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Are you as calisthenics fit as peak Mike Tyson?

Are you as calisthenics fit as peak Mike Tyson?

January 09, 2024 3 min read

Are you as calisthenics fit as peak Mike Tyson?

Mike Tyson, aka Iron Mike, aka the Baddest Man on the Planet was a big fan of calisthenics at the peak of his career. Think you’re as calisthenics fit as peak-fitness Tyson? It’s time to find out.

How did Mike Tyson use calisthenics? 

Mike Tyson is one of the most famous names in boxing history, for his sporting achievements and his antics outside of the ring. He was the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987-1990 and won his first 19 pro fights by knock out.

Tyson was a formidable athlete – fast, strong, intimidating and with a jacked physique. Could it have been thanks to his love for calisthenics? We definitely know that Iron Mike incorporated a lot of high-rep calisthenics work in his training regime when he was in his prime.

What was Mike Tyson’s training routine?

At his peak, Iron Mike’s training was as intense as his right hook. When training for a fight, he’d often clock up 50+ hours a week, and it went something like this:

4am: stretching

4:30am: steady 3-5 mile run + a few miles walking

12pm: sparring, and skills work using mitt and pad or slip bag

1pm: calisthenics workout

3pm: boxing skills work and heavy bag work

3:30pm: jump rope and calisthenics

5pm: calisthenics workout

9pm: active recovery cardio on indoor bike

What was the famous Mike Tyson bodyweight workout?

Mike Tyson did an incredible amount of calisthenics training, clocking up thousands of reps in a workout – and he’d do this six days a week.

History has it that Mike Tyson’s calisthenics workouts went like this: 2000 bodyweight squats, 2500 sit ups, 500 push ups, and 500 bench dips. We’re not sure if he did this all in one workout, or if he split it up into sets across the day. Either way, that’s an insane amount of bodyweight work.

Which calisthenics exercises did Mike Tyson do?

Squats – air squats or bodyweight squats are the classic calisthenics lower body exercise, and apparently Mike Tyson did 2000 of them a day, six days a week

Sit ups – sit ups have always been a classic boxing training exercise, and it looks like Mike Tyson prioritised these, doing 2500 a day

Push ups – push ups are the ultimate do-anywhere bodyweight exercise that can be scaled up or down and have lots of variations to choose from

Bench dips – we can understand why Iron Mike favoured a bench dip – all kind of dips help build strength in the shoulders, triceps, and chest.

Can you do Mike Tyson’s calisthenics circuit at home?

We don’t recommend you replicate Mike Tyson’s entire workout routine at home – how long would it take to do all that, anyway? But why not incorporate his favourite bodyweight exercises into your own routines, and throw in a little jump rope or running cardio to imitate the daily grind of a boxing pro?

How about this as a mini version of Mike Tyson’s calisthenics circuit:

5 rounds: 

20 air squats

25 sit ups

5 push ups

5 bench dips

Followed by 200 skips

Take on the Mike Tyson calisthenics challenge

Think you can take on the full Mike Tyson calisthenics challenge? You might only do it once in a lifetime, but if you really want to do it then don’t let us stop you. 

  1. 3 mile run
  2. For time: 2000 bodyweight squats, 2500 sit ups, 500 push ups, and 500 bench dips (no partitioning)
  3. 5 x 1 minute jump rope

If you take on the Iron Mike calisthenics and cardio challenge, let us know! We won’t judge you if you don’t, though…

Mike Tyson and calisthenics

How important was calisthenics to Mike Tyson’s success? It’s hard to say, but one thing we do know is that he was fiercely dedicated to his daily calisthenics workouts for a large part of his professional career. The functional bodyweight movements he favoured probably helped him build strength, muscular endurance, and agility without weighing down that famous heavyweight physique with extra bulk. Embrace the champion mindset and incorporate more calisthenics into your own routine.

Check out the Gravity Fitness store for traditional and unusual calisthenics and bodyweight equipment including pull up racks, gymnastics rings, parallettes, and resistance bands.

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