Bruce Lee had an iconic physique: It not only gained him aesthetic praise, but made him a superior martial artist. His six-pack and chiseled muscles were the result of circuit training based on fundamental strength training exercises. Of course, he also incorporated a lot of core moves.
Circuit workouts helped him develop a strong, agile, and powerful body without a lot of muscle size. Try this Bruce Lee-inspired circuit routine to create a strong and lean physique.
Complete each exercise back to back, and repeat the circuit three times. Rest for one minute in between each circuit.
For the exercises requiring dumbbells or barbells, choose a moderate weight.
Squats engage the largest muscles in the body. For this reason, they have one of the largest payoffs in terms of strength improvement. When performing this fundamental move, ensure your form is solid before you add any extra weight.
Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps
Equipment needed: barbell
- Stand in an upright position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out. The barbell should be rested behind your neck on your trapezius muscles.
- Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back, as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your chin tucked and neck neutral.
- Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your weight in your heels and knees bowed slightly outward.
- Straighten your legs and return to an upright position.
- Complete 15 reps.
Pushups are one of the most beneficial bodyweight exercises you can perform. While they work many muscles, they especially improve upper body strength.
Muscles worked: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps
- Start in a plank position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and feet slightly closer.
- Bracing your core, start to lower your body down by bending your elbows. Keep them pointed slightly backward.
- Lower yourself until your arms reach a 90-degree angle.
- Explode back up until you reach the starting position.
- 5. Complete 20 reps.
Dumbbell bench press
A bench press is the simplest way to build size and strength in your upper body. Target your chest and shoulders with greater stretch than the standard barbell bench press by using dumbbells instead.
Muscles worked: pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps
Equipment needed: one set of dumbbells
- Sitting on a bench, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lie back until your back is flat on the bench, knees bent, feet flat on the floor or on the bench if needed to keep your lower back in contact with the bench and not arching off.
- Rest the dumbbells comfortably on the side of your chest with your arms at a 90-degree angle.
- Extend your elbows and push the dumbbells toward the ceiling until your arms are straight, straightening your elbows.
- Bend your elbows and return the dumbbells to rest on the side of your chest. Do not lower your arms or elbows past your shoulder.
- 5. Complete 12 to 15 reps.
This variation on a standard situp hits the side of your abs, known as your obliques. For the most benefit, avoid a rocking motion and keep the whole movement slow and controlled.
Muscles worked: obliques
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head. Don’t pull on your head. Use your hands to rest your head without pulling. Pushing your head back into your hands can help you maintain posture and engage your core.
- Brace your core and lift your torso and upper body off the ground. As you reach the top, twist your torso to the right so your left elbow touches your right knee. Return to the starting position.
- Once again, lift your torso and upper body off the ground. But this time, twist to the left, and touch your right elbow to your left knee.
- Return to the starting position. This is one rep.
- Complete 12-15 reps.
Lying leg raises
Not only do leg raises help to chisel your lower abs, they work the front of your hips, known as your interior hip flexors.
Muscles worked: rectus abdominis, iliopsoas, obliques, transverse abdominis
- Lie on your back with palms face down. Move your hands underneath your glutes.
- Brace your core and start to raise your legs, stopping when your body forms a 90-degree angle.
- Lower your legs back down to the ground in a controlled motion. Keep your lower back rooted to the ground. Do not let it arch even if you cannot lower your legs as far.
- Without touching your feet to the ground, raise them again.
- Complete 20 reps.
This is a more intermediate move. V-ups require core strength and balance, plus assistance from the glutes and hamstrings.
Muscles worked: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis
- Lie on your back with your arms straight out to your sides.
- While keeping your torso straight and neck neutral, simultaneously raise your legs and shoulders off the ground.
- As you reach the top, balance on your sit bones to create a “V” with your body.
- After reaching the 45-degree angle, pause and lower yourself back down in a controlled motion. Before you reach the starting position with your legs on the ground, start another rep.
- Complete 20 reps.
A lean and muscular physique inspired by Bruce Lee is attainable. You’ll need to integrate fundamental strength training moves with ab work. Utilize body weight, high reps, and moderate weights.