How To Train Like Gennady Golovkin

How Gennady Golovkin trains

Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin (aka GGG) has to be considered of the most devastating modern middleweights.

He has proved his talent time and time again with his tremendous punching power knocking out 35 opponents throughout his career. His pressurizing style has always been fan friendly and entertaining for fans or as Triple G put it – “Big Drama Show”. 

The Kazak has always been competing and at the highest level, with 350 amateur fights, over 40 pro fights, 35 KOs, and no recorded knockdowns ever.

Golovkin turned pro at 24 and came from a country like Kazakstan with no huge history in professional boxing before him. He simply had to go all out to show why he is one of the best in the world. 

But to get to his level requires absolute dedication and hard work to your craft before going under those bright lights.

In this article, I’m going to look at the ways Golovkin’s training routines and methods during his dominating middleweight run under trainer Abel Sanchez. But also how some of this may have changed under his most recent trainer Johnathon Banks in more recent years. 

You can watch my video version or continue reading below:

Golovkin’s Training Routine 

Before getting into the specific training areas of some of the things Golovkin likes to work on, I wanted to share his actual training routine under Sanchez. This was revealed by Sanchez himself in an interview with BWTM Sports Gaming and Sky Sports.

It is also important to remember Gennady is a full-time professional in camp doing these routines. So you won’t be able to implement all this within your own routine. But you can definitely take some ideas into your own plan.

Golovkin’s Daily Training Camp Routines 

TIMEACTIVITY
5:00 am – 6:00 am Wake up, head down to the gym, stretch
6:00 am – 12:00 pm3.5-4 mile run, Sprints (Tues/Thurs) stretching, core work
3:00 pm – Monday, Wednesday, FridayShadow boxing, Sparring, Core work, S&C 
3:00 pm – Tuesday, ThursdayStrength & Conditioning, Boxing training, Core work
6:00 pm Recovery, Dinner and Rest 
Saturday morning 9-mile run, stretching, core work 
Sunday Rest Day

So as you can tell from the above, Golovkin’s routine is very full on. But it’s not surprising when you consider the level he has got to. It should also be noted that his former trainer Sanchez revealed he wouldn’t spar 9-10 days before a fight. While other areas of this routine would also be reduced and limited (reduce fatigue).

This would be the same in most top professional boxing camps to reduce the chance of injury before the fight, but this can vary. 

But now let’s take a closer look at the individual elements of his training. 

Cardio 

Like any great champion in boxing, Golovkin certainly does not miss his roadwork. In fact, this is a huge part of his overall training plan to this day. 

Each day Golovkin is at least doing a 3.5 – 4 mile run, along with a longer 9-mile run once a week. Not only that, he trained in Big Bear California for the majority of his pro career. The reason this is so impressive is that he is running at an elevation of 8,805 feet above sea level. Meaning he is constantly running at a high altitude. 

Here there’s less oxygen in the air for your muscles, making it much harder to work out. This means you will get tired much more quickly if you’re not used to it. With Golovkin doing this almost every day, it makes it even more remarkable. It’s no wonder he’s had such a great engine for the majority of his career.  

To add further resistance, sometimes Gennady will even run with light dumbbells. Which can help increase your effort, heart rate, and calories burned.

Other cardio

Explosive interval sprints are also part of GGG’s routine which obviously helps simulate boxing explosiveness for his knockout puncher power and fighting bursts. While he will also race his fellow gym partners. No doubt to help build up his competitive spirit of winning. 

To add to this Triple G, will also do 10-15 minutes of jump rope before he starts his afternoon boxing session as a warm-up. 

He has also been seen going on bike rides in the mountainous terrain some days. No doubt to help change up his training routine from running all the time. While also helping keep things fresh while still getting a good cardio workout. 

Boxing Training 

Training the Mexican Style

Now In terms of Gennady’s style of fighting, he originally comes from a Soviet and European style with all the solid boxing fundamentals in its teaching. Some regard this style to be rigid in its methods at times.

However, this old-school style requires the training to be in a strict format. Something GGG has been confirmed to like on many occasions. As he much prefers the traditional ‘old school’ form of boxing training as part of his routine. 

