May 11, 2021 10 min read
Georges St. Pierre is easily one of the greatest MMA fighters to ever step into the ring.
He’s swept legs and he’s swept the competition time and again until he became one of the undisputed best in the world. He didn’t do it by rolling out of bed one morning and deciding he wanted to just be the best, he earned it with blood, sweat, and tears.
He had to adopt some incredibly strict training in order to get to where he ended up by the end of his career and we’re going to lay that all out for you right now.
If you follow MMA then he needs no introduction, but if you’re new to the sport or you’ve been living under a rock for God knows how long, then you might not understand why we’d make such a big deal out of this guy and his training routine.
Georges St-Pierre was born in Canada back in ‘81, and when he stepped into the ring he was stepping into his element. He’s often spoken about when someone wants to talk about the best of the best in the sport.He fought in two different divisions of the Ultimate Fight Championship (that’s the UFC) and became a title holding champion in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions.
He didn’t just become the welterweight titleholder once or twice, he claimed that title three separate times, giving him a pretty dominant run while he was competing. Sherdog and anybody worth listening to during that time called him the single best welterweight fighter on the entire planet, and they kept pointing to him for that accolade for several years in a rom.
The fighting world was on fire at the height of his career, and publications couldn’t keep his name off of their pages for a while. Rogers Sportsnet called him Canada’s Athlete of the Year three years in a row, Fight Matrix called him the most accomplished fighter in history and the top MMA welterweight to ever step in the ring.
When he retired he was the reigning Welterweight Champion in December 2013, and he held the most wins in title bouts and the second longest combined title streak in the history of the UFC, which was well over 6 years worth of time. He didn’t just compete when he fought, he totally dominated his opponents. He fended off nearly a dozen title challenges before retiring.
He obviously loves the sport, because after he retired he came back to the Octagon after a few years. He fought in the middleweight division against Michael Bisping granting him the honor of becoming the fourth fighter in the history of the UFC to be a multi-division champion.
Georges St-Pierre was a huge proponent of eating well. Often when people ask him about his training he’s sure to mention that a massive part of his fight prep is his nutrition. He’s not the type of person to just throw whatever’s convenient into his body. It’s all carefully curated to give him precisely the nutrients he needs to keep his body at peak performance.
He understands that his mind is drawing from the food he puts into his body just as much as his muscles are, so he’s careful to keep his meals clean and efficient.In fact, he was so serious about it during the height of his career that he famously made sure to seek out some of the best in the realm of nutrition science after he defended his welterweight title in his second fight against (you guessed it) BJ Penn.
After this tight match, he sought out the help of Dr. John Berardi from Precision Nutrition. His goal with this partnership was to boost the amount of muscle he had to work with so he could take down Penn the next time he came around as well as augmenting his ability to recover from his brutal workouts and some of his worst fights.
Dr. Beradi saw how serious St-Pierre was and professionally recommended that St-Pierre worked with a pair of Montreal chefs. This is where Jennifer Nickel and Rosario “Ross” Gurreri enter the equation. You’ve probably heard these names in passing, and that’s because he often credits them with maintaining his health and fitness when he was constantly fending off challenges to his titles in the late aughts.
With the help of these three St-Pierre was able to pack on 12 pounds of lean muscle in just two months. This incredible feat came from an incredibly specific diet routine.
His nutritionist came up with a pretty airtight diet plan that was based around what they ended up calling “anytime meals” and “post-workout” meals. These plans were given to his chefs and they came up with a pretty extensive menu for Georges St-Pierre to work around with that would always fit his caloric and macro needs no matter what kind of mood he was in.
Georges St-Pierre was an incredibly active dude, but even after he packed on a dozen pounds of muscle he was still less than 200 pounds. He needed a lot more food than the average person, but his need to stay lean and underneath a certain weight threshold meant that he’d only need about 3200-3500 calories a day.
His macros weren’t too far off the average charts either. He needed around 250 grams of protein, 350 grams of carbs, and 100 grams of fat. His post-workout meals meals would be higher in protein and carbs while being lower in fat to take advantage of his body’s craving for protein after taking a beating.
He would use his anytime meals to get a little more protein and his body’s daily allowance of fat while staying away from foods that are high in carbs.
His protein shakes were pretty straightforward. The important thing was that they happened in between meals. These “super shakes” would be before or during a workout if he was really hungry, but if he could hold off then it would be a treat between his post-workout meal and an anytime meal later in the day.
These shakes were made with almond milk or water and paired with 4 fish oil capsules. Just a scoop of protein powder, some supplements to fit his mood, and a cup of frozen mixed berries to keep his diet from becoming stagnant.
His anytime meal would be about even in calories with his post-workout meal, but it needed to be much lower in carbohydrates since he’d already have topped himself off after his workout. This is a good time to go for the leafy greens, efficient foods like beans, or lots of fruit and a protein that will tide you over until the next meal.
This is the kind of meal you sit down and savor, if you’re a soup guy some pho or creamy broccoli soup would do the trick paired with some clean veggies.
His post-workout meal would be high in carbs and it needed to be ready to eat directly after his workout. That meant it needed to be ready to be eaten cold. A good sandwich with plenty of protein and a side of fruit or chips and crackers is something he’d opt for to get his body ready to repair itself after a particularly tough bout in the gym.
