Anthony Joshua’s frame is packed with lean muscle– no mean feat as a 6’5” heavyweight. As his star continues to rise, MH caught up with him to figure out what goes into building a champ’s body. Let's get ready to rrruuuumble!
(Related: How to build record breaking muscle with AJ)
Men's Health: What do you do more of: bodyweight trainingor weights?
Anthony Joshua: I do both, but I do much more bodyweight training. It gives me an opportunity to work on my cardio as well with explosive jumps and all that. But if I do weights, I like to do legs, lots of squats.
MH: You’re obviously a big guy. How do you maintain that size and power without sacrificing speed in the ring?
AJ: Boxing is such a cardio-related sport, which means speed comes in time, but I think you always find your natural weight when training. A lot of these heavyweights are naturally big and powerful and it’s our job to just stay conditioned for speed.
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MH: What nutrition do you need to fuel your training?
AJ: Nutrition-wise it’s very simple. I’m eating loads of spinach and broccoli, your meats like the chicken and fish and so on that’s giving you all the protein, and then rice and potatoes. I’m just knocking a load of that in me, and I’m not scheduled like “6 o’clock, 8 o’clock, 10 o’clock…” where I need to drink 2 sips of water with each bite. I’m not regimented in that sense, but I eat a lot, I eat when I’m hungry, and I try to eat clean.
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MH: So you’re quite casual with it, sticking to basic nutritional principles rather than a full meal plan?
AJ: Yeah. I think your body’s the best nutritional planner you’re going to get. I just eat what feels right for me; if you eat something that’s bad for you, even though you’re enjoying it, sometimes you can almost feel your body saying “no, that won’t do me any good.” I try and listen to my body and understand what’s worked in the past.
(Related: How much damage will a cheat day do?)
AJ: Probably social media, man! You know what it is? It’s these iPhones. You’re constantly on your phone when you should be resting. You need to feel energised for your sessions and phones get in the way. It’s not just Instagram; whenever I train through the day there’s always a backlog of messages. It affects the rest.
MH: How does your downtime training differ from your pre-fight training?
AJ: It’s weird because boxers don’t really have an off-season. Christmas we’ll chill out for a week or so, and then it’s back to the grind. You have to maintain your level of fitness.
MH: So no Ricky Hatton-esque binges in between fights? AJ: (Laughs) None of that. I wouldn’t change it, I like the lifestyle.
MH: What sort of conditioning do you use to get yourself fight-ready?
AJ: Well, I look at my frame. The power in my punches has a long way to travel because I’m a tall guy, and for tall guys it’s easy to be weak in the middle. I do a lot of core and rotational movements to generate power, so when it comes to transferring that power into my boxing it’s already there. I do a lot of shadow-boxing work in the sand, because it’s an unstable surface. It helps to condition my legs. I took it from the Brazilians, who play an elite level of football in the sand. That’s why they’re so good.
MH: Any other unusual training methods that you’ve incorporated? AJ: I train in an altitude centre a bit. It’s a lot different to training in a gym. My legs were shaking by the end! It definitely has a big impact, and I’m going to try and incorporate more of it into my cardio. Besides that, boxing’s quite basic. Old-school stuff.
MH: How do you handle fight-night pressure?
AJ: No turning back, is there? You just got to roll with it, it’s my time to shine. The last ten weeks has stabilised me to deal with the pressure, so I just get in there and handle my business.
MH: What does the average day look like to you?
AJ: I wake up at the crack of dawn and the first thing we’re going to do is hit the lungs with a cardio session. Whether it’s bike, swimming or running, we’re going to do intervals for 40 minutes. After that, we’ll head to a strength and conditioning centre for two hours, and after a chill-out, you’re back in the boxing gyms. Boxing is the hardest part of the day.
MH: What about away from the gym? What do you do to relax?
AJ: I just chill with the boys, play PlayStation, take my mind off things.
MH: What advice would you give to MH readers about getting in shape?
AJ: Consistency. You might join a gym three months before summer and see some improvements, but you’re never going to look like a bodybuilder. Consistency is key. If you’re always pushing yourself, you’re always improving.