By: Adam Bornstein and Abby Lerner
What does it take to be a UFC Champion? “A desire to turn your name into a legacy,” says Georges St. Pierre, UFC welterweight king. St. Pierre allowed us to follow him through his workout at Renzo Gracie Academy in New York to see how he’s preparing for his next title fight.
St. Pierre begins his training with about 10 minutes of grappling. Today’s (un)lucky participant: Kenny Florian, fellow UFC fighter and finalist of the original The Ultimate Fighter.
The Lifter is Lifted
Grappling offers the perfect dynamic warmup for St. Pierre, as it improves blood flow, speeds up his heart rate, and loosens up his joints … even if it means being tossed around a bit.
Brace Your Core
A fighter is only as strong as his midsection. Here St. Pierre fine-tunes his core strength with Swiss-ball rollouts. If you don’t have a Swiss ball, load a barbell with a 10-pound plate on each side, affix collars, and grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip.
Jump to the Top
Immediately after finishing a set of abs exercises, St. Pierre continues his “warmup” circuit with medicine-ball skater hops. Hold a 10- to 15-pound ball and jump from side-to-side on one leg. When you land, lower your body into a partial squat.
This is a Stick Up
Shoulder health and mobility is important for more than just lifting heavy weights. It’s a vital component of wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu—three of St. Pierre’s fighting strengths. Here, St. Pierre uses “scapular wall slides” to activate and strengthen his lower trapezius, a muscle that helps control your shoulder blade and is often weak—whether you’re an average guy or a world-class athlete.
Lift Like an Olympian
Rumors that St. Pierre hopes to make the 2012 Canadian wrestling team are true—but that only means it’s one of his goals, not a certainty. Here, he kicks off his weight workout with an Olympic-lifting staple: barbell snatches.
Notice how the snatch incorporates almost every muscle in your body. The legs generate power to help you move the weight from your lower body to your upper body, while your shoulders, back, and arms help you finish the movement.
Move at a Breakneck Pace
St. Pierre builds neck strength between exercises by vigorously pressing his head into a pad on the wall. His face indicates the level of intensity exerted on this seemingly simple exercise.
Add it to your workout: Lie face up with your legs straight. Extend both arms straight above your chest, and tighten your glutes to help stabilize your core. Without using momentum, raise your upper body, stop, and then slowly lower back to the starting position.
Chinups are a staple in almost all of st. Pierre’s workouts. Only in this case, he holds a 60-pound weight between his legs to add resistance and significantly increase difficulty.
A Bulletproof Chest
See those 225 pounds on the bar? They’re proof of St. Pierre’s overall fitness level. Just don’t insist that he’s all show and no go. Or else he might embarrass you in the gym … and then in the octagon.
Go Back to Basics
GSP shows that body-weight exercises are still popular, especially when performed immediately after a set of bench presses. But there’s a slight twist with this championship version.
Let Me at ‘Em
st. Pierre trains his explosiveness with these band-resisted runs. On each rep, he’ll sprint toward his opponent and fling his body as he learns to generate more power. Just imagine what happens once the resistance is removed.
Knowledge is Power
Throughout the day, GSP discussed strategy with one of his coaches, John Donaher, and Florian. Despite his renowned success, GSP remains determined to continue learning. “I’ll only reach my goals if I keep on finding ways to become better than everyone else,” St. Pierre says.
A True Champion
Even after an hour of lifting and another hour of practice, St. Pierre was still kind enough to talk with fans and take a few pictures. “I want to represent my sport in the best way possible and show people the true meaning of being a fighter while still entertaining my fans,” St. Pierre says. In our case that meant waiting an extra 15 minutes to interview St. Pierre as he talked with every fan that watched him train. That might have been the best moment of the day.