Spring is now fast approaching and for many of us our thoughts will now turn towards shedding weight and getting in shape for the summer months ahead.
With that in mind we thought now would be a perfect time to do a review of the world’s leading MMA exercise program – GSP ‘Rushfit’.
I myself have used the program extensively over the past year or so and so feel that I’m in a good position to give a fair assessment of the workouts and the results they can bring you.
‘Rushfit’ is an 8-week MMA-based training program which comes with five main workout DVD’s which each take 40 minutes, plus two ‘bonus’ workouts along with a nutrition guide and three workout guides (beginner, intermediate and advanced). The only additional equipment needed is a set of light (2lb-25lb) dumbells.
As the name suggests this workout system stars UFC superstar Georges St.Pierre along with his fitness trainer Eric Owings who was himself an MMA fighter who competed in the IFL amongst other organizations.
Truth be told Owings is actually the main man here – he designed the program and it’s he who leads you through it, but GSP does perform the full routines along with you and offers words of encouragement and advice along the way.
Personally I found Owings to be a very good trainer. He’s down to earth and professional in his approach, explaining the exercises clearly and calmy and offering variations, both easier and at times harder where appropriate.He also points out common mistakes and isn’t afraid to correct the others, including GSP, if their form is wrong.
Meanwhile, it’s refreshing to see that St.Pierre isn’t overly concerned with showing off and looking good – he struggles with a few of the exercises and freely admits it. The fact that he’s often grunting and groaning in the background and generally ends the workouts drenched in sweat makes you feel good about your own struggles to get through each excercise, and enhances the feeling that this is a challenging program.
If there’s any negative it would be that due to English not being GSP’s first language, when he does offer extra insights and tips during the workouts, he often struggles to get his point across quickly and concisely. For me it wasn’t a big issue, and Owings helps him out where neccessary to keep things moving forward.
The program comes with a nutrition guide which helps you to work out how many calories you’ll need to be taking during the program, and recommends different food sources to take and avoid to keep you on the right track.
I’ll confess that when I first started the program I completely ignored the guide. However I noticed that though I was tightening up a little bit by the end of the first fourteen days, I wasn’t really losing weight.
At that stage I consulted the guide, did the provided calculations to work out how many calories I should be taking and quickly discovered I was over-eating.
While I didn’t follow the diet word for word I did change things up a fair bit, cut down my calories as recommended based on the calculations I had made, and sure enough the weight started to come off and has stayed off since.
There’s a beginner, intermediate and advanced calender to choose from. Personally I opted for the ‘intermediate’ option which generally meant doing four different workouts a week, plus two days of cardio, with the Sunday being the only day of complete rest.
Warm-Up / Cool downs
Each DVD workout comes with the same 10 minute warm-up and 5 minute cool down sequence. I liked the warm-up, it has a varied mix of exercises that work the entire body, generally alternating between upper-body movements like sit-ups and push-ups to lower-body one’s like squats and the Capoeira inspired ‘Jinga’ (basically a backward lunge with a slight twist).
The cool-down after the main workout is shorter, but does an ok job of working through some basic stretches to help wrap things up.
Ideally I’d have liked to have seen different warm up and cooldown sequences for each workout as it does get repetitive over time, but the fact that they were relatively fun to do means it doesn’t become too much of a chore to do them each day.
Abdominal Strength And Core Conditioning
This is the closest you get to a standards ‘abs’ workout during the program, but it’s more versatile and comprehensive than that as you’re working your entire core.
That’s not to say you won’t do some familiar ab exercises – the third of the five rounds included in particular has standard sit-ups, V-Ups and leg raises for instance, but there’s also a lot of functional movement, core stabilization exercises and even dumbell work (in the early rounds) involved too.
I find the fourth and fifth rounds challenging for different reasons. The fourth begins with an ‘opposites drill’, placing you in close to standard press-up position with your one arm and the opposite leg outstretched, and then switching arms and legs every five seconds. It doesn’t sound like much, but do it for two minutes solid and then go straight into a ‘lateral plank’, again changing sides every five seconds for another two minutes and you’ll really be struggling along with GSP himself who groans at one stage, “I feel like my body is about to collapse!”
The fifth round then features what I felt was the most challenging sequence of exercises from a technical standpoint in the whole program. Starting with holding the ‘Navasana’ position (both your legs and chest off the floor at roughly a 45 degree angle leaving just your butt touching the ground) for five seconds, then you prop up on your hands and swing through into a hindu push-up, then swing back through again and back into the Navasana and repeat numerous times.
I really struggled with the swinging through part, but it was reassuring to see that everybody else on the DVD including GSP appeared to be having difficulty with it too. Luckily Owings does provide an easier variation to follow instead.
The Fight Conditioning Workout
This is the most mixed martial arts orientated workout in the program, and does it’s best to replicate some of the moves you might see in an MMA fight, both standing and on the ground.
Progressing from basic movement and standard jab, cross, hook and uppercut combinations in the beginning, things become more varied in the form of kicks, knees, elbows, sprawling and shooting in for the takedown.
