As a man who is well into his 60s who’s notched 90 acting credits to his name, it’s safe to say Dolph Lundgren is well-versed in all things relating to training and eating for peak performance. This is how he suggests you follow his lead.
1. Early Start
His humble exercise beginnings have ended up setting him up for life.
“My Dad was an engineer, an officer with the Swedish government, a tough guy and a real disciplinarian which is why I started martial arts,” says Lungren. “He was a little rough with me growing up. That’s what got me into contact sports. I wanted to feel strong in my teenage years. Feel like a man.” It’s a worthy fitness discipline you can do for your whole life because research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found men who did martial arts even in their middle age had greater aerobic capacity, balance, flexibility, muscle endurance, strength and less body fat than those who didn’t. It’s never too late to kick yourself into shape.
2. Real world tough
Always a man to push the boundaries, Dolph sought the fighting style that gave him the most motivation. “I actually started with judo, for about a year or so, but I got bored of all the time spent on your back. I wanted to punch and kick and that’s how I found karate. I studied Goju-ryu first and then I did kyokushin”
Smart move because a study at the University of Florida found doing the same form of exercise repetitiously increased your chances of giving up and that motivation grows with more exercise variety. Mix it up to keep your mind and body active.
3. Alternative Path
With his judo base and kyokushin (a stand up style of karate) background, you may have seen him in an MMA octagon if the sport was as big in his youth as it is today. “Kyokushin tournaments today are different from when I fought in them,” he says. “Now you can’t hold, you can’t throw, but when I started it was, like, dojo fighting. You could do roundhouse, you could sweep the guy and you could deliver the finishing blow. You could even strike the face, you just had to pull your punches. But, of course, sometimes it would escalate in the dojo and there would be blood everywhere. It was a real fight.” We’re sure there were a few sore sparring partners who regretted offering to keep him fit.
Dolph’s Secret to Fitness
Musing in his book Train Like An Action Hero, Lundgren explains the fitness secrets that have kept him in the game for decades
The most important factor for staying fit is variety. Through variety, you can ensure that your entire body gets what it needs. Once you create a solid foundation, you’ll be well-equipped to achieve lasting results. You can build on this foundation for the rest of your life.
MY THREE PARTS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS
A training schedule must be simple. Ideally, a number of basic training programs that you combine with each other, depending on your fitness goals and how much time you have. I split my training into three main parts:
1. Strength training, which includes a variety of exercises with weights.
2. Endurance training, which includes boxing, karate, swimming, running, and other activities that enhance endurance, coordination, and your aerobic capacity.
3. Stretching and flexibility that includes relaxation and meditation.
HOW IT WORKS
The first three programs in my system are split routines. The muscles of your body are divided up then exercised during three different training sessions a week. When combined, DL Programs 1, 2, and 3 train the entire body. By dividing the workout, you ensure that each major muscle group gets at least forty-eight hours of rest. DL Programs 1 and 2 are based on the “Push and Pull” principle: One day, you do “push” exercises like squats and bench presses and the next day pull exercises like deadlifts and lat pulls. DL Program 3 takes care of your shoulders and arms. DL Programs 1 and 2 are the base for strength-training routines used by athletes to build strength and power. Movements like squats, bench press, and deadlifts are particularly suitable if you want to increase muscle mass and strengthen your core – the body’s stabilizing muscles. If you miss Program 3 one week, don’t worry. Shoulders and arms still get some good training in the other two programs.
• Warm Up (5 minutes)
• Hanging leg lifts (3 x 15–20)
Back lifts (3 x 20)
• Leg Extension (12/15/10)
• Squats or leg press machine (15/12/8/6 reps)
• Leg Press—one leg at a time
(15 reps per leg)
• Bench press (15/12/8/6 reps)
• Dumbbell flyes or cable flyes
(2 x 12)
• Ball planks/hip rotations with medicine ball
(3 supersets of 45 seconds plank on the balance ball, 30 seconds rest, 45 seconds seated hip rotations with medicine ball – rest 30 seconds between sets)
• Stretch (3 minutes)
• Cardio (3 minutes)
• Warm up (5 minutes)
• Back lifts and V-ups/elbow-to-knees (3 supersets of 20 reps per exercise)
Hamstrings and glutes
• Deadlifts (15/12/8/6)
• Leg curls (15/12/10)
• Calf raises (3 x 20)
• Forearm curls (20/15/15: behind the back, regular curls, reverse curls)
• Lat pull-down machine (15/12/8/6)
• Seated row machine (2 x 12)
• Dumbbell pull-overs (15)
• DL Stretch (3 minutes)
• Cardio (3 minutes)
• Warm Up (5 minutes) Abdominals
• Hanging leg lifts
(3 x 15-20)
• Arnold dumbbell press (15/12/10/8)
• Standing bicep curls with dumbbells (15/12/10/8)
• Concentration curls (2 x 15)
• Lying triceps press (15/12/10/8)
• Triceps press on cable machine
(2 x 15)
• Back lift/sit-ups on the ball (20 resp. 30)
• DL stretch (3 minutes)
• Cardio (3 minutes)
Materials extracted from Dolph Lundgren: Train Like An Action Hero, with permission from Skyhorse Publishing