists who coordinate with the sport-specific coaches and design strength-and-conditioning programs to support the sport-specific goal and not just a strength-and-conditioning goal.

    pet' likes this.
  12. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Steve's right of course.
    An interesting thing I ponder is if Bruce Lee's training philosophy was ultimately about creating efficiency, how would that philosophy have evolved had his life not been cut so short?
    He died young, just 26 and was in the prime of his life. Would his training further change and adapt as he himself aged, gained more knowledge and learned more? And in what way would it have gone? More work or less?
    And here with have Pavel's distillation of all things physical, breaking apart many aspects of training from both soft and hard styles, core values of strength training and forging them all together with efficiency and health at the centre of it all.
    There may well be differences but would they merge to arrive at more or less the same place? And that is for most people, most of the time versus the finely trained skills of an elite martial artist?
    Bruce Lee's training was bus bench. A big bus and a big bench.
    He was an elite amongst the elite and worked at extremes to be at those extremes and he was young. He also made his living out of what he did...as Steve said, not representative for most of us bar the very few. It is a symptom of the health and fitness industry.....follow the training schedule of Wolverine, Arnie, Roger Federer, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Ronaldo, any elite athlete, any ripped Hollywood actor, any celeb to be the next star, type of thing. It isn't practical. Yet for purist martial artists Bruce Lee has a special appeal and I absolutely get that. And Arnie is probably revered and thought of in much the same way.
    So taking what is useful and what to discard from Bruce, we have abs and grip. I reckon next Bruce would perhaps have added glutes to that list.....so there we are glutes, abs and grip. Pavel's big three for strength. Bruce valued stretching and valued mixed aerobic roadwork, we're really not far from arriving at very close to the very same Pavellian ideas. And then fine tune your fighting skills, if that is your speciality.

    @pet' .....if at solid, why not progress towards sinister with your boxing too?
    pet' likes this.
  13. conor78

    conor78 More than 500 posts

    Love B Lee but of late that's more to do with his philosophy which led me to J Krishnamurti and his works.
    Grew up watching his movies and whilst I want to believe he could replicate his movie techniques MMA has changed the landscape. Who knows maybe I'm wrong.
    As mentioned above theres a sub culture of celebrity workouts that mis lead the public.
    On the plus side the propaganda surrounding the 300 movies workouts was my initial reason to explore kettlebells.
    For boxing I would look at tried and tested formulas. Ross Enamit is one such source
    pet' likes this.
  14. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Gotta remember Lee's routine was also geared toward the aesthetic - he was a performer as well as a martial artist, and you don't get and stay ripped on a minimalist program.

    As he got older I'm sure he'd dial back the volume.

    Plus its one thing to see a compiled list of exercises and set/rep and a rough guideline as to how he'd train, and another to see a video of an entire week or month's worth of sessions. Still, his strategy reflects best practices at the time and frankly will still work for high octane people.

    I have to suspect he was doing a good bit more than he needed, but the only way for an individual to test that is to do less and see.
    pet' likes this.
  15. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

    Hello guys,

    First of all, I thank you very much for all your answers and information.
    This is quite simple actually. I just wanted to change a little my weightlifting routine hehe

    I am not especially a fan of B. Lee. To be honest, I do not even know if I've ever seen a film in which he appears... Yes, probably some kind of lack of culture then !

    I was just curious about his routine because I pretty naively believed he was just doing what we can read in the book I mentioned earlier. I did not know he was so "possessed" by his training. I was then appealed by the simultaneous performance and aesthetics of his routine.

    Thanks to you, I think now understand well the fact that it is not necessarily because a routine works for someone else, at some point of his life, that it will also works for us.

    In this case, I'll just stick to my current routine (blend of bent press, swings, push / pull ups and some core), which represent some kind of minimum effort to be healthy.

    Thanks again !

    Kind regards,


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