Last updated on March 22nd, 2021 at 09:54 am
Jet Li is an absolute legend.
So a Jet Li workout and diet is a must have before he stars in Disney’s Mulan.
Li has starred in The One, Fearless, The Warlords, Unleashed, The Expendables, and so much more.
Now he is going to be starring as The Emporer in Disney’s Mulan alongside Yifei Liu as Mulan, and Donnie Yen as Commander Tung.
Jet Li Stats:
Weight: (approximate) 146 lbs.
Age: 56 years old
Jet Li falls into the shortest grouping of male celebrities we’ve seen on the site.
Although there are a handful of celebrities who join him there in that range.
But, don’t worry either way.
We write these routines to be utilized by any shape and size.
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Jet Li Diet and Nutrition
There’s not much information out there about Jet Li’s dietary guidelines.
Especially any that would suffice for trying to duplicate his training as a martial arts master.
That being said: this does not mean he eats like a typical reader of SHJ would.
Li, like Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan, is from China.
For that reason, I’ll be sharing a bit about the style of eating he would be more used to growing up as a martial arts master, than we would be (especially here as I write this in Florida).
WebMd shares this about a traditional Chinese diet:
For centuries, for reasons both economic and historic, the traditional Chinese diet has been primarily vegetarian — featuring lots of vegetables, rice, and soybeans — and containing only shavings of meat for flavoring, says Lan Tan, owner of Lan Tan’s Chinese Cooking School in Durham, N.C. Many Chinese simply can’t afford mega slabs of meat — or the cooking oil with which to prepare it.
They continue by saying:
Just as Americans may ask, “Where’s the beef?” when visiting a traditional Chinese restaurant in China, the traditional Chinese might wonder, “Where are the vegetables?” when visiting a Chinese restaurant in the U.S.
“Even I forget just how healthy Chinese food really is until my mother visits from Taiwan,” says Tan, who came to the U.S. more than a decade ago. “My mother will use one-third pound of meat to feed six people.”
Indeed, the traditional Chinese diet is far healthier than the traditional American diet, which often features meat as the focus of the meal, says T. Colin Campbell, PhD, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
Now, I am not trying to say you should become a vegetarian or try to go vegan, I am simply stating a comparison that should be kept in mind while approaching Jet Li’s overall regime.
Other than this information, it does seem like Jet Li tends to eat fairly healthy, but under no specific restrictions that I was able to find in any interviews.
We see a lot of celebs opt for a sustainable approach like this.
That’s why our Academy Nutrition Classes (Monks, Minimalists, SuperHumans, Vikings, Spartans, Hunter Gatherers, Greek Gods, Samurais, & Eat Fat, Lose Fat) revolve around helping you find the specific diet that is right FOR YOU.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons to HAVE the strict guidelines.
We’ve seen a lot of celebs opt for specific restrictions.
For example: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart incorporate 80/20 dieting with big weekly cheat meals, Hugh Jackman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hopper, and Terry Crews utilize intermittent fasting(something I use daily as well), Mustafa Shakir and Madelaine Petsch are vegans, Brandon Routh and Frank Grillo opt for paleo, and tons of others utilize their own variations as well.
And, that’s just to name a few celebs from each, by the way.
You can check out our Nutrition Pillars for more information and articles on all of the above and more.
Curious what the Top Diets Among Celebrities actually are? Check it out.
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Jet Li Workout Routine Research
Jet Li is a martial arts master.
It is going to be extremely hard to duplicate his training (especially being that it levels up over time), BUT, we will do our best with the resources that he has shared.
Also keep in mind that the best way to train martial arts will almost always be to go into a gym, in person, and be able to spar and work with a trainer and/or partner.
China.org shares that in 2009 Jet Li began launching a “gym training program”.
Olympic champion Zhong Man and actor Peter Ho were invited to join the first batch of students for the class.
Jet Li said, “Some people are very healthy in mind, but not in body. Others may boast a healthy body, but a sick mind. I hope to create a platform that builds the harmony of healthy body and mind with wisdom gleaned from Kung Fu.”
Li and his team spent eight months developing the endeavor, entitled “Kung Fu and Tai Chi Body and Mind Training Class.” Sponsored by Adidas, the program will be launched in the brand’s partner gyms in the country.
