Work Out Like Mike Tyson: A Boxer’s Workout Routine Explained

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Who doesn’t know “Iron” Mike Tyson? Arguably the most famous boxing legend, Mike Tyson has been known to have the strongest and most durable physique in the world of professional boxing.

Regardless of what your fitness goal is, you can be sure that boxers are ideal examples to follow because not only do they have the best shape, but they also have the strength and endurance to go with it.

That’s why we’ve taken a look at various interviews of “Iron” Mike and analyzed his as well as the workout routines of other contemporary boxing legends like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez, to name some.

Although you don’t need to get into the ring and take a pounding, you can take advantage of boxing training principles and programs to achieve your fitness goals. To get started with the boxer’s workout routine, here’s everything you need to know:


Shadowboxing is basically boxing with an imaginary opponent. You learn the basic punches, possible combinations and movement to support maneuverability in a match-up and execute it all like you would in a real fight. Except, you don’t have an opponent or even a ring for that matter.

Although this might sound strange, it’s one of the most essential as well as effective workout strategies for boxers. You may have noticed almost every fighter, regardless of whether they do MMA or boxing, use shadowboxing as an effective warmup routine before their fights.

The fact that shadowboxing works up your heart rate nicely and given that you execute the movements like slipping and weaving flawlessly, you’re bound to work more muscle groups than any other single exercise.

While this proves that shadowboxing is effective cardio, that’s hardly all there’s to it. Shadowboxing is best done when you have sparring experience in a ring.

When you get the experience of being in a real fight, you’ll have to focus on your opponent and come up with strategies while matching their pace and staying calm and collected.

Is this effective for boxers? Absolutely. Will this work for the average fitness joe? Definitely.

Boxing as well as shadowboxing is bound to have significant psychological and physiological benefits as they work your mind as well as your body. You learn to rely on your instincts, intuition and reflexes to dodge and slip while executing attacks and combinations of your own.


What do boxers do when they’re not wearing their shiny boxing gloves? Roadwork. That’s what boxers call cardio and endurance exercises that mostly involve rope jumping, running a couple of miles every day, and incorporating HIIT routines to work on ensuring they last long enough to hear the bell of the final round.

Roadwork is a term that signifies the toughness that distinguishes a boxer’s cardio routine from that of the average fitness person. Boxers go longer distances at slower speeds and sprint for longer distances on a hard surface.

The primary goal of getting in the right amount of roadwork is to strengthen your lower body. You can do normal running exercises on a treadmill or you can go hard like a boxer to get the extra gains.

Resistance and Endurance Training

When it comes to training against resistance or training with weights, boxers make sure that they don’t gain as much as they tone their body for endurance and strength.

Since a boxer isn’t supposed to weigh more or less than their designated weight division, it’s crucial for athletes to maintain their physique while ensuring its durability.

Boxing match-ups tend to go for 12-rounds and thus, it’s important for fighters to put in the required amount of cardio to last that long. Although not every fight goes to the judges, it’s truly commendable if both competitors can withstand the intense pace, pressure and damage for such a long time.

This is something they achieve by doing insane amounts of hard work in and outside the gym. While regulating their physical activity and energy expenditure months prior to a fight, boxers go for exercises like the following to accomplish goals related to general conditioning:

  • Squats
  • Bench Presses (Chest presses)
  • Crunches
  • Lat Pulldowns
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • RDLs
  • Overhead Press
  • Triceps Pushdown
  • Bicep Curls

You can make a workout schedule that involves engaging in 3 sets of 10-12 reps of the above-mentioned exercises and allowing yourself 30-90 second rest in between.


Like all training regimens, you can’t rely on getting results just by fulfilling the physical workout requirement. Diet is the essence of a workout program and boxing is no different.

Although every person has different fitness goals and the same is the case for boxers, the general habits and principles of eating remain the same.

Apart from ensuring that you’re not eating harmful foods like trans fats, processed foods, abnormal amounts of sugar, etc., a boxing diet consists of:

  • Meat (chicken, turkey, tuna, etc.)
  • Healthy fats
  • Supplements (Vitamins, Amazon berberine, etc.)
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Dairy products and fruits

All pro boxers and champions hire nutritionists that gauge their potential as well as their progress over time in terms of maintaining a healthy weight. A lot of boxers also change their weight divisions and have to go through rigorous weight cuts or gains which can have devastating consequences if not done right.

This is something that appeals to a lot of people who’re trying to lose weight even though it’s not particularly recommended. While you should follow a boxer’s diet, don’t assume that you’re going to lose weight just because you’ve switched to a boxer’s diet.

Similarly, while it is possible to cut weight, even boxers aren’t able to do it in a week or a month. It’s a process that takes time whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight.

Besides, a healthy weight gain or cut is only legitimate if all the remaining mass on the body is pure muscle and strength rather than useless carbs and fats that end up making you seem bloated.

Changing weight divisions is absolutely excruciating in terms of adjusting to new diets for boxers but the only way to see such a goal through is to focus on the fight ahead and encourage yourself forward.


Author Bio

Ann Edwards is the fully qualified personal trainer from Elite sports. She has been helping people in the field of bodybuilding and fitness from more than a decade. Her career in nutrition and physical therapy has made her a fine addition for our team.