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The Bruce Lee Ab Workout Method

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
The Bruce Lee Ab Workout Method
The Bruce Lee Ab Workout Method Photo Credit: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

Bruce Lee was known for his martial arts skills, acting, and his physique. He was famous for his grueling workouts that he performed to become a better martial artist. Lee would run, bike, lift weights and train in martial arts. One of his favorite body parts to train was his core. His core was so strong that he believed it acted as a shield against blows to his midsection.

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Lee believed in using high repetitions in his ab workouts. Certified personal trainer Gwinyai Murahwa agrees that high repetitions are the best way to get a deep burn in ab workouts, adding that weighted ab exercises can make abs look "too block-like."

Linda Lee Caldwell, Bruce Lee's wife, knew how important ab training was to Bruce. She explained in an interview that Bruce "was a fanatic about ab training. He was always doing sit-ups, crunches, Roman chair movements, leg raises and v-ups."

If you want to experience an intense Bruce Lee ab workout, perform each of the exercises below for four sets each.

Read More: Bruce Lee Workout Training

Waist Twists

Performing this twisting motion for very high repetitions would help Bruce with his punching stamina.

Perform 90 Repetitions.

Step 1

Get into a v-sit position on the floor with your hands planted just behind your hips and feet off of the ground.

Step 2

Clasp your hands together. Twist your upper body to the right and touch your hands to the ground on the right side of your butt to complete one repetition. Keep your legs elevated at a 45-degree angle with the floor.

Step 3

Keeping your hands clasped together and legs in the air in front of you, rotate all the way to the left and touch the ground on the left side of your butt.

Step 4

Repeat as many times as possible, alternating touching the left and right side, working up to the desired 90 repetitions.

Read More: Russian Twist Exercises

Sit-Up Twists

The combination of a sit-up and twist works your rectus abdominis and obliques. This would make Bruce's core solid enough to take punches and kicks.

Perform 20 Repetitions.

Step 1

Get into a sit-up position by lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground close to your butt, knees bent and head on the ground.

Step 2

Put your hands behind your head.

Step 3

Perform a sit-up by rolling your chest up towards your knees. As you come up turn to the right with your upper body, trying to touch your left elbow to your right knee to complete one repetition.

Step 4

Lie back down on the ground. Repeat a sit-up, this time twisting to the left, touching your right elbow to your left knee for the second repetition. Alternate twisting to the left and right until you have completed 20 repetitions.

Leg Raises

This exercise works the lower abs and hip flexors, helping Bruce's kicking stamina.

Perform 20 Repetitions.

Step 1

Lie on your back with your hands under you lower back, legs straight out and flat on the ground. Your head should also be on the ground.

Step 2

Keeping your knees straight, raise both legs up until the bottoms of your feet face the ceiling.

Step 3

Slowly lower your legs back down to the ground. This counts as one repetition.

Frog Kicks

These combine balance and abdominal work into one exercise, leaving you with a deep burn in your rectus abdominis, a muscle that was very well defined on Bruce Lee.

Perform 50 Repetitions.

Step 1

Sit on the ground with your feet planted near your butt and your hands planted behind you, propping up your upper body.

Step 2

Lift your feet off the ground with your knees bent so that your legs are in the air.

Step 3

Reach your legs out straight and lean back slightly with your upper body, keeping your upper body propped up with your hands.

Step 4

Pull your knees back towards your chest. That counts as one repetition. Keep extending your legs out and pulling them back until you reach 50 repetitions.


This is Bruce Lee's signature ab move and the most challenging in this series.

Perform five repetitions.

Step 1

Lie down in front of a fixed structure, such as a squat rack or cable machine.

Step 2

Reach behind your head and grab the fixed structure with both hands.

Step 3

Holding the structure behind your head with both hands, pull down with your arms to create tension. Pulling with your arms will help lift your body away from the ground in this exercise.

Step 4

Tuck your legs and roll them back towards your head while pulling with your arms. Keep rolling back until your butt and lower back also lift off of the ground. Only your upper back and head should be on the mat.

Step 5

Create a straight line from your shoulders to your feet by kicking your legs out and raising your hips. Your body should be in the air at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Only your upper back and head are on the ground with your arms pulling on the structure behind you to hold the rest of your body in the air.

Step 6

Slowly lower your body towards the floor but keep your legs out straight. Do not bend your hips!

Step 7

Right before you hit the ground, pull yourself back up with your arms and your abs. Keep your body straight and stiff. Once you are back up to a 45 degree angle with the ground you have completed one repetition.

Other 6-Pack Tips

It's important to know that this ab routine wasn't the only reason the Bruce Lee had a six-pack. While his ab workouts were grueling, his regimen involved a lot more. He'd regularly run -- usually three miles at a 7-minute per mile pace, according to training partner John Little. After that, he would ride an exercise bike, practice martial arts and lift weights.

According to Lee's wife, he ate a relatively healthy diet which consisted of rice, vegetables, some meat and protein shakes. Even at his heaviest, Lee was only 165 pounds with very little body fat. He most likely had a fast metabolism which, when combined with plenty of exercise and proper nutrition, kept him very lean.

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