Regular Regime – What did Tyson do?
4AM – Rise and shine! Tyson done long periods of stretching, before doing 10 interval sprints and 10 box jumps.
4.30AM – 3-4 mile run, followed by a mile-long walk.
5.30 AM – Shower and back to sleep
10 AM – Rise and shine once more! Tyson awoke to oatmeal for breakfast, accompanied by milk.
12 PM – Skills and ring work: Tyson would typically spar 10 rounds.
2PM – After sparring, it was chicken and rice, or steak and pasta, with some fruit juice.
3PM – More skills and ring work for 45 minutes to an hour. Followed by an hour on the exercise bike.
5PM – Calisthenics work: 2000 squats, 2500 sit ups, 500-800 dips, 500 push ups, 500 shrugs with 30kg barbell, 10 minutes neck work.
7PM – Dinner: Chicken and rice, or steak and pasta, usually with orange juice.
8.30PM – 30-45 minutes on the exercise bike.
9.30PM – Bedtime.
Benefits – Why did he do it?
4AM rise – Tyson rose at 4AM because he ‘knew the other guy wasn’t doing it’, which gave him a psychological confidence that he is working harder than his opponent, vital in establishing a feeling that you are entitled to victory. Stretches were vital in avoiding injury. The box jumps and sprints were done to develop explosive strength in the legs, as well as working the anaerobic system.
4.30AM Run – The run worked his cardiovascular endurance (heart and lung strength), essential for ring stamina.
Sleep – Waking early to intense body work is draining, and sleep was vital to recharge him from the gruelling day ahead.
Breakfast – Oatmeal is tremendously healthy food. Low glycemic meals such as oatmeal are known to improve your endurance for later workouts, and are good in increasing fat burned during exercises.
Ring work and skills – This is where the real quality is apparent. Cus D’Amato believed that a fighter had to spar often, if he hoped to progress quickly, and it would be wise to believe him, as he developed two fighters into the youngest heavyweight champions in history. So Tyson would spar 10 rounds everyday at noon, to improve his skills, and his familiarity with a wide range of challenges he may face in the ring.
Tyson would do padwork, bag work, and spar again a few hours later. It’s clear that the focus of his training was to replicate real ring situations, and make the training as boxing-specific as possible. It’s one of the reasons Tyson was so elusive and hard to hit early in his career, as he was well tuned to the physical cues that signal an incoming punch, through hours and hours of real fight simulation (sparring). Tyson wouldn’t wear a head guard, further encouraging Mike to not get hit.
Meals – The lunch and dinner that Tyson had was based on carbohydrates (rice or pasta), and protein (chicken or steak). It was important that Tyson’s intake was high, due to the intense nature of his training. Especially considering he trained 7 days a week, meaning he had little time for recovery. The carbs were a great source of energy throughout the day, allowing him to train essentially 8-10 hours a day. Tyson would also had protein shakes and bananas in between meals, and even occasionally cheated and had some ice cream once in a while!
Calisthenics – I don’t know about you, but when I first learned that done workouts in the 2000’s I was pretty surprised. But it’s worth pointing out he didn’t do them all at one time. He broke the bodyweight exercises up into a circuit of 10 sets. Meaning he would do 200 squats, 250 sits up etc. 10 times, which is still actually pretty outstanding. Because of the large number of reps, Tyson didn’t need to do much weighted exercises. The intensity, yet simplicity of the bodyweight exercises, improves his muscular strength, but maintained his natural physicality.
Exercise bike – Tyson’s cycling work was great as a ‘warming down’ exercise, as it’s a bit less chaotic physically and mentally . Bike work is great for leg strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and helps to burn fat.
Bedtime – After a intense day of training, it was vital that Tyson didn’t stay up too late, especially as he was going to be awaking the next day at 4am.