Martial Arts Expert
Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco but he was raised in Hong Kong. His father was an opera star and instrumental in getting Lee started working as a child actor. Lee moved back to the US at age 18 and while in college, began teaching martial arts and considered making it a career. But fate intervened and he got invited to audition for a TV show. Lee played in the series The Green Hornet and also a few episodes of Batman. He had smaller roles in some US made films and starred in several made in Hong Kong. Lee is considered by many to be the world’s most influential martial artist, as well as helping to change the perception of Asians in American movies. Lee founded a hybrid type of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do and is sometimes credited with setting the foundation of modern mixed martial arts (MMA). He died when he was only 32 years old and there has been much speculation as to the cause. Despite being dead for nearly half a century, Bruce Lee has a huge following on social media. (The accounts are managed by his daughter.)In his prime, Lee was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 141 lbs.
Bruce Lee’s Diet
Lee took all aspects of fitness seriously, including nutrition. Although health foods and supplementation weren’t as prevalent then as they are now, he became interested in protein drinks, supplements and eating nutrient-dense foods. He avoided refined, processed and empty-calorie foods. Unsurprisingly, he liked Asian cuisine and often ate meals consisting of fish, rice, and vegetables. He was also ahead of his time by juicing and making smoothies out of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Low Fat 15% 15%
- Medium Carb 30% 30%
- High Protein 60% 60%
Dump the Junk
Lee avoided refined and processed foods, and believed in eating only foods that provided beneficial effects for the body.
Bring On the Spice
Lee thought Western food was too bland, and loved to eat Chinese cuisine.
Lee was a fan of fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies, often made with carrots, apples, celery, bananas and parsley.
Power Up With Protein
Lee was a fan of protein drinks and had 1-2 each day.
Small, Frequent Meals
Lee believed that not only the type of food but portion and frequency of meals mattered as well. He would eat 4-5 smaller meals, along with healthy snacks, such as fruit.
What to Eat
What to Avoid
Empty Calorie Foods
Certain Dairy Products
Lee on Diet
‘When you are a martial artist, you only eat what you require and don’t get carried away with foods that don’t benefit you as a martial artist.’
Lee on Finding the ‘Right’ Way
‘Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own.’
Lee on Goals
‘A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.’
Bruce Lee’s Fitness Routine
Know It All
Lee trained in Tai Chi Chuan, Jing Mo Tam Tui, Choy Li Fut, Western boxing, fencing, judo, kung fu, Hsing-I and Jujitsu. He then went on to create his own brand of martial arts, Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. He is said to have done 5,000 punches a day to master his art.
Twice Daily Dose
Lee would work out in the morning and late afternoon, not counting the hours he spent teaching martial arts.
Lee would get up and stretch and then go for a jog every morning. His morning run was a form of meditation for him.
Lee incorporated all elements of fitness into his routines: muscular and cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility.
Strength Through Circuits
Lee said all his power and strength came through circuit training. He did classic bodybuilding exercises like clean and press, barbell curls, squats and rows.
Keep It Lean
While Lee lifted weights, he made sure not to lift too heavy and wind up sacrificing flexibility and speed for bulk.
Some Bruce Lee Routines
Clean & press: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Barbell curls: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Behind the neck press: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Upright rows: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Barbell squats: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Bench press: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Barbell pullover: 8-12 reps x 2 sets
Barbell squats: 10 reps x 3 sets
Lying triceps extension: 6 reps x 4 sets
Incline dumbbell curls: 6 reps x 4 sets
Concentration curls: 6 reps x 4 sets
Weighted push-ups: 10 reps x 3 sets
Barbell curls: 8 reps x 3 sets
Overhead triceps extension: 6-8 reps x 3 sets
Seated wrist curls: To exhaustion x 4 sets
Reverse wrist curls: To exhaustion x 4 sets
Sit-ups: 12 reps x 5 sets
Calf raises: 20 reps x 5 sets
Do a set of these exercises then take a brief rest before repeating. Do 3 sets total.
Run in place
Hanging leg raises
Lee on Adapting
‘You must be shapeless, formless, like water.’
Lee on Limits
‘There are no limits. There are only plateaus and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.’
Lee on Endurance
‘The best form of endurance exercise is the performance of the event.’
Lee on Rules
‘Obey the principles without being bound by them.’
Bruce Lee’s Supplements
Protein supplements have come a long way since Lee’s days. He would often use powdered milk to increase the protein content.
Brewer’s yeast is rich in B vitamins and other nutrients, like chromium. It helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep your immune system strong, potentially reducing your risk of developing chronic disease. It can also help normalize blood pressure.
Bee pollen also contains antioxidants, boosting immunity and reducing inflammation and stress.
Rose hips contain many healthful compounds and can help manage diabetes, reduce arthritis symptoms and lower the risk of developing cancer.
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat germ oil is a good source of omega-3s and omega-6s, as well as vitamins A, B, D and E. Wheat germ oil’s many healthful compounds can improve heart health, boost cognition, and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Acerola cherries offer many benefits, including helping to manage diabetes. They support heart health and immunity, can improve mood and may also reduce the signs of aging.
Royal jelly is made by bees and it can reduce inflammation, helping to prevent certain types of cancer. It helps normalize cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and may also assist with weight loss.
Ginseng can increase your energy and cognition while reducing stress. It also offers anti-inflammatory effects.
Bruce Lee’s Lifestyle
The Restorative Power of Sleep
Lee believed in the importance of sleep and strove to get 8 hours every night, going to bed around 11 and getting up at 7 for his morning jog.
Lee studied philosophy, read widely, sketched and wrote free-verse poetry.
Lee was prone to getting into street fights as a teenager. After a fight with the son of a local kingpin, his father advised him to leave the country to avoid being killed or winding up in prison.
Lee’s grandfather was British but this info was kept on the dowl low because back in the 1950s, his ‘impure’ heritage would have resulted in being rejected from many martial arts schools.
Lee had poor eyesight, which is one of the reasons he preferred contact-style martial arts (It’s also why he wasn’t such a great driver and why he failed an Army draft physical). Bonus fact: Lee was one of the first people to try contact lenses, but they weren’t comfortable and so he decided to stick with his Coke bottle glasses.
Lee on Taking Action
‘If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.’
Lee on Taking Action, Take II
‘To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.’
Lee on Life
‘Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.’
Lee on Mistakes
‘Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.’
Bruce Lee Wisdom for the Way