The training methods of Vasyl Lomachenko are unique, weird, wonderful and very effective!
The DOUBLE Olympic champion and three-weight world champion is known for his unorthodox training regime and boxing style, but what are the benefits of the methods he implements during camp?
In this article, we take a look at the Ukrainian’s training methods, the potential benefits and how you can apply these to your training.
- Footwork drills
- Press-up variations for grip strength
- Lomachenko Mental Exercises
- Low-intensity and low-impact conditioning methods
- Underwater breath holds
There’s not many boxers, if any, you’d put above Lomachenko for their footwork skills.
This is down to years and years of practice, as well as a multi-sport approach from a young age. His father, nicknamed ‘Papachenko’, temporarily prohibited young Vasyl from boxing at a young age, and took his son to Ballet lessons instead.
If you don’t fancy taking up Ballet lessons, there’s a range of drills that can help improve your footwork.
Loma uses ladder drills to build a range of physical adaptations beneficial to boxing, including;
- REACTIVE STRENGTH
- CALF CONDITIONING
In the video below, Danny Wilson takes you through a range of Footwork Drills that we use at Boxing Science.
Press-Ups and Grip Strength
Loma performs some pretty impressive press-up drills using gymnastic rings.
These are incredibly hard just to do press-ups on, but in some videos he’s seen to do explosive and single-arm variations displaying his unbelievable strength. However, this will be unachievable to most boxers and presents a high risk of injury when performing for the first time. Remember, most of these incredible routines have been practised for many years. But not to worry, we can break it down and still benefit from this training method.
Performing the press-ups on the gymnastic rings demands more stability and tension during each repetition, which increases activation of the upper-body and core muscles. However, wrist and forearm strength will be the main determinant on how successful you are at performing this exercise.
In this video, I breakdown how to do this on weight plates safely and effectively.
‼️ CAUTION ‼️
If you use this exercise, we recommend you start off on the Dumbbell variation, then build up to the weighted plate variation. We also encourage you to do this on a HARD surface, and wear wrist straps for extra stability.
Go for 8 reps on the Weighted Plates, then anywhere between 8-12 reps on the dumbbells.
Lomachenko Mental Exercises
Ever heard the saying that “boxing is 90% mental”?
Psychological characteristics are integral to success in any sport, and not many sports are as psychologically demanding as fight sports.
But how often do Boxers train their cognitive skills and psychological processes?
An unfortunate tradition in Boxing is that there is a mantra of “you’ve either got it or you haven’t”, and often perceive sport psychology interventions as a sign of weakness.
There have been positive progressions over recent years, with superstars like Anthony Joshua and Carl Froch openly talking about how sport psychology has benefitted their fight preparation.
Lomachenko is another boxer that flies the flag for sport psychology, by utilising cognitive drills such as Number Grids, Puzzles and much more.
Number grids are something we’ve used before in a practical gym setting.
Improve Concentration Under Fatigue
As well as being physically demanding, boxing and other combat sports are also mentally demanding requiring rapid information processing, decision-making and skill execution.
This is challenged under fatigue, therefore in our HIIT sessions we use brain training activities to help improve attentional focus and decision making in fatigued situations.
Use a brain training app on your smartphone or tablet device, or print out ‘number grids’.
During an interval training session, if your rest period is 60 s or longer – fire up your game and play it as soon as you finish the set. A game where you have to find numbers in a sequence is a good place to start.
Make sure you make a record of your performance, set goals and monitor improvements.
Low-intensity and low-impact conditioning methods
If you’re a keen Lomachenko fan, you may have seen him do a range of different methods for low-intensity conditioning from sand tennis to Canoeing.
This is quite interesting, and definitely an unorthodox way to condition a boxer. Let’s take a closer look…
Why we need low intensity?
Regular readers will know we like to programme a lot of high-intensity interval training, but this is also accompanied by a small volume of low-intensity conditioning sessions. Part of this is undertaken during boxing specific training such as shadow boxing, light-bag work, footwork drills and part of it is structured as running or cycling as a recovery session.
