Mike Tyson’s Calisthenics Training Routine That Made Him A World Champion

8

APRIL, 2021

It’s undeniable that Mike Tyson is one of the greatest fighters to ever live, but more than that, he was by far the most intimidating fighter, or just person in general, on the planet. A lot of this was due to his intimidating aura, strength, and terrifying physique. 

What many people are surprised to find out however, is that Mike Tyson did not achieve this physique through traditional weight lifting. In fact, he didn’t lift any weights at all. Mike Tyson’s physique was achieved through a calisthenics only routine that was developed by his coach Cus D’Amato. In this article, let’s dive into Mike Tyson’s calisthenic workout, how you can adapt it, and why he did it.

mike tyson quotes

Mike Tyson’s Calisthenics Routine Revealed

On top of strength training Mike also did a ton of boxing and endurance training, but for that you can see Mike Tyson’s entire workout here. Here is a breakdown of his calisthenic routine according to Brawl Bros:

500 Dips

500 Pushups 

1,000-2,000 Situps 

30 Minutes of Neck Bridges 

400-1,000 squats 

500 Shoulder Shrugs (only thing he did weighted) 

Not as insane as this looks, he didn’t do it all in one go. Because he boxed pretty much 8 hours a day, he would run this circuit 3 times a day and this would add up to his cumulative reps.

This wasn’t always consistent but his rep ranges stayed about the same. Sometimes he would go for a jog for 5 miles, then come home and bang out 500-1,000 squats before he went back to bed, this was all at 4-5am.

Now that you know how crazy his strength training routine was, let’s dive into how you can apply it.

mike tyson cartoon

Making Mike Tyson’s Routine Human

While that routine looks great, it’s something an average civilian will have to work their way up to. Mike himself has stated many times that he did not start with doing all of these sets from the get go but had to work his way up to it, which is what you will have to do. Let’s talk about how you can do that.

Circuit Training

One way to achieve this is to replicate his style and do a circuit.

Basically what you’re going to do is pick a comfortable rep range for each exercise, and then bang each exercise out back to back.

Here is an example:

Set 1:

20 Push-ups
20 Dips
20 Squats
20 Sit Ups
20 Shrugs

Rest

Repeat for 5 more sets

If you do this for 5 sets, you will get into the first 100 of the rep ranges on each exercise. If you do this circuit twice a day, you’ll be at almost half of what Mike does, and that’s not bad at all.

mike tyson calisthenics routine

EMOM Method

Another way to get into these rep ranges is to try the EMOM method for calisthenics. This stands for “Every Minute on the Minute.” What you’re going to do is set your stopwatch to zero, and as soon as it goes you get down to your first set.

You do as many as you can and let’s say the clock is at :40 seconds, now you have 20 seconds to rest because every time the clock strikes the minute mark, you go again.

This is called every minute on the minute training and it’s a good way to rack up the reps. So if you’re doing push ups, you can do push ups for 5 minutes, move on to dips for five minutes and so on. In a 30 minute workout you can get a TON of reps depending on how many sets of each exercise that you do.

Why Did Mike Tyson Train This Way?

Mike Tyson did this because calisthenics is a good mix between strength training and endurance. Not only does it build muscular strength, but it also builds muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance. This is because the high reps really get your heart rate up, and the continuation of reps puts your muscle into hypertrophy, and that combination makes it a complete workout. In boxing especially, everything you do has an opportunity cost, so if you had to pick between strength training exercises, you might as well do something that also works your endurance as time and energy in a day is limited.

Another reason calisthenics exercises are great is that they are compound movements. This means that the exercises involve more than 1 joint. Such exercises help Mike achieve more functional strength than the isolated movements in traditional bodybuilding. Mike has been quoted saying that weightlifting has no place in boxing, or rather, that it is irrelevant to the success that a boxer has. Good physiques don’t mean much, but strength, speed and endurance does.

What Can You Take Away From Mike Tyson’s Way Of Training ?

The reason this workout is great for you to try is because it can help you achieve multiple goals at once. Not only can you build more muscle, but it is also a great form of cardio which can help you lose weight. It goes from feeling like a cardio workout to a heavy lifting workout because it works everything.

Another huge upside to this workout is that it doesn’t need much equipment and can easily be done in your home. It’s also a workout that you can do everyday, so if you’re a fan of momentum and consistent routines, then this workout is for you.

Be Like Mike

While we can’t ignore that Mike was a physical specimen, we also can’t ignore the fact that he proved that you don’t need weights to be strong and fit. Try this workout for two weeks and see how you feel at the end of it. Aim for at least 50 reps on each workout for your first day, and try to add 5-10 more reps to the overall workout daily. If you do, you’ll find yourself getting into the best shape of your life in no time!

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.
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