Dolph Lundgren: Maximum Potential (Learn How To Master The Universe, Become A Pentathlete, and the Art of Kyokushinkaikan)

Maximum Potential

“I think mortality makes you live a fuller existence.

When I was a kid I was scared of death, and maybe that’s what made me desperate to get the most out of life.”

-Dolph Lundgren

Believe it or not, Dolph Lundgren is our next feature in the Human Potential Proctocol.

The face behind Rocky IV’s super-pumped Russian bad guy represents the epitome of human motivation and excellency.

Most people are familiar with Dolph’s work in his infamous role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Andrew Scott in Universal Soldier, and more recently as Gunner Jensen in The Expendables movies currently sitting at trilogy status. He has also co-starred as The Priest alongside Keanu Reeves in a personal favorite of mine, Johnny Mnemonic.

What you may not know about Swedish martial artist turned actor Han Dolph Lundgren is that he is more than just another 6’4” Swede made to look famous for his Thor-ish blond hair and solid European physique.

A Short Academic History of  Everything Dolph

Before becoming a Hollywood superstar, Dolph attended the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. Later on, he received his master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney in Australia, and then as a Fulbright scholar he attended the widely-renown Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. Most shockingly, he accomplished all of these amazing academic superlatives before ever meeting Sylvestor Stallone and staring in the ring beside America’s Rocky.

Dolph Lungren’s Maximum Potential

Nearly a year after the success of Rocky IV, Dolph Lungren released the most incredibly-thorough fitness production.

In 1986, he released a now largely unknown fitness video called Maximum Potential. His video workout routine involved an in-depth exploration of the physical potential, the meaning of self-motivation, and bettering oneself through a personal development plan focusing on both mind and body.

Though the video didn’t explode into the fandom that Rocky IV did, it was quite the highlight of the super-retro 1980’s workout videos. I’ve recently discovered and watched various parts of the video, and the creation that Dolph and his team have put to film continues to stand as an incredible integration of physical development, a feat I truly believe was way before its time.

Check out this awesome commercial promoting Maximum Potential.


Throughout Maximum Potential, Dolph aims to create a synthesis of the best body weight movements and exercises to help his viewers achieve elite physical status in the comforts of their home. Overall, the video’s film style seems to have influenced P90X; for those who enjoy doing P90x, Dolph even starts his workout video with Tony’s famous neck rolls.

The video includes a well-rounded approach to exploring various exercises including, but certainly not limited to: warm-up and stretching, cardio, shadow boxing, Pilates, yoga, and martial arts. You also get to learn about Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci during your water break. As the video ends, Dolph talks the viewer through a few techniques on stress management while focusing on the importance of breath management. After tearing the body down and exhausting it thoroughly, Dolph takes the last few minutes to leave the viewer with a few words of inspiration and motivation to encourage them to keep coming back for more, working harder, and developing themselves into elite physical specimen.

For all the film buffs out there, Maximum Potential was the first Hollywood caliber film that Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (writers of Pulp Fiction) were involved with. Both were hired together by John Langley (the executive producer of 90’s TV show Cops, another favorite of mine!) as production assistants to aid with filming of Maximum Potential.

Of course, Dolph didn’t stop here. He continued building upon his previous steps.

Mastering The Universe

After his role in Rocky IV, Dolph would attempt to educate and inspire the masses further as He-Man letting boys and girls across the globe know they can be their very own Masters of The Universe.

The film turned out to be a moderate success.

And in similar remarks to G.I. Joe live-action movies, certain fans around the world still argue that a He-Man film adaptation should have never been made.

Of course, that’s not going to stop Hollywood from doing another reboot. Let’s try not to ruin it.

It looks like John Chu, the guy who directed Step-Up 2, will be the director.

Becoming A Pentathelete

In the 90’s, he tried his best to spread global awareness of pentathletes by becoming one in the Hollywood film Pentathlon.


Equestrian hasn’t looked this action-packed in a long time. Oh, and don’t fence with Dolph. He”ll throw you out a window.


Traditionally, pentathletes were the most skilled and fit men of their times.

In ancient Greece, men competed in pentathlons–  Olympic competitions that involved the measuring of five skills: wrestling, long jump, discuss throwing, javelin throwing, and a short foot race.