It’s important to incorporate low-intensity training to increase training variability, reduce monotony and strain, provide boxers with time to ‘switch-off’, provide an extra stimulus to improve aerobic capacity and at strategic times provide another opportunity to expend energy and manage weight.
Limitations of Low-Intensity Running
What we don’t recommend is plodding or pounding the pavements or treadmill for hours on end. Although this is an effective training strategy for endurance athletes, it’s not time-efficient and doesn’t provide the target adaptations that underpin boxing performance. Plodding also increases monotony, strain and therefore risk of injury, particularly in athletes who are already predominately anterior dominated. Hip flexors, knees and ankles are at risk here not to mention the possibility stress-fractures in the foot (especially in energy deficit).
As well as the mechanical and physiological limitations – athlete’s find plodding very mentally challenging especially if the only time to do it is at 5 am! We want our athletes to be fresh physically and mentally so although low-intensity training has benefits there are many limitations that need to be considered.
Benefits of performing alternative activities
The activities that Lomachenko uses are great for so many reasons. These have much lower impact forces, so won’t be adding to the wear and tear from the rest of the hard training during camp.
Furthermore, these activities offer more for movement and mobility. The Sand Tennis / Volleyball gets Loma moving in various movement planes, rotating and lunging. The Caneoeing offers good conditioning for the posterior shoulder muscles and trunk.
A final point would be that these are more enjoyable activities than long, steady-state runs. This helps a boxer avoid psychological stagnation during challenging 10-12 week training camps.
Overall, you’re getting more bang for your buck utilising these alternative conditioning methods whilst reducing impact forces. Here are some examples that you could implement into your camp;
- Beach Volleyball
- Table Tennis
- Intensity Football (non-competitive)
The only thing you need to do is to make sure you’re monitoring and controlling these factors;
- Heart Rate between 65 and 75% HRmax
- Controlling High-Impact Forces
- Rate of Perceived Exertion 1-2 (very easy)
Still prefer to run?
There are many ways you can still perform long, steady-state runs but break up to make less tedious and avoid plodding. We like to use ‘match-burners’ where the goal is to find the fastest running speed and slowest running speed that doesn’t exceed zone 1 (first threshold).
30 s @ 15 kph : 30 s @ 10 kph x 10 min > aim 130 bpm (75% HRmax average). 10 min easy at 75% HRmax. Repeat sequence 2 to 3 times.
This allows also to maintain some intensity with the session but the overall physiological demands are limited to zone 1.
Underwater Breath Holds
There is footage of Vasyl Lomachenko performing underwater breath holds for 3-4 minutes!
DISCLAIMER: We don’t advise for you to do this, underwater or un-accompanied.
However, we’ll look at the potential benefits and effective breathing drills to help improve performance.
The main benefit of underwater breath holds is perceptual, and Loma attests to this fact in his training videos.
The idea is that he’s able to stay calm and resist the drive to ventilate. The physiological benefits of training to breath-hold seem to be at odds with the aims of improving high-intensity performance, and whether or not Loma does this is a systematic training strategy or is simply ad-hoc whenever pool work is done is unclear.
Nevertheless, respiratory control is important in the majority of dynamic sports with a high-energetic demand. Our respiratory rate and depth plays a big role in our perception of effort, and therefore motivation and belief to continue to exercise at high-intensity.
When our athletes are undertaking HIIT we place a large emphasis on their ability to ‘stay-in-control’ by regulating their breathing. It provides athletes with a sense of calm and comfortability when under pressure, and is encapsulated in the phrase ‘Feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable’.
Vasyl Lomachenko has some unorthodox training methods, and these have been effective for him in his legendary career. However, these have been practiced for years and years, so his training methods may not be 100% appropriate for your preparations.
We hope that we’ve given you some useful tips on how you can replicate some of the training methods mentioned.
If you want to find out more about our training methods, you should try out one of our online memberships….