George St-Pierre - Training gymnastics to get better at MMA

MMA is a relatively young sport, unlike boxing or Muay Thai. Nevertheless, the discussion about who is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) is very alive. There are a few names that always get considered. Next to Anderson Silva, John Jones and Demetrious Johnson, GSP (George Saint Pierre) is always in the mix. The argument for GSP to be the GOAT became stronger after November 4th 2017 in Madison Square Garden, New York. There he defeated Michael Bisping to claim the middleweight title. Previously to this title fight, GSP hadn’t fought in four years. In 2013 he retired as the reigning welterweight champion. For the fight with Michael Bisping, he went up a weight class. He became the fourth fighter to win UFC belts in two different weight classes. Recently GSP mentioned being interested in fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov, the current undefeated welterweight champion. If he would beat Nurmagomedov, he would really be the GOAT in my opinion. That being said, for now let’s agree he is one of the best ever. And it’s always interesting to have a look how the best athletes are able to perform at such a high level. Let’s look at one of the staples in GSP’s physical training: gymnastics


GSP is well known for his physical capabilities. He has great cardio and is very powerful. Chael Sonnen recently discussed GSP’s strength on his youtube channel:

“I trained with him in 2013 and I still remember how strong that son of a bitch was. I’m Talking about a weird strength”

Taking into account that Sonnen is a natural middleweight and GSP a natural welterweight, this is quite remarkable.


George started to include gymnastics into his training regime before the Jake Shields fight in 2011. There are a few reasons why he included gymnastics. First of all, it brings something new to his regime and routine. GSP is known for his relentless work ethic. Many fighters only start serious training at the beginning of their training camp. GSP however trains all year round multiple times a day:

“Normally, when I don’t have a fight coming up, I always train,” GSP explains. “I train six days a week, two training sessions a day.”

In this case, it makes sense that you can get bored of doing the same things over and over.

So why did George choose gymnastics to change up his training regime? In the clip below George expresses his admiration for gymnasts:

“gymnasts are the best athletes in the world, they can do movements that nobody else can do”

His coach Faris Zahabi seems to share this admiration and respect:

“If you take 10 athletes from 10 different sports and you make each athlete plays everyone else his sport, on average the guy who is going to do the best in all the sports is the gymnast”

Next to the benefits for power GSP also states that gymnastics helps him with his coordination, dexterity and agility. When we think of gymnasts, they do indeed possess these qualities. If you are training as much as GSP and so the gymnastics don’t replace necessary sport-specific training(like boxing, bjj, wrestling…) it could really be an attribute.