“Think of it like this: it’s always going to be painful, your body is always going to be screaming out, but once you’ve got enough experience, you know that when it becomes physically tough your mind can take over. And you keep going because you know that there’s always ways you can improve. If you listen to the people who tell you you’re great, you’re going to take your foot off the gas.”
Anthony Joshua is the unified heavyweight champion of the world and huge mega fights with Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Kubrat Pulev await the heavyweight kingpin this year and next.
Anthony Joshua has undergone a bit of a transition in recent times. Following his loss to Andy Ruiz Jnr, he lost a lot of weight and won the rematch convincingly with his new lighter and more moveable physique.
The leaner, lighter Anthony Joshua boxed on the back foot and took the W with a solid performance and showing solid boxing throughout the 12 round contest.
Indeed Joshua shed over 20lbs from 248lbs in the first fight to 228lbs in the second fight, so while AJ came in lighter, he will still have aimed to be hitting just as hard with a staple diet of heavy compound lifting.
The fact remains that AJ is one of the hardest working heavyweights in history with an insane appetite for physical training.
Lets Look At The Key Lifts In AJ’s Workout Here:
The Bench Press
A Key Component of punching power and quality compound lift for the Chest, Triceps and front head of the shoulder. Remember to work 5 sets of 5 reps for maximum strength gains and straight punches that would knock a horse like Anthony Joshua.
Anthony Joshua can bench press 140kg for about 5 good reps which is a lot of weight. Mind you this was a few years ago so he might be up to 150 or 60kg by now!
A compound lift is one that works for more than one main muscle group and the deadlift does just that. It strengthens the Hamstrings, Glutes, lower back, and forearms so it is perfect for working overall strength. Remember to keep the weights heavy and the reps low like AJ does.
Anthony Joshua can deadlift 270kgs for 5 sets of 5 reps and that is an incredible amount fo strength to possess going into the ring. No wonder he has such a good knockout ratio.
This is one of the most famous lifts in weightlifting today. It works the glutes, quads, and core extensively and the heavier you go, the better the strength gains you will get.
Anthony Joshua shows us how it is done with his squatting, maxing out at 150kgs for 5 sets of 5 reps and really develop the English/Nigerians strength and power in his legs as we can see in this video. Joshua is a beast.
Pull-ups are the squat of the upper body, incorporating the entire back, and the biceps, the pull up should be performed with a weight attached so that you stay in the lower rep range and build up strength more than muscle you will have to carry around the ring.
Pullups are one of AJ’s favorite exercises as we can see from the video below. Joshua can do 20 plus pull-ups in a set and he is using this as conditioning. Far from us to tell Joshua how to train but attaching a weight for pull-ups will help him to punch harder and increase strength.
Check out this video of AJ losing a 10k bet to a friend in a gym. It looks like AJ got 24 and this guy got 25 but he wasn’t going al the way down.
Clean and Press
This one involves the core and shoulders and is one of the Olympic lifts for developing over power and strength in the shoulders. This a compound movement for developing strength in the full upper body.
Heavy Hip Thrusts
These are a perfect exercise for strengthening the glutes and the hips when you work with a heavyweight for a low rep range and a good few sets and that is exactly what AJ does. AJ is the hardest working heavyweight when it comes to putting in work at the gym and the results are clear for all to see.
Another exercise for building the glutes hamstrings and quads while also strengthening the core and stabilizer muscles. These help to increase strength and develop balance which I highly important once you step in the ring.
AJ does tons of variations of lunges, some with dumbbells, some with kettlebells, with weight plates and others where he will isolate one leg by placing the back leg on a weights bench and also really engaging the stabilizer muscles in the core and stomach.
AJ Takes Lunges to the next level using a barbell with weights, keeping his leg on a bench to isolate one of the legs and exploding at the top of the lunge with a jump. Oh yeah, and he also adds resistance bands to the exercise for maximum strength and power gains. His work ethic can only be admired.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
“Why can you squat 200KG on two legs, but if I took one of your legs away, you could only do 20KG It’s about building up individual balance. You do it leaning forward [because] it builds up your core, but I can’t neglect my hamstrings, my lower back.”
If there is an exercise that can build strength, stabilize the core and give you an advantage in the ring, you better believe that AJ is doing it and that is exactly the case with single-leg Romanian Deadlifts.
You start the exercise leg a regular deadlift except you have one foot off the ground 90 degrees out straight behind you and as you deadlift the bar up to your waist you simultaneously bring you raised foot back down to the ground so you are essentially in the same position as a regular deadlift at the end of the move.
