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.

Other Posts by Geoff Girvitz

How Not to Do Plyometrics

23 Responses to “ GSP Does Not Believe in Strength and Conditioning. Should You? ”

  1. Cronulla says:

    Makes Sense.

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  2. Stenson Stark says:

    Makes sense yes….but doesn’t George train with Jon Chaimberg? I cannot imagine he apprecaites those comments.

    Anyways, George is a freak and barely breaks a sweat when he fights. He is unreal.

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  3. Sean Quinn says:

    That was an awesome read.

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  4. JayKay says:

    I love GSP as a fighter but every now and then they just need to not record what he says. While I’m sure Georges does very little ‘traditional’ S&C there is huge volume of tape of him Olympic Lifting and working out with straps (Olympic Rings) and the like. While I’m sure he evens his physique out with some bench press he also builds off a base that was developed using Functional Lifting. If GSP doesn’t want to call Functional Lifting/Training S&C fine, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t.

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  5. Stenson Stark …. click on the link Ultimate Insider to watch him say he does not believe in S & C or read the excerpt provided.

    He said it, so why would he not appreciate the comments?

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  6. Sean Quinn says:

    I think Stenson is saying that Chaimberg wouldnt appreciate those comments.

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  7. Sean Quinn says:

    And i think the comments he is referring to is GSP’s comments.

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  8. Sean Quinn says:

    Also, Keith is a butt-ugly wereman.

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  9. Just re-read that. It makes more sense that Chaimberg would not appreciate those comments. My bad.

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  10. Stenson Stark says:

    No problem Keith.

    I was referring to Jon Chaimberg. Chaimberg has cornered GSP many times. If strength and conditioning is Chaimberg’s thing, then why has he cornered GSP?

    That confuses me I guess.

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  11. harry balls says:

    “Makes sense yes….but doesn’t George train with Jon Chaimberg? I cannot imagine he apprecaites those comments.”
    That was the FIRST thing i thought too. I’ve seen some of the Chaimberg footage and it looks like strength and conditioning to me.
    I am sure guys too too much and it hurts them, and I am sure there are guys that are genetic freaks that barely need any of that stuff.
    And Skarbowsky is an anomaly. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is terrible for your health.

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  12. Pat G says:

    OFC he does strength and conditioning, it’s not like a fight will take no demands on you, he has to prepare for that. His english isn’t great; I think what he really means is that technique, timing and skill matter that much more.

    I do some MT, and noticed that once my kicking technique got better, it wore on me less. How many times have you seen someone who plays hockey or runs marathons fold over and puke after their first few MT/kickboxing classes… it’s because they push themselves to compensate for lack of efficiency, lack of technique. Or, not knowing how to pace themselves – that is why Carwin gassed in his last fight, and he might actually have very good cardio. Which is also why Jean Charles may not be super athletic, but could destroy anyone because of his superior technique and experience.


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  13. Stenson Stark says:

    Jon Chaimberg is in the first video on Nordine Taleb. He speaks about GSP’s conditioning and work ethic being superior to everyone.

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  14. Jamie Locke says:

    I agree Pat.

    I think he is somewhat misunderstood here. Proper form is much more important than simple good cardio or great strength. I can run all day long, its how I’m built, but kickboxing for 3 or 4 rounds has me just as beat as running 20k. GSP is a natural athlete, so he has had a natural base to build skill and technique from. Many begginners have to create the athletic base, or form their cardio and strength with a good solid program. = It is still important to create and maintain solid S&C programs, unless you think you’re on the same level as GSP…. In that case, good luck.

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  15. Chris says:

    Serious guys…GSP is very obviously f*#king with everyone and apparently none of you so far have caught it? Look at the training footage, search for GSP + Chaimberg. He’s very obviously doing some awesome strength & conditioning training with one of the best coaches in the game, Jonathon Chaimberg. Chaimberg’s site is

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  16. Pat G says:

    I mean look up “”…. that’s a whole DVD that features GSP leading MMA-fitness workouts. He also has a weight limit to meet.

    He’s just saything that S&C, while very important, comes second to efficiency, gameplanning and technique. Much like how the Gracies and their BJJ proved that technique and positioning matters more than size and doesn’t mean size and stength are meaningless.

    Which is exactly why GSP continues to easily dominate other athletes at WW. However, his explosiveness and strength was a factor against BJ at UFC 94 as well. BJ was sucking wind by the 3rd round and simply couldn’t keep up. Between two top athletes, the more skilled one will win (GSP vs. Kos). Between two extremely skilled athletes, the bigger, stronger and better conditioned athlete with a killer gameplan will win (GSP vs. Penn II).

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  17. Pat G says:

    Another point he might be implying is that some forms of conditioning that we see are pretty useless for MMA.

    Now, I like the treadmill. I do freeweights all the time, but both give me little to work with except heavy handedness, it’s not bad to do at all – but it will never compare to actual sparring and technique drills for all sorts of reasons.

    If you don’t have good technique then your cardio and power built in the weightroom goes out the window completely, because you will miss everything you throw and get tagged hard in the process, which can be discouraging and very fatiquing. And sparring itself makes for a great workout.

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  18. Robin Black says:

    You have to train every skill AND do serious conditioning. Its an arms race.

    Thank you BANG! fitness, btw.

    If anyone thinks they can compete in MMA without speed, explosiveness, recovery (all things developed with a S&C coach like Girvitz or Chaimberg)they are in deep trouble.

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  19. JR says:

    Yeah,this is silly. He either meant something else or didn’t get it across well. The videos of him doing S&C with Chaimberg PROVE this is false. Pretty much every high level athlete in the world uses some form of S&C. Even long distance runners can benefit from strength training to some extent. Genetics play a role, but no matter how genetically gifted or skilled you are proper S&C will make you better even if it’s only by a little bit. It still counts in the end.

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  20. Cj says:

    Maybe if gsp did s&c he will be able to knock someone out or finish matches

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  21. Socco says:

    Super post, tienen que marcarlo en Digg


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  22. Zoke says:

    Who wants to bet that GSP did some S & C prior to this fight?

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