Category Archives: Training

March 6, 2017
March 6, 2017
David Haye

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew shocked many boxing fans and pundits when he produced a stunning upset by beating David Haye via a 11th round technical knockout. As many deemed this a rematch, the two bitter rivals were part of a thrilling heavyweight contest in front of a packed O2 arena and thousands tuning in to Sky Box Office.

The fight was pretty even before the sixth round when it swayed towards Bellew’s favour as the underdog took advantage of Haye suffering an Achilles tendon rupture.

Knocked down in the sixth and hobbling around the ring, Haye showed true grit and determination to last until the 11th round where Bellew’s pressure led to Haye’s coach, Shane McGuigan, throw in the towel.

Boxing Science will now look into the possible reasons for the injury, and how it can be prevented and treated.

So what is Haye’s Injury?

An Achilles tendon rupture is when you partially, or completely tear the tissue that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The gap in the tendon can be 4 to 5 cm, which causes a sudden sharp pain and a loud snapping noise.

The gap can be felt, movement is extremely restricted and the pain can be immense in the initial stages, which reduces with swelling and other muscles compensating – hence why Haye was walking better with the injury after two to three rounds.

Pushing off the weight-bearing foot with the knee extended, unexpected dorsiflexion of the ankle, and violent dorsiflexion of a plantar flexed ankle are the usually reported mechanisms for Achilles tendon rupture. This can happen suddenly, but Achilles tendon health can be degenerated over time through a series of different causes.

Potential Causes

  • Overuse / Acute increase in training load
    • A sharp increase in training load could have occurred if Haye wasn’t training prior to the fight announcement. Kickstarting his training camp in Miami may have caused a lot of stress on the tendon. This may have been an issue he’s had for use just due to how much he has put his body through over the years.
  • Mobility issues

Haye was moving well during a Yoga session in the pre-fight build up. However, in the fight the external rotation of his right foot was excessive, suggesting tight hip flexors / adductor muscle complex. This tightness creates more stress on the calf muscles, and in turn, creates tightness in the achilles tendon.

  • Age
    • Achilles tendon ruptures are most common in men over 30 years old. With Haye increasing his training intensity at 36 years old could be a huge contributing factor. The reason for this is due to the fascial tissues in younger people show stronger collagen architecture that can help support tendons and ligaments during high-intensity movements.

Collagen – the main structural protein in the extracellular space in the various connective tissues in our body, helps muscle, tendon, bone and ligament health.

Fascia – is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

  • Increase Body Mass

David Haye is now operating at a stone heavier compared to his fighting weight for Derek Chisora in 2012. Furthermore, this could mean that his body mass during training camp could’ve been even heavier before he stripped off the muscle mass. Let’s say he starts training camp towards 17 stone, this could put a lot of pressure on tendons and ligaments during intense training.

How can we reduce the likelihood of Achilles injuries?

Injuries happen, and sometimes cannot be prevented. However, there are steps we can take to reduce the likelihood of suffering an Achilles injury. The main objectives would be to improve mobility, tendon elasticity and strength; there are a few specific ways we can do this to protect the Achilles tendon.


Plyometric training can strengthen tendons and improve their elasticity. This can help improve strength and speed, as well as reducing injury.

Most lower-body plyometrics require reactive flexion and extension of the foot, this helps develop the lower-leg muscles and the achilles tendon. This means that plyometrics can play a big role in reducing the likelihood of achilles injuries.

Strength Work 

Seems pretty straight forward, but getting stronger can help athletes become more robust to injuries. The better the muscle functions and less muscular imbalances, the less stress caused on ligaments and tendons.

Also, weight training helps increase tendon strength due to the mechanical forces placed on the tissue during exercise. A controlled overload on the tendon tissue creates an adaptation for it to become stronger.


Strengthening the ankle plantar flexors has also been linked to the prevention of Achilles tendon rupture. These are the gastrocnemius medial head, gastrocnemius lateral head, soleus, plantaris, tibialis posterior.

