Gym Bro Culture - Everything You Need to Know

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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Nowadays, being called a gym bro brings with it negative connotations. Just do a quick online search, and you’ll find tons of memes and sarcastic comments.

I’ve decided to go to the root of the gym bro culture, and I’ve spent hours researching everything about it — from how the culture started to what exactly it means to be a bro.

If you're on the fence about being a gym bro, here's everything you should know about it to help you make up your mind.

Quick Summary

  • The gym bro culture is where a person, aged between 18-40 is into fitness, namely martial arts, and weight lifting.
  • Consistency and commitment are what any gym bro advises individuals new to fitness.
  • Most gym bros have a primary goal of bulking up hence they go for a bulking diet of roughly 4,000 calories daily, including 250g of fat and 200g of protein.
  • In my opinion, the gym bro culture, fostering a sense of community and dedication to fitness, can be a transformative and positive force in one's health journey.

What Is the Gym Bro Culture?

man doing a dumbbell curl shirtless

Gym bro culture typically involves men aged 18-40, passionate about fitness, including weightlifting and martial arts. These individuals often engage in muscle-building workouts with peers.

My experience as a fitness coach has shown a growing interest in holistic practices like yoga and meditation among them, indicating a shift towards balanced health.

They enjoy sports, video games, and the occasional beer. Most have a college education and stable employment, with a preference for suburban living.

“He is relatively affluent, he has been to college, he is lighthearted and likes enjoyable pursuits, and he hangs out with other men of the same ilk.”

- Katherine Martin, Head of U.S. Dictionaries at Oxford University Press

Bro culture is not limited to men only, although it does lean more that way.

A few women are a part of it, such as the powerlifter Stefi Cohen and the fitness entrepreneur Meg Callagher. However, they are the exception and not the rule.

How Did Gym Bro Culture Start?

men giving each other a handshake after workout

People first began using the expression bro in the 1970s to refer to their male friends.

Over decades, the word evolved, that it became associated with a guy’s guy.

Today it includes subcultures, such as:

  • Frat bros
  • Preppy bros
  • Surfer bros

As for gym bros, the culture started in Southern California and is associated with people in fraternities.

Interestingly, the influence of popular media, particularly action movies of the 1980s and 1990s featuring muscular heroes, played a significant role in shaping the gym bro aesthetic and ideals

Difference Between a Gym Bro and a Gym Rat

two man doing planks, two men doing a bench press

A gym rat is a person who can be found working out at all hours of the day. Usually, they specialize in:

  • Bench press
  • Squats
  • Cable crossovers
  • Cheat curls

Both gym rats and bros are conscious of their appearance, often seen admiring their progress in mirrors. However, gym rats intensify their training, surpassing the more relaxed approach of bros.

Despite being the butt of many online jokes, gym rats possess extensive knowledge of fitness and health, readily offering advice on workouts, nutrition, and bulking products.

A notable distinction lies in equipment familiarity; gym rats typically understand the function and operation of every gym machine, unlike their bro counterparts.

What Do Gym Bros Look Like?

man doing a dumbbell workout in the gym

These are guys that look good, and they know it, so you’ll see them walking with confidence.

They work hard on their definition, and they want to show off their muscles.

This is why you’ll see them wearing a lot of tight tank tops, joggers, and basketball shoes.

Some of these guys support their favorite fitness brand, such as GymShark, by buying products from them.

Notably, there's a growing trend among gym bros to focus on sustainable and ethical fashion choices in their workout gear, aligning their fitness lifestyle with environmental consciousness.

Gym Bros Workout Routine

two men hyping each other during a barbell lift

Gym bros are dedicated to their training, consistently pushing their limits.

In my experience as a fitness coach, I've observed their strong camaraderie, especially during challenging weight-lifting sets.

They often consume pre-workout drinks and are well-versed in supplements like BCAA. Aiming to bulk up, they engage in intense weightlifting, focusing on various muscle groups each day, with two to three rest days weekly.

Their routines often mirror those of bodybuilders.

Additionally, I've also noticed an emerging trend where gym bros are incorporating technology, like fitness apps and wearable tech, to optimize their workouts and track progress more effectively.

Monday: Chest and Triceps

A man in the gym using dumbbells to workout chest and triceps
  • Dumbbell shoulder press -  3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Cable crossover  - 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Rope tricep pushdown  - 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Bent-over reverse fly  - 3 sets 12 reps

Tuesday: Back and Biceps

young man doing a lat pulldown
  • Straight-arm pulldown - 3 sets 15–20 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell row  - 3 sets 8–10 reps
  • Lat pulldown - 2 sets 20 reps
  • Dumbbell hammer curl - 3 sets 12 reps
  • Preacher curl - 2 sets 10 reps

Wednesday: Legs and Abs

trainer guiding a man in his goblet squats
  • Goblet squat single kettlebell - 4 sets 8 reps
  • Dumbbell farmers' walk - 4 sets 40 m reps
  • Dumbbell lunge - 4 sets 8 reps
  • Flutter kicks - 4 sets 20 reps
  • Goblet squat - 4 sets 8 reps

Thursday: Shoulders

A man in the gym using a barbell for his shoulder workout
  • Overhead press - 3 sets 12 reps
  • Push press - 3 sets 12 reps
  • Barbell shrug - 3 sets 12 reps
  • Seated Arnold press - 3 sets 12 reps
  • Seated lateral raise - 3 sets 12 reps

Other workout routine: Tom Brady's NFL Workout Routine


A table with a measuring tape, bottle of water, oatmeal, fruits, and a dumbbell

Gym bros are also careful with their nutrition.

Their primary goal is to bulk up, so they stick to a bulking diet, with around 4,000 calories a day, out of which 250g is fat, and 200g is protein.

During the bulking period, they eat whatever food items they have at home, but they check product disclaimer for nutrition information. They do this especially when they're sensitive to some ingredients, such as caffeine.

After a few months, they start a cutting routine, which is about half the daily calories.

The purpose of this period is to burn off some of the fat.

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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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