Manny Pacquiao

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Here, we have a look at the ‘Science behind the Pacman.’

Has Pacman prepared right?

Manny Pacquiao’s training is quite interesting as he is known to throw hundreds, if not thousands of punches in a fight and has two of the fastest hands in boxing. So how can he do this?

Good methods

ATTENTION TO THE CORE

Most of Manny Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning exercises seem to be very focused on developing core strength. Whether it’s the thousands of sit-ups he does in a car park, core stability exercises in the ring or throwing a medicine ball in various ways, ‘Manny knows’ its importance.

But why is the core important? Well, we found during our testing, that lean muscle of the core had a large relationship with estimated punching force.

This is because the core is an important link in the Kinetic Chain. Remember we want our boxers to be able to transmit large forces from foot to fist and a strong core enables this force transfer.

The core can transfer force in various directions. For boxers in particular the focus is in rotation. This means that the core plays an important role in all punches, whether it be a jab, hook or uppercut.

VARIED INTENSITIES ON PADS

We often see Manny performing explosive pad sessions. These look impressive especially when  Freddie Roach almost slips through the ropes!

But we also see Manny and Freddie going through slower, longer pad work where Manny seems to be going through the paces. Perhaps this is so Freddie can find the opportunity to provide advice and motivation.

Now, we do not know the exact justification for this training method, but from the outside looking in we like the varied pad intensities for two reasons.

  1. Building the aerobic base– Tempo pads performed for longer duration can increase strain on the cardiovascular system and help develop aerobic capacity.
  2. Active recovery– But not everything needs to be at 100 mph and using slower pad work might act as active recovery.

Questionable methods

NO MAN’S LAND RUNS

We don’t have the information to create a detailed analysis of Manny’s aerobic conditioning. But with the videos put online, we can see his entourage and even their pets keeping up with Manny.

Running at a “steady pace” and long distance running is very common and a traditional boxing training method. We often say when boxers run like this they are ‘running in no man’s land‘.

This topic warrants a post on its own but what we’re observing from the scientific literature on endurance training is that, athletes run at an intensity that’s either too fast when it’s supposed to be slow. Or the intensity is too slow when it’s supposed to be fast. Slower intensities elicit different physiological adaptations to fast intensities. And training in a medium intensity zone (no man’s land) is suboptimal for inducing adaptations targeted by slow and fast intensities.

The training zones are separated by intensities determined by rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Distributing training in to these different zones appropriately is important to optimise adaptations. This type of training quantification is important to improve physical performance and reduce the likelihood of illness, injury and overtraining. This is our guide, if you are serious about performance it is important to undergo physiological testing to determine these zones.

EXTERNAL LOAD

Manny has been an advocate for strength and conditioning with lengthy periods under current trainer Justin Fortune and old coach Alex Ariza (now with Mayweather).

As we said in our scientific verdict, this S&C work might not necessarily improve punching force as most of the exercises we see in the media are often bodyweight, low external load and isometric movements often performed for long periods of time or for many reps.

These training methods are not associated with improvements in maximal force production, and in turn, speed.

ARE 8 WEEKS LONG ENOUGH?

Manny Pacquiao stated that he doesn’t train for boxing between fights. So the fight for Mayweather got announced just nine weeks before May 2 and Pacquiao started camp just a few days later, meaning his training camp will last just 8 weeks.

Periodisation of a typical training camp would consist of 3:1 volume loading pattern. Our Combat Conditioning 10-week packages often use this method so a boxer can safely increase training volume and ‘block’ training three times per camp.

An 8-week camp limits training volume, inhibits overload and recovery and therefore reduces the magnitude of adaptation during the training camp.

Although we question some of the training methods from a sport science perspective, we have much respect for both fighters. We especially admire their talent, hard work and dedication to reach the pinnacle of boxing.

Manny says “Train hard, fight easy”…. and we couldn’t agree more!

Click here to see Mayweather’s training camp analysis

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