In our experience, these muscles are often pretty tight and overactive for boxers, which can cause extra stress on the achilles tendon. Therefore, training should aim to improve mobility and function of the plantar-flexors. Here is an exercise we put in every warm-up that can help.

Furthermore, these imbalances maybe due to tightness in other muscles and the muscle fascia. As mentioned perviously, Haye’s trail leg was externally rotated that could case more tension through the achilles tendon.

This means that athletes should mobilise the whole-body to help reduce the likelihood of injury. This can be achieved through dynamic stretching, myo-fascial release through massage / foam rolling, proprioception and animal flow.

Training Load Management

Managing your training load is one of the most important tasks for athletes as it can help improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury. Too much training volume and/or high monotony levels are where most athletes stagnate, become overtrained or become rundown.

Athletes and their coaches need to manipulate training type, volume and intensity to alter the training load phase by phase, week by week and even day by day.

A really easy way to do this is doing this calculation

Minutes Trained x Rate of Perceived Exertion (1-10) = Training Load

e.g. 100 mins x 9 = 900 TL

What’s Next for Haye?

It is likely that Haye will be out for 6-12 months. At the age of 36, many people will wonder whether this is the end of his career.

However, with a lucrative rematch and the possibility of being in some top heavyweight match-ups, Haye may choose to go through some intensive rehabilitation. He has already gone through surgery, so his foot will be in a cast for 6-8 weeks.

During this time, Haye should focus on retaining core and lower-body muscle mass as much as possible. Once the cast is off, Haye would look to steadily strengthen and mobilise his Achilles tendon and Calf muscles.

Due to the lack of loading, Haye could opt to use Occlusion training whilst doing machine resistance training. This method that restricts blood flow to the working muscles, helping induce muscular hypertrophy at lower external work loads.

In terms of conditioning, Haye could start on upper body cycles or seated battle rope work before moving onto exercise bikes. When able, Haye should start with low-speed running with the training load controlled. Simulated Altitude training, anti-gravity treadmills and heat training can help increase the internal load whilst reducing the external load on muscles, tendons and ligaments.

We wish David well in his recovery, and a massive congratulations to Tony Bellew on his win. A bitter rivalry sorted out in the ring, that’s what this sport is about!

To check out Boxing Science’s elite Train like a Champion programme click HERE

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March 4, 2017
March 4, 2017
David Haye vs Tony Bellew

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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DAVID HAYE vs Tony Bellew takes place tonight (March 4) when they will be putting their words into action at the O2 arena in London.

There have been some big talking points in the build up to this heavyweight showdown, with Bellew stepping up a weight division and Haye’s inactivity making this an exciting match-up.

A lot is at stake for the two British boxers, however their preparation could not be more different. Haye has been sunning it up in Miami whilst Bellew has been grinding the sessions out in Rotherham and Liverpool.

Boxing Science take a look at the Science Behind this mouthwatering contest.

Haye’s Fun Camp

Haye has sent social media into meltdown with pictures and videos of his ‘Fun Camp’ in Miami. He has been preparing by doing pads on a multi-million pound yacht followed by a recovery jacuzzi with a cocktail.

This is not the most traditional way of training, however we can see the benefits.

Warm-weather training might be beneficial for competition under the blazingly hot ring lights and for heavyweights who’ll produce a lot of metabolic heat. The main early physiological advantage occurs because of an increase in blood volume that makes it easier for the heart to deliver oxygen to muscles and hot blood to the skin to remove heat, and this is helped by an improved sweat onset and rate over time.

It’s not easy to get these types of adaptation and Haye would have needed to be working hard to raise his body temperature. It’s likely that training in the heat just felt good to him, which of course would transfer across to all aspects of his training and psychological preparation.

In terms of Haye’s recovery methods; Yoga, walking on the beach and swimming in the ocean can help get the most out of training.

