Bruce Lee, the martial arts Legend on Fitness and Strength - Pt. 1

Bruce Lee gave so much advice in his relatively short time as a professional martial artist and fitness instructor. Fortunately, he left many notes and journals that have now been made into books, so that we know more about his training methods and philosophies.

Bruce Lee divided his routine into specific martial arts training to enhance his martial arts prowess, i.e. weight training, calisthenics, cardio fitness and stretching. Bruce would train on a daily basis, to improve his physique and his martial arts ability. However, he also stated that it was important to never train the body so hard on any given day, to the point where the body would be too weak on the following days to train or to fight.

From a martial perspective it is essential to never over-train. Although in the long term, intensive training can make the body stronger, faster, in the short term, it is not a good martial practice to leave yourself too weak to fight.

Bruce Lee's Training Philosophy
“Above all, never cheat on any exercise; use the amount of weight that you can handle without undue strain.”
This quote is still valid for all forms of weight training exercise today. Firstly, good form is essential to achieve maximum results and avoid injury, whether you are lifting weights, stretching, performing bodyweight exercises or practicing martial arts. Bruce Lee obviously developed a great foundation in the importance of good form, as kung-fu, and other martial arts use “forms” for training and honing fighting techniques.
Good form is essential in martial arts, as it can help to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a student, condition the body to react and move in the correct way, as well as strengthen the muscles, ligaments and joints. Poorly executed form can lead to poorly executed martial application, which can be fatal.
Poorly executed form not only reduces the effectiveness of an exercise, but it can also cause injury by placing too much pressure in the wrong areas. Also, to cheat on an exercise, is to cheat your own body of obtaining the optimal workout during any given session.

Bruce’s weight training routine evolved during his career. In his early days, his emphasis was on bodybuilding, especially forearm training, and he supplemented his diet with protein drinks. Later on, he started to simplify his training. He realized that rather than the isolation exercises favored by bodybuilders, he needed to perform compound weight training exercises to increase his overall strength and condition. Bruce Lee’s weight reduced after he gave up the bodybuilding routines in favor of more traditional compound and cardio training.
“Since weight training involves repetitions, a great deal of energy must be exerted. Therefore, weight training should be practiced only every other day.” – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee adopted a cross training methodology, in that he believed fitness training should have three key elements: stretching for flexibility, weight training for strength, and cardiovascular work for endurance.


Check in tomorrow for more; Bruce Lee’s ab workouts

Source: References and Resources:
The Art of Expressing the Human Body (see our review below)
“Warm Marble – The Lethal Physique of Bruce Lee” by John Little”
“From Icon to Lifestyle, the Marketing of Bruce Lee” A New York Times piece on Bruce Lee.

Susan Arruda