Check it out here:
Sled Pushes And Pulls
That wraps up the compound lifts for AJ but the strength training doesn’t end there. AJ gets a ton of variation in his gym workouts and another very popular exercise for building lower body strength is sled pushes and sled pulls. They really engage the Anaerobic conditioning system and the pushes build the quads and the pushes build the hamstring, glutes, and arms.
These are another favorite exercise of AJ to build up his leg, core, and stability strength.
The Leg press is a great machine for hitting the glutes as hard as you can with a very heavyweight and AJ incorporates this into his workout as much as he can. Remember to keep it to 4-6 reps and 4-6 sets for maximum strength gains like AJ does.
If there is anyone that can incorporate a variation on this move into their workout, you know it is going to be AJ who is pictured here tying resistance bands around the machine press machine just to make it that much more difficult and get the absolute maximum gains from the workout.
Neck Strength Exercises For AJ
“To me, Mike Tyson was the founder of neck strength in boxing,”
Most boxers know the importance of strengthening the neck and as you might expect, Anthony Joshua is no different, preferring 3 strength exercises for the neck.
Neck Harness Curls
The neck harness is probably the easiest way to build up the strength in the neck, you just put a harness on your head, attach a weight, lie of the side of the ring or a bench so the neck is prone and lift the weight up and down with your neck. This is a safe and effective way to do it.
“It’s holding in the position to build strength at the back of your neck,”
Don’t try this at home unless you feel comfortable. AJ lifts his entire bodyweight up with his neck and proceeds to roll around using the strength of the neck. Working the neck help AJ absorb shots and fire back quickly.
Neck Towel Kettle Bell Strengthening
“I look at it like a pitbull has a lockjaw, so, you can’t break that jaw, everybody has an amount of pain they could take if they get punched, but if you could build up the resistance and the muscles in your jaw, hopefully, that could protect you.”
If you don’t have a harness around or just want to hit the neck in a different way, You can do like Aj and wrap a towel around a kettlebell, put the towel in your mouth, prone the neck and lift the kettlebell up and down.
Any way you work on your neck strength, strengthening it will allow you to absorb shots and answer back much faster. This move always works on the jaw muscles allowing you to take a big shot and fire back quickly.
AJ uses a ton of different exercises to work on his explosive power and turn that strength into knockouts in the ring.
Med Ball Twist Throws
Throwing a medicine against a wall as hard as you can, it might not like sound like much but it is something that you can put the full force of your body into.
The power comes from the legs, twists through the hip and extends out through the shoulder, triceps, lats and chest with your maximum 1 force rep to build up your power for punching
Med Ball Jumping Slams
AJ incorporates Med Ball slams into his varied workout regimen very well. He goes into a squat and then explodes up into a jump and slams the med ball as hard as he can into the ground. This is great for building explosive power in all of the body. He then catches the med ball on the rebound, reloads and goes again without a break.
You don’t want to work too long on these power exercises as the Alactic energy system will get tired quite quickly and you won’t be able to expend your max force into each slam.
Cable Machine Punches
Cable machines are a great way to but your full force and power into your movement. AJ is often seen to use the cable machine tom practice his punching motion with full force with the intent of increasing his explosive punching power and it looks like its working too.
Landmine Machine Punches
This is another exercise that allows you to put your full force into a punching motion. AJ using these one at a time to increase his explosive punching power and he also uses 2 of them together to get the push/pull variation and work on his endurance and conditioning.
Baseball Bat On A Tire
A variation on the famous exercise of hitting a sled hammer off a tire. This works all the back muscles and the rotational muscles, allowing AJ to work on power and conditioning by smacking the bat full force against the tire from each side of the body.
Resistance Bands Work
Aj is a big fan of using resistance bands in his training to make simple tasks more difficult and hence more rewarding.
AJ says, if we can make it hard in training, we can make it easy in the ring.
Aj’s will put a resistant band around his waist and have a training partner holding him back with it while he sprints, push the sled, do squat jumps or even runs forward shadowboxing with another resistance band.
He also adds resistance bands to all his explosive power exercises like the landmine punches, squats, deadlifts and pretty much anything his champion mentality wants to make more demanding and rewarding.
Endurance and Conditioning
By looking at AJ you can immediately tell that he is in amazing condition and he does it in a number of ways, never tiring of adding endless variations and pushing himself to the absolute limit.
Shadow Boxing In The Sand
“I think Brazilian footballers are much better in the world because they probably play football in the sand, so, they tend to build up strength on an uneven surface, So, if you make things difficult in practice, it becomes easier in the ring. That is really difficult when your feet are in the sand. It’s making things difficult, but learning how to adapt.”
