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Want Bruce Lee forearms? Check out his unique exercises and workouts

In order to be the best, you have to learn from the best.
Written By James Jackson
Last Updated on 4th March 2021
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Fitness model showing his fists and forearms

If you want to build those Bruce Lee forearms, then this is the article for you. I’m going to dissect the legend's forearm training to understand just how he managed to attain such impressive development.

Although Bruce Lee had great forearm flexors, it was his extensors and brachioradialis that really caught my eye. So let’s take a look at his unconventional training techniques to see what we can learn.

Related forearm analyses

Bruce Lee forearm exercises

The forearm muscles of Bruce Lee are a sight to behold. But he didn't get them by just sitting on the sofa. He had to put in the work. So here are the exercises that he used to get his gains, to the best of my knowledge.

Wrist curl

Man performing a one arm dumbbell wrist curl

While Bruce Lee did many unconventional exercises for his forearms (check out the last exercise in this list), he didn’t skip the basics, either.

The wrist curl primarily works the flexors of the forearms, and you can do it with dumbbells or a barbell. The trick is to stretch your forearm with the weight so that it gets used to resisting tension, but not to stretch it so far that you actually injure your wrists.

If in doubt, use dumbbells. Since you’ll be lifting less weight overall than with barbells, there’s less stress on your wrist joints but just as much tension on your forearms.

Reverse wrist curl

A man performing reverse barbell forearm curls

There’s no exception; if you want Bruce Lee forearms, then you must do some kind of reverse wrist curl to work your extensors. These are the muscles that give your forearms the detail that was so iconic in those pictures where Bruce was flexing his right arm.

Just be sure to use very high reps because these muscles are super slow-twitch. Unlike with exercises for different body parts, you can do sets of 20-30 reps for your forearms and still achieve optimum development.

In fact, anything less than 15 reps, and you won't be getting much time under tension because the range of motion for forearm drills is so small compared to something like a bench press or row.

Dumbbell twists

Person performing ulna deviations with a dumbbell

I’m sure that there’s a proper name for this exercise. But this is how I learned it, so that's how you're going to have to learn it, too.

Anyway, here's how it works. You take one end of a dumbbell or get a grip tool where only one end is weighted. Then, hold it with a neutral hand position and rotate the weighted side up towards your forearm.

Once again, you’ll need to go light. This works the smaller muscles of the forearm, which are often underdeveloped because few people realize that such an exercise exists.

Also, don't forget to do the reverse of this exercise. You want to hold one end of a dumbbell in front of you in a pronated (palm facing you) position. Let the other end (the weighted end if you’re using the proper exercise tool) hang down and then pull it up towards your forearms.

Grip machine

Pinch Grip Hand Strength Training Machine

I’m pretty sure that Bruce Lee invented this machine, and what a great invention it is.

If you want that raw Bruce Lee forearm size, then get strong at this exercise. It builds the flexors and extensors simultaneously while also giving you incredible grip strength that will no doubt help you generate more punch power for martial arts.

Wrist roller

A man using a forearm roller

If you don’t like lactic acid, look away now. The wrist roller is great to include at the end of your Bruce Lee forearm workout as a finishing exercise. Yeah, this one burns.

It’s great for forearm endurance but also for building muscle because you’re using your gripping muscles to hold onto the device.

You can set a timer for a minute, use an appropriate weight, and then do as many reps as possible. Or, if you’re feeling hardcore and really want that Bruce Lee forearm development, then you can slap on some weight and go until your forearms can’t muster up any more reps.

Reverse curl

The start and end positions for the dumbbell reverse curl

No pair of Bruce Lee forearms is complete without a well developed brachioradialis. And for that, you’ll need reverse curls. This exercise also works the biceps, but make no mistake, the forearms are the prime mover.

Just make sure to use a thumbless grip because this increases forearm activation.

Additionally, come all the way up. Research shows that the brachioradialis becomes more active the higher you curl when using a pronated grip.

Finger push ups

Man doing a one arm push up

This movement might not build a lot of size, but it does require excellent strength and courage. If you can master the finger push up, then you’ve probably got extremely strong forearms.

Just make sure to progress up to the 2 finger variation. Start with all of your fingers and then gradually take some away as you become proficient.

Bruce Lee forearm workout

Now, I obviously can’t give you an exact Bruce Lee forearm training plan. But, based on his development and exercise selection, I’ve put together a Bruce Lee forearm workout that’ll bring your lower arms up another level.

1: Grip machine — 4 x 30 second holds (per arm)

2: Reverse wrist curl — 3 x 12-15 reps

3A: Wrist curl — 3 x 10-12 reps

3B: Reverse wrist curl — 3 x 15-20 reps

4: Dumbbell twists — 3 x 10-12 reps

5: Wrist roller — 1 set to failure

Conclusion: Is it possible to get Bruce Lee forearms naturally?

Did Bruce Lee have spectacular forearm genetics? Maybe. But one’s thing’s for sure, he had the dedication and the passion to be the best.

If you train like a robotic bodybuilder, you will not get Bruce Lee forearms (and certianly not his charisma). Not only were his forearms well developed, but they were also extremely powerful. This is likely one reason why he had such powerful punches—he had complete control over his forearm and the surrounding muscles.

References

  1. https://brucelee.com/bruce-lee
  2. https://www.biography.com/actor/bruce-lee
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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