Bellew has mentioned Haye’s night club visits and partying with celebrities. We cannot make assumptions to how late and wild these parties are, and we don’t need to go into too much detail of the effects on late nights and alcohol.

Haye has been a great champion in the past so he will know how to and how not to prepare for a fight; a lot of these antics are in front of the cameras so could be mind games, we have no doubt that Haye will have been working hard behind the scenes.

Bellew Size Gain

Bellew is stepping up to heavyweight, which has made everyone think how much weight Bellew would need to put on.

His last four fights Bellew has tipped the scales at 199 lbs, whereas David Haye has recorded his heaviest fighting weights in 2016 coming in at 224 lbs.

Haye has said that he will look to come in lighter for the Bellew fight, which could see him return to a more familiar weight range between 210-215 lbs.

If that was the case, Bellew would only need to put on 3 kg of lean muscle mass to be at a similar weight if you take away his weight cutting techniques to make cruiserweight.

Gain Muscle AND Speed

When stepping up weight categories, a boxer will have to make sure a well-structured and detailed plan is in place to increase functional muscle mass to be faster, stronger and fitter. This needs to be intelligently distributed to the desired body segments.

In previous articles, we’ve explained how boxers should aim to increase core and lower-body muscle mass through cluster, occlusion and speed training.

We explained how we targeted peripheral adaptations to help Kell Brook step up to middleweight.

Can Bellew’s Physique Be An Advantage?

A lot is said about Bellew’s appearance on the scales, and he admits himself he is not the best aesthetically. This makes a lot of boxing fans believe he will not be fit enough to deal with Haye.

It depends on the pace!

If the fight is set at a high pace, then this will be suited to David Haye as he has more muscle mass. Bellew can make his physique an advantage if he controls the pace of the fight, or soaks up Haye’s assault in the first half of the fight.

What do the stats say?

It has been hard to depict and analyse punch stats leading up to this contest, as Haye’s recent performances have been short-lived and little data is available on Bellew’s fights.

Bellew’s average punch thrown per round has dropped considerably from his last three light-heavyweight contests to his last fight vs BJ Flores. However, his punches landed / landed % has improved.

Haye’s stats show that he threw over 25 more punches per round against Chisora than he did against Klitschko in 2011. He threw just 24.7 punches per round, and even less against Valuev in 2009.

These changes will be down to different pacing strategies due to the likelihood of a stoppage win. Haye was more confident of stopping Chisora so he stepped up his work rate.

Summary of the Stats

The extra weight gain might further decrease Bellew’s work rate, whereas Haye could step it up as he seeks for an early stoppage. If Haye goes at full pelt and can’t get Bellew out of there then he might be in trouble.

Boxing Science Prediction

If Haye sets a high pace in the opening rounds, and Bellew tries to match him punch for punch – Haye could get the KO win in the early-middle rounds.

If Haye sets a high pace but Bellew conserves his energy, this could make for an interesting second half to the fight.

Judging by the build up this fight will be a barnstormer, we can see these guys going toe to toe for a British classic.

Boxing Science Prediction – Haye wins KO rounds 4-6.

To check out Boxing Science’s elite Train like a Champion programme click HERE

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February 24, 2017
February 24, 2017
keith thurman

Prime 360 Photography/PBC

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SINCE turning professional in late 2007, Keith Thurman has risen through the ranks with consummate ease. From prospect, to contender, to interim WBA champion, the 28-year-old welterweight now has the full WBA world title.

But where does his punishing power and sparkling speed come from? The answer is that he trains… hard. Relentless sparring, pounding pads sessions, gruelling runs, even his stretching is described as “intense” by his coach, Dan Birmingham.


During a typical training camp for Thurman, sparring generally begins six weeks prior to fight night. “We start Keith with six rounds of sparring, then we graduate to eight, then 10. Around two weeks before the fight, we’ll do 12-15,” Birmingham reveals.

