GPP is thrown around a ton in the fitness community. It’s become a buzz-word for any trainer with a miniscule amount of strength and conditioning knowledge – claiming that whatever workout they are throwing your way is GPP.
But most people don’t actually know what it is. So let’s break it down.
GPP stands for General Preparation Phase.
It’s the opposite side of the coin of SPP – Sport (or Specific depending on who you ask) Preparation Phases.
Here’s the deal –
When athletes train, they usually have 2 main training portions (not including the competitions). First they train to get their bodies in shape. And then they start focusing on their sport specific skills.
Think about NFL ballers – after their break, they first have to get their conditioning and strength back. And then they can start training position specific drills.
So first train. Then specialize.
GPP is that first part. It’s purpose is to give you a balanced conditioning program. It’s got strength, endurance, speed, power, mobility, and everything in between. And because every element is included, the goal is to turn you into a total badass in the gym – capable in any element.
Now here’s the hard truth about GPP – because it includes everything, you’re not going to become dominant at any one thing. If you want to get hella strong, then you need a specialized program. If you want to be hella fast, you need a plan designed just for speed. But if you want well rounded athleticism and a rockin’ bod that can handle anything life throws at your – then training GPP is your bread and butter.
The ultimate goal for most people shouldn’t be to get really good at one thing, but to get good at many.
So what do you actually work on in a GPP Program?
Here are the 3 big goals:
1. Improves Neuromuscular Control and Corrects Imbalances
In order for our bodies to move, we have to send signals from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles and joints. The path those nerve signals take are the neuromuscular pathways. And every time you fire off a signal, you solidify that pathway into memory.
Problem is, you can put inefficient, and even damaging neuropathways into memory, making it far more likely you’ll have an injury sooner, rather than later!
But lo and behold, GPP works to prevent those injuries! Instead of overtraining on inefficient pathways, GPP trains your body to move with only efficient pathways.
And no, it’s not just about using correct form. Sure, that is a large part of shaping efficient pathways. But it’s also about moving in a controlled and aware manner to prevent imbalances. And that requires a bit more though than just about form.
Those nasty imbalances usually show up in 1 of 3 ways:
Imbalance 1: Ligament Dominance:
When the ligament absorbs more of the impact than the lower extremity musculature.
Imbalance 2: Muscle Group Dominance:
When two muscle groups fight against each other for control and fire at different speeds and different strengths.
Imbalance 3: Unilateral Limb Dominance:
When one side overworks to compensate for the weaker side, training your pathways to only rely on one side of your body.
I know, it sounds super science-y and junk. But here’s the gist. Improving neuromuscular control and addressing neuromuscular imbalances means all muscles and joints work in synergy together to get you the MOST out of your workout while preventing any injury or damage.
2. Rehearse optimal movement patterns with changes in velocity, direction and load.
Very few of us have perfect biomechanics. We walk around with crappy posture and we train with even crappier form. But in GPP, as you clean up those neuropathways, you also practice optimal movement patterns. Those movement patterns aren’t just about preventing energy, it’s also about training your body to move wisely in order to get the most of your workout without wasting precious resources.
And with enough rehearsal, you start to recognize what those optimal movement patterns are and when you’re moving in a much more sub-optimal way. In this, you practice getting the weak muscles engaged, activating muscles that should be activated, bracing the joints in preparation for movement or impacts and stabilizing your motor responses.
And part of those movement patterns means fixing what ever is messing them up in the first place. That means identifying muscle knots, mobility obstructions and sticky spots that are going to prevent you from improving.
Once you’ve improved your movement patterns, GPP continues to rehearse and improve them until they become second nature.
3. Train With Transferrable Exercises
We already know GPP isn’t sport specific. But it is the foundation for any sport specific training you do. So in addition to those pathways and movement patterns, GPP is about getting you familiar (and strong) in exercises that are transferrable in the future.
Exercises and training that will set you up for more specialization if you choose down the line. But no worries, that doesn’t mean boring or basic!
GPP exercises focus on high quality exercises, perfecting technique, slowly increasing loads, strengthening your cardiovascular capacity and building up your strength, power and endurance at the same time.
There’s just no way around it. If you want to be a well-rounded total bada$$ – then GPP is your way to the top of the mountain.
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