The transcript below is from the video “Bruce Lee’s Secret That Got Him Insanely Ripped And Strong!” by Paris Demers.
Bruce Lee (Martial Artist & Actor):
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup…”
This was the legendary fighter Bruce Lee’s philosophy around life, training, and fighting. He believed the person should never allow themselves to become trapped in a certain mindset. Instead, a person should always be able to adapt to their circumstance and this is exactly what Bruce Lee himself was forced to do in 1964.
Bruce Lee opened the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, a school where he taught people from all ethnicities and walks of life Kung Fu. Under the heavens, we are all one family but this way of thinking wasn’t shared by all Kung Fu teachers and some of the martial artists in San Francisco’s Chinatown were upset by the fact that Bruce Lee was teaching Kung Fu to non-Chinese students.
So in 1964, 4 years after Bruce opened his school, he was challenged by one of these martial artists from San Francisco named Wong Jack Man. There are some serious stakes on the line. The two men agreed that if Bruce won, he’d be left alone to continue teaching how he likes. But if Bruce was defeated, then he’d have to shut down his school for good.
So the date was set and Bruce Lee ultimately came out of the fight victorious. But even though Bruce won, he was disappointed by how his body performed during the fight. According to his wife, Bruce Lee felt that if the fight had gone on much longer, he most likely would have lost because of his lack of conditioning.
So after this, Bruce Lee felt that he needed a change in his training, something that no other fighter was doing at the time. He came upon bodybuilding of all things. He went to San Francisco and enlisted the help of two of his friends who were deep into the bodybuilding scene at the time and together they came up with a 3-day week muscle and strength-building plan for Bruce.
This is what one day the program looked like and overall, the program was meant to develop his legs, biceps, triceps, and forearms. This is pretty different than most people’s bodybuilding programs that focus on building muscles like the chest, lats, and shoulders. Well, this is because Bruce Lee wasn’t doing bodybuilding and strength training to look better, he was doing it purely to increase his performance.
Bruce went on to train using bodybuilding style programs from 1965 to 1970. In the end, Bruce Lee didn’t like how slow the extra weight made him. So he eventually cut his weight back to the 135 pounds we’re used to seeing. But his time training with the bodybuilders would prove to be invaluable because it opened him up to the world of resistance training. And we’re about to go over three of the most revolutionary training techniques that he used to increase his speed and striking power.
Now a real key to Bruce Lee’s peak physical performance was that he understood the importance of nutrition and he would never put any low-quality Foods or supplements in his body because he knew that would be equivalent to putting sand in a well-oiled machine. And that’s exactly why I’ve partnered with LMNT – the highest-quality electrolyte mix on the market.
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The first training technique Bruce would use was called speed training. This is where he performs standard barbell or dumbbell movements but with the goal of completing each set in as little time as possible. This means he would complete each repetition with as much speed and power as he could. This did an amazing job recruiting and developing his fast twitch muscle fibers which are responsible for one’s ability to move explosively with power. But all that power would have gone to waste if it wasn’t for Bruce Lee’s rock-solid core. Now I’m not just talking about his amazing abs that we can see but I’m talking about his ability to keep his torso and spine in an isolated static position as he throws his punches and kicks. This is what real core strength is.
The ability to keep the torso and spine in isolate position as force is being applied to them, either from the outside as gravity pushes and pulls the spine, or from within as force is transferred from the hips to the upper body during a powerful punch.
Bruce would train his core’s ability to prevent rotation by doing movements like single-arm push-ups and he would train his core’s ability to prevent spinal extension by doing moves like a signature dragon flag. These types of movements are pretty intense but in the program that I’m giving to you at the end of the video, I’m going to show you a few options that are a little bit scaled back but will still work on the same fundamentals.
Now if Bruce didn’t have such a strong core, every time he threw a punch or kick, he would leak power through his torso and spine because of excess movement in those areas and this would lead to much weaker strikes. Bruce Lee’s core stability allowed him to strike with immense power for a man of his size. This is because with such a stable core, he was able to use all his available muscle mass to its maximum potential and he wouldn’t waste an ounce of power. And that leads us to one of the most interesting techniques that Bruce Lee used which was overcoming isometrics.
Overcoming isometrics involves pushing or pulling against an immovable object using 100% effort for a short period of time. You can see in this photo Bruce Lee is performing a bicep curl with a bar that’s chained to the ground. These types of isometrics are often performed nowadays by Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters with movements like the squat and deadlift to create explosive power and strength from a specific position. Overcoming isometrics work to increase explosive power because when you push or pull against a movable object as hard as you can, you’re forcing your body to immediately recruit your strongest most explosive muscle fibers, which are your fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Now, this is a lot of information but I’ve taken all these different techniques and training philosophies and created a 3-day week strength training plan so you can build a rock solid core, an athletic build, and incredible power just like Bruce Lee himself. You can download the free workout PDF via the link in the description of this video.
There’s so much more interesting information to be covered when it comes to Bruce Lee’s training and in this video, I’ve only scratched the surface. So if you guys want me to do more videos on them in the future, make sure to like, subscribe, and comment Bruce Lee down below so I know you’re interested. And now you gotta check out my video on Sylvester Stallone built his leanest physique ever in Rocky III.
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