I Trained Like Dustin Poirier – Garage Strength

I Trained Like Dustin Poirier

Training under the instruction of Phil Daru is eye-opening. I learned a lot. Like how hamstrings and upper back strength play a role in maintaining posture and raining blows when on top. Besides that single nugget of information, he dropped a few more during my training session under his tutelage. 

Having completed the warm-up already, it was time to get started with the lifting of the weights.

Floor Bench With Multi-Grip Bar

Phil had me do floor presses with the multi-grip bar, which weighed 45 lbs, loaded with only chains for the first set of five reps. We then threw a 45 lbs plate on each side. Again, I knocked out a set of five reps. I had to ask, “Why wasn’t this in the warm-up?” jokingly. If you didn’t know, the warm-up really taxed my lungs. We went ahead and added another 45 lbs plate to each side. The chains remained. Again, I went and hit it for five reps. Horizontal pressing is where I shine. We then added a 25 lbs plate to each side. Again, I smacked it so we added a 10 lbs plate to each side. As nervous as I voiced being, I still got four reps. 

The point was to work up to a five rep max for the day. Then we stripped the bar down to 225 lbs with no chains. I took a minute and a half rest. After the rest, I did an AMRAP set. During the rest, Phil and I talked about being the strongest tends to come from circumstances in which everyone in the gym is competing with one another. Healthy competition allows everyone to feed off one another to become stronger. My rest period over, we stopped talking and I began my AMRAP set at 225 lbs. I went and hit fifteen reps. Despite my success pressing, I was still mad about the one warm-up exercise I struggled to execute.

While floor benching, Phil noticed my elbow and immediately started coaching me about getting the elbow worked on and doing what I need to do to be healthier and stay healthy. He vocalized that a healthier you allows you to be a better coach. I agree. Taking care of yourself is necessary to give everything to whatever it is being done.

Glute Ham Reach And Row

Phil had me grab a pair of dumbbells. I had to maintain a horizontal, plank position in the GHD machine. I alternated which arm I rowed with rep to rep. As I rowed, Phil stressed the need to reach while rowing with the other arm. This allowed the T-spine to rotate while stabilizing with the hips.

I did six reps with each arm. The cue was, “Push and reach,” with an occasional squeeze of the glutes in there.

Phil told me that if he really wanted to hit the targeted areas hard, he would have had me do glute ham raises or just a standard row. The glute-ham raise he instructed me to do was a variation. With the quads predominantly on the pad, I bent at the waist and kept the hamstrings constantly engaged. I made the mistake of doing the movement with just bodyweight at first. Phil fixed that quick and made me pick the dumbbells back up, saying “You don’t drop ‘um!” This one was messed up.

Echo Bike

I finagled a big break before hopping on the bike by conversing with Phil with a plethora of topics. Top secret info that I’m not privy to share here. Let’s just say that Phil has the pulse of his athletes down.

On the Echo bike, I started off slow. At about thirty seconds in I had to do ten seconds of all-out effort, with the goal of getting the wattage up over 1k. I got it up to 1300 watts. Phil said I am strong. I then had to continue cycling over 200 watts for one minute. Then that ten seconds came again. This go, my high wattage was 1276 watts. My power output dropped.

Phil said that they will usually hook their athletes up with devices to measure various areas of their body, their breathing, the muscles being used, and so forth to find areas for improvement in the delivery of oxygen and utilization of oxygen by the various muscles throughout the body.

I still had more all-out sprints to go. I thought I might throw up. In the third set, I hit 821 watts. I fell off. I fell off hard. I had to go outside and walk around in the parking lot for a bit. I was breathing super hard, cursing about how Phil Daru is evil and kept complaining about how awful I felt.


At the end of the workout, I told Phil I don’t like him. Mainly out of my body being destroyed. Phil told me he was going to have me hit the heavy bag, but because I was so burnt out he didn’t have me do it.

All that said, fighters training is HARD. It is different than what I typically put myself through, but there are a lot of great things I was able to take away from training with Phil that I can utilize with my athletes.

As much of a baby as I was during the workout, thank you Phil for the valuable insight, depth of knowledge, and hospitality I experienced training in your gym. Now I’m looking forward to when you come on up to Fleetwood, PA!


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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