I needed a bit of training motivation recently and I switched into Bruce Lee fitness mode after watching Enter the Dragon. Every time I watch that movie I am astonished with Bruce Lee’s lean physique. In this particular scene he is shirtless (of course), and there is this slow motion capture of the fight that ensues with a group of armed, but gunless, guards. It seemed as though there was not an ounce of noticeable fat on this guy! His six-pack was especially impressive. I once read that Arnold Schwarzenegger himself commented on how lean and cut Bruce Lee was, and that’s saying something. For many men, Bruce Lee was their impetus to start training in martial arts and working out. I most certainly fall into this camp.
Surely Bruce wasn’t born that way. How on earth did he get that ripped? In a word…”discipline.” He put in his training time to be able to look the way he did, and from what I understand of him, he was a fitness fanatic. Luckily there many books that chronicle many of his training notes.
From Bruce Lee I think we can pick up some rather important lessons on training: 1) Keep track of your workouts, 2) work out often, work out intensely, and 3) have a complete training regimen.
Keep Track of Your Workouts
If you look at some of the publications about Bruce Lee, it’s quite clear that he wrote down everything, from his thoughts to his movie productions to his legendary workouts. What exactly are the benefits of writing down your workouts?
Seeing your workouts in writing gives you benchmarks. You can know exactly where you started and you can know where you stand. Seeing your workouts in writing also makes it far easier to make adjustments to your workout plan. If an exercise didn’t work well for you, you can write it down, and know what to omit next time. Lastly, seeing your workouts can keep you motivated. If you can see on paper that you’re doing more reps or losing weight, it’s confidence fodder to keep you training.
Work Out often. Work Out Intensely
Some of Bruce Lee workout logs, that I’ve seen, didn’t have appear to have weights as heavy as that of bodybuilder (at least not all the time), but one thing was clear…Bruce seemed to be working out more often than not, six days a week as I understand it. Consistent, intense, effort can lead to phenomenal results over time.
When I think of intensity, one of the first names to pop into my head is Bruce Lee. If you have ever watched him on film, he’s like a human spark plug who can go from zero to “wataaaaa!” in no time flat. I don’t remember which of the Bruce Lee books it was, but there was a quote in which Bruce Lee was discussing the finer aspects of abdominal training. He likened each repetition to rolling a piece of paper as tightly as you possibly could. Imagine if you put that kind of intensity into each rep you did. Yes, you would probably end up doing fewer reps, maybe even fewer sets, but it would really get you to the business of toning your abs.
Have Complete Workout Regimen
Though famous for his etched abdominal muscles or his ability to do a lat spread, Bruce’s journals show that he trained every muscle of his body from his calves to his forearms to his neck.
A complete workout program makes for a body that’s completely toned. Most people have parts of the body that they like training more than others. It’s quite easy to get the muscle group you don’t like and say “screw it.” But if you can push through and train even the tough areas, your body will thank you and your muscles will show it.
I like to think I’m in pretty good shape. I’m by no means at Bruce’s level of fitness, but seeing him gives me something to strive for. Perhaps these lessons from the journal of Bruce Lee Fitness can get you to having a physique like the Little Dragon’s.
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