Aj is a fan of working out in the sand, saying that by making the movement harder in training he can move more freely when inside the ring and the logic appears to be sound as AJ perfects his foot work, head movement and that famous 1-2-Left Hook combo that he is famous for.
Shadow Boxing In The Swimming Pool
If it adds extra resistance, AJ is doing it. The swimming pool is great because it takes all the pressure off the joints and you can work on your punching under the water which is a bit tougher and great for building conditioning and endurance in the arms.
Anything that is above 15 reps is going to work on conditioning and when AJ is whipping the battle ropes, he is adding endurance to his arms and back and peaking his anaerobic conditioning for when he gets in the ring.
Push-ups are great for boxing, they engage the chest and triceps to give a great conditioning and endurance, especially when you put a medicine ball under one arm like AJ to focus all the pressure on one side of the body, jumping up with the arm at the end of the movement and then switching. This is typical of AJ, who leaves no stone unturned working both arms in unison and they removing one arm or leg and working them in isolation.
You cant get a 6 pack like AJ without putting serious work into the core. We know AJ does a ton of different exercises for his core and we are here to share the best ones with you today.
“I’ve been doing a lot of bodyweight core work. Hanging on a bar, Because your core is so important. It controls so much. So I hold my body weight in the air, with my legs in position.”
Medicinal Ball Core Work
As you can see in the video, AJ’s coach McCracken, is hitting the medicine ball off Anthonys core first soft and then more hard. This is the perfect way to get the mid section ready for taking hits in the ring. Other trainers may just put on a glove and start punching the fighters mid section.
Probably more easy than it looks sitting in an L shape with the core exposed, Aj then lifts his legs to make a V shape and then lowers them back down. This works the core muscles and the stabilising muscles getting Anthony ready for war in the ring.
Leg Raises – Dip Position
AJ gets in the position where you would normally do dips but instead raises his knees to his chest working the core for rock solid Abs.
Leg Raises – Pull Up Position
Same exercise except with the hands above the head in the pull up position and this time he is raising his legs up 90 degrees in front of him working on a different area of the core.
The plank is one of the best exercises for building core strength and Aj uses all different variations and style of the plank to develop an unbeatable core and he even gets his coach to smack him with a medicine ball to make sure he is going further than the competition even at the plank.
Check out this video of AJ in a sideplank with his feet elevated and his trainer smacking him with a medicine ball.
TRX is great for the core and stability muscles, it makes you keep you balance while doing regular workout moves like pushups, one legged squats, pull ups and it is also great for strengthening the core muscles.
“So much of what I do in the gym is to strengthen my core. I do a lot of work on the stability ball, a lot of exercises using TRX ropes and a lot of bodyweight exercises, too. It does annoy me, though, because I tell my coach that I want bigger calves, bigger arms and a bigger chest.”
Another favorite of great fighters like Floyd Mayweather, this is an excellent way to strengthen the core by stretching it to its limits and then engaging the muscles to bring it back to the starting position. This one also builds the stabilizing muscles and adds strength to the arms
When you are working on of these weights in the gym it is going to be crucial that you put in a lot of cardio and AJ gets tons of variation is his cardio as well with all different types of traditional work, variations and as usual AJ likes to spice things up as well. A lot of people are calling traditional road work unnecessary now but that is a load of rubbish, you need to last 12 rounds and roadwork is a great way to do just that.
“In boxing, for fitness you have running and skipping – they’re the old school ways of getting fit. When I first started boxing, I’d get up every morning and grind out a long run. But then they started bringing all this science into it, so speedwork has become more important.. There’s a lot of speedwork, but I also always do steady runs. So Monday morning is the long one – 45 minutes to an hour – and then throughout the week I’ll do a mixture of running, cycling and swimming to keep the cardio up.”
Sprints are a staple of any boxers diet. Boxing can go from 0 – 100 real quick so it is important that your body is used to exerting all its force in 10-15 second bursts and you can even actively recover with a jog in between sprints making it a HIIT exercise.
Joshua is an extremely fast sprinter completing 100ms in just in 11.53 seconds and beting Mo Farahs time.
Anthony Joshua And The Swimming Pool
Swimming is another effective method of conditioning your body and cardio for boxing. It doesn’t put any pressure on the knees and joints and it is just as effective as running for building the endurance systems, just ask the Klitschko brothers or Floyd Mayweather.
Swimming has tons of benefits for boxing and Joshua has even teamed up with Michael Phelps, the most successful swimmer in history to share some tips and the advantages of swimming are not lost on AJ who gets into the pool as much as he can.
“Swimming is good because it builds the muscle, it keeps the muscle active, it keeps your cardio but you don’t do any wear and tear on your joints because you’re not pounding the streets running.”
