March 26, 2021 10 min read
Mike Tyson is one of the best boxers to ever step into the ring. At the age of 20, he was the youngest boxer to ever claim a heavyweight title. He couldn’t even celebrate with a drink after proving to the world his undoubtable prowess at the sport. Someone like him obviously has a workout routine that’s leaps and bounds beyond the average workout. If you want to be like the best, you have to train like the best. We’re delving deep into Mike Tyson’s workout and delivering those findings to you so you can decide if you’re up to the challenge.
Mike Tyson was known for being one of the most terrifying presences in the ring. His speed and power were only matched by how unstoppable he was. That kind of exceptional praise doesn’t come from nowhere, he had to work to become Iron Mike. His training schedule was a full-time job. During the height of his career, Mike Tyson is said to have trained between 50 and 60 hours a week. It’s clear that he had a passion for the sport, and looking at how intense his training schedule was you can see that he was working as hard as he possibly could have in order to achieve the accolades he was reaching for.
These results don’t just come from his training. He sharped his mind the entire time he was working out. You don’t just become one of the most unstoppable forces in boxing by doing push-ups. His intense training schedule made him resistant to the idea of giving up. He was constantly pushing himself to break through his limits, and even when he made it to a rest day he was watching training videos, taking notes, and training his mind. His weeks were intense, leaving him almost no time to even think about anything that wasn’t the match ahead of him or improving his body.
If you’re thinking about coming close to his level, then you have to know ahead of time that you’re going to need to dedicate yourself to this training. You need to know that you can’t just give up when it seems hard, and you definitely can’t expect it to transform you overnight. This is the kind of training schedule that someone looking into the distant future creates in order to keep themselves at the top of their game for years.
Mike Tyson was trained by Constantine “Cus” D'Amato who was also behind other champs like Lloyd Patterson and José Torres. In fact, Mike Tyson, Lloyd Patterson, and José Torres all ended up in the International Boxing Hall of fame after Constantine’s training. He develops rigorous training regimens for these powerful people, and when they stick to them, they become nearly unbeatable.
When you break it down, his workout routine was just about strength, conditioning, and boxing. As a boxer, you need the strength and conditioning to even keep your arms up throughout the duration of the match. Boxing matches don’t seem that long from the outside, but the act of holding your arms in front of yourself alone is enough to make the average person’s shoulders scream. You need to have an incredible amount of endurance to keep a body like theirs running for the entire match, they’re grueling, difficult, and an immediate drain on your energy. In fact, their sport of choice is often an option some folks go for when they’re looking for an intense full-body workout.
Mike Tyson’s schedule looked a lot like this:
Mike Tyson would stick to this schedule 6 days of the week. It’s intense, it’s a great way to build muscle, but even he knew the importance of taking a rest day. Mike Tyson would take all of Sunday to encourage muscle growth and give his muscles the opportunity to push it even harder the following week.
His rest days would be active rest days, his trainer would have him on his feet doing chores and prepping himself for the next week of workouts. Active recoveries are great for keeping your momentum up and encouraging blood flow to your tired muscles. His sparring match studies would never stop, and his rest days were full of stretches, and activities around the house.
Mike Tyson started his day with cardio and he ended his day with cardio. If you’ve ever doubted whether or not cardio is a good addition to your workout, then look no further than this workout schedule. Mike Tyson was the picture of health during the height of his career (and still to this day), but he wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a small dude.
His cardio was a way of honing his body and getting it to run as efficiently as possible. It’s the best way you strengthen your heart and boost your endurance. Your body needs oxygen and energy, and your cardiovascular system is what your body uses to deliver those nutrients to your muscles when you’re pushing yourself to your limits.
If you’re against cardio, then try looking at it this way, Mike Tyson did it, and he did it nearly every day of the week. It made him one of the most powerful boxers in history, and it didn’t shrink his muscles or destroy his gains or any of that nonsense. Your cardio is important, and if you’re concerned with building your health and crafting the best body possible, then you’re going to need to have some cardio in your routine.
Mike Tyson’s calisthenics routine was insane. Whatever you think he was up to every day, throw that number away and double it. This man was filling his day with small bursts of bodyweight exercises over the course of his incredibly long days of training days, and it would add up to something incredible by the end of the day.
Mike Tyson’s calisthenics would look something like this by the time he’d finish at the end of the day:
Of course, he never does all of these at once. Spreading the exercise through the day is the best way to hit these insane numbers. If your goals are lofty and you really want to get the most exercise possible done, then you should follow in Tyson’s footsteps. Sprinkling your exercise throughout the day is a good practice if you’re trying to maximize the amount of work you’re doing, and it’s also just a good habit to get into.
Our lives right now don’t allow us the kind of mobility and exercise our bodies need to stay healthy. If you can find small pockets throughout your day to expend a little energy and get your blood flowing, then you’ll be setting yourself up for a better life in the long run.