When he first moved over to America for training camps, I think this certainly helped Abel Sanchez. He is in much respect more of an old-school trainer in his methods. But someone who also has a different philosophy in the style of fighting, which is of course a pressurizing Mexican style.

In an interview before his fight against Kell Brook. Abel said this about Gennady coming into his gym and taking on his ideas and style of fighting:

“When I first got him six-and-a-half years ago I asked him to give me three years without any questions, interruptions or saying ‘this is the way I used to do it before’. Let me do my job for three years and I promised he’d be the best middleweight in the world.

To this day, six-and-a-half years later, he still hasn’t questioned anything. He says ‘coach, this is your school’. I’m fortunate, as a coach, to have a pupil like that.

This is all stuff that I’ve designed and implemented into his training regime and I’m fortunate that he came to me with heavy hands. We’ve been able to develop that even more.”

Abel Sanchez talking to Sky Sports

(Read more about Golovkin’s Boxing Style for more on this area here.)

Trusting the process

Overall I think this is a very positive sign of Gennady’s trust in his coach at the time. And you can’t deny Abel’s impact as a trainer in getting him to the level he got to. Triple G developed into this style and never looked back. Changing into an entertaining pressure fighter who would set up tremendous power punches resulting in knockouts. In many ways, he reminds me of the way Julio Cesar Chavez would fight at times. 

For Gennady adapting to this style, it has all been about intensity, explosiveness, and precision.

From watching any of his boxing training you can tell he “trains how he fights’ and this is very clear to see. But let’s take a closer look at some areas.  

Shadowboxing 

For GGG’s shadowing boxing, it is truly impressive when he is doing this, as he simply flows in between each punch and throws with such preciseness.

Not only that, he always makes sure he does at least two of three movements at any time, including; using footwork, head movement or punches. This is a really good rule of thumb for any boxing exercise, even sparring – making sure you are at least doing two of three at one time.

For example, using footwork while punching or using head movement after throwing punches. Gennady is a great example to study if you’re looking to improve in this area.

He will also shadowbox with light dumbbells (1 – 1.5kg) which helps him with his shoulder muscle endurance. You will see a lot of the top boxing professionals using these when shadow boxing but I will go into more detail later in this article. 

Heavy Bag 

The boxer’s best friend and no doubt one for Golovkin is training with the heavy bag. This is where he can really practice his technique with full power. 

From looking at the footage you can tell he is focusing on precision, technique, and power. But what I also like about his work here is that he makes sure to use footwork while also changing the tempo from light to power shots in between. You can’t constantly be throwing bombs, even if you are Triple G. 

You will also see him try out different combinations and use his jab. Sometimes Golovkin gets depicted as someone who is just a power puncher. But in actual fact, he is a mix of chaos as he is always thinking two steps ahead and this is evident even watching him on the heavy bag. 

Mitt Work

Now under Sanchez and even Banks to an extent, Golovkin trains very simple combinations. With the main focus being on, setups, precision, and power.

With Abel Sanchez on the mitts, you can tell he is trying to help Gennady set up his wide left looping hooks, uppercuts, and even those deadly overhand or lead straight rights. He would also get him to double up his left hand. With a snappy left hook, before unleashing an immediately powerful follow-up left hook or uppercut. 

These punches are where Abel clearly knew Gennady would do most of his damage. And is trying to make him as efficient as possible when throwing these punches with correct form and power. 

A lot of time you will see these combos in his training materialize in the ring. 

Sanchez would also like to use the punch shield with Gennady too which is also a very useful training tool to work on your power punch variation. 

While under Johnathon Banks it’s almost been the opposite. The former Kronk fighter is making Gennady think about using his jab more, using footwork and defensive movement. Personally, I really like the way Johnathon Banks really tries to introduce the jab more into Golokin’s mitt work. In my opinion, The Kazak has one of the best jabs in boxing and it’s important that he utilizes that in his training.

It is almost reminiscent of Golovkin’s amateur days when doing mitt work

Regardless of who is on the pads with Gennady, this is a very important practice for him to put him in real situations to throw these punches. 

Reaction and timing drills

Now in terms of working on his reactions and timing. There isn’t too much footage of Gennady working on this area. Maybe because when reporters and documentary makers come to film in Big Bear. They mainly focus on him throwing power shots and strength and conditioning. 

