The Surprising Elements of Muhammad Ali’s Training Program – Wood Chopping and Juice Chugging as Key Ingredients

Muhammad Ali’s unusual training routine

Balance the Grind reports on Muhammad Ali’s workout routine during his career, which was unusual for a boxer. In his early years, he trained at a Miami gym. He was “the first guy in the gym, and the last to leave,” according to owner Chris Dundee. But Ali didn’t utilize weight training.

Dundee admitted he believes “a fighter’s muscles can’t bulk up.” Forgoing the weights, Ali focused on his footwork by jumping rope and shadow boxing. He also did exercises to strengthen his core, including sit-ups and reverse bicycle crunches. Ali’s longtime trainer Angelo Dundee called him “the worst gym fighter in the world.”



As he got more famous and the media started following him to the gym, he built a private training compound in Deer Lake, Pa. Dubbed “Fighter’s Heaven,” Ali trained for some of his biggest fights there, according to Balance the Grind. He allowed younger fighters — like Larry Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard — to train there as well.

A large iron bell was installed at the compound, which rang four times a day: “wake up at half past 4 o’clock in the morning, again at 8 o’clock for breakfast, then 5 o’clock in the evening for supper, and one last time signaling lights out at 10 o’clock.”


Muhammad Ali’s diet

Ali ate the usual three meals a day, with dessert and snacks mixed in throughout the day. For breakfast, poached eggs, wheat toast and juice. He believed grapefruit juice help “keep the fat off his stomach” and helped him “feel good mentally.”

Lunch included fresh vegetables and lean meat; dinner usually consisted of “baked or broiled fish, chicken or turkey with a salad,” according to his former nutritionist, David Jones. Jones would get up early to make “smoothies, herbal teas and other health drinks” for Ali after his morning run.


Ali’s snacks included trail mix, nuts, or candy sweetened with honey. Ali abstained from coffee, soda, and alcohol, preferring distilled water and fruit juices. And he says he couldn’t eat foods that he liked because if he did, he would gain weight, joking “if I just look at food, my belly gets bigger.”


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