What’s good about this is we immediately know three things Jet Li would suggest training to start out programming:
- Kung Fu
- Tai Chi
- Mind Training (Meditation, Learning, etc)
And, Motley Health shares some exercises that Jet Li and Jackie Chan performed as youths “during their youth as Wushu and Peking Opera students.”
They say “It involves a series or torturous bodyweight exercises, including”:
- Finger tip and thumb press ups
- Back bends
- Deep knee squats
- One legged squats
- Some Acrobatic Leaps
Did I mention I’m not a big fan of finger tip and thumb press ups? 😛
Men’s Health wraps us up with some incredible information from Jet Li, which happens to be one of the better interviews I was able to find.
They share a ton of information about his workout and training secrets.
Here’s Jet Li’s levels of training:
Level one: Learn the forms-and repeat them endlessly. “Use your body as a weapon,” Li says. “And you need to use the weapons very well, [so you] concentrate on skill.”
Level two: Physical technique is now innate, so psychological tools come to bear. “I don’t need to fight if I can scare you, or use my heart to convince you,” says Li.
Level three: You gain a mastery of inner peace, so that you no longer need to raise a hand. “We sit here, everybody feels safe, and I’m not scared of aggression. It’s close to religion, like Jesus. They beat me up, fine. But slowly they understand, and they drop their weapons. They don’t want to fight anymore.”
I’ll share his training secrets and self-defense secrets from the interview below within the actual workout routine.
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Jet Li Workout Routine
5+ days per week
I’m going to build you a calisthenics program that you can follow 3-5 days per week, and then I will also be sharing his self-defense and training secrets below as well.
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Jet Li Workout: Sample Schedule
Monday: Calisthenics A, Martial Arts and Meditation
Tuesday: Calisthenics B, Martial Arts and Meditation
Wednesday: Calisthenics C, Martial Arts and Meditation
Thursday: Calisthenics D, Martial Arts and Meditation
Friday: Calisthenics E, Martial Arts and Meditation
Saturday: Yoga and Meditation
Sunday: Rest Day
Jet Li Workout: Full Day Calisthenics Program
Depending on what you’re going to do with your other programming, this below is a basic calisthenics workout with a full list of sets and reps so that you can break it down however you would like.
You can do these in any number of sets, or even split it up throughout the day, as long as you finish the overall rep count.
Here’s your reps:
75 Pull Ups
75 Hanging Leg Raises
100 Sit Ups
150 Push Ups
150 Air Squats
Jet Li Workout: 5 Other Calisthenics Options
- 20 Squats
- 10 Pull-ups
- 10 Standard Push-ups
- 10 Hanging leg raises
- 10 Burpees
- 10 Bench Dips
- 1 minute rest
Repeat this cycle 6 times
- 8 Diamond Push-ups
- 10 Biceps Pull-ups
- 12 Inverted Rows
- 20 Jumping Lunges
- 30 second Plank
- 1 minute rest
Repeat this cycle 5 Times
- 5 Pistol Squats on each leg
- 5 Incline Push-ups
- 5 Clap Push-ups
- 5 Narrow Grip Pull-ups
- 20 Burpees
- 30 seconds rest
Repeat this cycle 5 Times
- 15 Squat Jumps
- 15 Wide Arm Push-ups
- 15 Parallel Bar or Ring Dips
- 15 Leg Raises
- 10 Windshield Wipers
- 30 seconds side plank on each side
- 1 minute rest
Repeat this cycle 4 Times
- 50 meter Duck Walk
- 15 Box/Bench Jumps
- 10 Push-ups
- 10 Inverted Rows
- 10 Pull-ups
- 15 Leg Raises
- 50 second Plank
- 1 minute rest
Jet Li Workout: Jet Li’s Training and Self Defense Secrets
This next section is being shared from the Men’s Health interview with Jet Li cited above.
THE TRAINING SECRETS OF JET LI
Training Secret #1 Go for explosive. For cardiovascular fitness, Li runs and bikes. But to maintain the speed and explosiveness that he’s become famous for? “Badminton,” he says. Yes, badminton-smacking the shuttlecock around for an hour three times a week is enough to keep his muscles poised. For yourself, try the more American rackets of tennis, squash, and racquetball-which won’t hurt your hand-eye coordination, either.
