From MMA talent to boxing prospect and back - Antonio Caruso
At SalutemOfficial we take a look at the habits, training methods and diets of elite athletes in combat sports (MMA, BJJ, Boxing, etc). What works and what doesn’t. This time, we meet with welterweight Antonio "The Spartan" Caruso (7-1) to find out. The Australian prospect recently signed with top MMA promotion ONE FC. In the past, he has fought professionally as a boxer.
Hello Mr. Caruso, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Let’s dive right into it. In 2013, you started your MMA career successfully with three consecutive wins, after which you decided to pursue a career in boxing. What motivated you to make the switch?
I started my martial arts journey with Jiujitsu. When I started MMA, I had a good, strong Jiujitsu background. In my first fights, I was very dominant using just grappling skills. But I wanted to be a complete MMA fighter, not a one-dimensional fighter. I wanted to learn stand-up fighting and the best way to do this, is by putting yourself in a position where you have to learn it. So, I decided to start a martial art that exclusively consists of stand-up techniques. For me, this martial art would be boxing, because I love it.
Was there a point where you considered becoming a professional boxer?
Yes, I was lucky to get really good opportunities and good fights in boxing and I performed very well in those fights. At this point, I thought about a career as a professional boxer. But after a few matches, I decided to go back to MMA, because, in my opinion, that’s where the real fighters are.
There are several gyms where you train at. Where did you do your last training camp and why?
I did my entire fight camp in my new home, the Hard Knocks 365 gym, in Florida, The United States. It’s an awesome gym, the perfect place to learn and train MMA, there are so many great fighters and great trainers.
Could you take us through a typical week of training?
When I'm in camp it’s usually two to three sessions a day, six days a week. Whether it be running, walking or the elliptical machine, I always like to start my day with some form of cardio.
After the cardio session, I do the morning classes provided by Hard Knocks 365. These could be MMA, Jiujitsu, wrestling or stand-up. After the morning classes, I go home and do my daily chores. In the afternoon I'm back in the gym for the afternoon sessions.
Sunday is a rest day where I take it easy. But even on the rest day, I still like to have some light form of activity, e.g. going for a walk or a swim.
Do you work with a strength and condition coach?
Yes. I’m lucky enough to have Dr Peacock as a strength and conditioning coach. He really is awesome, so knowledgeable, he knows how to get the best out of MMA fighters.
"Just like your muscles, your organs sometimes need some rest. That's where intermittent fasting comes in."
Could you tell us how you go about your diet when you are not cutting weight?
When I'm not in camp preparing for a fight, I’m less strict. I do reward myself sometimes, some pie on the weekend is not taboo. But other than an occasional cheat, I’m disciplined in my diet. I do try to not go over a certain weight limit.
On top of that, nutrition isn’t only about weight gain or weight loss. The quality of the food is very important to me. Not just to be the best athlete, but to be the best me. I want my body to be 100 % all the time, to be constantly at my peak. So, I try to get all the best foods in me. For example, I eat turmeric and black pepper every day and avoid eating red meat with every meal. I also make sure to always have the right amount of protein, fats and carbs.
Dr Peacock, my strength and conditioning coach, helped me with my diet during the training camp for my last fight. Other than that, I do a lot of research myself. I write down things that work for me in a notebook. I’ve kept such notebooks since I was 17.
Out of fight camp, I usually fast between 8 PM and 8:30 AM for health benefits. If you eat constantly, your digestive system doesn’t get any rest. It’s like working out your muscles. You cannot do bicep curls all the time; they will break down. It’s the same with your organs, they need some rest from time to time. The intermittent fasting also helps me a bit with limiting my calories. I have Greek –Italian roots, I love my food. With intermittent fasting I can still enjoy my pasta, my bread, etc. without overeating.
Do you take any supplements? If so, which ones and what are the reasons to take them?
Out of camp, I try to get everything I need from good natural foods. I prefer to stay away from synthetic stuff. The only supplements I take during this time are fish oils and glucosamines. I take them to keep my joints strong and healthy.
When I'm in training camp I also take other supplements, because the need is higher. Then I take protein and glutamine for the recovery of the muscles. During training, I like to take BCAA’s, they help me to get through sessions and keep my mind clear. In the morning I
usually take creatine which is good for joints, brain and water retention. At night I take magnesium to relax my body.
The quality of the supplements is very important to me, I prefer to buy supplements from a company I trust to have only the best quality. That’s why I’m a big fan of Onnit. I especially love their nootropic: Alpa Brain. It keeps me sharp and focused.
How do you make sure to recover well from training and competition as a fighter? Have you implemented any recovery techniques?
Yeah, I'm very big on recovery. Recovery is not always about fixing a problem. Most of the time, it’s about maintaining good health and preventing injuries. Recovering well is essential to perform and train to the maximum of your abilities every day. That's why I've implemented a variety of tools and techniques:
Trigger point balls of the company PTP, they have a lot of cool recovery gear.
Elastic resistance bands, these keep everything strong.
A massage gun. It’s great, it really helps getting deep into the muscles and relax you and whatnot.
Chiropractor once a week
A massage once a week
Ice baths and saunas whenever I can
One of the most essential: I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Stretching for 5 to 10 minutes after practice.
I would love to add Yoga in the future as well.
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