You can get as creative as you want (or not) with this meal. Tacos, rice balls, or a cold burrito could all serve as a hearty post-workout meal in this situation.
While his diet had been broken down to a science and he had the help of a pair of incredibly talented chefs on his side, the Georges St-Pierre diet didn’t have to be incredibly complicated. Reaching his macros was a matter of thinking ahead and finding simple solutions to a problem.
His chefs understood that getting the right amount of protein didn’t mean he had to sit down with a steak and a bowl full of kale for every single meal. St-Pierre would down two protein shakes every single day along with a couple of protein bars every now and then.
The downside to such a scientific approach to your diet is that sometimes it isn’t always very glamorous. Sometimes hitting your goals means hunching over a gym bag in the middle of your workout and jamming a Clif bar into your face so you can hit the right amount of nutrients
The upside, however, is that there was ample time for rewards. Part of keeping your diet simple and achievable is leaving wiggle room. St-Pierre would set a menu for the day or foods that he absolutely had to eat. That’s where the protein bars and shakes would come in handy, this is also where he would plan out his three major meals.
Once he had worked his way through all of that, if he was still hungry, there was always room for a free meal.A free meal could be whatever you wanted it to be. The example he would use in interviews was always McDonald’s. They would be counting calories, so this meant he would leave an amount of “discretionary calories” that could be anything from beans to Brewster’s.
Giving yourself the freedom to branch out when you need to be pretty tight with your diet actually helps to keep you on track because you’re not going to be feeling like you want to break the rules every week.
Throughout his time competing in MMA he was in and out of a number of gyms. For example, it’s widely known that he trained at the Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in New York City before he took on B.J. Penn during UFC 58, but he also trained at other academies like when he earned his black belt in Brazillian jiu-jitsu with Bruno Fernades back in September of 2008,
St-Pierre began training with titans like Rashad Evans, Nathan Marquardt, Keith Jardine, and Donald Cerroneat Greg Jackson's Submission Fighting Gaidojutsu school in New Mexico, he would later train with some of these students in Montreal before he threw down during UFC 94 which was another match against his eternal rival B.J. Penn at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
What kind of work would they do beyond learning how to fight each other, though? Being an MMA fighter is as much about maintaining your physique as it’s about learning your martial art. Granted, sparring to learn Brazillian jiu-jitsu is an intense activity. You could make an entire workout routine based on that alone and you’d be blasting fat and excess carbs off of your body.
The first thing to realize about Georges St-Pierre was that he didn’t just limit himself to a single gym, a single trainer, or a single discipline. That’s what set him apart, from other mixed martial artists. He was voraciously gobbling up every single scrap of martial artistry he possibly could. It served to keep him in shape as well as keeping his mind sharp.
You need your workout to accommodate your lifestyle. If St-Pierre was in the gym lifting the heaviest weights he could to get as jacked as possible he wouldn't have the flexibility or the speed that it takes to keep up with the best MMA fighters in the world.
Obviously, he’s aware of that. When asked by Muscle and Fitness what his weight lifting routine is like he says, “we don’t use the bench press. That’s one of the exercises you don’t need, in my opinion. And if you do, you should do only a small amount,” Zahabi says. “Bench pressing would help only if when lying down on the floor during a fight I had to push my opponent off of me. It’s very low on the list of the needs of a fighter.”
His workout is practical in the sense that it develops the muscles he needs the most when the chips are down.When you’re getting kicked in the head, you want the speed and strength to overpower your opponent. He opts for a workout routine that fits his needs, just like you should. If you want an MMA physique then this is the one for you, but otherwise, you should find someone with the body type you’re looking for and stick to that.
Georges St-Pierre went with a system designed by Firas Zahabi of Tristar Gym (you’ll recognize that as one of the many academies St-Pierre trained in). It’s a routine that’s designed to keep him nimble and explosive while also forcing him to adapt to extended periods of explosive movement.
This circuit is amazing because its basic structure allows you to totally customize it to your level of fitness. You’re going to be able to add more exercises or shave off some reps if you truly can’t keep up. It’s also an excellent routine for anybody that’s looking to cut down on their gym memberships. All it takes is a pair of 25-pound dumbbells and you’re off to the races.The Circuit Warm-Up
Circuit 1: Repeat this 3 times with 45 seconds of rest in between circuit reps
Circuit 2: Repeat 3 times with 45 seconds of rest in between
Circuit 3: Repeat 3 times with rest at your discretion
Brief Cool Down Period
Georges St-Piere was a top-tier fighter. He clearly had something in him that other mixed martial artists were lacking. He spent all of his time bouncing around from academy to academy absorbing every single piece of knowledge he possibly could.
He was ferocious when he got in the ring and he refused to back down from a challenge. You could see that in his work ethic, his fighting style, and his pursuit of knowledge. He was a champion in every sense and he truly earned all of those number 1 spots granted to him by the media.
If you’re thinking of taking on his workout routine, don’t start with an exact replica. If you can pare things down to a level manageable for you, then you’ll be able to build yourself up to St-Pierre levels of competence. He may have been a professional athlete with more time and money than the average Gym Joe, but his methods aren’t so far beyond anything you’d be able to achieve with a little bit of time and dedication to your health and fitness.