Weight Training

Bruce Lee's Aerobic Strength Training for MMA and Martial Arts

The need for anaerobic and aerobic conditioning is essential in martial arts and MMA. However, many times aerobic conditioning is thrown to the curbside. Bruce Lee did aerobic weight training three times a week. That is how essential it is for martial arts. You can't train explosive movement all the time and expect your aerobic system to develop. You need to train your slow-twitch fibers too! And the best way to do this is through aerobic strength training.

By doing aerobic weight training, you increase the strength of your slow-twitch fibers and boost your mitochondria. You can increase your mitochondria and slow-twitch muscle strength from about 30-50% more than just training your aerobic activity. For example, runners who train aerobic strength training will improve their aerobic capacity and speeds more than just training with running itself. In addition, it increases the resistance of fatigue. And the same goes for martial arts and MMA.

Understand mitochondria are cells responsible for increasing aerobic capacity. The more you have, the better. Also, slow-twitch fibers are not weak. They are just the weakest of the three fibers in our body. Slow-twitch fibers are constantly used in MMA, jujitsu, and martial arts.

How It Works

There are three systems in the body that produce energy. The first system is known as the Alactic system. It is the most powerful system but only lasts for 10 seconds of maximal effort. However, in about one minute, this system is 50% restored and 100% percent restored in three minutes. To keep the energy going during your performance, your body activates another system while the Alactic system restores its energy. This system is known as the lactic system. It activates from 10 seconds to 2 minutes to continue high-intensity work. These two systems are your fast-twitch fibers.

Your aerobic base is the foundation for your Alactic and Lactic system to be effective and explosive. The greater the aerobic capacity, the more explosive movement and performance can be with less fatigue. Therefore, your aerobic base is always active. However, the aerobic system is the most important of the energy systems when a match or competition lasts longer than 2-3 minutes.

On this graph, you can see the vertical lines represent the usage of fast-twitch fibers. However, the bottom horizontal line has more significant drop-offs in strength because of untrained slow-twitch fibers. The top line demonstrates the efficiency of transfer and slow-twitch fibers at a greater level of power. The weaker your slow-twitch fibers, the weaker your explosiveness will be. Also, you will get tired quickly. This is how your aerobic system supports your fast-twitch explosive capacity and intensity.

slow movement graph

Benefits of Aerobic Strength Training 

1. Strengthens stability, alignment, and posture.

Your postural muscles are mainly slow-twitch muscles because they maintain posture and alignment so they need to be fatigue resistant.

2. Increases time under tension.

Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints become stronger by absorbing force and not dissipating it. Therefore, tendons, ligaments, and joints do not get stronger from fast movements. Instead, they get stronger from slow weight-bearing types of exercises.

3. Better neuromuscular control.

By slowing down, you're more likely to use your joint's full range of motion and produce proper coordination in your movements, as well as discover weak links to correct and have greater range of motion, mobility, stability, and strength.

4. Increases aerobic capacity.

Slow strength training increases mitochondria in your muscles. By increasing mitochondria, you enhance your aerobic capacity.


How to Do Aerobic Strength Training

  • Start by choosing 8-9 exercises and do each exercise for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Use about 50-75% percent of your 1RM.
  • After you do all the exercises, rest 1-2 minutes and do again. Perform 2-3 times.
  • Don't move fast. Move at a pace or slightly slower than pace to stimulate slow-twitch fibers. If you move fast, you will train fast-twitch fibers.
  • Bruce Lee did 8-12 reps in 30 seconds and altered from lower to upper body exercises. In doing this, it trained his cardiovascular system more effectively. It is called PHA-Peripheral Heart Action.

Bruce Lee's Exercise Selection

  • Pull-Up
  • Seated Leg Press
  • Standing Leg Thrust
  • Shoulder Press
  • Calf Raises
  • Bicep Cable Curls
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Kneeling Lat Pull-Down Behind Neck
  • Triceps Push-Down
  • After Bruce did these exercises he would immediately do a short run as fast and as hard as he could for 1 and half minutes.
  • Standing Wrist Roller for 1 minute.
  • Neck Flexion/ Extension / Rotation all in 1 minute.

Bruce mixed in running with his aerobic weight training as you can see in the routine. After his run it looks like he did a few exercises as a means for active relaxation, before he did the circuit again. This strength routine is from the book: Bruce Lee- The Art of Expressing the Human Body- By: John Little

For more videos about Bruce Lee's training and other methods of strength training, visit my You Tube channel: The Balance https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcTdGuQFH48EgrCmyZ81mig/

If you would like to know how to increase strength and speed instantly check out my book INSTANT STRENGTH


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Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon
d2e111jq13me73.cloudfront.net / Enter the Dragon/ Warner Bros.
Bruce Lee really did have the Midas touch when it came to training. Most people think Bruce was advanced and complicated, but he was the master of simplicity. He was not worried about doing the jump-up flip spin-around back kick. Not sure if there is one. But by the time you land, Bruce would just throw a simple kick or punch to knock you down as you landed to the ground. However, that is the point. Simplicity is often overlooked because of the coolness and the latest and greatest workout when simplicity produces the most significant effect. Super complicated does not mean superior. This is actually reverse in fact. We see super complex exercises that don’t need to be. Truthfully, if an exercise or method is not straightforward in its approach, then it probably is not good.
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Destinee Tartuffe

My friend Destinee Tartuffe a 4th dan and Head Sensei at Good Time Judo in Santa Rosa, CA has always been a pioneer and developer in all her life endeavors. She first took over the judo program at Santa Rosa Junior Collegestarted by my old friend Terry Kelly upon his retirement then went on to complete getting her law degree, JD.

