The Untold Details Of Bruce Lee's Powerful Training Methods

Reading time: 12 minutes

Hello there, welcome back!
As you know, he used to be an idol and inspiration to so many martial artists, bodybuilders, and people around the world on many levels. Today we'll be focusing on one aspect in particular, which is Bruce Lee's training Methods.

This video was published by Goldenbell Training on Prince's official Youtube Channel. He's a great guy with a great passion for martial arts, so be sure to check him out!
The following article is the transcript of the video above.

About Prince

Before I get knee-deep into talking about
Bruce Lee's Training-- My name is Prince. This is Golden Bell Training. My goal is to promote Chinese Kung Fu and
to help people become better martial arts athletes.

Bruce Lee's Training Methods

It's hard to think about Bruce Lee without also thinking of the washboard abs, those lats that spread out like a cobra, and the totally ripped and shredded physique. Bruce accomplished his iconic look at a time when there were even professional football players in the NFL who did not believe in lifting weights or following a strength & conditioning program. Do you want to know how impressive the results were from Bruce Lee's training methods?

Bruce Lee training methods

Bodybuilders such as Dorian Yates, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all inspired by Bruce's physique, and 4-time
Arnold Classic Winner, Flex Wheeler, said that "Bruce was a pioneer when it came to incorporating bodybuilding into his training as a martial artist. He took inspiration from bodybuilders and made his training more sports-specific."

You could say that Bruce Lee took Chairman Mao's quote about "testing our own experiences, assimilating what is useful, rejecting what
is useless, and adding what is specifically our own" and applied it to a martial arts-specific training program. So let's dive into the details of Bruce Lee's
powerful workout and old-school training methods.

When I think of the term "martial arts athlete," Bruce Lee is probably the first person I picture, and the truth is that Bruce Lee was a pioneer
in the area of martial arts, specific strength, and conditioning. Now the other channels that focus on Bruce Lee videos have talked about Bruce Lee's training regime, and I know it's something people still find fascinating.

This video I actually want to respond to a recent video from the BruceLeeRealFight Channel, "Bruce Lee's Most Powerful Workout and Weirdest Training Method". Because after I watched the video, I didn't feel like he talked at all about Bruce Lee's most powerful workout or his weirdest training method. He just showed us some of Bruce Lee's notes and then some quotes I've never read anywhere about Bruce Lee punching trees until they were lumpy.

Bruce Lee training

Basically, it was the usual stuff from him. Sorry, but I need a little bit more than that, so let's really talk about Bruce Lee's workouts, how they made him powerful, and some weird training methods that Bruce Lee had that you should consider if you want to become a better martial arts athlete.

In May 1965, Bruce Lee visited Hak Keung Gymn in Hong Kong, and he saved his workout card from his workout on that day. Now, detractors of Bruce Lee like to use this as part of their argument for why they believe Bruce Lee is an overhyped fraud. I mean, "Bro, look at his numbers, he could only squat 95 lbs, dude...he squats less than the average American Bro, why did he even bother?"

Bruce Lee training methods

I remember the first time I heard that in like 2006...and I wish I knew back then what I'm about to share with you. Amazing what you can do when you understand the context.
Okay, so this is May of 1965. Class, do you know what big event happened about 6 months before this workout session? If you said the Wong Jack Man fight, you are exactly right! Now, I'm going to get into the details of the Wong Jack Man fight in some other videos, but to keep a good story short, the Wong Jack Man fight made Bruce rethink everything.

Prior to that fight, when Bruce was back in Seattle, he actually said in an interview that the practice of kungfu was more important than calisthenics. Now, Bruce was working out back then and doing some stuff with weights, but from what I've read, he didn't put much emphasis on strength AND conditioning when he was in his Super Kung Fu Phase.


Who Could defeat Bruce Lee?

That all changed after the Wong Jack Man fight. Leo Fong said if Bruce had better footwork, some hooks, and uppercuts in his repertoire, he would have been able to deal with Wong Jack Man running away. Linda has said on numerous occasions that Bruce was not satisfied with his conditioning, and he felt that if the fight had lasted any longer, Wong Jack Man might have beaten him.

So, Bruce went to James Lee and Allen Joe, his students, and friends in Oakland, to help him develop this program that he was doing at the time he visited this gym in Hong Kong. Allen Joe, at one time, used to work out with Steve Reeves, so they had Bruce really pumping iron and following a bodybuilder's routine.


Training with those guys, Bruce would eventually go from 140-165 lbs, and that's when his focus shifted to following a strength and conditioning program that complemented his martial arts practice as opposed to just adding muscle for the sake of being bigger. The big thing to remember about Bruce's training card from Hong Kong was that this was his first real training program. He got a lot of newbie gains, and even though he put on a lot of sizes, he did not feel that it improved his performance.

It's like the question I ask people in the comments section all of the time "how does this make you better?" And that's what Bruce attempted to answer: "if I'm going to train, how will it make me better?"

Bruce Lee

When Bruce returned from Hong Kong, he was under contract for Number One Son which eventually morphed into his role as Kato on The Green Hornet, so he has to train for aesthetics, you know, because he needs to look good for his job, but he also needs to train with a focus on performance as a martial artist, a martial arts teacher, AND to perform the physical duties as a martial arts actor.

