The importance of GPP (General Physical Preparedness) Training

As a gym owner, I get approached often with questions about methods for keeping in shape or getting more athletic. The inquirer is usually seeking approval on what training regimen they've come up with themselves or attempting to validate that their personal trainer has them on the right track. Surprisingly, when I talk to parents, I find that most parents of young athletes don't understand general physical preparedness or its role in fitness or sports.  In my explanation, I typically use the term "athletic potential" to describe the level of performance an athlete is physically capable of achieving at any given moment.  Improving athletic potential is not only key to enhancing athletic performance, but human performance in general. It's important that we understand GPP, employ it in our training lives, and continuously work to improve it as we develop as athletes, young or experienced.

In professional sports we see some of the worlds greatest athletes exhibit amazing skills. Speed, strength, agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, the "best of the best" have it all. Hitting a baseball, throwing or catching a football, dribbling and kicking a soccer ball, you name it.  All of these activities can be performed by almost everyone but only those that practice consistently develop the superior skill and work ethic to be successful at the next level of their sport. If there IS no next level of the sport and the athlete is already in the Big League’s, GPP's role changes slightly and mostly becomes one of sustenance. However, gains are possible and every athlete, regardless at what level they currently play, should set their sights on improving their athletic potential and playing even better.

Picture a 12 oz. clear glass filled with water, no ice, with about 1 oz of room before the top rim. The top rim of the glass represents where your best possible performance on the field takes place, but you can only go as high as your water reaches. The water represents the results of your training and the summation of your "God-given talent" and innate ability to play your sport. Right now, you're only playing at about 91.7% of your potential. This is a bummer.

The 8.3% of our athletic potential that eludes us almost always is due to the accumulation of fatigue, stress, mind-wandering, and sub-optimal training(one not centered around developing GPP) all rolled into one. We're not as quick on our feet as we could be, our speed is down, and we're weaker in the weight room. We can still be better than most at 91.7% but we want to be at our best. If somehow we can find a way to deal with our stressors, improve our consistency with skill, speed, strength, and conditioning work, it's possible we can get some of this performance ability back. If we do it all optimally and elevate our GPP significantly in the process, we may bust out a performance exceeding any expectations that we, our coach, or our fans have of us.  When GPP goes up, so does our athleticism and potential to do amazing things on the field. We shouldn't abandon it. EVER. So how do we apply it…?

In every properly periodized training program, there should be 3 distinct phases leading up to the season; Preparatory, Competition, and a Transition phase. Each phase is further broken down to include blocks of weeks(micro-phases) made of up varying ratios of (ME)Max Effort, (DE)Dynamic Effort, and (GPP)General Physical Preparedness training days. It is important that coaches balance these days effectively, especially when dealing with athletes from many different sports. When we're successful as coaches, not only do our athletes benefit from the results of our strategy, but we now have scientific PROOF that our programming works and that it can help others achieve personal best performances. This is how we bring home the bacon.

With proof that what we are doing is working, we’ll have a much easier time selling GPP against theories and hypothesis appearing daily to dilute our message. Personally, the one message that is abundantly clear and that should never change is: General Physical Preparedness is the key component of one’s training regimen that impacts the athletic threshold and improves the athletes ability to receive and adapt to sport specific skill training.

What we recommend for athletes that want to achieve MORE in their sport, is a heavy dose of low and high volume GPP training in the Preparatory Phase, 2 days of exposure during the Competition Phase, and High volume-recovery type WODs 2-3 times per week during the Transition phase. Depending on their sport, the Preparatory Phase will include a well-balanced set of micro-phases designed to produce significant gains in strength(ME), speed(DE), and more importantly, POWER (=ME+DE+GPP)! When athletes become more Powerful, they get better at their sport. It’s a very simple formula to understand. 

As you can imagine, this type of outcome as a result of training is great for athletes that are “on the bubble," but to an extent, we are all on the bubble. If I’m a high-school baseball player and currently the back-up center fielder, getting stronger, improving my agility, coordination, and balance while simultaneously getting faster and learning to jump higher, could potentially force my coach to re-order the depth chart. As long as I can still make contact with the ball and hit the cut-off man. If I’m already the starter, then the chunks of dust I'll be churning for everyone will get larger and my odds of achieving the dream to play at the next level are more in my favor.

Above all, the greatest benefits to General Physical Preparedness training is that we have the ability to develop all of our natural ability, not just part of it. Once you increase the maximum threshold potential of your ability, your capacity for sport specific training increases along with it. If you're an athlete, spend the next year improving your GPP. If you're a coach, contact us and let's build a program to take your athletes performance to the top of their glass.

If you are wanting to improve your GPP or that of a youth athlete, click the button below and fill out the contact form. Tell us a little about the athlete and what your goals are. A Coach will contact you within 24 hours