HEY, Bruce Lee--how'd you get those lats?

Check out Bruce Lee in “Return of the Dragon” and he looks like he could fly with those huge lats–especially impressive given how ripped he was.

Sure, Bruce was a big weightlifter but how did he develop them so huge? What is the “secret,” guys/gals? What exercises work best?

Having seen Return of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon . . .

Bruce Lee wasn’t ripped so much as his bodyfat was so low every muscle looked bigger’n it was. He was a pretty steady lifter, but he also stretched a lot and kept his body in excellent shape, period. But he doesn’t begin to compare to, for example, Ahnold, in terms of brute strength.

To answer the OP as well as I can . . . when you consider that Bruce made a lot of money off keeping in tip-top shape, he probably spent several hours a day training, which is most likely more than most of us can spend without burning out.

Thanks, but I want to focus on gym techniques.

(BTW, he was ripped–lots of muscles and an absence of fat.)

Yes, and the absence of fat makes people look more ripped than they are. The absence of water does that as well, which is why bodybuilders, if they’re serious enough, try to eat as little sodium as possible a day and a half before a meet. Makes their skin not-so-thick, which gives them more definition.

Having seen him flex in movies . . . unless that was a stunt double, he wasn’t nearly as ripped as, for example, Jean-Claude van Damme.

As for gym techniques . . . lift weights in 8-5-2 segments (8 reps of one, go up a few pounds or one notch or whatever, do 5 of that weight, then go up a few pounds or a notch or whatever and do two reps of that weight or as many as you can do). If your 2 weight is getting too easy, try putting your 8 higher. And eat lots of carbs and drink plenty of water and rest and such.

A biographical dramatization I saw (meaning it starred an actor as Bruce Lee, rather than being documentary-style; something with Dragon in the title, but a cursory search on the imdb didn’t help) showed him using electrodes to hop up his muscles for maximum definition before each shoot. I don’t know if that’s truly what he did or just something the director stuck in there, but you might look into it.


“Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story” (1993). Don’t know why I couldn’t find it a minute ago.


That might be “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” starring Jason Scott Lee as Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee’s chest was not s big as JSL’s chest in that movie. Hell, JSL’s chest for that movie was bigger’n some owned by women on this board.

In “Dragon:TBLS” there’s a scene where we actually “see” “Bruce Lee” attached to a machine that was, he said, the equivalent of doing 200 pushups or something like that.

Genetics had a major part in it.

Genetics??? His grandmother’s lats were tiny!

Yes he had low body fat, which really helps, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ripped. He may not have been bulky, but was extremely defined. I would suggest doing wide push-ups and chin-ups.

I have a body like Bruce’s, lean and ripped. Bruce was not a big guy; he was only 5’8" 140 pounds. His waist was about 30 inches and his chest expanded from 39 inches to a lat spread of about 44 inches. Also, he only had about 5% bodyfat.

44 inches is not a huge girth; I think Arnold’s lat spread was almost 60 inches at his prime. I think you’re more impressed with his v-taper, a product of his genetics (Bruce certainly wasn’t massive), than his actual chest size.

Anyway, if you want to have a lat spread as impressive as Bruce’s, there are some things you can try even if you don’t have perfect genetics:

  1. Slim down your waist. A slim, trim waist will make your chest appear to be bigger, your shoulders broader, and your lats wider. But there is no spot-reducing (see number 3 below).

  2. Upper body exercises. Work on mass builders, such as bench press and barbell rows, to give your upper body some depth. Also, wide-grip lat pulldowns and rows will give your back some width.

  3. Bring your bodyfat down to below 9% to appear more ripped. I’m at about 6-9% bodyfat, thanks to genetics (I eat everything in sight and don’t do cardio, so I know it’s due to genetics), and I appear bigger than I really am.

Of course, numbers 1 and 3 can only be achieved by reducing your overall fat intake (basically, eating right), doing cardio exercises, and weight training. There is no easy way to do it right.

This is only general information. YMMV. HTH!