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Get Shredded With the UFC’s Georges “Rush” St-Pierre

Archive   ·   September 3, 2014

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There is a telling scene in the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron” where Arnold Schwarzenegger is being asked about maintaining his status as the champion while fending off a potential trying challenge from one Lou Ferrigno.

Schwarzenegger is given a scenario in which “the wolf on the hill is not as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill,” and the wily Austrian replies with, “That’s true, he’s not as hungry. But when he wants the food, it’s there.”

It appeared that the latter was correct as the Mr. Olympia title stayed in Schwarzenegger’s corner, but the same can be said when it comes to Georges St-Pierre. As of press time, the reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion has not lost a match since April of 2007 and has successfully defended the title on six occasions, thus proving that the crest of the proverbial hill is quite a comfortable habitat, indeed.


Bouncing Back

The man known by all mixed martial arts fans by his initials has honed his skills in the Octagon with many years of training and mastering different disciplines. GSP is coming off an ACL injury to his right knee and was sidelined for 10 months, making his stamina a possible issue the first time back in the cage. But St-Pierre, 31, doesn’t feel that will be an issue at all.

“It’s as if it never happened,” he said. “I started physical therapy about a week after the surgery and returned to my regular routine six months later. I am fully healed and have been training the same as I did before the injury.”

This issue went to press before November 17, when St-Pierre faced Carlos Condit to unify the interim title at UFC 154. “I want to get back to where I was,” the Montreal, Canada native said with full confidence in October, prior to the match.


The Shape of Things to Come

Conditioning was never an issue for St-Pierre in the past, and his training regimen is geared around imitating the same time frames that he will have to endure in a championship fight. In the UFC, that means up to a full 25 minutes in the form of five, five-minute rounds. When you are talking about an MMA fight that may as well be a lifetime.

So it goes without saying that a lot of preparation goes into a fight of this magnitude and St-Pierre trains year-round, six days a week, to stay in shape. He uses an eight-week program before each fight that he describes as a “funnel.”

“When I’m far away from a fight, I’ll do a lot of different disciplines,” the 5 foot 11, 170-pounder said. “It keeps changing, but the closer that I get to the date, I concentrate on mixed martial arts training.”

When he arrives at the gym, St-Pierre will do a good warm-up before getting into the meat and potatoes of his workout. And of course what is done— and how it’s done— depends on his fight schedule. “I’ll train with more volume and less intensity until it gets closer to my next match,” said St-Pierre, who was first introduced to karate at the young age of 9 and MMA at 17. “Then I’ll train with less volume but make it a lot more intense.”

Getting yourself ready for an MMA fight is unlike any other athletic competition in the world. Because there are so many different disciplines used in the cage, one has to be well schooled in all of them equally. So that means being astute in boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to name a few.

Mastering even one of those styles can be a huge task, so taking on multiple disciplines will result in a very diverse training regimen. St-Pierre is considered extremely strong in both wrestling and BJJ, so he is lethal when the action is on the ground.

Spending no more than one hour in the gym per day, St-Pierre will touch on many different areas to make the most of his time. He will do each of the following three times a week: boxing (for hand and foot work), wrestling (for takedowns and legs), BJJ (for submissions, positions, ground work and flexibility) and Muay Thai (for kicks, knees and elbows).

But sparring is merely one part of the program for him, and he makes sure to keep improving his strength. “I do some light Olympic-style weightlifting,” said St-Pierre, “such as the snatch.”

To keep himself in top shape, St-Pierre will again utilize the five-minute strategy in a series of circuits, such as working with the medicine ball, stretching, plyometrics and calisthenics. And to keep himself honest, the man nicknamed “Rush” (for his early career quick knockouts) will take a short one-minute rest in between each circuit.

To get his endurance and flexibility improved, St-Pierre has implemented some unique aspects into his training that can be considered thinking out of the box. “I do gymnastics and track and field,” he said while hiding a slight laugh. “I don’t believe that there are any other fighters out there doing either of them, let alone both.”

One day a week, St-Pierre meets with an Olympic track and field coach in Montreal. And another day, he will work with his gymnastics coach. “Doing all of these things definitely helps my reaction time, plus it allows me to break the routine and make it more fun,” St-Pierre quipped.

Perhaps a question that may have come up after ingesting what St-Pierre does in the gym is the lack of cardio, which is usually a given. But not to him. “I don’t do any cardio,” he surprisingly said. “My sparring is my cardio.”


Up and Down

Many MMA fighters are known for a certain style and have an advantage in either a stand up fight or one that is taken to the floor. St-Pierre can handle himself quite well on the mat, but also on his feet striking. He implements a version of full-contact karate called kyokushin into his repertoire and has been able to utilize it successfully. “It is the toughest karate style and involves a lot of kicks to the legs,” he said.

By weakening his opponent’s legs, St-Pierre is setting them up for a takedown and then he can work his BJJ magic. But according to him, his main strength is not striking or grappling, but rather a combination of the two.

“My fighting strength is that although I may not be the very best at any one thing, I am very, very good at almost all aspects of fighting,” St-Pierre pointed out. “That’s my strength.”

Five of his last six fights have went the full distance, so St-Pierre is definitely a patient fighter who will wait out his opportunity, but confident enough in his point-gathering prowess to take the decision. There has been some past criticism of St-Pierre’s style, which has been called non-aggressive, as one that is vulnerable. But that remains to be seen.

