Training like a champ with Nathan Cleverly

The world light heavyweight king shows me the gruelling regime that keep himself at the top of the pile


The Day Begins…


With a record of 23 fights, 23 wins (11 by way of knockout) and standing at 6ft 3inch 24 year-old Cleverly is trained by his Dad Vince. A typical workout starts at 11am with some stretching and a 3-5 mile, or roughly 15 minutes, run around his local football pitch to warm up:

“Sometimes when we train down here in the mud and stuff it’s like a swamp but it’s good for the legs. It’s helpful to be in different conditions as it gives me something to think about.”

Hill Sprints


Once he’s finished his run Nathan also occasionally throws in some hill sprints (wearing football boots to give him some grip in the treacherous conditions) to help loosen his body up further.

“Hill sprints are brilliant for cardio exercise but they’re the most physically demanding part of training. Running uphill is good for getting air into my lungs and getting the heart going a bit. It’s similar to when you’re in the ring, you’ve got to get your breathing right and calm the heartbeats down. On a good day I’ll run up and down here 10-12 times with 30 seconds rest. We spend at least 30 minutes just running up and down here.”

In The Gym


A smart chap (he’s got a BSc in Mathematics from Cardiff University) Nathan warms up again before he starts his gym work including a good old sniff of Vicks!

“I need a good warm up. Even on the day of a fight I go for a run in the afternoon. Opponents have laughed at me before thinking I was running off! I’ve got a bit of nasal congestion at the moment so a deep breath of Vicks clears the nasal passage and helps me breath during sparring.”

Shadow Boxing


Under Vince’s watchful eye Nathan starts his ring work by throwing some uppercuts:

“This is for my mobility and bending the knees. It’s like shadow boxing but it’s a bit trickier. I’m 6”3 so I have to bend my knees while keeping my eyes up on the target and throwing an uppercut. My dad can see if I’m doing it properly and if I’m throwing my jab straight and keeping my chin tucked in.”



During an extensive work out it’s vital to keep hydrated.

“It’s important to get plenty of water on board during the ring work because you need the brain functioning properly when you’re losing so much through sweat.”



Sounds a bit girly but it’s a great exercise as Nathan explains.

“Skipping strengthens my back, shoulders, arms and abs so it’s an all-round warm up exercise really. It’s an excellent cardio workout. Plus, it builds stamina, agility and it’s not heavy on the knees either so it’s perfect for boxing. Skipping is a bit like swimming, it stretches everything. I’ve never seen any of the MMA boys (that train here) skipping though!”

Pad Work


Timing and reaction speed are essential tools for a champ.

“The pad work is a variation of shots, uppercuts, hooks, right-hands and body shots at different speeds so it’s all good for timing and reacting to your opponents movements. It builds power and confidence. The boxing is split up into 12 x 3 minute rounds with a minutes rest so it’s the equivalent of a championship fight.”

Strength And Conditioning

As well as his actual boxing coach Nathan has a strength and conditioning coach who helps him out. Here, Nathan takes us through his average routine.

Aided sit ups


This is good for the abs and it’s a lot tougher than doing normal sit ups on the floor.

Arm workouts


The 10KG weights on each arm give me explosive punching power. This is designed especially to build that type of power in the arms.



“The kettle-bell will work the arms, back and shoulders. There’s the two arm lift which is one way of lifting it. It weights 15KGS but sometimes I go up to 20KGS. It’s another way of working the muscles and breaks up the training routine as well.”



“The Powerbag is good for building explosive reactions as well as toning the forearms and biceps. I also do work on my legs with the Powerbag on my shoulders while squatting down.”

Medicine ball


“The medicine ball weighs 7KGS. Abdominal presses (where you’re lying on the floor and you have the medicine ball thrust into your stomach area) are physically and mentally demanding.”

Heavy bag


“This heavy bag replicates a fight. You can also improve your power and accuracy. We do this for three minutes non-stop. The heavy bags are good for getting your punches right.”



“Hanging on the rings stretches the arms out as they’ve been bent for a long time after a training session so it’s good to straighten them out with some pull ups.”



After training Nathan relaxes.

“I normally just chill out and have a protein shake immediately after. I check Twitter and that sort of stuff. I did a photo shoot with Carol Vorderman the other day and she tweeted me about it, which was quite funny!”