His workout schedule wasn’t just made up of calisthenic exercises, he’s a boxer more than anything. His workouts were all supplemental to the full-body workout that is boxing. He’d hone his muscles and then put them to the test with a series of boxing exercises like:
Every day that he worked out he would fit in over an entire match worth of boxing. He was always bobbing and weaving throughout the day. Mike Tyson became the best by never giving up on his training. It seems obsessive, and not many people could keep this up, but that’s what set him apart from everyone else.
You can see that the boxing exercises he did weren’t half-measures, either. All of these were meant to get him moving and mimic the intense demands of a match. This was where the real conditioning would take place. All of the miles he ran were in preparation for his sparring, the thousands of crunches were to build a core that would survive any blow and keep his torso limber and ready to dodge at the slightest hint of danger.
Mike Tyson’s rest days aren’t talked about often, but it’s worth examining the fact that he would take them at all. People are always asking how often they should work out, without considering how often they should work a rest day in.
Rest days are key to building your muscles. Rest days are the days that your body is finally allowed to devote all of its energy to rebuilding all of the damage you’ve done to your muscles by pushing them as far as you have by following a workout as intense as this one.
The one thing you should take away from this workout routine is the intense amount of discipline it takes to keep your body at peak performance the way Mike Tyson did. We don’t always get to see the habits of incredibly successful people, but when the curtain is peeled back we see that behind their charisma and copious amounts of luck is a human being with a drive like few others have.
Mike Tyson’s workout routine is intense. It’s difficult and unrealistic if you’re not able to dedicate a full-time job’s worth of time to training your body, but all of that is a testament to how hard he worked to get to where he ended up. The championships and the enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame all came on the heels of thousands of hours of work over several years.
Your fitness is as much about your diet as it is about the actual exercise you’re doing every day. Mike Tyson’s diet was strict, full of protein and the kind of energy he could immediately convert into more training. His schedule was tight and filled to the brim with seemingly impossible amounts of work that he overcame time and time again. He did that by filling his body with exactly what he needed when he needed it, and nothing more than exactly what could use.
His breakfasts would consist of oatmeal, milk, and his daily vitamins. Giving him a boost in glycogen to start his day and get his morning run and first full workout underway. After his sparring and calisthenics, he would have a lunch of rice, chicken breast, and orange juice. After continually pummeling his body, he would take a break for a protein shake and a huge amount of fruit, usually 6 bananas. Finally, he would top off his day with a hearty dinner with something like pasta, steak, and a hearty helping of vegetables paired with a glass of tropical juice.
If you want to eat like Mike Tyson, there are a few things to consider:
A diet that’s missing key nutrients for weeks on end won’t let you get away with it for long. Eventually, your body will let you know you’re missing something by breaking down in a painful and explosive manner. A diet isn’t just about fuel and building blocks, your body needs a lot of vitamins and minerals for things as simple and transmitting signals in your brain and as vital as creating blood to transport nutrients.
Mike Tyson also had one little secret before matches. He’s quoted saying “... right before, an hour or so before the fight, I would have a chocolate bar and orange juice, just to get a quick sugar rush.” The chocolate and juice probably didn’t provide so much of a rush that he was overcoming his opponents because of that alone, but it’s a good way to get a boost when you feel your strength flagging. If Mike Tyson can treat himself, then so can you.
You’d think that someone as powerful as Mike Tyson holding his own in the heavyweight divisions would have been lifting weights day in and day out, but he needed to stay light on his feet. Boxing is all about outmaneuvering your opponent, crafting a strategy in your head, and using everything in your body to overcome your opposition.
Mike Tyson’s workouts focused on calisthenics and practical boxing techniques more than anything else, because Mike Tyson was focused on beating his challengers more than anything else.
Weightlifting is an incredible way to build muscle. By overloading your body and overcoming the sheer challenge weights present to you, you’re forcing your body to keep up with the challenges in front of you. It’s a remarkable way to prove to yourself that your body is alive and capable of change. There are downsides to building muscle this way, however. Muscle fibers are naturally very dense and rigid, if you’re a boxer, then you’re going to have to spend a lot of time supplementing your flexibility after building muscle through weightlifting.
The calisthenics that Mike Tyson obsessively employed is an efficient way to strengthen your body and maintain your flexibility at the same time. You can see the effects of this paying off throughout Mike Tyson’s career. He didn’t become the youngest heavyweight on accident, and he didn’t do it by obsessing over the size of his muscles. He put practical exercise at the top of his list and it made him a champion.
If this is a routine you want to take on, then you’re going to have to mentally prepare. Don’t underestimate the amount of focus, determination, and sheer grit it takes to get through even a single week of this. It’s literally the workout routine of an unmatched champion. If you want to slip this kind of routine into the schedule of a person whose job is anything other than being a championship heavyweight boxer, then there’s a lot you can work into your daily routine. The core of his workout was calisthenic exercise, dedication, and a diet that’s lean and full of nutrients. That’s something everyone can appreciate and work into their normal lives.