A more aggressive fighter may be playing right into St-Pierre’s hands, and one that tries to match his pace needs to be equal to or better than him on the ground. Perhaps the best-case scenario for an opponent would be to wait for a submission hold opportunity while on his back. Not exactly the best pre-fight plan, but one that can be pulled off in certain situations.

Because most UFC fans love the highlight reel knockout, St-Pierre’s methods have not caught on with most, other than the hardcore ones. Yes, he is a big fan favorite (especially in his native Canada) and one of the “faces of the franchise,” but in a different way than Anderson Silva or Chuck Liddell.


Get with the Program

You know that you are doing something right when an entire DVD series is created based on your workout. “RushFit” has been flying off the shelves (or, in this modern age of online shopping, computer screens) and is a complete “How To” for everyone from beginners to pro fighters, with separate breakdowns for three levels.

“RushFit is a high-intensity fitness program that anyone can use,” writes St-Pierre in the manual included with the set. “It will test physical strength, transform your body and give you the mental edge you need to be the best. If you want to have the confidence of a champion, you have to train like one.”

His trainer Erik Owings joins St-Pierre and they put forth a schedule that is reminiscent of what the former does to get ready for a fight. It is an eight-week program that is broken down in a pyramid: conditioning, technical then tactical.

The six discs are what makes this exceptional instructional material, and includes:



1. Strength and Endurance Workout

  1. Full Body Strength and Conditioning



  1. The Fight Conditioning Workout



  1. Abdominal Strength and Core Conditioning



  1. Explosive Power Training



  1. Bonus Workouts – Balance and Agility, Stretching For Flexibility


Nutritional Green Light

When you see St-Pierre and the fact that he has nearly zero visible body fat, one would think that he follows a diet akin to one of a bodybuilder. But just like his “no cardio” stance, he also does not have a strict nutritional plan.

“I don’t follow any specific diet,” he admits. “I try to eat healthy and have no junk food once I’m eight weeks out from a fight. But if I want dessert, I’ll have it.”

St-Pierre will eat a meal heavy with carbohydrates before his workout and one with more protein after. Throughout the day, he eats approximately the same amount at each sit down and they include moderate carbs and high protein, which assists in his recovery.

Likely blessed with a fast metabolism and working so hard to burn the calories consumed allows St-Pierre the luxury of eating more liberally. He has been able to maintain his great conditioning by way of being loyal to his training and can enjoy the little things in life at the dinner table.


No Rush to Retire

Although relatively young for an athlete, St-Pierre has undergone a number of fights that went the distance and that can take its toll in the long run. Plus, MMA is different from baseball or basketball in that its participants take a pounding. So how many more years can one keep up the same pace?

“I love what I do; I’m not even thinking about it,” St-Pierre said when posed the question of when he sees himself hanging it up. “I don’t want to retire.”

At the rate he is going, it appears that he can call his own shots and walk away when the time is right— similar to Arnold, once again.



Colker, CM, Get Ripped With the UFC’s Georges “Rush” St-Pierre, FitnessRx for Men, 64-73, May 2008

RushFit 6 DVD Set




1/25/02       UCC 7     Round 1   KO/TKO                                               Ivan Menjivar                                               WIN

6/15/02       UCC 10   Round 1   Submission                  Justin Bruckmann                   WIN

10/11/02     UCC 11   Round 1   KO/TKO                   Travis Galbraith                                  WIN

1/25/03       UCC 12   Round 2   KO/TKO                   Thomas Denny                                   WIN

11/29/03     TKO 14   Round 1   Submission                Pete Spratt                                                   WIN

1/31/04       UFC 46   Round 3   Decision (U)               Karo Parisyan                                               WIN

6/19/04       UFC 48   Round 1   KO/TKO                  Jay Hieron                                                  WIN

10/22/04     UFC 50   Round 1   Submission               Matt Hughes                                                LOSS

1/29/05       TKO 19   Round 1   Submission     Dave Strasser                          WIN

4/16/05       UFC 52   Round 3   Decision (U)   Jason Miller                                                      WIN

8/20/05       UFC 54   Round 1   Submission     Frank Trigg                                                       WIN

11/19/05     UFC 56   Round 2   KO/TKO                     Sean Sherk                                                   WIN

3/4/06         UFC 58   Round 3   Decision (S)   B.J. Penn                                                                     WIN

11/18/06     UFC 65   Round 2   KO/TKO                     Matt Hughes                                                WIN*

4/7/07         UFC 69   Round 1   KO/TKO                     Matt Serra                                                    LOSS

8/25/07       UFC 74   Round 3   Decision (U)               Josh Koscheck                                 WIN

12/29/07     UFC 79   Round 2   Submission     Matt Hughes                                        WIN*

4/19/08       UFC 83   Round 2   KO/TKO                     Matt Serra                                                    WIN*

8/9/08         UFC 87   Round 5   Decision (U)               Jon Fitch                                                                 WIN*

1/31/09       UFC 94   Round 4   KO/TKO                     B.J. Penn                                                                WIN*

7/11/09       UFC 100 Round 5   Decision (U)               Thiago Alves                                        WIN*

3/27/10       UFC 111 Round 5   Decision (U)   Dan Hardy                                                        WIN*

12/11/10     UFC 124 Round 5   Decision (U)               Josh Koscheck                                 WIN*

4/30/11       UFC 129 Round 5   Decision (U)               Jake Shields                                     WIN*


*Denotes championship fight

FitnessRX For Men magazine (January 2013 issue) 

NY Sports Day

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