This classic Boxing Science article from 2015 explores Floyd Mayweather’s training methods for his showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
ICE CHAMBERS AND CHOPPING WOOD…
From chopping wood to Cryotherapy, there is no doubt that ‘Money Mayweather’ training regime lived up to his ‘Hard work! Dedication!’ quote. But what were the actual benefits of his training methods?
Floyd Maywether Chopping Wood
Floyd wasn’t known for applying structured ‘Strength and Conditioning’ into his training for the majority of his career, however was meticulous in his preparations to make sure he was in peak condition come fight night.
One of his methods later on in his career was chopping wood….
This is a unconventional exercise most associated with Rocky 4 Training Montage, however carries a lot of physical benefits for Boxing.
- Challenges Rotational Stability and Power
- Anti-Extension Core Strength and Speed
- Muscular co-ordination and transfer of force through the kinetic chain
- Movement through multiple planes of motion
- Training the Myofascial Oblique Sling
Despite having these physical benefits, chopping wood can be a questionnable training method;
- Where does this sit on the risk vs reward continuum?
- How will this be monitored?
- How will the volume progressed?
- How can you control overload and recovery?
- How can the intensity be increased?
Not everyone will have access to their own supply of wood in the gym, however many have utilised the sledgehammer and tyre as a substitute. However, this can be quite dangerous for a variety of reasons.
- External weight-load behind the body may encourage hyper-extension of the spine, therefore increasing activation in the lower-back muscles.
- Can slip out of hand and hit the athlete
- Can bounce off the tyre back into the face on the athlete
There have been many people that have used a sledgehammer before and not experienced any accidents or injuries. However, in important training camps this is an exercise that carries risks we’re not willing to take.
Furthermore, due to the technical demand / alterations to make sure this exercise is safe will limit the speed and intent of which it’s performed with.
Therefore, we use medicine ball variations so that the exercise can be performed with increased intensity without carrying the risks of a sledgehammer.
Try these out in a strength / strength-speed training block, or as an extended warm-up. 5-8 reps each side x 3-4 sets
Floyd Mayweather Cryotherapy
Mayweather has taken this fight very seriously. So serious, there are a lot of new additions to his training regiment, including the vital ingredient Recovery. Floyd’s use of the ice chamber has been a big talking point, this is a method called Cryotheraphy.
Cryotheraphy takes place in a chamber that exposes the body to extreme temperatures of -130 degrees centigrade for a duration of between 2-3 minutes. This can relieve pain symptoms, inflammatory responses, injuries and overuse symptoms.
Despite it’s benefits, Cryotheraphy is not utilised frequently in Boxing as it can be a costly method at £20-£50 per session.
No Money? No Problem! We can utilise Ice Baths instead…
ICE BATHS FOR BOXING
Ice baths have been a popular recovery method for athletes. We look into the scientific benefits and how to perform to achieve optimal results.
The common held (and outdated) theory for taking an ice-bath is that it causes vasoconstriction, stimulates venous return and aids metabolite removal after exercise.
The physiological responses to ice-baths are more complex than this and distilling the theory down to this level is not helpful at all. Still, several pieces of scientific research have investigated whether cold-water immersion can improve subjective ratings of muscle soreness. The consensus is that cold-water immersion after muscle damaging exercise does improve feelings of soreness. That is athletes feel less sore after cold water baths.
How cold? The effect severe cold water immersion (between 5 and 10°C) on muscle soreness is unclear – some find it helpful others don’t – and athletes will struggle to tolerate this temperature. Yet, when the temperature of water increases to between 11 and 15°C there is a clear beneficial effect on the perception of muscle soreness.
How long? The research indicates immersion times between 5 and 15 min as most beneficial. So, if the water is too cold, then tolerance time will decrease. Then you’ll be missing both the time-frame of effectiveness and the optimal temperature.
When? You can’t just jump in an Ice Bath when you feel tired or sore, but you need to be mindful and strategic.
There has been research that suggest that strength training adaptations are blunted if cold water immersion is used frequently. So they might actually be doing more harm than good because strength gains are likely slowed by the use of cold water immersion. Best time to do the baths is midweek following an active recover session or boxing session
Mayweather does not do much strength work in the gym, none with significant external load anyway. However, he does pay a lot of attention to neck conditioning.
This is important for boxers as the head gets all its support from the neck, therefore to control the impact from head shots. It also has benefits of reducing back pain and improving posture, both common traits of boxers.
Now, don’t go out and buy a neck brace and do 100’s of reps with a heavy weight. Training the neck needs to be as strategic as developing strength elsewhere.
- Develop from various angles – supine, prone, and laterally
- Start with isometric holds, then move onto self resistance (Hand)
- Use various resistance methods. Towels, bands, cables, body weight and neck brace.
- Build up the volume of repetitions (15-20 repetitions) rather than large external loads.
CHECK OUT THIS TASTER FROM THE WORKSHOP WITH PHYSIOTHERAPIST ROB MADDEN
TOO MUCH TOO LATE?
Although I praise Mayweather for making some positive changes for this training camp, I do question whether it is too much too late?
This is quite a speculative analysis, and short-term use is likely to improve his physical performance. However, we know that long-term consistent use of sport science methods are likely to have a bigger impact.
Talk to any fitness enthusiast, they will say how beneficial swimming is for you.
Yes, it takes away the external loads of the long, slow roadruns. With this in mind, we would advise to go swimming for active recovery.
However, it becomes tough for conditioning as you cannot control set intensities, therefore will struggle to overload and progress. Furthermore, swimming is very technical dependent, this makes it even more difficult to raise the intensity.
We recommend the following structure for a 12-week training camp.
Sprint Interval Training – 30 second sprints
High Intensity Interval Training – 4-8 minute Red Zone intervals
Taper training, with high intensity running and sprints.
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