AJ And Cycling
The bike is another way to increase your cardio without putting any stress on the joints and it is something AJ takes advantage of as well, often testing and pushing his V02 max to the limits with Cycling sessions.
“As time goes on, it gets tougher to pedal, so what it does is it challenges your muscles, In order for your muscles to work, they need oxygen, so it’s testing your VO2 max & It helps build up that muscle memory that you can put that much speed and force through your body without getting injured”
Skipping is very important for boxing. It develops the coordination between your hands and feet, builds arm endurance and works on your cardio and conditioning. It is a great way to warm up and It is a big part of AJ’s work when he is in the boxing ring.
Boxing Specific Work
There are tons of benefits of shadowing in preparation for a real fight and Joshua moves around the ring always focussing on head movement and footwork. Shadow boxing allows AJ to visualise himself landing the shots on his opponent and getting the knockout but also practicing the game plan for any upcoming opponent.
Anthony Joshua Padwork
After all that strength work and training in the weights room. It’s time for the ultimate release for all this pent up power on the pads with coach McCracken. You can see the power immediately in AJ’s shots as he throws hes patentend 1-2-Left hook and uppercuts that would lift a horse.
AJ focusses on his movement and footwork around the ring, making sure to always be moving his head and when the call comes to let a punch go, it is with power and explosive speed, looking to inflict damage on his opponent.
Anthony Joshua Bag Work
The heavy bag is the ultimate release for AJ’s power. He unleashes his most powerful shots on the bag to turn all that raw strength into a frightening level of force ready to land on his opponents’ jaw and score yet another knockout.
Rob McCracken is often right by AJ’s side holding the bag, talking him through the combinations and the focus rarely strays from focusing on Footwork and movement as well as striking with power.
AJ is advanced on the speedbag and he cites increased hand-eye coordination, bring the handbag to the chin for protection and building up the endurance in the shoulders as some of the key benefits of hitting the speed bag.
If you want to step in the ring Sparring is going to be a huge part of getting ready. It is the closest thing you can imagine to being in a fight so the preparation that it offers is unmatched by any other exercises.
Sparring can be light or hard put it sharpens the tools for battle. AJ was reportedly knocking out his sparring partners in the build up to Ruiz Jnr and many of them had to go home after being beaten by the unified heavyweight champ.
Training Routine While In Camp
Joshua will hut 3 sessions per day while in camp encompassing all aspects of his training.
“The only weight I picked up during training was for deadlifts, which are for full-body strength and glutes. And that’s where the power comes from.”
Session 1: Cardio: This involves steady-state cardio like cycling, swimming or running
Session 2: Strength and Conditioning work: There won’t be too much weightlifting involved during camp but working on the core and some deadlifting.
Session 3: Boxing Training: The main session of the day working on Bags, Pads or Sparring
“The battle’s more within myself, to get better than where I was in my last camp, my last session. And in between sets or intervals, I like to have a laugh and a joke. It builds confidence that I am fit, that I can go through the pain and have fun while I’m doing it.”
Anthony Joshua’s Fighting Fit Diet
When you are training this hard and burning so many calories, it is crucial to fuel with healthy protein and a lot of carbs to fuel the workouts.
Joshua’s Diet consists of tons of lean meats, fish, starchy carbs like rice and sweet potato, fruits, and green vegetables, nuts, yogurts, honey and
Joshua is training three times a day in camp so time is constrained and he needs to get 4 to 5000 calories per day so he will double up on his portions and still try to get 5 meals per day with all nutritious foods.
A Typical Diet For Joshua In Camp:
Meal 1: Fruit Smoothie With Protein & Oats For A Complete Meal
Meal 2: After the first session: 5 Eggs with Wholemeal Bread, Avocado & 500ml Orange Juice.
Meal 3: Lunch: 2 Large Chicken Breasts with vegetables and wholemeal rice
Meal 4: After Second Session: Recovery Shake With Healthy Carbs And Protein
Meal 6: 2 Salmon Fillets With Sweet Potato or Pasta washed down with Apple Juice
Meal 7: Night Time Snack: Yoghurt with Nuts Honey And Fruits
Rest Is The Key
“I get 10 hours sleep a day and drink five litres of water.”
AJ understands the importance of rest for his training regimen. He aims to get 10 hours of sleep each night to let the muscles recover and be ready for his next session. He also gets massages and acupuncture up to 5 times per week.
“You push yourself to the limits every day and you recover best in your sleep, I try to get as much sleep as possible.”
Wrapping It up With A Knockout
If you think living, training and getting in Shape like Anthony Joshua is easy, think again. The man is the epitome of work ethic and his dedication outside the ring is why he is the champ inside it.