GSP Does Not Believe in Strength and Conditioning. Should You?
Prior to Georges St-Pierre’s recent victory over Josh Koscheck, GSP expressed a very suprising opinion about strength and conditioning being unnecessary in an interview with Joe Rogan on Ultimate Insider. Here is an excerpt from that interview:
Georges St. Pierre: “I don’t believe in strength and conditioning. I never do strength and conditioning. I do not believe that running on a treadmill or doing I don’t know what so-called machine. I don’t believe that’s going to help you have better cardio for a fight. I think everything in fighting is about efficiency.”
Joe Rogan: “So you don’t do strength and conditioning as far as like hitting tires with sledgehammers?”
GSP: “I never did it in my life. I remember I had a Muay Thai instructor from France, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky, that I even brought on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter. The guy smoked I don’t know how many packs of cigarettes a day. He’s always drinking alcohol. He’s a real character, and he’s completely out of shape, but when he spars with us in Muay Thai, he kicks everyone’s ass. The reason is because he is more efficient than we are.”
“In the UFC, I do believe everyone is in shape. We’re all athletes, you know… but the reason I believe a guy is more tired than another guy is because one guy is more efficient than the other. One guy is able to bring the fight where he is strongest and the other guy where he is out of his comfort zone. The only reason it is good to lift weights, to do bench press, and stuff like that, I believe, is because it is going to make me more marketable and to keep myself looking more symmetric, have a better image… Which is very important, because if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good. It’s nothing wrong with that, you know.”
Rogan: “You lift weights for looks?”
GSP: “Yeah, I lift weights for looks. Yeah, I am gonna admit it. Sometimes after I’m training, I’m gonna lift weights, but I’m not doing it because I’m gonna punch harder or I’m gonna be stronger, because it has nothing to do with it. I’m doing it because I want to to be like, you know, have a good shape. I do it for myself.”
Top MMA News thought we would ask our favourite strength and conditioning expert, Geoff Girvitz of Bang Fitness, for his thoughts on GSP’s statements.
TMN: How do you respond to GSP who says “I don’t believe (strength and conditioning) is going to help you have better cardio for a fight. I think everything in fighting is about efficiency.”
GG: GSP actually has a pretty valid point. I watch athletes with tremendous cardio fatigue early all the time. Some of the biggest issues truly are more about technical efficiency and using less energy to begin with.
The question is whether a proper strength and conditioning program can help you become a more efficient athlete. I say yes; a well-designed program can amplify the technical strides you are trying to make in the ring or on the mats. Our athletes agree, which is a lot more meaningful than me just saying it.
TMN: What are the major benefits of strength and conditioning to an MMA athlete?
GG: Our main goal with fighters – especially when we are just starting out with them – is to improve their mechanics. This accomplishes a few goals. For starters, it makes them less susceptible to injury, which we consider to be essential. After all, you can’t train consistently if you are broken.
Coming back to what GSP was talking about, strength training does make you more efficient. Most of the strength gains that we focus on are actually neurological. I will put it this way: when your brain signals your muscles to fire, not every single muscle is actually recruited. But, when we properly develop our strength, the percentage increases.
With very little physical change, we see increased strength. That’s efficiency, baby! And when it’s re-integrated into training, we produce some very strong athletes.
TMN: How does hitting tires with sledgehammers help you in an MMA fight?
GG: I’d like to think that having a sledgehammer will help you in any fight. If you’re asking how training that way helps, it’s a little more ambiguous.
In theory, it should be helping people learn to bleed less energy from their core upon impact. In practice, it’s something that’s probably led to more bruised shins than fight victories. There’s a place for everything but I would not consider most of the standard “functional MMA” exercises with a tire to be indispensible.
TMN: So is GSP just yanking our chains?
GG: Not necessarily. Georges is probably the most natural MMA athlete we have ever seen. In terms of coordination and raw genetic talent, he is pretty much a genius. You can say the same thing about Marcelo Garcia, who is not known for his strength and conditioning work. However, while the Georges and Marcelos of this world can get away with certain things, the story is not the same for the rest of us non-ninjas.
The truth is that all anyone can ever do is take a scientific approach to things. When I do X, do I perform better or worse? If it’s better, great – keep refining. If it’s worse, find out if you were doing it wrong or if it truly does not work for you. In some ways, finding out what is not a good use of your time is just as important as figuring out what is.
Geoff Girvitz is the director of Bang Fitness – a Toronto-based facility offering complete solutions to body composition and athletic performance. www.BangFitness.com.
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