Oleksandr Usyk is just nine days away from his rematch with Anthony Joshua and the Ukrainian boxer has been training hard behind the scenes.
Usyk is due to face Joshua for a second time on August 20 after taking the British heavyweight’s WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts in an unanimous points decision at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September.
Usyk is the favourite to retain his heavyweight titles in Saudi Arabia later this month and his recent body transformation has convinced fans it will be a ‘long night’ for Joshua.
Usyk stunned boxing fans after sharing his new figure on social media. The Ukrainian boxer shared a video clip which outlined the weight he had put on since the original fight, when he weighed in at at a career heaviest 221lb.
Many questioned how the 35-year-old went about changing his body ahead of his rematch with AJ… so, Sportsmail have looked at the weird and wonderful training methods the Ukrainian boxer uses.
Oleksandr Usyk (left) is just X amount of days away from his rematch with Anthony Joshua (right) and the Ukrainian boxer has been training hard behind the scenes
The rematch between the two heavyweight’s will take place in Saudi Arabia on August 20
Boxing fans were stunned at Usyk’s body transformation in a training clip that appeared online
Usyk has used swimming as a way to get into shape for years and his trainer Anatoly Lomachenko – the father of lightweight boxer Vasyl – has encouraged him to undergo 10k open-air swims to build-up his stamina.
Lomachenko – who is also known for preparing underwater exercises for Usyk – put the heavyweight through a grueling regime ahead of his first fight with Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Usyk spent five hours a day in the pool swimming laps according to his former opponent Dereck Chisora.
Chisora recalled the time he visited a bathhouse and bumped into Usky. He said: ‘I was just about to leave the Russian bathhouse that I go to when I am tired and hurt from training.
‘The owner told me to wait because he had a surprise,’ he said, as reported by the Sun. I sat down and all I heard was ‘Derek, Deeeerrrrrek’, just like he kept saying during the build-up to our fight.
‘I started talking and laughing with him and I told him he looked tired. He then told me he had just finished swimming for five hours.’
‘I told him he was lying, he couldn’t swim for five hours,’ he added. ‘But his trainer told me it was true and then showed me a video of him in this huge Olympic pool just going up and down for five hours.’
HOLDING HIS BREATH UNDER WATER
Swimming is not the only water-based activity Usyk does to improve his performance in the ring. He also practices holding his breath under water.
It seems like a strange thing to work on as a boxer, but there is scientific research that states working on your breathing helps increase your lung capacity which in turn aids your fitness levels.
Breath holding can also improve a boxer’s psychological preparedness and willpower in the ring as it primes the athlete for fighting while feeling breathless.
Vasyl – the son of Usyk’s coach – can famously hold his breath for four and a half minutes. He believes this form of training helps him reach his cognitive and physical peak.
Swimming is not the only water-based activity Usyk does to improve his performance in the ring – he also practices holding his breath under water (above)
Most people enjoy heading off on holiday and sinking their toes into the sand before trotting down to the sea. However, going to the beach has a whole different meaning for Usyk.
Usyk will use sand training to add diversity to his weekly workout schedule. This will force his body to work harder, while also keeping him more engaged in his training session.
Sand training is also a low impact form of exercise. It will prevent Usyk from suffering with any knee pain, shin splints or hip issues. It will also reduce Usyk’s chances of picking up an impact-related injury such as stress fractures.
However, the big benefit for Usyk is the affect it has on his power. The 35-year-old has to generate more power to produce the force and energy needed to accelerate forwards while running on sand.
You have to have a pretty rock-hard core to withstand the battering you’re going to take at some point during your boxing career.
Therefore, you see professional boxers performing the most bizarre abs exercises in the gym to strengthen their midriff.
Usyk shared a video on his Instagram page of him laying on his back and allowing his coach to relentlessly pummel a medicine ball onto his torso.
Both Tyson Fury and Tommy Fury have been filmed performing the same exercise in the gym. However, their decision to incorporate the move into their training programme came under fire.
Tommy was forced to withdraw from his fight with Jake Paul after suffering a broken rib. Many believe he sustained the injury by performing this particular ab exercise.
COLD WATER SUBMERSION
Training as a full-time athlete can take its toll on your body – especially when you’re a boxer. So, it’s important to do everything you can to alleviate the physiological and psychological stress you put it under.
Water immersion has become one of the most widely used recovery methods by athletes and their teams. But, what is water immersion I hear you say? Well, its when athletes dunk themselves in freezing cold water to reduce swelling, regulate their heart rate and reduce muscle damage.