“We usually have three different sparring partners, so every two, three or four rounds, we present somebody who’s fresh and who has a slightly different style.”

Sparring a mixture of foes forces Thurman to adapt on the spot, which is something a fighter is often faced with during an actual bout.

“When you work with multiple sparring partners, you have to adjust to different styles,” Keith affirms. “I like two of my sparring partners to fit the criteria of my upcoming opponent, and I like the third guy to be a curve ball – someone who doesn’t fit my opponent’s criteria.”

While working the bag or pads helps boxers to hone certain facets of their game, sparring allows fighters to sharpen every tool in their arsenal, as it mirrors genuine fight conditions.

“In sparring, we work on speed, defence, movement – the whole gamut,” says Birmingham.


Although Thurman realises that sparring is unique in the sense that if offers an opportunity to improve all areas of his performance, he is also well aware that sessions on the pads and bag have an important role to play during camp. This is where fighter and coach formulate their strategy.

“When I’m on the heavy bag, I imagine it’s a person chained up in front of me, so I’m always thinking about tactics,” Keith remarks. “I use the heavy bag and mitts for devising game plans.”

Birmingham believes that the pads and bagwork should be used as instructional exercises, whereby the coach and his charge mimic certain fight scenarios and develop a blueprint to overcome the opponent. Throwing an endless array of punches without thought is certainly not on the agenda.

“Like sparring, we start out doing six rounds on the pads and bag, before working our way up to 12 as the camp progresses,” Dan informs. “I’m probably one of the few trainers who boxes with my guy on the mitts. He’s touching me and I’m touching him back. I replicate his opponent and we work on slipping and positioning. It’s all about strategy.”


Following sparring or some work on the bag/pads, Thurman concentrates on strength and conditioning in order to reinforce his body to deal with the rigours of combat.

“Boxing’s one of the hardest sports there is,” the unbeaten star opines. “You’re constantly moving your arms and legs, which is why I separate my S&C training into upper-body and lower-body exercises.”

When targeting the lower body, a personal favourite of Thurman’s is the P90X [Power 90 Extreme] plyometrics workout, which is a home exercise regimen available on DVD. This high-impact jump training features several lunge and squat variations, providing “a great 35-45-minute plyo session”, according to Keith.

Thurman’s upper-body S&C routine includes extensive core work, although specific parts of the anatomy are also singled out. “We use dumbbells to work the wrist at different angles,” states Birmingham. “It’s important to strengthen the wrist and forearm for generating punch power.

“Bodyweight training like pull-ups and push-ups are important, and we also use the resistance bands a lot because they give you freedom of movement and allow you to work various muscles.”


Variety is an essential feature of Thurman’s outlook on cardio. Different lengths and types of runs are spread out at random across the week in order to “shock the body and keep it guessing”, as Birmingham puts it. “Keith runs on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, while a long run takes place on Wednesday,” Dan notifies. “His shorter four or five-mile runs allow him to implement interval training into his cardio. On other days he’ll hit the track and do three 800-metre runs, followed by two 400-metre sprints, followed by two 200-metre sprints. Then we’ll do a couple of 100-yard dashes and then walk for a mile.”

Thurman concurs with his coach’s view on the importance of diversifying routine cardio sessions to achieve maximum gains.

“I always try to mix it up,” Keith conveys. “Sometimes I’ll do swimming or cycling instead of running, as they have less impact on the joints and they’re good for dropping weight.

“I tend to run for longer distances at the beginning of camp and do sprints when it’s closer to the fight. During the last week of training, I cut the running out and stick with shadow-boxing and jump rope for cardio, as I don’t want to overexert myself.”

February 23, 2017
February 23, 2017
Bernard Hopkins

Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

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Every one of Bernard Hopkins’ team – including the man himself – cites the fighter’s nearmonastic lifestyle, both during and outside of camp, as a key factor in his longevity and enduring success. The exemplary athlete has not touched a drop of alcohol since his teenage years. After his release from prison in 1988 – Bernard served a near-five-year stretch for various offences – Hopkins sought to turn his entire life around and swore off drugs and junk food as well as booze. Even now, he rarely goes to bed beyond 9pm. His former trainer and fellow Muslim Naazim Richardson talks about his old charge’s habits with a mix of awe and respect.

