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General Physical Preparedness Explained (For Coaches)

What is General Physical Preparedness?

General physical preparedness (GPP) refers to the development of a broad fitness base for athletes and regular trainees. GPP training is about increasing the body’s capacity to move by developing strength, balance, endurance, coordination, and mobility. This means GPP training is varied, non-specific, ideal for trainees of all levels, and typically tailored by coaches based on individual needs.

The Fundamentals of GPP

  • Strength plays a crucial role in GPP, allowing trainees to exert more force, which is beneficial for athletic performance and everyday life.
  • Cardio, also known as endurance, is also vital for GPP, as it allows trainees to sustain a certain level of intensity for an extended period.
  • Flexibility and mobility are necessary for trainees to move freely and cover the range of motion needed for their sport and the activities they enjoy.
  • Coordination is another vital element of GPP, as it allows trainees to perform more complex movement patterns safely and smoothly.
  • Balance is crucial as it allows trainees to maintain a safe and healthy position while performing an activity. This reduces the risk of falls, which can impair performance and lead to injuries.

The Importance of General Physical Preparedness

GPP is the fitness foundation on which athletes and everyday people can build up other characteristics and reach their goals. 

First, GPP prepares athletes for their respective sports by helping them develop a broad base of fitness characteristics that are directly transferable. 

Second, GPP has a positive impact on work capacity, which refers to trainees’ ability to do, recover from, and adapt to training. 

Dedicated GPP phases can be beneficial in the long run, as they can improve athletes’ ability to recover on time and handle more training, which leads to better results and skill development.

Third, GPP is highly valuable for improving movement integrity, which doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. 

As a coach, a GPP phase gives you time to work with athletes to improve movement patterns, return to basics like proper bracing, and look for muscular imbalances and asymmetries that can lead to issues later.

Examples of General Physical Preparedness Programming

As mentioned above, GPP aims to develop a broad fitness base, allowing for more flexible training that’s individualized to the athlete’s unique needs. 

In addition to individual needs, you must also consider the athlete’s sport and its primary demands. Here are some examples of GPP activities based on the sport:

Powerlifting

Characteristics to develop during a GPP phase for powerlifters:

  • Grip strength
  • Core and shoulder stability
  • Cardiovascular endurance

Example activities:

  • Sled pushes
  • Loaded carries
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Overhead presses and holds
  • Plyometrics

Olympic Weightlifting

Characteristics to develop during a GPP phase for Olympic lifters:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility and mobility
  • Core and shoulder stability
  • Balance and coordination

Example activities:

  • Overhead carries
  • Heavy compound lifts (e.g., front squat, shoulder press, and deadlift)
  • Stretching and foam rolling
  • Balance exercises

Strongman

Characteristics to develop during a GPP phase for strongmen:

  • Muscular endurance and aerobic capacity
  • Dynamic and grip strength
  • Mobility and flexibility

Example activities: 

  • High-rep resistance training
  • Running, swimming, cycling, or another cardio activity
  • Loaded carries
  • Stretching and foam rolling

Sports Players (e.g., Basketball)

Characteristics to develop during a GPP phase for sports players:

  • Agility
  • Explosiveness
  • Aerobic capacity
  • Stability

Example activities:

  • Ladder drills
  • Shuttle runs
  • Low-intensity cardio (e.g., jump rope)
  • Balance activities

FAQ

1. Can GPP replace an athlete’s regular training?

General physical preparedness training aims to create a fitness foundation for athletes and trainees, but it should complement, not replace, the primary training done.

2. How often should athletes do GPP-specific work?

This is highly individual and depends on the other training athletes do and their work capacity. However, it’s generally best to dedicate blocks of 4-8 weeks to GPP and continue to include GPP-specific training up to twice weekly, even when athletes are in season.

3. Is GPP helpful for beginners?

GPP is highly individualized and helpful for athletes and everyday trainees of all levels. As a coach, you must assess individual needs and put together a GPP plan that supplements the primary training.

Related Terms in Training Concepts Category

RPE