It’s a form of cryotherapy that you usually see footballers posting about on their social media. Premier League players typically share photos of themselves stepping into world class facilities to undergo such treatment.
However, Usyk has gone for the old-school way of doing things. Instead of turning up to a fancy institute of sport, he has shared videos of himself jumping into a giant ice lake – which would typically be below 15˚C.
Usyk has always been a fan of changing up his training routine and pushing himself to the absolute limit. He believes one of the best ways to be able to do that is to take part in CrossFit training.
CrossFit is known for getting people into shape. After all, it is a fitness regimen that involves varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
This gives Usyk the chance to work on a series of combined exercises that will help develop his strength, agility, flexibility and fitness in one session.
Speaking previously, the Ukrainian boxer said: ‘I tried these different kinds of things – such as weight lifting etc. But what I really like is CrossFit.
‘I’m so into it. I feel splendid when working out and I think that the approach is important as well. I like the way that it has been developed by my trainer.’
Usyk is no clown but he sure knows how to juggle! The 35-year-old has been seen juggling on multiple occasions and frequently uses the exercise during his training sessions.
It is believed juggling can help build hand-eye coordination – improving an athletes reaction time, reflexes, spatial awareness, strategic thinking, and concentration.
Pretty beneficial if you ask me.
Juggling is also a good warm-up exercise as it gets you moving enough to increase your oxygen intake without tiring you out. It also focuses the mind before a boxer steps into the ring.
Plus, juggling is pretty fun so why not incorporate it into training! It’s safe to say Usyk looks like he’s having fun when he picked up those three little balls.
MIND AND COGNITIVE TESTING
As a boxer you have to think quickly or you run the risk of getting lamped in the head. Therefore, it’s important for athletes to train their mind.
Usyk and his coach recognise the importance of this. As a result, Lomachenko makes the Ukrainian boxer take part in a series of mental drills before he steps out into the ring.
Usyk posted a video to his Instagram page that saw him looking at a Schulte table – which includes a grid filled with randomly distributed numbers or letters used for development of speed reading, peripheral vision, attention and visual perception.
Usyk posted a video to his Instagram page that saw him looking at a Schulte table (above)
I wouldn’t necessarily say dancing is a form of training for Usyk but he certainly loves a boogie during his workouts. He’s shared multiple clips of himself getting his hips moving mid-session and we’re here for it.
Not only is it an amusing watch, it’s also has a host of benefits on the athlete himself. Dancing releases positive endorphins. It also loosen the boxer’s muscles up. But, most importantly… it’s bring a bit of fun to training!
Usyk was most recently seen dancing his socks off after his face-off with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia. The 35-year-old was filmed dancing with fans on the streets of Jeddah following a promotional event.
One of the oldest tricks in the boxing book – coin catching. Usyk has been using this exercise for years. He’s posted multiple videos of himself throwing three coins in the air and catching them all one-by-one.
It is a simple yet effective drill that is used to improve a fighter’s hand-to-eye coordination, reaction time and reflexes.
Running appears to be one of Usyk’s least favourite exercises, but who can blame him. Trudging around in either the freezing cold or scorching heat is not exactly how I would like to spend my time.
But, given he is a professional athlete, he gets it done. Usyk has shared several videos to his social media page of him trotting around different locations. He has also shared the occasional clip of himself undergoing a sprint session.
The 35-year-old goes on long runs to build-up his anaerobic system and completes interval sessions to work on his aerobic system. This gives him the fitness and stamina to perform over 12 rounds of boxing.
As a boxer it’s pretty fundamental that you are strong. So, incorporating some form of weight lifting is vital for Usyk. He previously spoke about his passion for CrossFit but the types of sessions seen in his Instagram below come under the category of Olympic Weightlifting.
Olympic Weightlifting is one of the oldest forms of weight training. It includes a series of complex moves – incorporating a barbell loaded with weight plates.
Exercises completed can include: Deadlifts, squats, power cleans, snatches, jerks and more.
BASKETBALL AND OTHER SPORTS
For most, the above would be more than enough exercise. But, Usyk loves to get involved in a range of other sports to help with his fitness and coordination.
He regularly participates in basketball games or volley ball drills. The 35-year-old also loves to fish and kayak.
Usyk even made his debut for FC Polissya in February 2022 – coming off the bench in the 77th minute of the Ukrainian side’s 2-1 victory in a friendly against top-division outfit NK Veres Rivne.
Usyk made his professional football debut in February during a friendly for FC Polissya