“What he’s done, he’s done for years,” Naazim says. “Bernard’s training isn’t a camp, it’s a lifestyle for him. When you’re a Muslim and you go to a basketball game to watch LeBron James, you’re a Muslim at the basketball game. If you watch your daughter’s recital, you’re a Muslim at the recital. When you go to bed at night, you’re a Muslim in bed. You never stop being a Muslim. Bernard takes that same approach to his training. At his wedding he’s not drinking alcohol because he’s a fighter getting married. When his lawyer’s having a party he doesn’t drink or stay out late because he’s a fighter at the party.

“Think of superheroes: Peter Parker puts on the uniform and only then becomes Spiderman. Clark Kent is actually Superman; he puts on the uniform to blend in with everyone else but he’s always Superman. And Bernard is always a fighter. He puts on other uniforms to blend in with society but he never surrenders his position as being a fighter.”

Hopkins is in full agreement and advocates 24/7 year-round discipline as a necessity for any fighters with ambitions to win major honours and enjoy a lengthy ring career.

“Keep your body clean from any bad things that will not give you a chance to fulfil any dream you have,” he advises.

“You have more time in your personal life than in the gym. You’re in the gym for three hours. What do you do when you’re not in the gym? How do you live? How do you eat? How do you rest? When do you go to bed? Are you weighing your manhood out to the point where you got no strength? Having a career is management. It’s discipline. I conditioned myself early in my life to reap the benefits now. I think long-term.”


Hopkins stretches his muscles – or assistant trainer Danny Davis manipulates them on his behalf – before every training session. This is not only to allow greater agility and flexibility in the ring, but helps to prevent injuries especially, as Hopkins happily points out, when one is advancing in years.

“I feel stretching is so important because when you get older you can’t do what you used to do at 19 or 20,” he remarks. “When you’re young you go out and run five miles without stretching at all. When you get older you just don’t start that old-school car up without it stalling; you let it warm up. The same with the body.

“The worst thing to do is when you got to go to fight and you’re injured. Why wouldn’t you want to go into the ring healthy? Stretching is important in any sport.”


Team Hopkins are as diligent in the recording of training output as Bernard is in the work itself. This attention to detail and the desire to retain the gathered information for future benefit emanates from the veteran boxer.

“I’m a guy that likes details,” Hopkins attests, sounding admirably obsessive. “The details are important because they give me a foundation. So when my guy writes down that I did 15 or 10 or eight rounds and we add it up and get closer to the fight, I have a blueprint and I know if I feel too good to pull me back, or if I feel too bad to ease off the rounds a little. Everything is documented.”

His “guy” in this context is Stephen Parker, an associate of Hopkins for over 18 years. He began documenting Bernard’s travails around five years later and has never stopped, continuing the ‘if it ain’t broke’ theme espoused by his boss.

“I started out doing fitness work with him, getting him in shape then I would write down things like how many miles he’d run, how many rounds he’d spar, how many rounds he’d shadow-box, jump rope and do exercises – I could determine when he was really in shape,” Parker says, excitement evident in his voice. “I even counted the amount of punches he’d throw each round. Recording everything, if he did a lot that week he could take off for a day and relax or do easy work in the gym.

“Also, we can count how many sparring rounds he has in camp as we don’t like to go over a certain amount – during six weeks we don’t like to go over 140 rounds. You can leave a lot inside the gym.”