Over time, the pentathlon has evolved into a much more sophisticated and useful measure of military and survival skills. Now the competition includes five slightly different categories that pertain more to today’s militaristic society than the classic Greek. Shooting, swimming, fencing, equestrian, and cross-country running are the currently measured skill sets.

Alas, Dolph’s movie flopped and found that the only audience interested in pentathlons were well, pentathletes. Luckily, the movie’s complete failure didn’t stop the U.S. Olympic Committee of inviting Mr. Lungren to serve as the Team Leader of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Pentatholon Team in Atlanta, a huge achievement in its own right.

Dolph and The Art of Kyokushinkaikan

During his time acting in Hollywood, Dolph has continued to remain passionate to his love of Kyokushin kaikan, or as most Westerns know now it: full contact karate.

The younger generation may most readily recognize the art of Kyokushinkaikan (literally “the society of ultimate truth”) as the fighting style of Jin Kazama from the Tekken video game series and Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter series are loosely based interpretations on Kyokushin karate moves. Michael Jai White is also an avid practitioner.

Since winning the European championships in karate in both 1980 and 1981, the Australian championship in 1982 , Dolph has remained loyal to the sport of Kyokushin kaikan. He is currently a Third Degree Black Belt (out of ten total degrees of Black) and occasionally competes internationally.

UFC And The Rebirth of Ivan Drago

In 2007, Dolph participated in a celebrity boxing match against the ten years younger Russian actor-fighter Oleg Taktarov. Oleg had previously competed in the UFC and Pride Fighting Championships. Most recently, he was involved in the Robert Rodriguez film Predators.

For those interested in watching Ivan Drago fight in real life,  (albeit, much older and less fit), check out it out below to see who won.



What’s Really Dolph

The reality Dolph portrays throughout his body of work is that achieving your full potential is more than just pretending. And it’s not just acting the part that’s important.

Realistically speaking, success is about working hard, being extremely dedicated, personally-responsible, and stepping outside the comforts of your own boundaries and above the niches of your culture to obtain something great.

It’s certainly not about dropping what you love to do in order to do something more financially beneficial. It’s always been about the both, not one or the other. Follow your curiosity, don’t forget about your passions, and if something in one area of your life takes off, don’t forget about the rest. Most importantly, don’t forget how you got there in the first place and everyone who has helped you along the way.

Dolph Lundgren is a primer on what we may become; his magnitude shows that if we are ready to explore and begin acting upon our innate potentialities, reward will follow.

As a successful actor, athlete, and academic, Dolph has clearly demonstrated that he is more and has always been more than the facade of bad boy simpleton Ivan Drago. He deserves to be recognized and respected as a motivator, creator, artist, and activist towards bettering and inspiring all of humanity. If we cannot see past his reprise as an action-hero, who is actually limiting who?

Can we not realize that we are the limiters, the ones who limit others by our contracted beliefs, by how we choose to see the world in our narrow-scoped opinions, and how the people surrounding us become these idle nuances and ill-perceived affectations upon us? Cannot we not see ourselves clearly, others integrally, and wholly act toward achieving capabilities greater than our current imaginations? Can’t we make reality reality?

Mr. Lundgren continues to step outside his comforts and currently, he is trying to bring added awareness to people interested in achieving their physical potential. He is in the process of finishing up a new fitness book entitled, Be Fit Forever: How To Train Like An Action Hero. The book is expected to be released in September 2014. Also, be on the lookout for Dolph’s new sportswear line for men, if that strikes your fancy.

Dolph is currently shooting a new movie in Thailand called Skin Trade.

For what’s really Dolph, I highly recommend Dolph’s very own but short article on his life entitled, This Much I Know, over at The Guardian.

From my work to yours, thanks for all the inspiration Dolph!

Keep up the hard work. It’s all going somewhere.






For a more in-depth look at Dolph’s film history, check out IMDB’s profile on him here.

If you’d like to support Dolph Lungren and own a physical copy of his Maximum Potential video, grab it here on Amazon. (BTW: I do not receive any commission from this link or any other links on this affiliate-free site. This is for educative purposes only.)

And if you are a Dolph maniac, check out the super unique Dolph Lungren forum where you can talk about all things Dolph with other people online and his personal website.

Image Source:, Thanks for the awesome Dolph picture. The use of this picture is purely for educational purposes. If there are any issues with its use, please let me know and I’ll gladly remove it. The Kyokushin logo belongs to IKO Kyokushinkaikan.