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Science Behind Cotto

There are many opposing views and opinions in Boxing, but most experts, coaches and fans will agree Miguel Cotto is destined to become a part of the boxing hall of fame. Following back to back defeats against Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout, the Peurto Rican star seems to have revived his career under legendary trainer Freddie Roach.

Miguel Cotto, now carrying great momentum from 3 straight knockout wins, will face one of his biggest tests against Mexican boxing superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Boxing Science analyse the training methods seen used in Miguel’s camp during HBO 24/7.

Cotto’s Battle with the heat

The heat is your friend and your foe. If you don’t know how to respect the heat, it will debilitate and crush you.

But understand your limits and it can benefit you massively.

In the recent 24/7 episode, Freddie Roach feels Cotto struggles in the heat. But perhaps this judgement is misinterpreted. It seems like Roach is basing this on the sweat response of Cotto. It’s hot at Wild Card and sparring is intense. So what happens?

Cotto Sweat

Body temperature increases and Cotto starts to sweat.

Sweating is a good thing; it’s our most effective natural way of controlling body temperature. You’d be worried if you weren’t sweating. That’s where the real danger lies.

Profuse sweating only becomes an issue when fluid replacement is sub-optimal. This is when negative fluid balance starts to impact on performance.

So to keep on top of fluid balance it’s important to check a few things:

1) Hydration status before you train in the heat

You can weigh yourself, look at the colour of your urine, think about how thirsty you are; or if you have one handy use an osmometer to assess urine osmolality, a urine stick to assess specific gravity or take a blood sample.

2) Measure how much fluid you’re drinking during training

This is easy enough, just fill a bottle and know how many bottles you’ve drunk. An isotonic drink is preferable but water is better than most drinks on the market and cheaper!

3) Repeat hydration status tests at regular intervals or after training

As an example;

  • Cotto weighs 72.5 kg before training.
  • He drinks 1 L of water during a 1 hour training session.
  • After training he weighs 71.5 kg.
  • So that’s 72.5 + 1 = 73.5.
  • 73.5 – 71.5 = 2.

His sweat rate is 2 L/hour.

If you want to get more precise you can measure urine volume within this time.

When you train, you probably won’t be able to drink at the rate you sweat. So when you finish training look at your body mass change and then try to replace 150% of that value within an hour in small frequent amounts – not in one large drink.

If you drink too much too quickly, this can stimulate diuresis (excessive urine) and put you at risk of hyponatremia (low sodium).

In this instance..

150% of 2 L = 3 L in 60 minutes

3 L consumed evenly over 60 minutes = 500 ml every 10 minutes

Water Aerobics for Boxing

In 24/7, cameras show Miguel training in the pool lead by strength and conditioning coach Gavin McMillian.

Cotto is punching with equipment under the surface of the water. The coach gives two purposes for this. 1) Increase punch volume 2) Make sure he is fresh for sparring.

Cotto Pool

Increase Punch Volume

Personally, I don’t see why this exercise increases punch volume, and there is no scientific evidence to support this. This is also very specific work for conditioning, Cotto will be doing more of this on the bag. If this is actually replacing some of the bag work Cotto is doing to save the impact on the joints, then I can see the purpose.

The strength training at Boxing Science is designed to improve to amount of force you can produce – this is achieved through maximal strength training. The higher amount of force you can produce means the relative demand of each punch is reduced – therefore you’re able to throw more punches because you can deal with the forces better.

Theoretical example

Boxer able to produce 1000 N. Each punch is 100 N = 10% relative demand

Boxer able to produce 2000 N. Each punch is 100 N = 5% relative demand

Impact: The stronger boxer is able to punch more frequently without accumulating as much fatigue.

Fresh for Sparring

I agree with Cotto’s coach on this one. The pool drills will reduce the impact forces Cotto has to deal with, therefore reduces soreness and likelihood of injury.

The Boxing Science Way

Using the altitude tent at Sheffield Hallam University, we found that heart rate was higher despite a lower external intensity (speed/mechanical load) when performing at 12-15% O2 altitude.

This finding of a lower external intensity and higher internal intensity is the reason underpinning our use of altitude training.

When our boxers have been lifting heavy and sprinting hard, after 3 weeks or so we need to let them recover and help the body adapt to the training stimuli. To do this we schedule a recovery week.

When we didn’t have use of the altitude tent, our recovery week involved lower intensity and non-specific exercise using low impact pieces of equipment (such as a cycle or x-trainer). This type of programming decreased both external and internal intensity thus training load.

However, with our altitude tent positioned over the curve treadmill, we’re able to continue with boxing specific running training. The external load (speed) is decreased but crucially internal demand remains at the intensity we require because of the altitude.

Watch how we use the altitude tent below.

Click here to see Science Behind Canelo

Science Behind Canelo