Former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is hoping to sleep his way back to the top of the heavyweight mountain.
Joshua, who meets Michigan’s Jermaine Franklin when he returns to the ring on Saturday, April 1 at London’s O2 Arena, has been training in Texas with new coach Derrick James and Joshua has been using a fitness tracker not just to manage his workload but to monitor his sleep and recovery.
Joshua has been wearing a Whoop band all the way through camp, a tracker that monitors sleep (the amount and type), strain (training volume) and recovery, with red days indicating rest is required, yellow days if recovery is average and green if someone is rested and primed to work hard.
While trackers are often used to measure workload, it’s the recovery side of things that Joshua feels the most benefit from and he gets, on average, around 6hrs 40mins sleep per night.
“It’s mainly my sleep,” Joshua said of the data generated by his Whoop that he analyses. “I’ll wake up in the morning and I’ve gone down for breakfast and my strain is like 6.7 [Whoop builds to a maximum of 21.0] and I’m like, ‘How?’ But I’ve learned about HRV [heart rate variability], resting heart rate, REM sleep, deep sleep, light sleep, I’ve got a better pattern now if I want to peak. And I did struggle with sleep but I understood about sleep hygiene. I’ve got my blue light blockers here, and you know what? This camp, two things that have got me through this camp, good food and sleep, two most important things that I’ve taken for granted. “When you’re coming up, you’re young, I’m at every event trying to get my name out there, it’s all good but it has an impact on the body and this stage of my career I need to be disciplined with my sleep regime, so the Whoop is good. And that’s no sponsorship talk, by the way. That’s just something I’ve got and it does help a lot. Sleep hygiene is important.”
Joshua has been going to bed around 10pm, 10.30pm, is asleep by 10.30pm, 11pm but has to get up in the night because he has also focused on his hydration, so he’s awake for up to an hour and a half through the night.
Joshua can be seen wearing his Whoop in his training videos on his left wrist, including in videos of him cutting trees in camp. He was asked about strength and conditioning and whether the tree chopping was more for social media rather than an actual training session.
“I’ve got a physique where it looks like I do loads of weights so weights,” Joshua explained. “At one stage of my career, I believed the strength and conditioning was a massive part of boxing, and now I’m a bit wiser and I’ve gone through certain things, I understand that there’s out of camp S and C and in camp S and C, so I was looking at the old school techniques and how they used to train and chopping wood was a big part of so many fighters’ regimes, so that’s why I took it on board, because it was part of so many fighters’ regimes in camp, not just out of camp. And it makes for great Instagram content as well!”
Joshua, who is returning after back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk, has been back in England for nearly two weeks as he’s finalised preparations for Franklin.
“But chopping wood is a great exercise,” Joshua joked. “Obviously the environmentalists aren’t happy but at the end of the day I’ve got to go and kick someone’s arse and that’s what matters to me.”
Whoop bands are also used by the likes of golfer Rory McIlroy, swimmer Michael Phelps and basketballer LeBron James.