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Bruce Lee Workout – The Tensolator

Bruce Lee Workout – The Tensolator

Why is there such a mystery surrounding the Bruce Lee workout?

His workouts have been well documented, and he even left notes. Bruce Lee tried just about every piece of exercise equipment that was available in his day. One of them was called the Tensolator.

What is the Tensolator?

Essentially, it consisted of two tubes, one sliding into the other with handles at each end and a steel cable covered by plastic wrapping it. I know it’s hard to visualize. You really have to see it, in a moment I will show you what it looked like.

The Tensolator, used a coiled spring to provide resistance and incorporated isometrics into its training program. The creator of the Tensolator, Gert F. kolbel, a German inventor designed this portable home gym after a device that was being used for research in a major German Think Tank.

The Bruce Lee workout included the use of the Tensolator to increase punching power, speed and muscle size. There are pictures of Bruce Lee, using it in place of dumbbells to increase the power and speed of his 1 inch punch.

In the book, The Art of Expressing the Body by Bruce Lee and John Little, he spelled out his Tensolator training program. Even though the original Tensolator only allowed for 24 exercises for the entire body, it was enough for Bruce Lee.

Here is the Bruce Lee workout for the Tensolator according to Bruce Lee’s notes:


Chest Compression.



Bow and Arrow

Vertical Compression

Biceps — Standing and Kneeling



Behind the Head Compression.

Above the Head Compression

Door Corner Press.


Sitting Pulling Downward

Kneeling Compression.

Oblique Compression


Kneeling Pulling Downwards

Vertical Compression on Thigh

Behind Buttocks Compression

Lean over Compression.

Dead Lift.


Stiff Legged Outward Stretch

Knee Outward Stretch

Standing Calf Press Down.

Knee Squeezing Inward on Grip

Lifting in Step Upward.

Circulation Exercise

Bruce Lee was obsessed with making his body as powerful as possible and no doubt he achieved his goal

Here are some of the feats of strength that he performed:

* Lee’s striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached five hundredths of a second.

* Lee’s combat movements were at times too fast to be captured on film at 24fps, so many scenes were shot in 32fps to put Lee in slow motion. Normally martial arts films are sped up.

* In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person’s open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.

* Lee could perform push ups using only his thumbs

* Lee would hold an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.

* Lee could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in mid-flight using chopsticks.

* Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger

* Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.

* From a standing position, Lee could hold a 125 lb (57 kg) barbell straight out.

* Lee could break wooden boards 6 inches (15 cm) thick.

* Lee performed a side kick while training with James Coburn and broke a 150-lb (68 kg) punching bag

* In a move that has been dubbed “Dragon Flag”, Lee could perform leg lifts with only his shoulder blades resting on the edge of a bench and suspend his legs and torso perfectly horizontal midair.

* Lee could thrust his fingers through unopened steel cans of Coca-Cola, at a time before cans were made of the softer aluminum metal.

* Lee could use one finger to leave dramatic indentations on pine wood.