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The Muscle Shark

Sean Sherk's grueling workout routine includes something he calls "caveman training"

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We should have known better than to try and fit Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk's complete workout routine in our May 2008 issue, but we tried anyway. And man, did we fail. Since Sherk trains twice a day, six days a week, doing everything from striking and boxing to weightlifting, cardio, and specialized conditioning drills he calls "caveman training," we could only squeeze so much into print.

"No matter how sick the workout is, he does it without question or hesitation," says Scott Ramsdale, owner of Athletic Performance Inc. "When I train Sean, he works at an unbelievable level for almost 30 minutes, with his heart rate ranging between 170 and 185 bpm. Most people cannot tolerate this type of pain and intensity for five minutes, let alone 30 minutes. It takes a special, almost demented type of athlete to train at this level. Sean is one of those athletes."

Sherk will look to regain the UFC lightweight title when he takes on champion BJ Penn on May 24. "I still feel like the belt's mine," says Sherk, who was stripped of the title after failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs following a title defense over Hermes Franca last year. Sherk is finishing up his six-month suspension, which was reduced from a full year after he appealed.

"You know, I feel like he's got to beat me to be champ, that's my feeling on the whole thing," says Sherk. "I think it's going to be a war. We both feel like we own that belt, and we're going to go out there and see who the real champ is."

Below, check out Sherk's complete routine that will lead him up to the fight. One warning, though: If you're not an elite athlete, skip the monkey-see, monkey-do thing with this one.


Ramsdale: "Sean supersets everything together to get as much work done in the shortest time possible, and to elevate his heart rate as much as he can during all of his workouts. He will usually do eight to 12 reps in four to five supersets, with no more than one minute rest in between them."

Resistance Shots
Ramsdale: "Sean does resistance shots with a large belt around his waist, attached to two strong elastic cables with handles. A partner stands behind him, providing resistance. As Sean does the repeated shots, the partner moves forward slightly. Sean does these straight ahead to improve the speed and strength of his shots. He'll start by doing two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps, but then, as his conditioning improves, these numbers go way up."

Monday Morning

  • Submission grappling (five minutes on, one minute off, 45 minutes total training)
  • Thai boxing (five five-minute rounds, 25 minutes total training)

BREAK: lunch, nap


  • Caveman training (five five-minute rounds)

Round 1

  • Elliptical — two minutes
  • Sprint — 30 seconds
  • Upper-body ergometer — two minutes
  • Sprint — 30 seconds
  • Rest one minute

Round 2 (each station one minute)

  • Tire flips
  • Sledgehammers
  • Rope climb
  • Tire flips
  • Rope climbs
  • Rest one minute

Round 3 (each station one minute)

  • Bear crawls
  • Plyo pushups
  • Plyo jumps
  • Medicine ball throws
  • Recline pull-ups
  • Rest one minute

Round 4

  • Same as round 1
  • Rest one minute

Round 5

  • Same as round 2
  • Rest one minute

Tuesday Morning

  • Hard drill work — takedowns, pads, wrestling (five minutes on, one minute off, 45 minutes total training)
  • Resistance shots

BREAK: lunch, nap


  • Weightlifting — arms
  • EZ-bar curl superset with skull crushers
  • Alternating dumbbell curls superset with rope press-down
  • Concentration curls
  • Hard drill work — takedowns, pads, wrestling (five minutes on, one minute off, 45 minutes total training)


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