GPP: Utilize It!

General Physical Preparedness, otherwise known as GPP, is a critical part of becoming stronger, more athletic, and even more, staying in the game longer.  GPP will not only check off the boxes needed to grow in the weight room, but if done properly, will put you in the best shape of you life.

A Quick Review

GPP can be seen implemented in nearly every elite level exercise program.  The best colleges utilize it intelligently, the strongest gyms in the world program it, and true athleticism of all kinds is supplemented by it.  Like any other term in this diluted fitness world where you never really know if you’re getting the right information, GPP has become a blanket term for “conditioning.”  Much like “functional training” has become a huge selling point to coaches and parents alike, looking for the best possible programming for their athletes.  Nonetheless, when implemented properly, GPP can have a huge impact on enhanced athleticism and true training age.  Louie Simmons defines GPP as such: “a degree of fitness, which is an extension of absolute strength.”  For example, think about the most explosive athletes in the world (J.J. Watt, Gronk, LeBron James, etc.).– these athletes, by default, have many genetic advantages over the rest of the field.  However, these individuals are also in incredible shape for their sport.  This isn’t to be confused with SPP (Specific Physical Preparedness) and/or (Sport Physical Preparedness).  These individuals are most likely proficient and probably even elite in the foundational movements: squat, hinge, push, press, pull, anti-rotation/extension, carries, and landing.  These athletes also seem to be able to go and go and go forever without getting tired, but why? GPP is foundational in the sense that, regardless of the sport demands (remember, not talking SPP here), their GPP is at the forefront of their strength training.  GPP isn’t simply just energy system work or strongman days, contrary to popular belief.  Here’s why…

What GPP Really Is

GPP should never be considered on form of “active rest.”  Heck, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I even understood GPP fully.  Like most people, I assumed GPP was heavy prowler drags, HIIT circuits, and loaded carry competitions in a team setting.  No, GPP is much simpler than that and much more effective when you are utilizing it correctly.  GPP can actually be implemented into every workout, every day.  GPP can and should be in your warm-up routine (ie. bodyweight squats, planks, suitcase carries, waiter carries, soft tissue, etc.).  GPP should be implemented into your assistance work (ie. weighted lunges, paloff press, pull-up variations, push-up variations, single leg movements, etc.).  GPP should be a part of your conditioning/recovery of a training session (ie. battle ropes, squat jumps, lunges, circuits, etc.).  GPP should be implemented into every training session, not just at the end of a microcycle that constitutes as an “active rest period.”  Previously stated, GPP is a foundational part of any training program, therefore, it should be utilized daily.  Here’s how…

Utilizing GPP, Daily

As I mentioned before, GPP is often considered active rest or a mode of recovery (especially for strongman competitors/powerlifters).  However, there a foundational movements that must be repped over and over and over and over again.  In the current fitness world, most people are obsessed with the idea of sport specific training (ie. you can’t train a tennis player like you would a football player).  Of course, there are some truths to this logic– how many tennis players do you see doing a max power clean? However, an athlete must be able to move properly, handle external load, and be able to fire their central nervous system in an efficient way just to name a few.  For that reason, almost all of the athletes I work with train in a very similar if not identical fashion.  For instance, tennis athletes should be able to squat, push, press, pull, hinge, carry, and anti-rotation/extention, proficiently.  A football player should be able to squat, push, press, pull, hinge, carry, and anti-rotation/extention, proficiently.  Are you catching my drift here? Here’s a popular counter to this argument, “well what about baseball pitchers, they should NEVER bench press! It’s terrible for your shoulders!” It is?  Then why do athletes who are taught proper bench press technique and have it implemented in their training protocol never have shoulder injuries? “Well, soccer players don’t need to lift! They are an aerobic sport and need to just run miles upon miles to ‘get in shape!”  Really? Then why does data show that soccer players spend most of their time during a game doing short duration, high intensity sprints?  The point is, most actual “conditioning” comes from the demands of the sport– not programming sport specific conditioning in order to make up a lack of practice intensity and attention to detail.

Wrap-Up

Again, GPP is foundational– not sporadically implemented.  Sure there is research to back heavy squatting as a means to increase vertical jump, speed, and agility– that’s not lost on me.  What I do want to hammer home though, is that GPP is in all shapes and sizes and can be implemented daily.  Don’t think of GPP as a means for conditioning or “de-loading,” consider it a practice on demands of the athlete rather than sport specific programming.  The point of GPP is to keep the athlete(s) healthy, in the right physical shape, and keeping the “main thing, the main thing.”  Of course you’ll have to manipulate energy systems and implement different exercises to reach adaptation.  But don’t over think this– it’s very simple.  Ask any of the Arete general public and/or athletes– we lunge, we hinge, we squat, we press, we pull, we carry, we perform anti-rotation/extention, and we do them proficiently.  It’s foundational in our programming!

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