The most imaginative section begins in round four when you hit the ground. Here Owings has designed essentially an ab-based workout that mimics some of the movements you’ll find in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Starting off with basic hip-escapes you move on to things like ‘kimura sit-ups’. This isn’t BJJ 101 so you’ll have to use your imagination a little, but what it is is a fun alternative to your average workout.
Overall this is another fun workout that works up a good sweat and offers plenty of variety to keep it interesting.
Strength And Endurance
Strength & Endurance is the first of two workouts that have more of a slant towards using weights in the later rounds and targets most of your major muscle groups.
It starts off with a couple of rounds of bodyweight exercises such as squats, iso-squats (tough!), push-ups and burpees which definitely gets your heart going. Then it’s on to three rounds of mostly weights based work as you do a variety of dumbell swings, overhead presses, rows and rotating curls to name but a few alongside slightly more exotic moves like ‘Around The World’s’ and ‘Dumbell Get-ups’.
It all flows nicely together and switches between muscle groups well so that you get a chance to give certain muscle groups a breather at times while focusing on others. You can also adjust the weights you’re using if you want a challenge, but don’t go crazy as there is a focus on endurance here and you can easily fall behind if you’re lugging heavy dumbells around.
Full Body Strength And Conditioning
As the name suggests the ‘Full Body’ workout is another one that targets all your muscle groups and is one of the more challenging DVD’s in the system.
Like the previous workout it starts with body-weight exercises. The first five minute round comprises of one sequence consisting of two exercises, 10 squats followed by 5 hindu push-ups repeated as many times as you can manage. It sounds simple enough, but if you attack it like Owings encourages you to you’ll really feel it and it really sets up the rest of the workout which delivers a lot of dumbell work.
The second round also only consists of one sequence – a dumbell get-up followed by a 3x one leg / one arm rows repeated as many times you can. Five minutes of this is certainly tough mentally and physically. The final three rounds change things up by offering rapid changes of dumbell exercises varying between targetting the upper and lower body, and some both at the same time.
Expect to feel very tired after this one, but it’s rewarding to complete it and you’ll get satisfaction from seeing how much you improve with it over time.
Explosive Power Training
This is a five round plyometric workout that focuses on explosive moments and excercises performed over a limited number of reps. Unlike some of the other workouts in the program this one encourages you to go for heavier weights and it’s not as challenging from a cardio perspective, though you will still work up a good sweat.
Along the way you’ll perform dumbell exercises like jumping squats, push presses and power cleans, along with explosive bodyweight movements like fencer’s lunges and lateral leaps.
Stretching / Balance And Agility
Two bonus workouts are squeezed onto the final DVD in the set. ‘Stretching’ does just as the name suggests and is the most relaxing workout in the series.
It all pretty basic stuff, you’re unlikely to find much in this aproximately 26min workout that you haven’t seen before, from neck, hip and ankle rotations through to hamstring and quad stretches. Personally I found it a little simplistic, but it’s certainly a welcome respite from the more intense workouts you’ll be doing.
Meanwhile ‘Balance And Agility’ is a fun 24 minute workout which starts off with some fairly straight-forward balance exercises, but later moves on to some interesting variations mimicing animal movements such as ‘Gorilla Squats’, ‘Mule Kicks’ and ‘Alligator Crawls’ which are challenging and a refreshing change of pace.
I happily stuck with the program for the full 8 weeks and didn’t miss a single workout which left me with a nice feeling of accomplishment.
As for the results – I wasn’t all that heavy to begin with, but I still lost the best part of a stone over the course of the 8 weeks. Most importantly I lost the majority of my expanding belly in the process which was my main goal and I could start to see my abs coming through. After that I moved on to a different program and to be honest in hindsight I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do a few more weeks of Rushfit first as it was working well.
Aside from the weight loss I definitely toned up though to be fair I’m not going to be competing at ‘The Arnold’s’ any time soon, and due to more of a focus on body weight exercises and light weights I don’t think Rushfit was ever designed to do that anyway.
One thing I did notice was a big increase in my cardio in particular and also my strength levels over the course of the program. As part of the system you do an initial fitness assessment before you begin and then the same one after you complete the 8 weeks and a I blew my initial numbers for things like sit-ups, press-ups, squats and burpees out of the water.
I’d highly recommend Rushfit if you’re looking to get in shape. Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay it is that roughly a year after I first used it and having tried a number of other popular workouts since, ‘Rushfit’ is still my favorite one and while I haven’t gone through another full 8-week program with it, I still generally incorporate at least one or two workouts from it in my weekly fitness routine.
If you’re looking for bulging biceps then this might not be your first port of call, but if losing weight, toning up and getting in great shape cardio wise are your goals then Rushfit will serve you very well.
Most importantly though from my point of view is that this program is actually fun to do. There’s a good amount of variation in each workout to keep it from becoming stale, the fact that each workout is only 40 minutes from start to finish (including warm-up) means it’s easy to fit into your daily routine, and trying to keep up with St.Pierre will keep you motivated.