Bruce Lee was and still is an icon for many people. Despite his short-lived career in Hollywood, the martial artist and actor managed to create an image of himself even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson can't match: Bruce Less was the original 'hardest worker in the room'. And we have even more proof of this now that someone resurfaced his arm workout routine from the mid-60s. Brace yourself – it's absolutely bananas.
The exercise list card from Hak Keung Gymnasium is dated 27 May 1965, and among other things, it shows how little muscle-building principles have changed over the years. Apart from some of the funny naming conventions – 'French Press' doesn't refer to the coffee-making device – the exercises Bruce Lee used to get big arms are the same bodybuilders these days use to increase muscle mass.
Bruce Lee training routine, mid 60s pic.twitter.com/VXiB69ECEXMay 18, 2023
The list might contain familiar exercises, but it's still pretty insane. In classic Bruce Lee fashion, he did squats to warm up his body for an arm workout and finished the session with abs and calf exercises, although neither of those has anything to do with building Chris Hemsworth-esque arms. Plus, he did supersets, which are two exercises performed back-to-back without a break – not for the faint-hearted. The moves listed on the card are:
- French press/Incline press
- French press/'Con' curl
- Push-up/Two hand curl
- Triceps stretch
- Dumbbell circle/Reverse curl
- Wrist curl/Wrist curl
- Calf raises
We want to emphasise that this arm workout isn't for people who have never lifted dumbbells or barbells. To be able to perform this many targeted movements in one go, your muscles and joints need to be in tip-top shape. For mere mortals like us, it's best to start doing beginner arm workouts and beginner bodyweight exercises to get used to loading the muscles properly before you move on to doing anything similar laid out on the exercise card above.
That said, it's lovely to get a glimpse of how Bruce used to train. He's always been at the top of his game, even when he was younger, so comparing yourself to anything he did is futile, but it's interesting to see his exercise regime nevertheless. Not to mention, the exercises he used really aren't that special; they are 'only' performed in the correct order/intensity.