Training Secret #2 Think happy. Much has been made of exercise as a stress reliever, but Li believes the workout is that much more beneficial if you have a handle on the stress before you start sweating. “During training you need to think about happy things,” he says. “If you’re angry, then you’re like, ‘Grrr,’ ” and he bunches up as if bound by chains. “I can guarantee the bad energy inside is bothering you. Even if you train for 2 hours, it will still be bothering you for the other 22.”
Training Secret #3 Accept that meditation is not girly. Of all his conditioning techniques, Li prefers meditation over any other, and practices it at least an hour a day. (He’s gone as long as 14 hours.) Li insists that his mental stretching directly affects his body-which he needs to stretch for only 15 minutes afterward. “After you meditate, the inside is already limber,” he says. “So it’s easy to stretch the outside.” Try brief meditations-5 minutes to start, then increase. And give it an honest try. You might be surprised.
When it comes to self-defense, Li, as you might imagine, also has a few moves. But moves are only the beginning. . . .
THE SELF-DEFENSE SECRETS OF JET LI
Self-Defense Secret #1 Keep it simple. Too many guys watching too many movies worry too much about fighting style, says Li. He fell into the same trap. “As I grew up, I tried to create my own style, like Bruce Lee had his.” But now, “I try to have no style. If you think about style first, you still have much to learn. Just be natural.” He points to his water glass. “If I’m thirsty, I pick up the water, I drink it.” He does this and offers a sly smile. “Same thing in martial arts.”
Self-Defense Secret #2 Watch the Discovery Channel. To develop a heart that’s strong enough to stare a man out of attacking him, Li watches nature documentaries. Quite literally, crouching tigers. “That feeling, you stand there, you already have the power.” His voice is soft and his body taut as he imitates the poised beast-and at that moment, across the table, I finally receive the trademark Jet Li death stare. “A lot of people are afraid of you; you can feel it. That is completely from your energy inside. Watch the tiger. They’re scarier before they catch their prey.”
Self-Defense Secret #3 Change speeds. “We Asian people are not very tall and don’t have big muscles like American guys,” says Li, without a hint of shame. “So we’re conditioned to make people believe we can fight. To do that, you need training in speed, between the slow and the fast. That’s the tricky part. I know I can’t move the big people. But if I go slow first . . . ” Li’s hands inch up from his sides, ” . . . then POW, very fast!” and he snake-strikes the air across from me. “Very slow, very fast!” he demonstrates again. Then smiles. “I win.”
THE JET LI WORKOUT
We can’t turn you into Jet Li overnight (suddenly becoming Chinese would probably be the easiest part), but we can offer a primer on wushu, his fighting curriculum. Daphne Curtis, cofounder of the U.S. Wushu Union, shows us a few good moves.
Strike with closed fist, rotating the forearm as you extend. This allows the musculature of the arm to direct the maximum possible force, says Curtis. The striking area of the fist is concentrated on the large knuckles of the index and middle fingers.
The Secret: “Powerful hand strikes rely on relaxation and proper body alignment,” says Curtis. If you relax the muscles in your arm until the instant of impact, you increase fist speed, since there’s less tension working against the muscles delivering the blow. Proper alignment is just good physics: If your body isn’t behind the punch, it won’t have as much force.
FRONT SPRING KICK
Raise the leg with bent knee toward the target, then snap the lower leg out to strike with the front part of the foot. Practice low and high kicks, from the target’s ankle up to his face.
The Secret: “While strength, speed, and flexibility in the kicking leg will produce a fast, high kick, very little force can actually be delivered without a stable supporting leg,” says Curtis. Weak legs also mean bad balance and more falls. Squats and forward lunges are great leg builders.
Use the palm of the hand to redirect an attack. This block can be used upward, downward, or to either side, and anywhere within your reach.
The Secret: Think detour, not full stop. “Imagine that instead of stopping the punch or kick, you must move it to the side a little as it’s coming toward you,” says Curtis. This requires very little force to achieve and can leave your opponent open to a counterstrike.
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