However, he has been seen to use things like the double-end bag, speed bag, and the sideways double-end bag too which of course helps him in this area. Obviously, some of his mitt work also helps in this area. But it’s his sparring for me is the key part to work on reaction and timing.

(Check out my top 10 reaction drills here for more ideas.)

Sparring

Now sparring is the main area in terms of how Gennady really gets the most out of his training camps. This is where he can put into practice his powers shots and combinations. While also working on his overall boxing skills and defense against partners.

However, this has not always been an easy task for the likes of Abel Sanchez. Who has struggled to get good sparring partners over the years due to the tremendous power Gennady possesses.

A lot of his sparring partners actually have to wear protective body suits (see above), as The Khazak is so accurate with his body punches. Many admit that if they didn’t wear them they would break their ribs and have to go back home. Something a former super middleweight world champion George Groves fell victim to when sparring him. But was also very complimentary about Gennady’s approach:

“In sparring, Golovkin is a model pro and he’s in there to work on his game plan. He’s not the type of guy who goes in to take people’s heads off and that’s not what I saw during my time in his camp, with me or anyone else. He’s well-schooled, works hard and that’s why he gets results.

(On Golovkin breaking his rib)

“I didn’t even know it was coming and it wasn’t like I could get the arm there in time but he got through it. I didn’t even see it coming.

“So I probably get a little bit carried away, right hand happy I used to be, and then he goes touch-touch-whip and I just hear this *crack*.

“I didn’t want to get out, but there isn’t really a lot in this for me right now! So we said, ‘Abel, he’s hurt his rib.’

George Groves on sparring & training with Golovkin

Sparring Partners

Golovkin has also been known to spar with bigger guys, including the likes of former cruiserweight champ Gassiev, former light heavyweight champion Kovalev, and former super middleweight David Benavidez. His most famous spar (above) of course was with Canelo Alvarez, many years before they would get in the ring together. 

However, you’d be surprised who Sanchez revealed as some of the most competitive spars Golovkin had. Including former light heavyweight Ryan Coyne and Alfredo Angulo, but still, he managed to handle them both fairly comfortably according to Sanchez.

In terms of footage, this has been very limited despite the abundance of other training. But this is a common practice and something you see in many gyms.  

Strength and Conditioning 

A huge part of Golovkin’s training is obviously his strength and conditioning training. When you consider everything else, it’s insane how he is able to add this in with the intensity he does. 

Stretching

First off before any workout starts for GGG, he is stretching. This is often something many people can’t be bothered with or forget to do.

Doing this will help improve your athletic performance, mobility, flexibility, and prevent injuries. Golovkin will make sure to stretch out his shoulders, chest, and leg muscles which are all so key for any boxer.

A more unique and interesting way he stretches is by using a stick to help with flexibility and rotational movements.

Core work 

For his core work, Sanchez revealed in an interview he could do up to 3500 reps of different core exercises in a day, broken into three periods.

Obviously, core work is very important for any boxer as the stronger your core is, the harder you can punch. Gennady’s strong core helps him able to transfer his power through the rotation when throwing punches which is so vital for his power. Some of his core work includes the following:

  • Front half sit-ups 
  • Rotational sit-ups
  • Side crunches
  • Push knee crunches
  • Inside knee touches 
  • Russian oblique twists with a weight plate
  • Leg extension up and down. 
  • W Shaped Reverse Crunches
  • W-shaped leg extensions in & out
  • Ab roller 

Check some of these in action below in Fight Hub TV’s footage below. Now for the average person or someone who is not a full-time fighter, I don’t recommend you try doing three sessions a day of this routine. However, if you are in fairly good condition, I recommend you try one session by doing sets of 1 min of each exercise and 30-sec rest.  

Weight-related exercise

In terms of using weights, it is not in the traditional sense of doing squats or bench press. Sanchez instead prefers his fighters and Golovkin to use lighter dumbbells or weighted bars for his S&C through a lot of repetitions instead. 

