Power in Small Packages: Rocky Marciano & Mike Tyson

Boxing, or any form of fighting, is life broken down into 3-minute rounds.

Life is truly lived when we experience both highs and lows, triumph and failure. Happiness isn’t as appreciated if we haven’t already experienced pain or sadness. Success isn’t as satisfying if it isn’t preceded by failure. In a fight, there are moments where you question if you have ‘it’, where you think about finding a way out, an easier path than the one you have chosen. Just like pain, suffering, and failure help us become better fighters, they also help us develop character and become better people.

Adversity is a part of fighting, and a part of life. Accepting it and appreciating it can lead to greatness in either realm.

Rocky Marciano was a fighter, he wasn’t just a boxer. He took a punch to land a punch. He walked forward when most would take a step back. As such, he will go down as one of the greatest Legends the fight game has ever seen.

For all of his character flaws, his mistakes, and his weaknesses, Mike Tyson is a man who seems to be on the road to redemption. Admittedly scared when he walked into the ring, Tyson faced his fears by acting. We’ve all heard the term “act as if”, well Mike Tyson embodied that, especially early on in his career. He acted like the baddest man on the planet, and eventually earned that monicker by becoming a killer in the ring.Mike Tyson Legs Power

Both men are two polarizing figures and will be remembers for generations to come. With two very different personalities and styles in the ring, they shared some very visible characteristics.

Power can come from small packages

To say Marciano was powerful would be an understatement. Tyson, the same. Both also stood around 5’10 and fought in the heavyweight division; a weight class ruled by giants. Yet, both walked through bigger opponents like few others – no matter their size – have. So how did two ‘small guys’ possess so much power?

When you look at the majority of fighters in boxing, you’ll notice that the many of them are ‘top-heavy’. Their training focuses on their upper body; the muscles directly involved in throwing punches and defending against them. Tyson and Marciano are two exceptions to this body-type.

Both men have massive, tree trunk-like legs, from which their power is initiated. Coincidence? Nope. Whether by genetics, accident, or more likely from their training methods, both developed powerful lower bodies, and as a result, knockout power that is tough to rival.

The lesson: if you want real-world power, develop your legs.

4 power-developing exercises + 4 weird tips for each


Maybe the best exercise for building explosives.

Weird tip:

Don’t complete full reps. Yes, I’m seriously telling you to stop short on your reps. If you have access to an Olympic platform and bumper plates, or if you’re not bashful about dropping your weights, lift the bar as fast as you possibly can while maintaining good form, then as the weight reaches the top of your knee caps, drop it.

The last few inches of a deadlift aren’t necessary when training for explosive power and can even hurt your lower back. The focus should be on the explosive portions of the lift. The eccentric phase – down phase – of the lift is also unnecessary and can even do more damage than good when lifting a heavy weight (again to the lower back).


The snatch is one of the best, and most forgotten exercises for developing explosive power.

Weird tip:

All of your focus should be on exploding with the weight in the first 4-5 inches of the lift. That is where much of the benefit of this exercise lies. After you’ve achieved a good start, get back under that weight as fast as possible. This will help you lift heavier weights – which is the goal of any power-focused training.

Too often I see people slowly deadlifting the weight, then ‘popping it out’ when it reaches hip-level. It’s better to use a lighter weight, focus on form, then to start out lifting a weight that you can lift, but not with great form. In the long run you’ll end up being better off starting lighter.

Car Pushing

The prowler and laziness have made this exercise go the way of the dinosaurs. But car pushing is one of the best and toughest exercise we can do to not only build power, but power that lasts.

Weird tip:

Have your elbows at your ears when pushing. Push the car with your arms extended and your elbows at your ears, much like the top of a jerk or military press. This will take some of the stress off of your lower back.

Box jumps

We’ll focus on the box jump where you’re trying to jump on to a box that is as high as possible from a stand still position.

Weird tip:

Focus on a soft landing at the top of the box. Plyometrics are hard enough on our knees, we don’t need the added friction of a hard landing. The key to a soft landing is give. Always perform a full squat at the top of the box jump, working on keeping the noise of impact to a minimum.

Check out a former client do a running hurdle jump. We were able to dramatically increase his vertical leap by using the aforementioned training methods.

Build Ripped, Powerful Muscle with this ProgramKnockout Power

It’s rare to find a program that focuses specifically on building savage strength and power, that is designed by someone who isn’t just ‘talking the talk’. 

A program designed by a former SWAT commander and strength specialist is something that’s not only unique, but insanely effective.

I’ve tried the program and it’s something that I think should be in everyone’s training rolodex. 

If you’re looking to build functional, powerful, and ripped muscle here’s a great program for you.

Don’t Pump Iron… Become Iron!