For more on how to train like Bernard Hopkins and other big names from combat sport, download Total Fight Training from the Boxing News app, available from iTunes, Google Play or



Run (30 minutes), rest/eat, stretch (40 minutes), shadow-box, gym work – including floor work, jump rope (90 minutes max)


Run (one hour), video-watching, rest/eat, stretch (40 minutes), shadow-box, gym work – including floor work, speed bag (90 minutes max)


Run (30 minutes), rest/eat, stretch (40 minutes), shadow-box, gym work – including floor work, pads/bags (heavy, swivel), jump rope (90 minutes max)


Run (sprints), video-watching, rest/eat, stretch (40 minutes), shadow-box, gym work – including sparring, speed bag (90 minutes max)


Run (one hour), massage, rest/eat, stretch (40 minutes), shadow-box, gym work – including floor work, bags (heavy, swivel), jump rope (90 minutes max)





*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017
Lose fat

Chris Farina/Top Rank

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BEFORE weighing in, a boxer needs to try and strip as much fat as possible to make weight, without loosing muscle mass. Nutrition plays a fundamental role in this process, and therefore it’s important for boxers looking to lose fat to understand the basics. I will now list four effective ways for a fighter to lose fat.

Next: Rule 1 of 4 – Run at a steady-state pace pre-carb intake

Robert Seaborne BSc (Hons), MS


February 16, 2017
February 16, 2017
Anthony Joshua training

Action Images/Reuters/Ed Sykes

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WHILE Anthony Joshua will face Wladimir Klitschko in an international press conference in Cologne, Germany today, their final meeting ahead of fight week in April, the IBF heavyweight champion’s training camp has begun in earnest. Having carried out conditioning work ahead of time, he is conducting a full 12-week training camp.

“He’s just starting off,” trainer Rob McCracken tells Boxing News. “Training’s always serious, it’s just what workload you’re on and what phase you’re in. He’s in the phase of just getting himself back going, just like a general phase, doing the basics, getting everything in place for the hard work that’s to come in the next few weeks. He’ll be in shape for the contest and he’s looking forward to it.”

“He’s very disciplined and dedicated,” Rob continued. “He’s looking forward to it. He’s young, he’s fresh, he’s sharp, he’s powerful. He’s intending to defend his title and be successful.

“He’s achieved great things in boxing, he wants to achieve more so it’s going to be really interesting and be fascinating to be part of it and see how it all unfolds. But AJ will be in great shape on the night and he’s looking to defend that title.”

Frazer Clarke, an elite GB super-heavyweight and one of Joshua’s sparring partners, can attest to that. “It started last week, just slowly starting a bit of technical stuff. Picked up again this week,” Clarke told Boxing News. “It could be four [rounds sparring], sometimes it can be five or six. We rotate. I don’t really need to be doing 10 round spars yet. We do some technical 10 rounds and stuff like, just working on defence and stuff like that. Maximum six, five while the WSB’s on, between five and six rounds.”

“He is pleasure to work with,” Frazer continued. “We work together, we work on things. He pushes me, I push him and there’s no better sparring for me. I can go and box anyone in the world after sparring Joshua and be confident in myself.”

Clarke doesn’t necessarily try to replicate Wladimir Klitschko in these sessions but Frazer is a tall, technically gifted boxer. “I just focus on my own game. He’ll probably bring in some other guys who’ll maybe imitate [Klitschko] a bit more. I do try the odd thing to help him out, but I’m in there to benefit me and give him that sharp sparring, which maybe these pros won’t give him,” Clarke said. “The stuff that’s coming at him is very similar to stuff from Klitschko. Klitschko will be long, he’ll be straight, throw the odd bent arm shot and that’s the way I box. I think I do it a lot more fluently than Klitschko does. But it’s good work for me.”

“The first week is nothing heavy. It’s a long 12 weeks for him and he goes through some proper physical work. It’s a lot on his body. It’s a lot of technical stuff, working on defence, working on movement,” he says, but assures, “It will pick up and will get intense. I will have my bruises and war wounds. He will have his bruises and stuff. But in 11 week’s time you will see an absolute animal.”

February 13, 2017
February 13, 2017
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Video: GGG Boxing