In his prime, Filipino icon and eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao was an absolute menace in the ring. His incredible combination of speed and power was unparalleled, and he was just a handful to deal with — so much so that there were only a few opponents Pacquiao came across who could truly give him a challenge.
Much of Pacquiao’s success stemmed from his legendary physicality. His tree trunk-like calves, built by endless roadwork and sprints up and down the basketball court, coupled with his rock solid physique, gave him a deep well of stamina, which he used to pick apart his foes with a blitzkrieg of power shots from all angles.
But Pacquiao wasn’t just born with god-given athleticism and talent. He cultivated his success from hours spent in training.
In fact, many in his team like Hall-of-Fame coach Freddie Roach, strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, and childhood friend Buboy Fernandes had a lot of trouble reining Pacquiao in to prevent him from overtraining. He was so addicted to the grind that it was difficult to get him to stop.
Pacquiao, even at the age of 41 today, is still a complete beast in the gym.
If you’ve always wanted to know how hard Pacquiao trained when he was in camp, we’ve come up with a breakdown for you. We’ve listed down elements to his work process that you can adopt for your own training regimen. Try these out, and maybe one day, you’ll be just as good as Pacquiao.
Today, Evolve Daily shares how to train like legendary Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao.
1) Gruelling Training Routine
Growing up in extreme poverty, and going on to become a boxing legend with a multimillion-dollar fortune earned throughout his career, Pacquiao knows the true value of hard work. He understands exactly what it takes to make it to the top. It should come as no surprise that his training routine is absolutely grueling.
Pacquiao trains six days a week during camp, with only one day of rest. Workouts include your standard boxing drills as well as strength and conditioning routines with coach Fortune to improve his speed and agility.
In the morning, Pacquiao also loves to do roadwork, and famously jogs for miles at 6 am at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, or at the Athletic Bowl oval when he’s in Baguio City. By 8 am, he takes his morning nap before waking up for lunch. At around 1 pm, he’s off to the gym, where he works with coach Roach on boxing drills and strategy.
On sparring days, Pacquiao will often spar 10 rounds or more with at least two different sparring partners. He then spends at least 15 rounds on the heavy bag, double-ended bag, and speed bag. He cools down with jump rope and shadow boxing sessions.
Every Pacquiao workout concludes with 1,000 situps, which has been a daily tradition ever since he was stopped with a hard shot to the body by Thai fighter Medgoen Singsurat in 1999.
Like all elite-level fighters, Pacquiao adopts the Two-a-Days training methodology, which sees the Filipino take on morning and mid-afternoon workout sessions on three of the six training days. Some days, he even goes for a third session late at night.
The reason Pacquiao works so hard is because he believes coming into any given fight better conditioned than his opponent gave him a distinct advantage before even stepping foot inside the ring.
“If you train hard, the fight is easy,” Pacquiao once said.
“I train Monday through Saturday every week of training camp. It is a strict schedule that allows my body to rest between morning and afternoon sessions so that I can perform my training at my best. Everything is geared to one goal, peaking physically and mentally.”
3) Cross-Training and Love for Basketball
Pacquiao is a big-time sports fan, and is known to mix in different sports into his training like bowling, darts, and billiards. Pacquiao’s second greatest passion, however, is his love for basketball.
The Filipino firecracker would often sneak out of camp, against Roach’s wishes, to play pickup basketball games at the local park, or in his own organized amateur basketball league. He plays even more basketball when he’s not preparing for a fight, and even competed in the semi-professional circuit, Liga Pilipinas, for the MP-Gensan Warriors, a team that he owns.
“I just want to let you know that before boxing, I loved basketball,” once Pacquiao told the media.
“I still very much love basketball that even if I’ve already accomplished a lot in boxing, I’ve never forgotten about it, and basketball is still in my heart.”
4) Support System
While many boxers embrace the solitude of training, repeating every technique until mastery in the solitude of the gym, Pacquiao is a social creature who loves being surrounded by his closest friends and supporters.
He is infamously followed by at least 20 guys at any given time in training, many of whom work out alongside him, or just simply cheer him on. Whenever he goes jogging, a throng of people are right behind him. He even lives with them in a single household during camp.
Naturally, there should be no negative influences, or guys eating cheeseburgers while Pacquiao suffers the tough weight cut in preparation for his fights. So he came up with a “Biggest Loser” tradition with his companions. It’s essentially a weight-loss competition they conduct on the side. The individual who loses the most weight in a specified amount of time usually wins a cash prize.
Needless to say, Pacquiao has an incredible support system, one that he draws strength from to continue pushing himself hard in training.
Last but not least, it is nutrition that plays a major role in Pacquiao’s life as a boxer. To fuel his rigorous routine, Pacquiao eats upwards of over 7,000 calories on some days, with huge servings of his favorite Filipino dishes, which include steamed white rice, steak kebabs, steamed fish, boiled beef and cabbage stew, or his absolute favorite — Filipino chicken soup.
Unlike most fighters who have to dehydrate themselves in order to make the weight limit, Pacquiao actually competes at his natural walking weight of 147 lbs. Because of this, he is able to consume a lot of food, until he is satisfied, as opposed to following a strict diet that would bring his weight down significantly.
A professional cooking team follows Pacquiao all around the world to make sure he’s eating clean and healthy, and to monitor his weight.
Pacquiao also loves to keep things simple and just eats the same thing throughout camp.
“If you’re changing your food during training, your condition will change. That’s the most important thing,” he told USA Today while training for his bout against Keith Thurman in 2019.
“What you eat from the start of the training, then that’s your food, every month, every week, every day.”
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