Bruce Lee had one of the most iconic bodies in the film industry. Even the big-shots of bodybuilding like Joe Weider and Arnold Schwarzenegger have nothing but praises for him.
Here’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say about Bruce:
“There’s a lot of people that do all those moves and they do have the skill, but they don’t look visually as believable or as impressive as Bruce Lee did. He was one of a kind.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Even though Bruce looked small compared to most of today’s A-list celebrities, I bet most people would much rather look like Bruce instead of looking like a muscle-bound freak. But, to build muscle one must work hard and smart.
Most beginners waste precious time on stuff that just doesn’t work. As a result, they end up looking the same year in, year out.
By following the tips below, you’ll be able to instantly bypass beginner mistakes, pack on more muscles, and just feel good in your own skin.
Get ready to find out what it takes to get the body of a legendary movie star.
1Start Lifting Weights
Join a gym and start lifting weights. If you want to look like Bruce Lee, then you need to have access to a barbell, squat rack, and a lot of weight plates. Body weight exercises just won’t cut it.
You can also train at home, as long as you’re ready to spend some money on a good power rack, a well-built bench, and a 300-pound barbell set. You can get all three items for less than $1,000 on Amazon.
Obviously, if your budget won’t take this expense, focus on the remaining tips in this post.
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your work. The same rule holds true if you lift weights. 80% of your muscle and strength gains come from just 3 lifts.
Enter the The Big Trio:
- Bench press
Unlike most lifts, The Big Trio works your whole body. The more muscles a lift works, the bigger the spike of muscle building hormones.
2Do Less, Be Intense
At the heart of each of your workouts should be just a few lifts on which you give 100%. The more you stress your body, the bigger the spike of muscle building hormones while you sleep. It’s that simple.
You need to let your body know that you want more brawn. The best way to do that is to train with intensity.
3Focus on Getting Stronger
Size follows strength. You’ll never look like Bruce Lee if you keep on lifting the same small weights each workout. Focus on The Big Trio (2nd tip) and go hard while you’re at it. Strive to add a rep or extra weight to the bar each workout.
4Log Your Workouts
If you want to lift more each workout, you need to keep track of how much weight you’re lifting. Your memory does a poor job at this task, that’s why you need to log all of your lifts in a small notebook.
Write down how much you lifted as soon as you’re done with an exercise.If you have a smartphone, you can use a web app like Fitocracy to log your workouts.
5Make Your First Set the Heaviest
If any set counts, it’s the first one. The logic here is that in the first sets of your lifts, your muscle fuel stores are filled up to the max. That’s why your muscles will be able to exert the greatest amount of force.
With this in mind, try to do your main lifts at the start of your workout and make sure you give 100% while you’re at it.
6Learn Proper Lifting Technique
Lift with good form and you shall reap the rewards. To be able to train long term with no injuries is a blessing many fail to grasp. Guys just can’t wait to be all jacked so they end up doing stupid stuff that gets them hurt.
Most of the time, good form is sacrificed in order to be able to add a few extra pounds to the bar. Spend those extra 2 to 3 weeks at the start and work on your lifting form. Once you move on to big weights, you’ll be glad you did that.
7Warm-Up Before Exercising
This is the first step of your two-part warm up drill. At the start of each workout, you must spend a few minutes to get your heart rate up. A light cycle session of 5 to 8 minutes, done in a brisk way,will do the trick.
When you do this, you raise your body’s temperature, your joints get lubricated and as whole, your body gets ready to bear the load of your workout.
8Stretch Before Exercising
This is the next part of your warm-up drill. You should do it right after your cycle session. When I say stretching I don’t mean hold the muscle stretched for minutes on end. More and more scientific studies tell us that that’s bad if your goal is to lift more weights. Do dynamic stretches.
They are a great way to transition from rest to high-intensity exercise since they work your muscles through a full range of motion and make your nerves fire with more power. There are many dynamic stretches I could list, but if I had to pick just 3 that give you most bang for your buck, these would be the ones:
9Use Lifting Aids
Use lifting aids to make sure that your back muscles get worked up to the max. Most of the time, people aren’t able to train their backs as they should because their grip is too weak. This is a big issue for most pulling exercises – rows, pull-ups, pull-downs, etc.
Lifting aids like lifting straps or liquid chalk will boost your grip strength so your back muscles can get a better workout. For me, liquid chalk proved to be the best tool for building more muscles. It’s cheap, mess-free and it lets you lift more weight instantly (all lifts).
10Limit Aerobic Activities
Running and weight lifting don’t go hand in hand, at least not for most people. When you lift weights, your body wants to add muscle. Running tells your body to drop weight – this also includes muscle. Just look at the marathon runners and you’ll see what I mean. While it’s OK to run, try to keep it at a minimum.
