The Playbook For The Modern Man

Rising Australian Boxing Star Breaks Down How To Train Like A Fighter

A knockout.

Not many Australian boxers can boast a record of 15 wins to 0 losses, but Tim Tszyu can. If the name sounds familiar it’s because he’s the son of the Soviet-born Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu, the man with multiple world championships in the light welterweight class. Today it’s not about Tszyu Senior, however: it’s about insights into how to train like a professional boxer at the peak of his fight game. So wrap those knuckles as we run you through this 24-year-old’s formula for a winning streak.

Building A Pro Boxer’s Mindset

 

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A post shared by Тим Цзю Tim Tszyu (@timtszyu) on

It’s crucial to highlight the commitment required to reach Tszyu’s level of competitive fitness. Freakish genes aside, Tszyu is in the boxing gym 6 days a week with Sunday being his only recovery day. Part of his recovery for relaxing the body and mind involves:

  • Physio once a week for a massage
  • Sauna once a week which Tszyu alternates three times between hot-cold, hot-cold, hot-cold: “it refreshes me, my muscles and my body feels better the next day.”

Tszyu says the latter helps with his sleep, alertness and muscle relaxation.

A Pro Boxer’s Strength Training

 

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Strength and Conditioning with the man himself @kobes_pft. Never learnt so much about my body.

A post shared by Тим Цзю Tim Tszyu (@timtszyu) on

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When it comes to his strength training there’s no secret technique for Tim Tszyu. It’s all about structure, discipline and a bit of versatility. Below is a rundown of his regular week.

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  • 3 strength sessions per week all based on punching and leg movements (lots of push exercises including squats, deadlifts and chin-ups)
  • 5 days a week of morning run sessions
  • 6 days a week of afternoon boxing sessions which includes sparring and pad work with a trainer

When it comes to building muscle it’s nothing like bodybuilding in a gym. Depending on how close a fight is, Tszyu will get into weights to build functional strength through:

  • Sled pushing
  • Battle ropes
  • Kettlebell exercises

 

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“Doing dumbbell curls isn’t going to help me produce anything in the ring. Everything’s based on punching and based on leg movements.”

As a boxer, you can lift heavier weights to build your strength, but you need to do it before your fight prep starts.

“As soon as you start boxing you start slimming down because you’re always worried about the weight [class]. So you have to keep that in mind.”

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Speed & Reflex Training

 

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To get the shear speed of a professional boxer you’ll need to do some serious punching bag work. Tszyu recommends the ‘2-4-6’ punch combo (2 punches in succession, then 4 punches, then 6 punches) with 1 minute on and 30-second rounds.

“Keep doing this,” he says.

“When you’re punching for speed you have to forget about power and do as many punches as you can. You don’t want to do too many though because it becomes endurance; you want them to become purely speed. Aim for 2 or 4 punches – 6 max. To improve your footwork in the ring, do sprint sessions.”

Building Stamina Like A Boxer

 

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All roads lead to Feb 8. #realabwork

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A fighter’s body needs stamina and it’s Tszyu’s specific drills that give him the longevity he needs to take on his opponent. His pad work involves:

  • 12 rounds or more with leg weights
  • 3.5-minute rounds (the standard round is 3 minutes)
  • Chasing medicine balls
  • Punching medicine balls in reverse
  • Extensive pad work with his coach

Beyond the ring, Tszyu builds stamina by swimming. At first, he could only do 50m before gassing out. He eventually reached 500m and is now at 1,000m in sessions which last 45 at one session per week.

“It’s lots of upper body strength and [focusing on] your breathing. At first I thought everything was about your breathing, but once you get that right and you still don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be smashed at 50m or 100m.”

In other words, get your swimming technique right alongside your breathing.

Rest Is Paramount At Pro Boxing Levels

 

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Be Different. Do Different things. My type of training to finish off a hard session. #3weeks #tszyu2 #myera

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For someone that trains as intensely as Tszyu, rest and recovery are vital.

“You have to have your rest and recovery. You can overtrain so listen to your body. As soon as I know I have a fight, I’ll train pretty hard as I know the guy I’m fighting is training so I have to be three times ahead of him. Most important thing is you can’t just train hard, you have to train smart.”

Tszyu gets a 1 hour or 1.5-hour rest after lunch between training and is in bed by 10pm most nights. He gets 8-10 hours of sleep a night and says that if you’re training at this level, you need rest otherwise “you’re stuffed”.

You Can’t Out Train A Good Diet

Apparently there’s something called a ‘Russian boxer’s diet’ of caviar and Vodka, but Tszyu jokes that he’ll never try it. Instead his real diet consists of:

  • Clean food and lots of water
  • Lots of vegetables and carbs – an ice cream container’s worth of salad, potatoes, chicken or fish
  • Poached eggs and avocado for breakfast

“Diet is one of the most important things. You can’t be eating bad because you’ll feel crap and you can’t maximise your performance. As soon as you start eating clean and healthy, you’ll feel 100%.”

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Tszyu will take on former WBO world welterweight champion Jeff Horn on Wednesday, August the 26th, with the card starting at 6pm AEST, and the main event starting at approximately 9.30pm.

The fight will be at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium – a $250 million, 25,000 capacity standium opened in February (and the home of the NRL’s North Queensland Cowboys). Due to COVID regulations, up to 16,000 fans will be allowed into the stadium to watch.

For those that want to witness this piece of boxing history, your options are Foxtel or Kayo Sports.

UPDATE: Tim Tszyu handily defeated Jeff Horn via TKO in a fight sportingnews.com.au described as simply “pure dominance from Tszyu.”

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