Recently Destinee contacted me about a new training tool she’s invented. Upon my investigation, I was so impressed with this product that I asked her to write something about it for this week’s Black Belt Blog.
Judo Equipment

Members of Good Time Judo using Judo Jaime Training Tools.

As judo practitioners we know judo is an exciting dynamic Olympic or recreational sporting activity that offers social interaction, stress relief, and tons of fun. However, we also know that judo can be a dangerous, and potentially deadly activity when used for self-defense or when not practiced safely.

For all the fun and benefit that judo provides an enthusiast it seems to be the world’s best kept secret from the general populace. My coach and mentor taught me that judo is an inclusive, not an exclusive activity. So, I look for ways to get more people interested.

One of the biggest issues relates to the very idea of inclusiveness, which for me translates to one dojo cannot be everything to everybody. The age old saying jack of all trades, and master of none comes to mind.

Recently, I watched YouTube videos of three respected Judo coaches discussing the state of Judo in the United States. One of their common observations is that students who come to train with them lack the fundamental skills which would allow them to actually help those students reach a level of Judo expertise whereby the student could compete at an elite level of competition.

While I was disappointed to hear their dire opinions, they were similar to what I was experiencing in my college classroom. Honestly, I have been concerned for many years about how to continue when so many of the students come to class with an attitude of being a “super ninja” when in actuality they are often uncoordinated and seemingly unwilling to follow even the simplest of instructions. This creates a situation or environment where “bullies” prevail, injures occur, and students are lost. This attitude seems a direct conflict to the principle of Mutual Benefit and Welfare, and it made me think about hanging up my judogi.

Then, COVID caused programs to close, but as a college Judo instructor I was tasked with creating an online curriculum for my students and doing so within one week! I knew my students did not have the proper safety equipment in their homes to continue with the rolls and falls that we were practicing in class. We spent the last eight weeks finishing out the semester via Zoom class. I found the biggest challenge to be communicating to the student how they needed to correct their postures, or their ability to visualize the skill and apply my instructions for any given lesson.

The last night of class of had a vision of how these issues could be addressed. That’s when I created the Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and a Proximity Training Device that I call Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke. These tools can be used together or separately. The benefits conferred to the user by using the tools together can greatly excel the beginning students understanding of the application of Judo.

These tools are not just for beginners, it is important for even the most experienced judoka to review the fundamental movements regularly. Think about it there are pre-arranged forms (katas) that specifically address movement!

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat is a durable vinyl mat with an elliptical design (mapping the movement of the Judoka in the plane of applied Judo). The instructor whether in-person or in an online class can assist the student by directing them to orient either along the horizontal or vertical 180 degree lines, which are also used to demonstrate and solidify 90 degree turns/pivots that are important to the fundamental movements for application of Judo. The mat also has indicators for the student to see the 45 degree angle of technique application easier.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device that allows beginning Judoka to develop the proper posture and understanding of the proximity for applying judo techniques without the resistance, frustration, or fear that working with a partner initially brings. My years of teaching adults have shown me that despite what the student says, they often approach contact with another with fear and the mistaken belief that over-powering or resisting their partner is the proper thing to do; however, one-half the goal of Judo is that someone falls down! With Judo Jaime the student has the opportunity to develop the confidence and skills to make an actual attack when they are ready to engage with a person.

The device weighs no more than five pounds and is approximately 53” in height (when assembled). It is easily transportable and fun to use vs. the usual training dummies which are awkward, heavy and unsafe to use without proper instruction or direct supervision. While either product can be used alone we recommend using the tools together. This allows the student to fine-tune visualization skills and apply techniques, here again, without resistance from a partner. The student will develop an understanding and integration of the techniques for proper response timing more quickly.

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and Instructional material is copyrighted by Destar Productions, Inc.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device with a patent pending by Destar Productions, Inc. For questions regarding orders and other product descriptions email Destinee Tartuffe at senseidestinee@gmail.com or visit our online store directly.

Judo Jamie

Judo Jaime

Fundamental Direction Training Mat

Fundamental Training Mat

Good Time Judo Outdoor workout with Judo Jaime

Outdoor Judo Jaime2

Judo training Without a Partner/ Introduction of Training Tools for Standing

This video introduces some new training tools for practicing, maintaining and gaining skills for application of Judo technique.Be sure to check out the Demon...

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training UkeBe sure to check out our video Judo training while social distancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heSY5VGeA6M

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Gary Goltz