11Get Plenty of Rest
You grow while you’re at rest. There’s a big spike of muscle building hormones that takes place in the first hours of your sleep. That’s why it’s vital that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of good sleep each day.
Space your workouts so there’s at least 48 hours of rest in between them. Try to set up your routine so there’s at least 96 hours of rest between your squats and deadlifts.
When you work out, 3 to 5 mins of rest time between your sets will be enough to fill up your energy stores.
12Learn to Listen to Your Body
When your body tries to say something, be all ears. People take the “no pain, no gain” motto at face value and that’s not good. You need to discern good pain from bad pain.
A case of bad pain is when your knee starts to hurt while you do squats. Knee pain (bad) is not the same kind of pain as training to failure or muscle soreness (good).
Learn to love good pain but avoid bad pain like it’s the plague. Also, be alert on slight cues your body gives when it starts to be drained.Take a few days off of your training if your body needs it – don’t want to risk overtraining.
13Take Measurements of Your Body
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You need to track the right things to be able to see if your moving down the right path.Things to track while trying to build muscles:
- body weight
- body girths
- the look of your body (take pictures)
I didn’t list body fat on purpose. It’s really hard to track body fat if you don’t own costly gadgets.
14Fix Your Diet
“When you are a martial artist, you only eat what you require and don’t get carried away with foods that don’t benefit you as a martial artist.” -Bruce Lee
The same rule holds true if a rock-hard physique is what you’re after. Try to eat as many whole foods as you’re able to and cut back on junk foods like sugary snacks, soft drinks, fast foods, trans fats, etc.
This may be hard to do at first, but as time moves on you’ll learn to love this new healthy way of living.
15Eat More Protein
Muscles are made out of proteins. Try to get 120-160 grams of protein per day for. Diets high in protein help keep your hunger at bay. You won’t feel the need to binge on junk foods.
Foods with high levels of protein are:
- meats – beef, pork, poultry, fish, sea food, etc.
- dairy – cottage cheese, mozzarella, Swiss cheese, etc.
- legumes – beans and lentils
16Use the Right Supplements
Most supplements are a scam. With that said, there are a few supplements out there that are worth your hard earned cash. Best of all, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Here are the only 3 supplements you’ll need for more strength and more health:
- Creatine – Research-proven, creatine monhydrate helps you gain strength and size. It cuts your recovery time.
- Omega-3 – These are essential fatty acids our bodies can’t make on their own, but are a must for brain health, joint health, eye health, and a lot more.
- Vitamin D – used to boost your body’s immune system, helps keep your teeth, bones and joints healthy, etc.
17Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is not a diet fad, it’s a way of life. Once you try this diet, you’re hooked for life. More muscles, more strength, and less fat – you can do it with intermittent fasting.
With tons of case studies and scientific research to back up its true power, it is slowly rocking the fitness world to its core.
Here are some more benefits of IF:
- more growth hormone
- lower insulin levels
- freaking easy to stick to
I’m sure even Bruce Lee would love this diet. In case you’d like to know more, Martin Berkhan from LeanGains covers the topic of intermittent fasting more in-depth.
18Have a Strong Mind a.k.a. Stay Motivated
At some point, in your quest for brawn, you will get scared and feel like you’re not enough. This is OK and you should not let these mind tricks get the best of you. You need to have a strong mind all the time, if you want to fight off these bad thoughts.
But that’s easier said than done.
The way to do that is to use good results as fuel to keep your mind strong. If you keep track of your workouts and body stats, a quick glance at your notes will turbo-charge your mind strength to new heights.
19Don’t Do Stupid Stuff
Don’t do stupid things that can put your health at risk. To show you what I mean, here are some of the things you should never do:
- bench pressing to failure without a spotter,
- deadlifting/squatting with bad form,
- doing stupid lifts like “squats on an exercise ball” (yes, people do that too!), etc.
Use good sense and you shall grow strong and big, just like Bruce Lee.
20Love the Process
It’s not about the end goal, it’s all about the process. The skills that stem from your hard work in the gym (persistence, mental strength, ambition) will spill over to other areas of your life.Success breeds success.
All of a sudden, the idea of starting your own business won’t seem so far fetched. But in the end, do keep in mind that your is journey is unique to you so …
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee
Do you know of any other tips to help you build muscle, lose fat, and just feel good in your own skin? Please share them in the comments section below, I’d love to hear them.
Written by Dejan Antic. Get Dejan’s Free Muscle Building Course designed for people that are having a hard time growing more muscles. For more awesome fitness tips like these, check out No Brainer Muscle – Dejan answers every comment he gets.