George St. Pierre is without question one of the most dominant athletes of his generation. He possesses a devastating combination of skill speed and power, along with the ability to breakdown his opponent like no one else. This has led to a stellar 22-2 record and a current nine fight win streak, most recently over Jake Shields. How does George train to stay on top of the MMA world? Well, for starters, George is always evolving. Under the watchful eye of head trainer Firas Zihabi, a comprehensive program is put in place that leaves no stone unturned. Here’s a breakdown of the training regimen that George followed to defend his title at UFC 129, the largest event in UFC history.
STRIKING – George flew to Los Angeles and even the Philippines to study the sweet science of boxing under the legendary Freddy Roach, trainer to current pound for pound champ Manny Pacquiao. They focused on timing, footwork, perfecting his jab (see Josh Koschek for proof of its effectiveness) and improving his power. To enhance his Muay Thai skills, GSP worked with his long time coach, New York based Phil Nurse. Their aim here was to make an already fast George even faster.
WRESTLING – GSP continued to hone his wrestling skills by training regularly with members of the Canadian National Wrestling Team. During training sessions, larger athletes such as standout collegiate wrestler and former 205lb king Rashad Evans were brought in to test George. GSP’s takedown defense is second to none, and his willingness to train with the best of the best is a key reason why.
GRAPPLING & SUBMISSIONS – The biggest threat that GSP’s most recent opponent presented was his world class Jiu Jitsu. To prepare himself for the challenge, GSP took his submission game to another level. He traveled all the way to London, England to seek the expertise of the legendary Roger Gracie, widely regarded as the best grappler on the planet. They focused on escapes and a variety of counter attacks to neutralize the outstanding submission skills of Jake Shields.
SPEED – While in London, GSP also enlisted to services of another legend, 1992 Olympic sprint champion Linford Christie. In the words of Christie, “Speed is the essence of sport.” Using a combination of plyometrics, weight training and sprints, the goal was to improve GSP’s explosiveness, a critical quality for MMA fighters.
STRENGTH & AGILITY – GSP and Firas also experimented with gymnastics training in preparation for UFC 129. They observed the great strength, athleticism and body control of elite gymnasts and decided to incorporate their methods into the plan. GSP spent time working on core movements such as the L-Sit along with strength movements like the Muscle Up. He also worked on basic tumbling exercises to improve his agility and coordination. Check out the video below of George practicing Muscle Ups – a staple gymnastics movement.
POWER – GSP has to be recognized for his ability to seek out the best coaches in a particular discipline and blend their philosophies into an overall strategy. It’s simply brilliant. To improve his power, GSP trained under the tutelage of Pierre Roy – Canada’s preeminent Olympic weightlifting coach. George incorporated Jump Squats and Power Snatches among others into his power routine. This type of training clearly demonstrates why George is one of the most explosive fighters in MMA.
CONDITIONING – No MMA fighter worth his salt ignores his conditioning, and the great GSP is no exception. Constant drilling of techniques under the stress of fatigue, the dreaded Shark Tank (live sparring sessions while rotating in fresh sparring partners), along with intense interval sessions on the track ensured that GSP’s conditioning was at an all-time high on fight night.
So there you have it – an inside look at what it takes stand on top of the welterweight division. GSP’s training schedule would bury most men, including many fighters! George’s discipline and work ethic is unparalleled. He has the heart of a lion and will surely go down as one of the greatest MMA champions of all time.