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Andre Ward’s Secret Weapon: Pilates

Talking training and workouts with a champ.
Andre Ward

Andre Ward is still sharp – both mentally and physically. He called it midway through the fight, from his ringside seat, that Chris Algeri was out-boxing Siberian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO junior welterweight title Saturday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center despite Algeri’s truly grostesque right eye which continued swelling throughout the fight. But physically, Ward says whenever it’s his time to step back in the ring, he’ll be ready.

It’s been more than seven months since the WBA super middleweight champ took a fight. Between a controversial contract dispute and a void of fighters willing to challenge the undefeated boxer, it’s unclear when his next fight will be. But take one look at Ward and you can tell he’s in fighting shape.

What’s his secret weapon? Pilates.

“Pilates is phenomenal,” Ward says. “I go so hard in the boxing training and the strength and conditioning training and the track work, but [pilates] keeps me supple. It keeps me injury-free but it also keeps me strong.”

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Ward said he started adding Pilates to his routine in 2002, two years before he rose to stardom winning Olympic gold. Pilates is a conditioning routine focused around building flexibility, muscle strength and a strong core, all of which are assets for athletes as well as the average gym regular.

“A lot of times in American we work on bully muscles,” he said. “We want the big muscles and the stuff that looks good. But we don’t focus on the little things. But that’s the stuff that sustains you and keeps you strong.”

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We talked to Ward’s strength and conditioning coach, Tony Brady, who also works with fighters like Amir Khan and Alfredo Angulo, to get a sample of what a training session with Ward would be like.

The following workout is not for the faint of heart, so our advice: scale accordingly.

 

Andre Ward Workout

*Duration: 45 minutes - 1 hour

WARMUP

18 minutes on the StairMaster

Alternate 30 seconds at “hard” pace/60 seconds at “moderate” pace

Single Leg Squats

2-3 sets of 10 repetitions

Superset each set of squats with a 2-minute plank hold.

T-Pushups

2-3 sets of 10 reps. During each rep, hold the pushup position for two seconds at the bottom of each pushup. At the top, turn sideways, lifting one arm to the ceiling and hold a side plank for 3 seconds.

Superset each set of pushups with 15-20 single-arm dumbbell rows (each arm).

Explosive Step-Ups

Use a box at least one foot high (or a chair). Stand alongside the box then step up on the box with your right leg while bringing your left knee up 90 degrees. Complete 2-3 sets if 15 reps on each leg.

Superset each set of step-ups with max effort pull-ups.

Cobra Back Extensions

Lay face down with your pelvis on an exercise ball and your feet pressed against a wall for stability. Complete 2-3 sets of 5 back extensions, holding each rep for 10 seconds.

Superset each set of back extensions with 20 crunches on the exercise ball.

 

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