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"Strength Is More Than Just Muscle"

Online PT, Training Videos/Articles, Oldtime Strongman

Strength Is More Than Just Muscle

Passion, philosophy, skill, humility, there are so many qualities that makes Bruce Lee someone who is revered by millions. His legendary, larger-than-life film quality shook the martial arts film industry, and helped permanently shift the role of Asians in modern film. And physique...

Even bodybuilders TWICE his size held a place of incredible admiration for Bruce Lee's insanely ripped physique. He seemed to have dense, striated muscles on every inch of his body.

But what was the biggest attraction to Bruce Lee as an athlete and martial artist? His strength.

Bruce Lee was 5' 7", 135lbs, and every ounce of his body was dedicated to producing titanic levels of power and strength. He had a true level of Deceptive Strength that baffled the most elite athletes. Anyone who knows of him has heard of many of his strength feats like...

  • his famous two-finger pushups
  • the powerful one-inch punch that blasts opponents feet away
  • his kicks that could make grown men believe they could fly
  • the fact that he could easily balance his entire bodyweight on just his toes and thumbs

And other incredible displays of strength. He made it evident that every ounce of strength he trained for was to be as functional as possible. His strength had millions in awe; how could someone so small possibly have that kind of strength?

The answer really is quite simple...

strength is more than just muscle.

Every person who trains in the style of oldtime strongmen has heard the name Joseph Greenstein, and an equal amount of people revere the name. Joseph Greenstein, who performed under the name "The Mighty Atom", was a man of incredible stature -- incredibly small.

He measured up at a whopping 140 lbs at 5'4". But his strength? You better believe that it FAR surpassed his size. So far, in fact, that he's considered one of the best performing strongmen of all time, which is a lot to say for a man who was diagnosed to die of tuberculosis at age 14.

For instance, the Mighty Atom was truly mighty enough to...

  • break multiple chains wrapped around his chest simply by expanding it
  • biting nails and chains in half with his teeth
  • bending horeshoes with his bare hands, even into his 80's
  • resisting the pull of an airplane and preventing it from taking off using his hair

The Mighty Atom amazed the world with the incredible feats he was able to pull off, but he wasn't the muscular kind of strength athlete that most envision when they think of the word "strength". But it's time to clear the air with the point that even The Mighty Atom worked his whole career to prove:

Strength is more than just muscle.

You see, there is nothing that says that big muscles can't be strong. However there are many who have huge muscles but can't harness even 70% of their true power. I've seen bodybuilders who can't do pushups, lifters who can't run around the block, and men with huge muscles who ripped those very muscles doing simple tasks.

Inversely, I've seen the men with almost asinine amounts of muscle performing planche and handstand pushups, two finger pushups, and majestic feats of a similar nature. 

If you needed proof, here's Memnon TeZe Zaahir doing planche pushups at 230lbs.

Now, what's the difference between the first group of lifters and the second group? You probably get the idea at this point...

...they understand that strength is more than just muscle.

That being the case...what else IS strength? I'm glad you asked...

Strength Is A Little Bit Nervous

"To be able by the exercise of will-power to contract certain muscles while relxaing others antagonistic to them is what is meant by muscle control."

- Maxick, Master of Muscle Control

Having the true strength of a complete muscular strength system means having neurological strength. You may have heard of the mind-muscle connection or about muscle control. What both of those really mean is that you train and develop the contractile power of your muscles, and the synergy of your nervous system.

When you do a big lift, such as a heavy squat, it activates multiple muscle groups and trains your body to work as a unit, rather than in varied isolation. Furthermore, with developed muscle control, you learn to reduce wasted movements and use only the necessary muscles for your feat, which increases your strength even more.

You Can Feel Strength In Your Bones

"I aimed, first, to develop the underlying connective tissues rather than the superficial muscles."

- Alexander Zass

Legendary strongman and the father of isometrics

Alexander Zass, as you can see in the photo above, was certainly muscular, but big muscles weren't the goal of Zass' program; instead, Zass sought a system of exercise that would develop your strength from the inside out. That system was isometrics, and it developed strength in a way that many trainers, physical therapists, and lifters ignore; it developed bone and tendon strength. 

I like to think of it this way; muscles exist for dynamic movement, and movement training of various natures can help build the muscle. However, the bones, tendons, and ligaments exist to stabilize and support those muscles. The way to train them is not through movement, but through stillness, which is the way that isometrics works.

An isometric exercise done in stillness may not develop you bodybuilder-esque muscle (for many bodybuilders, you'll need plenty of drugs to reach their size). However, isometric exercises can develop you incredible strength, just like Alexander Zass, Bruce Lee, Shaolin martial artists, Batman, myself, and many others have exhibited.

Only a fraction of the strength I've developed from doing isometric grip exercises

Strength Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

"Everything in heaven and earth breathes. Breath is the thread that ties creation together."

- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido

Breathing is the most fundamental function of the human body...but who trains breathing? How does that even help with strength?

Well for one, it can certainly help with weakness; if you aren't breathing deep, full breaths, you are weakening your immune system, your blood flow, your vitality, and more. 

Many martial artists also know how proper breathing behind the force of an attack or to support a defense can change the whole flow of a fight. There are different styles of breathing for that, such as kiai and ibuki breathing, but they serve largely the same goal.

But proper breathing is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to develop overall strength of the full body beyond the strength of your muscle. How?

Proper breathing can improve the strength of your internal organs, build on the mind-muscle connection to improve your ability to contract your muscles, improve digestion and give incredible health and vitality boosts. The program 7 Seconds to a Perfect Body teaches an incredible breathing exercise that you can use to earn all of the above results and more.

As the powerful Jedi Yoda once said, "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not." You should not judge by the size, whether tiny or gargantuan because, at the end of the day, strength is more than just muscle.

Questions, Comments, Feedback...

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Enter the mind of Bruce Lee 
(CNN)Bruce Lee, the martial arts icon, was being interviewed by a Hong Kong talk show host when the man asked Lee if he saw himself as Chinese or an American. …

All strength comes from within 
"On 22 February 1894 Sandow attended the College of Surgeons and Physicians in New York and allowed himself to be hypnotized....................................... …

Ancient East Indian Isometrics 
"Exercise Without Movement" by Swami Rama is a great book. I think that this book is one of the best ways to explain to people, who only think that traditional …

Mind Power 
· EVERY CHALLENGE THAT YOU FACE WAS JUST PLACED THERE TO GIVE YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME STRONGER BY OVERCOMING IT ! “Within everyone of us is …

Great article about Bruce Lee Not rated yet
http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/29/us/brucelee-philsophical-legacy/index.html

Mind over matter Not rated yet
In a small study recently published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers found that much of muscle strength is based on brain activity, rather …

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I'm Jarell Lindsey,  and my only goal is to make you as fit as your goals require in only minutes a week.


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