Sanchez explains:

“I don’t feel that weights help us – that’s not because I feel that they’re bad for you, there are certain instances when weights have to be used. But in this particular instance for Gennady and other smaller fighters that I have, I don’t use the weights because I never have.”

Abel Sanchez interview w/Sky Sports

For example, Triple G would do full S&C sessions using light dumbbells while shadow boxing doing straight punches, then hooks for 4 mins at a time. Before eventually adding lateral raises and shoulder mobility and endurance exercises. Just by watching him, you can understand where his punching power comes from and why he has been so durable throughout his career. Watch his full S&C below:

He also would do a lot of shoulder and rotational exercises routines with weighted bars which would also help work his whole upper body and rational movement. 

Other more unique things include sled pulling and pushing which work to strengthen things like your glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads, and core.

Abel Sanchez would encourage the use of resistance bands for S&C exercises too:

“We use bands. When you go to a rehabilitation centre and you’ve broken your shoulder, you use rubber bands to make you stronger. We use bands like that, because the tension in them is a lot more.”

Abel Sanchez, interview w/Sky Sports

(Find out how resistance bands can be a useful tool for boxing training here)

Forearm exercises

A muscle group a lot of people forget about is your forearm and grip strength. But this is absolutely key for Gennady to help generate his power and snap in his punches.

Your punching power is mostly generated from the legs and hips while using rotational movement. But it is actually the forearms that can act as a strong stable during punch impact due to the tension of your grip when landing the punch. 

Aside from the actual technique the exercises he uses to develop this include using kettlebell rolls from side to side. While he will also do pull-ups to develop this too. You only have to watch him have a handshake wrestle with former heavyweight contender Malik Scott to understand how strong he is.

Neck Strength Exercises

Over the years we have seen Golovkin’s chin get tested many times while in the ring. Now as much as he might just have a ‘good chin’ to survive the rigors of professional boxing. 

His neck strengthening exercises are key in developing his neck muscles so he can withstand any punch he does receive. 

Golovkin neck exercises

This is mainly through using neck isometric exercises and also weighted neck exercises, using up and down and sideways movements with the neck. 

Diet and Cutting Weight

Now after going through all of the intense training, he is in constant need to fuel himself so he is able to work at the highest level throughout his training camp. In an interview with GQ, he revealed what he would have in a typical training camp day.  

Breakfast – Oatmeal, Eggs, Juice 

Lunch – Grilled chicken or fish, potatoes, and salad. 

Dinner – Steak/fish, mixed vegetables, and potatoes 

Snacks – Drinks lots of water, Smoothies with whole foods (no supplements or powder) – after each workout

As Golovkin very much lives up to his Mexican Style he also has fallen victim to some delicious Mexican cuisine, for which I can’t blame him. He has been lucky there was a very popular Mexican restaurant near his gym when working under Sanchez.

“I love eating Mexican food. There is a restaurant in Big Bear, Hacienda. We eat there several times every week. I like the red salsa, the ribs, shrimp and chicken, I will eat steak once or twice every week. I won’t eat bread, sweets or junk. No sodas. When I am not training I love steak. Lots of steak.”

Gennady Golovkin speaking w/ HIGHSNOBIETY

Golovkin could also be considered a small or natural middleweight and will often weigh 163 or 164lbs 30 days out from a fight. This means he only has to start water cutting a few days before fight night. For Gennady on fight night, his former trainer Sanchez said to Sky Sports that most opponents were probably a lot heavier stating.

“Usually Golovkin weighs 169 or 170lbs [on the night] which is 10lbs heavier [than the middleweight limit].”

Abel Sanchez, interview w/Sky Sports

While claiming most of his opponents have actually probably weighed heavier around 175-180lbs come fight night. 

Recovery

In terms of recovery, it seems that areas to help include an ice bath, steam room, and sauna. But under Sanchez, it’s very much up to the fighter to look after themselves after training.

Everything is here. There’s ice, an ice bath, steam room and a sauna. The stretching does a lot for them as well…I’m training these guys to take care of themselves. They have to take care of their bodies. I’m not going to baby them. I think too much emphasis is put on science. They know what they have to do. Sugar Ray Robinson didn’t have all this. 

