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Alex Ariza has been Pacman's conditioning guru since 2008


Pacquiao's fever pitch,
not endless gym time,
is a secret to his conditioning

By Gordon Marino
The Boxing Amusement Park


For years now. elite boxers have been hiring strength and conditioning coaches, in addition to their boxing trainers. Physical trainer Alex Ariza has been putting Manny Pacquiao through his paces since 2008.  It has certainly been a fruitful collaboration. In his relentless activity in the ring, Pacquiao is a throwback to the likes of Aaron Pryor and Henry Armstrong. It is not unusual for the Filipino superstar to fire as many as a thousand punches in a 12-round fight, all the while moving back and forth and laterally. 


Almost all boxers worry about running out of gas in the ring.  Sometimes you can even see it as they warm up for a bout. They will hold back and fail to even work up a sweat, for fear of losing the energy that might be needed in the fight. But when you extend yourself in conditioning, you can climb through the ropes with confidence and without worrying about how and where to save and spend your energies. That, in a nutshell, is why Pacquiao punishes himself so much in training. It is also the reason that unlike many boxers, Manny is so exuberant on fight night.   


   Freddie Roach told me that he has never been with a fighter who worked with Pacquiao’s intensity.  Roach said, “He’ll do 15 rounds on the pads and during the rest period, you’ll look over and he is doing exercises. It’s crazy.” I have witnessed the wonder of a Pacquiao workout myself.  Again, it is not the time that he puts in the gym, but the fact that he always seems to work at a fever’s pitch.


After every Pacquiao encounter, I come back to my own gym carrying on about Manny’s work ethic. In the throes of a recent rant, one veteran fighter who was shadow boxing at the time, slid over and quipped, “Yes but does Pacquiao work 10 hours a day in a factory?” I began to counter, but had to concede, “No he doesn’t.


It is true, when you have a job and maybe a family you don’t have as much time or energy as a multi-millionaire elite fighter whose only concern is conditioning. So I asked Alex Ariza how his regime with Manny could be translated to fighters who might come to the gym after a full day of, say, working construction.


The Colombia native acknowledged how hard the task of holding down a taxing job and boxing can be. He suggested, “During the day, try to get some protein, like almonds, in your body every hour and a half. If you can, catch a little nap, even 15-20 minutes when you are on break or lunch.”


When I pressed as to how to integrate the physical conditioning and boxing, Ariza advised, “If you can’t get your conditioning in the morning, then do it right after an hour boxing.” Pacquiao’s coach uses a lot of interval type training, which involves sprints and hill runs.


But he emphasizes, “You want intensity in your workout and you can only really push it for one to one-and-a-half hours.” Another words, don’t drag the training out by spending hours tapping away at the heavy bag. The key is focus and intensity. Get your heart rate up and try to keep it there. Manny, by the way, ramps his motor up to around 205 bpm but I know- he doesn’t work all day!


Always generous with his time, Ariza concluded, “Make sure you take 10 minutes to stretch and get warmed up before workouts, as well as some time for cool down. And get 50-100 grams of protein in your body within 20 minutes of finishing up. That is when you use protein most efficiently."

Gordon Marino

Other articles by Gordon Marino

Vitali Klitschko pounds out an argument for boxing reform

The elemental feelings of anger and fear

Training tips from Angelo Dundee: Everything works off the jab

Training tips from Bernard Hopkins: Improving your speed

Training tips from Mike Tyson: A devastating cocktail of punches


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Gordon Marino | The Ringside Boxing Show

A former boxer, Gordon Marino
was head boxing coach
at Virginia Military Institute
and now runs a boxing program
in Northfield, Minn.,
where he teaches philosophy
at St. Olaf College.
He also writes about boxing
for the Wall Street Journal.

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