INSIDE LOOK: What’s involved in pre-fight training camp?
5th July 2018
From fitness sessions to diet, we find out what’s involved in an eight-week training camp before a title boxing match.
Victor Rabei, the Moldovan-born Dublin light welterweight boxer (and Fulfil ambassador) is gearing up for his 5th straight pro win and first belt against Dubliner Karl Kelly for the coveted Celtic Title, on Saturday 14th July.
In his last few days of training camp, we catch up with him to find out what gruelling preparations are involved in training for ‘Fight Night.’
“Camp requires 8 weeks of 3 training sessions a day”
My current training camp is about 8 weeks of training. The first two weeks are focused on easing my body back in, cutting the weight and just getting my body back to its normal condition. My coach and I sit down and study my opponent to come up with a training plan that we think will produce the best on the night.
Our main focus is making sure that I’m fit to fight for 8 rounds. This means being in the gym all day doing 2 to 3 sessions. When I’m not in camp, I still train every day but I wouldn’t push myself as hard and would focus on my weaknesses from the previous camp.
The following 6 weeks we follow the plan to the letter. Our ultimate goal is to get me in the best shape I can be stepping into the ring and coming out with that win.
“Every day includes a variety of training types”
I’d usually train 2 to 3 times a day, six days a week. I start with a HIIT or Strength & Conditioning session followed by boxing and sparring in the afternoon, and then a light 8km run at night to loosen up the legs.
During the fight, my heart rate would go up to 170/180 bpm, so I do a lot of HIIT to imitate fight conditions and get my body used to the quick recovery in between rounds. This usually involves circuits with bodyweight exercises like mountain climbers, burpees, battle ropes, box jumps and slam balls.
Strength and conditioning workouts improve my power and prevent me from getting muscle fatigue in the ring. To improve power, I do big weights and small reps. A usual session would include weighted squats (85/90/95kg) by 3 sets at 3/2/1 reps. Deadlifts (120,130,140kg), bench press, weighted pull-ups (24kg) for 5 reps x 5.
For the conditioning side, everything we would do involves explosive work like jumping lunges, push-ups, wall slams with a 4kg ball.
“Even though I’m burning loads of calories, I need to watch what I eat”
I’d never focus on how many calories I’m consuming as I do so much training, but I do need to watch what I eat. Every week I send my nutritionist my training plan and he provides me with my meals for the week based on the training sessions I’m doing.
I’d eat my meals usually 2 hours before my sessions and then have something straight after training. I make sure that I pile up on high protein foods to help the muscles recover after training sessions and eat loads of carbs to give me the energy I need to keep up the training. I stay away from high-fat foods and sugary snacks.
Typically, when I wake up I’d have porridge which I literally have to force myself to eat it as I don’t really like eating early, but for the workouts I do it’s definitely needed.
For lunch, I’d get some chicken, sweet potatoes and vegetables into me and dinner would be a beef burger, fish or steak with some fries, mash, pasta and veg depending on the night.
For snacks, I’d always have a Fulfil bar because it contains everything I need in between sessions and it’s low on calories, which helps with my diet. I’d also have a lot of fruit which helps to kill my cravings for the doughnuts and ice cream!
“Fight Night is the easiest part!”
The day before the fight is weigh in day. I’d wake up that morning very hungry and thirsty with about 1-1.5kg to lose. I’d wake up at around 11 and go to the sauna to lose the rest of the weight. The entire time food and drink are on my mind! Once the weight is made, we head to the venue and weigh in.
Straight after I refuel my body with plenty of water get some good carbs into me and head home. That night I make sure I’ve got everything ready for the fight, try and be as relaxed as possible and get as much sleep as I can.
When it comes to fight night, that’s the easiest part – the hard work has been done. By then I’ve already had 8 to 9 weeks of training, so that alone gives me a massive boost mentally. Work is over…it’s time to have some fun!
Unsurprisingly, the thing I look forward to most after a fight is junk food. During camp, my diet is very strict so when the fight is over, a slice of pizza can sometimes bring a tear to my eye! After my first fight, I actually left the after party and went to a takeaway across the road on my own for a massive pizza and a can of coke. It made me very happy!