Abel Sanchez talking to Men’s Journal

Strategy and mentality

Sanchez is also very much a trainer that teaches his fighters to throw 1-2-3 combinations before moving into a position to unload their power shots. You only need to watch and see Sanchez work on the mitts with Golovkin to see this philosophy in action. But his idea is not to be greedy and punch with precision.

Abel also developed a gym culture and philosophy to help GGG to have that more killer instinct and create a more fan-friendly style and approach. This way it helps to entertain fans and will in turn help fighters financially. As Abel wants them to understand that boxing is an entertainment business. Knowing someone is going to look for a knockout and try to put on a good fight is something as boxing fans and even casuals want to see. 

I think it does help that Golovkin has such a big amateur career as well with solid fundamentals. This has in turn helped him able to adapt to that entertaining pro-style. But naturally, as much as Triple G is always smiling during training or outside the ring. When it comes to business, his killer instincts come out – you just need to look at his face when he throws a punch. 

Sanchez would also make sure Gennady and his gym mates would also study many of the greats by putting on the classic fights while they are training.

Not only that, there was a big responsibility of Golovkin in the gym:

“They follow his personality and follow Gennady. He leads by example in the gym. He understands that he is a leader in the gym for different guys and he will help correct other gym members if they are doing something wrong or even technique.” 

Abel Sanchez

Training under Banks 

After 9 years of working together, Golovkin decided he would move on from Abel Sanchez in a somewhat messy breakup between the two. 

After so much success together it was sad to see the duo split. But just like with most things in life, things change. Gennady felt he had grown stagnant and needed something different if he was to reach the top again after his close defeat to Canelo. 

The man chosen for the job was Johnathon Banks, trained by and an understudy to the great Emmanuel Steward and his Kronk philosophy. He has also worked with the likes of Wladimir Klitschko.

Now as mentioned early you can tell Banks maybe has a more boxing-first mentality rather than a search-and-destroy philosophy under Sanchez. 

Rhythm

In an interview with Teddy Atlas on his Podcast, he revealed the focus with Gennady was the following:

The goal and focus is something I was taught by my mentor the late Emmanuel Steward about timing and rhythm. Ray Robinson once said everything has a rhythm to it like a heartbeat. Fighters need to have a rhythm to it. And that was the premise of the teaching in The Kronk Gym basement was having rhythm. Not just walking up to someone flat-footed looking for a knockout. The Rhythm was very important.

This is what I want to get to and stick to…as once you find your rhythm and you let your hands go, at a pace where you’re not going to get tired. As it is all off your rhythm.” 

Johanthon Banks Speaking to Teddy Atlas on The Fight Podcast

I think this is a very interesting insight and approach by Banks. As Golovkin is not in his prime anymore or a young man. He needs to use his rhythm, timing, and experience to really make a difference in fights. Hunting down fighters is simply not an option like it was in the past. And I actually believe Golovkin has improved in some areas under Banks – especially his jab. 

Other areas Golovkin has also changed in his training include strength and conditioning coaches and dieticians. Something he didn’t really use under Sanchez.

(Read my article on the importance of rhythm in boxing to find out more)

Final thoughts 

Gennady in my opinion is one of those unbelievable athletes and freaks in boxing. This is mainly due to the way he trains and has dedicated himself to the sport. All with the intention of being incredibly powerful and durable no matter who the opponent is. For that reason, it is no surprise he has become a p4p star during his career. 

I also think the fact he trains up in solitude and quietness in Big Bear at high altitude shows you how mentally strong this man is. As he knows this is a sport that requires 100% dedication if you wish to leave your mark as one of the very best. And this is without a doubt his boxing home now.

Golovkin is a man that loves the sport of boxing, he is a student of this game, a leader, and simply someone who will train his hardest to win.


Why not check out out my CaneloUsyk, or Beterbiev training methods in the links for more articles like this.

You can also check out more boxing training advice by visiting the link here or related useful articles below:

The boxer toolkit

Jamie - Boxing Life

I'm a boxing analyst, amateur boxer, and blogger looking to pass on my boxing experiences and passion to anyone looking to learn or find out more about the sport of boxing. Whether that be gear reviews, fighter analysis, news, training tips, or my own personal journey, I'll be covering it on 'Boxing Life'.

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