Since deciding to incorporate weights into my weekly schedule at the kung fu school, I thought I’d take some time to blog about what I’m doing and the equipment I have available to do it.

Why am I using weights?

Bruce Lee was one of the first advocates of using weights in martial arts training. His book The Art of Expressing the Human Body was my first weight training book, which I bought about 10 years ago at university. Bruce kept amazing notes about everything he read, learned and trained in. As such, before his death, he had summarised vast quantities of weight lifting material and put together useful training programs. His work became the basis for MMA (mixed-martial arts) training and the book is an amalgamation of his weight lifting notes.

Weights bruce hanging

Bruce 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 for endurance. I stretch during the intermittent break periods of our kung fu daily training and run for cardiovascular fitness (which I’ll cover in another post). Therefore, the weights are used for strength training. I figure if you train to cope with more weight than you need to, you can cope better with just your body weight at other times.

What am I using?

  • Resistance Band – This was part of my RTW Packing List as a lightweight bit of kit to be able to do workout anywhere. I use just the toughest band and double it up if that’s too easy.
  • Kettle Bell(like) Weights – Luckily, these concrete beauties were already here at the school. Apart from being used as door stops, I’ve got free rein to use them. They start at about 8kg (I say about, because they’re only have names like 5A, 5B) and go up to something like 25kg.
  • iPhone Armband – Used with the Pushup Fu app to strap the iPhone to my arm to count the reps.
  • Staff – A martial arts stick. These staffs are actually used by the students for learning forms. You can see from the cover picture, that I’m using the kettle bells, a staff and a pair of socks as a makeshift barbell.
  • Steps/Rocks - For stretching the achilles and calf.
  • Wall – Acts as a “big step” or a bench to lie on.
  • Trees – For balance and conditioning the arms.
  • Mat – Bit of padding for stomach exercises.

It’s a shame there’s no chin up bar here, because that tends to be part of every hollywood movie workout scene… <sigh>


Weights resistanceband

Weights stack

Weights armband

How am I splitting my workout?

I interleave my weight training with the weekday training.

After the early morning session, I do a session of Pushup Fu using my armband (trying to work towards 100 press ups).

I train one of arms, shoulders, chest, back and stomach each week day for about 30 mins after the late morning kung fu training and before lunch.

I’m training legs for about 20 mins each week day just before the afternoon kung fu training session. I do these daily because at this moment, they’re most important to my kung fu training.


What exercises am I doing?

Unless you’re a gym buff, you may get bored on this bit, so look away now…


  • Calf (tip toes, then both legs, then one leg at a time, then whilst holding kettle bells)
  • One legged lunge (kettle bells)
  • Single leg step up (kettle bells)
  • Squats (holding kettle bells on shoulders)
  • Various ankle stretches (using rocks to rotate the ankle and trees to balance)


  • Chest press (varying weights using improvised barbell)
  • Lying flies (gripping the kettle bells so they don’t rotate and put pressure on my wrists)
  • Standing flies (band)
  • Press ups (using kettle bells for deeper range of motion)
  • Dips (using hands on the wall and feet on kettle bells)


  • Bicep hammer curls (kettle bells)
  • Bicep curls (band)
  • Barbell curl (improvised barbell)
  • Concentration curl (band)
  • Dips (using the wall and feet on kettle bells)
  • Overhead triceps extension (band)


  • Lateral raises (band, kettle bells)
  • Front raises (band, kettle bells)
  • Arnold press (kettle bells)
  • Barbell press (improvised barbell)


  • Reverse stretch (band)
  • One arm row (kettle bells)
  • Seated bent over lateral raises (band, kettle bells)
  • Barbell bent over row (barbell)


  • Sit ups
  • Russian twists
  • V sits
  • Spidermans

I’d take one of the exercises and do it under Tabata conditions (i.e. using a 20 sec high intensity, 10 sec rest for 8 sets).