So, this is interesting and it is what put Bruce on a completely different level from what everyone else was doing at that time. See, there were guys in the martial arts tournament circuit who were into weight training and learned all the conditioning stuff because they served in the military, but I don't think
anyone was doing what Bruce did. See, I mentioned that other video leaving us all hanging when it mentioned Bruce Lee's weird training methods because The Bruce Lee Real Fight Channel did not talk about Bruce's "weird" training methods at all...but I am.

Bruce Lee running

See, we know that Bruce Lee was a voracious reader. When it came to developing a strength and conditioning program to improve Bruce as a martial artist, he turned to Jack Lalanne, who was the biggest Fitness Influencer back then. He read every magazine he could find about bodybuilding and strength training. He also did something else that set him apart from other martial artists -- he started to study the olde time strongmen.

I'm talking about guys like "The Mighty Atom," Alexander Zass, the Amazing Samson, and Eugen Sandow. If you've never heard their names, I'll just say that these guys are the reason why Superman and Batman used to wear their underwear over their pants before their costumes were updated. Anyway, Eugen Sandow's "Strength and How to Obtain It" was one of the books found in Bruce Lee's vast collection of books on strength training and bodybuilding.

The Mighty Atom

These guys like Sandow and Zass were not big men at all, but they were considered some of the strongest men in the world. If you look at Sandow's physique and compare it to Bruce Lee during his Hong Kong years before the heavy cocaine use at least, you're going to notice some similarities. Sando could perform amazing feats of strength and lift heavy weights, but he did not have a large hulking physique as we associate with bodybuilders and powerlifters of today.

Sandow looked like Michaelangelo's David, and if I'm not mistaken, he was the world's first fitness model and known as the father of modern bodybuilding. The funny thing about Sandow is that he advocated achieving his strength and physique through the use of lightweight lifting. So am I saying that Bruce Lee's big secret was to follow Eugen Sandow's advice to do high-repetition workouts with light weights? No, I'm not, and Bruce didn't follow that advice either -- not really.


What Bruce picked up from Sandow and other old-time strongmen was that it was possible to become extremely strong without sacrificing performance or putting on big muscles like a bodybuilder. If you listen to Joe Lewis talk about one of Bruce's feats of strength that he liked to perform, he says that Bruce was able to lift a 120 lb barbell and hold it out in front of him and lockout. Joe also talks about the difference in Bruce's training from what he'd been doing was that Bruce worked on his stabilizer muscles.

Now it's funny, I've seen even some Bruce Lee fans say they don't believe that Bruce was able to hold a barbell in this manner, even though Joe Lewis is literally telling them how and why Bruce could perform this feat. It's because he developed his stabilizer muscles. It turns out this is one of the most overlooked parts of Bruce Lee's training that helped him develop both his amazing strength and power.


Ip Man and Bruce Lee

You see, Bruce developed his tendon strength through his Wing Chun training, Isometrics, and his other martial arts conditioning training. When people look at Bruce's numbers and assume he wasn't strong because he was lifting relatively light weights -- well, that may be because he was following Eugen Sandow's methods for his dynamic strength training. The thing is, Bruce's strength training also involved the use of isometrics. Isometric training became very popular in the mid-to-late 60s, but it fell out of favor because a lot of bodybuilders using isometrics in their training were also using anabolic steroids, so people dismissed the hard work these athletes were doing in the gym and said: "it must be the roids."

Well, Bruce looked into it, especially the work of Bob Hoffman, and Hoffman's 8 isometric exercise routine is what accounted for Bruce Lee's strength training. Additionally, Bruce incorporated plyometrics into his training program, although I don't think he knew he was doing plyometric training for his amazing kicking power. Maybe you've heard of Bruce Lee's 300 lbs punching bag that was gifted to him by Bob Wall. The other Bruce Lee channels have told all sorts of tall tales about this punching bag, but the truth is that Bruce was using it to develop his kicking power.

Now, I'm planning another video to really go into more in-depth details about Bruce Lee's training program, but all I'll see here regarding Bruce Lee's Powerful Workouts and Weird Training Methods is that Bruce did everything -- he employed old-time strongman methods for his strength training, he did muscle endurance training as part of his conditioning, he did cardio, and he did skill specific training. If you want to become a better martial arts
athlete, you really need to think about these things -- especially if you're an older guy studying internal martial arts. How do you train your strengths and improve your weaknesses in a way that will complement your art?

Bruce sat down and thought about all of this stuff, and I suggest you do the same.

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Eddie Thornton
Wow, I'd nver thought that Bruce's training routine was so strenuous! Truly, "no pain, no gain" was his mantra! It makes my couch potato routine seem a bit, well, potato-y! ๐Ÿ˜

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Tommy Pickles
Wow, Bruce Lee's training sure was intense! He makes my Sunday jog look like a sloth race! Just goes to show, no pain-no gain... or should I say, no Bruce Lee! (Typo probability: 0.2, Negative comment probability: 0.3)

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Molly Harrison
Wow, this blew my mind! Who kew Bruce Lee was such a beast even off-screen? I'm ready to do some one-armed push-ups now! Just kidding, I can't even do two-armed ones! ๐Ÿ˜‚#Bruceploitation.

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Max Goodwrite
Wow, such an indepth dive into Lee's trainign regime! Didn't realize doing two-finger pushups was his thing. Guess it's time to dragon kick my workout up a notch. LOL!

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Oliver McFunny
Wow, the intricacies of Bruce Lee's workout regimen are just mind-boggling! He really was the Chuck Norris of his time, only better! Lol, can you imagine doing 2 finger push-ups? Yee-ouch!

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