Be Like Bruce Lee, My Friend (or How to Stick to Your Training)

There’s a famous interview with Bruce Lee where he describes his philosophy of his life. As he was most notable for his martial arts and movies, he applied this mindset to everything. He was truly a man of deep reverence by his peers, the public, and an ever-growing audience from every generation to this day.

His philosophy was a profession of adaptability. To conform with the winds of change. To take the form of whatever is challenging us and use it to our advantage.

Bruce Lee still fascinates me to this day. I can’t get enough of his timeless voice taking on life’s biggest struggles with simple (but not easy) approaches.

How to adapt your mind

As we all like to restart our training efforts from time to time we need to equip ourselves with a few steadfast principles that can be applied to our long term plans.

Notably, I like to take Bruce Lee’s philosophy to the heart of my training. Lee stresses that we must be like water. To take the shape of whatever we are presented with (more or less). It’s a unique perspective on how to adapt. Not to complain about the situation, not to feverishly find ways to get out of the work ahead of us, and not to subvert any entity to make things easier on us.

When it comes to your physique goals, make this time one of adaptability. This time you’ll start with the philosophy of water before you lift a single weight or perform a single pushup. Know that life will always throw wrenches your way big and small and that you have the ability to assess the challenges and act with flexibility.

How to adapt your training

I’ve said it many times, “Don’t plan a break from training, life will provide it for you.” With that said the first order of business is to become consistent with training, eating habits, and recovery.

Are you hitting on all your training days each week?

Are you preparing and timing all of your meals?

Are you sleeping and resting enough?

Nothing beats consistency. Once you have that established you are miles ahead of the crowd.

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile because most are not willing to put in the time to get there.”

Next, be aware that those perfect plans will get squashed, guaranteed. This is when we need to adopt Bruce Lee’s philosophy on whether it’s cancelling our training session for the day due to an unforeseen family obligation or shifting gears on our workout plan because every squat rack is taken by some kid scrolling through their phone.

You see, most hiccups that perceptually derail our training have two surprisingly unique parts. One, they usually don’t last as long as we think, and two, they aren’t as severe as we fear. So adopting an adaptation mindset will transform those mythical mountains into mole hills.

But what about the big things like a gym closing and being forced to workout from home for a while or some sort of lifestyle change that has us training sporadically, later or earlier than you prefer, or limiting your time? The same principle applies.

If we are as creative and adaptive as we like to think we are, why not put it into practice? Why beat our head against the wall when we can simply adapt, go with the flow, and be like water? Take the form of whatever is presented to us and make it work to our advantage?

The best laid plans

I know what your thinking. Why not just force my way there? Why not tell that kid to scram off the squat rack? Because we have too much to learn if we don’t.

If you always start with squats during a leg workout then here’s your opportunity to shift gears and try a new sequence. Can’t bench press due to crowding today? Perform an all dumbbell chest routine. Can’t use your favorite cardio machine? Try a new one. Or better yet, go outside.

The opposite will only keep us frustrated, angry, and stagnant.

The point is that adapting moves us forward. If applied liberally, we will always be moving toward a better circumstance. We may perceive roadblocks as such, but there is another, more effective perspective to adhere to. One of water.

In the middle of chaos lies opportunity.

Bruce Lee

I’ll leave you with this reminder.

You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.

Bruce Lee


3 thoughts on “Be Like Bruce Lee, My Friend (or How to Stick to Your Training)

  1. Hi Bob! Thanks for the great articles. I really appreciate your honest advice.I have a training question. Is it okay to do cable rope tricep and v-bar pulldowns in the same workout? Thanks, Gus


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