The Bruce Lee Workout

In the world of bodybuilding and physique transformation, one of the most highly respected physiques of all time belonged to a guy who stood 5’7″ and weighed between 130 and 165 lbs.

That’s right…at his heaviest, Bruce Lee weighed only 165 lbs.

And yet, bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger were in awe of the body he built.

So, how did he do it?

And more importantly, how can you do it?

How can you build a body like this?

Well, if you want to learn about the weightlifting routine he used to build his strength and increase his muscle mass….pick up a copy of The Art of Expressing the Human Body.

But…you will be wasting your time.

If Bruce Lee was alive today, he would not be using the training routines found inside that book.

Bruce Lee believed that as a warrior and as a person, one should never “get set into one form. One should adapt and create your own style, and let it grow, be like water”.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water.

When you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup;

When you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle;

When you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.

Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

At this point, you may be asking…what the heck does being formless like water have to do with fitness, working out and getting a wicked set of abs like Bruce Lee?

Well, I’m going to tell you.


Being formless like water means using those training techniques that work for your particular goals…and to not get all wrapped up in dogma.

  • There is no perfect workout
  • There is no perfect diet.

What there is, is….

  • your body as it currently exists,
  • your vision of how you want your body to be
  • and a whole bunch of tools & techniques that may or may not help you achieve your goals.

Becoming attached to a certain training method (bodybuilding, yoga, pilates, crossfit, cardio, walking, aerobic classes, Tae-Bo, P 90X, etc…) is a sure path to stagnation and unattained goals.

The same goes for nutrition.

If the tool is ineffective, find a way to make it effective or replace it with another tool.

Be like water

Unique goals require unique solutions.

One size does not fit all.

Be fluid like water…and get a wicked set of abs like Bruce Lee



  1. Yep. After all the training in different styles you start to realize that they all do many of the same things in only slightly different ways. Working one style is good only for building up discipline and a general framework; everything else should flow from what you can learn/understand/develop.
    A home gym is super cheap to set up (sandbags, ropes, some freeweights) and you can make up excercises as you need them.

  2. Nice article. Would be good to get some tips on how to define and get ripped like Bruce Lee. I weigh around 140-150 pounds. Thanks.

  3. Great article, and I’ll sure to check out the rest! Goal specific and adaptive training methods are nothing new, but I love the fact that you used Bruce Lee’s philosophies as a segway into the topic. He’s one of my idols and is one of the main reasons I love exercise so much today.

  4. I have fought with my brother in law over this for years as he is a personal trainer as he is old school 1 workout for everyone.For years I did the 4 sets of 6-10 reps and did get big but never any definition.When I retired 2 years ago I started to keep track of what worked and what didn’t and I came up with 4 routines-2 heavy and 2 light (that work for ME).The 2 heavy are 4 sets of 8-12 reps and the light are 4 sets of 20 reps.In the last year I have lost 23 lbs and cut my waist to 30 inches with a 4 pac (59 years old) with 16 inch pumped biceps and only weigh 155 lbs.I mix my routines up every week,so mix it up it doesn’t hurt and it might work for you.

  5. Bruce Lee had an awesome physique. His body fat was tremendously low. I really like his philosophies and he’s got lats wider than just about anyone I’ve ever seen.

  6. Bruce Lee’s training and diet were responsible for the way his physique looked. Lee focused on training specifically for martial artistry, and used lifts which complimented that. He also been trained as a martial artist since he was a kid, which allowed him to eventually build a great deal of strength while he ages. He was also gifted with a good genetics wide shoulders, a small waist, and low latissimus dorsi muscle insertions.

  7. Great article. I would love to be that lean but I have such a hang up on size. Was always a skinny kid so I am always chasing the mass with the lean. Can’t give up the mass lol.


  9. Bruce Lee trained to be a martial artist. Too much bulk slows a fighter down, and too much muscle tires fast. The UFC fighters are learning that. Bruce Lee was all about efficiency.

  10. Unless you’re a bodybuilder, a high strength/power/speed : mass ratio is what every athlete wants.

  11. awesome article
    but every body knows it
    he is the one and only man in earth like this physique
    he is a great hardworker for to do he wants

  12. So many fitness pros hasn’t fully understood this concept. Great article!

  13. Hi,

    I’ve loved this quote for a long time “be water my friend” I recently stumbled upon the ENTIRE interview this quip if from. And guys, it’s INSANE. There is some waffle about his acting etc, but there is some priceless stuff about Bruce’s philosophy.

    He really was a master. The Picasso of martial arts.


  14. Doug,

    I wholeheartedly, and headily agree.

    I appreciate the point because it’s too rare to find another who sees beyond the “ONE way” dichotomy, the “my way is the right way” bs.

    So, for this I celebrate and thank you.

    Yet, tell more people. And yet, within the limited confines of an article one can’t cover all points, so I will add…

    That to “Be like water,” requires a certain level of development of body and mind. For most people, who are disconnected from their physical, they are more like GOO than water… and would not know how to begin.

    Once you get some experience, develop the relationship with body-mind, you can begin, usually with him, to find that water place.

    It is “the zone” where “it” is at.

    To Your Full Strength,

  15. Indeed he has always been an inspiration for us. Thanks for the great writing, I really feel like getting up and doing things the bruce lee way!

  16. Such powerful words greatly put together, thank you brother Doug for this amazing article, I really enjoyed reading it, in fact I will continue to read it for days to come, I found some very valuable teachings in it…Bruce Lee’s persona cannot be described in words, he is like the most compassionate human being to ever live, I can only imagine meeting him.

  17. His life philosophy means to be individual beyond yourself. you can make copy from others but on this way you losing chance to be yourself. We must learn from everyone and from everything and knowledge must be used for express our-self. We are potential and in it we can grow our own individualism. As he said life is the best place for living where we can be our-self.

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