Are You Down With GPP?

Getting to Know General Physical Preparedness

Several years ago, I could say with confidence that I was a well-oiled athlete, conditioned in almost every aspect of my sport –soccer.

Then it happened. I caught the weightlifting bug. Sixty body-weight pounds later, a couple hundred more pounds added to my squat, bench press and squat, and I still I felt like I was in great shape.

The problem was, I couldn’t jog for more than 5 minutes without feeling like my heart was going to explode. I quickly realized where I’d gone wrong. The problem was, after getting so caught up with the idea of being bigger and stronger, I’d neglected everything else that was responsible for creating my base of fitness–agility, speed, aerobic endurance, flexibility and coordination.

Now, what if I told you that there was a way to solve this problem without having to run everyday or spend an extra 45 minutes on the Elliptical trainer reading the same copy of Men’s Health? Would you willingly send me $19.99? I doubt it. Well, what if I also told you that this method could decrease your recovery time between workouts, increase your work capacity, even strip away body fat and make the muscle-building process easier. Are you sold yet? Well, I hope so because I’m going to explain how you can integrate this method into your own training for absolutely nothing!

The Low Down on GPP Training

GPP stands for General Physical Preparedness. In easy-to-understand terms GPP can be defined as a preparedness phase, in which work capacity is increased to meet the demands of the upcoming program. All training is based on increased work capacity at some point. The type of GPP an individual will perform should be dictated by what they are trying to achieve. In other words, GPP should serve a purpose. Performing regular aerobics does not qualify. Now it should be mentioned that SPP (special physical preparedness), a close relative of GPP, is always present and involved. While GPP concentrates on bringing up the general qualities required in a program, SPP focuses on specific areas (these can be defined as the individuals weaknesses) related to their sport or program.

Dipping Into The GPP Goodie Bag

Not only does GPP sound cool, but also, as mentioned earlier, there are a number of useful qualities that accompany this component of training. Here are some of the benefits of GPP:

  • It allows for greater a workload to be tolerated. If muscle mass is a priority, an adaptation to increased work rates must occur. It also means that being a 250-pound beast that has the cardiovascular fitness of a 90 year old isn’t exactly a walking specimen.
  • It allows for a decrease in recovery time through the process of active recovery.
  • It helps with the loss of body fat. Move more and you’ll lose it. But don’t worry about losing muscle; because GPP relies on intervals, you don’t have to worry about the body turning into a catabolic state.
  • Bored? Well GPP will help spice up your workouts. According to Dr Vershonsky, GPP can prevent boredom and imbalances in the body. (1)
  • The greater the athlete’s GPP is the easier it is for them to adapt to the specific demands of the sport in which they excel. (2)
  • It increases motor skill through improved efficiency of movement patterns.

The benefits listed above should make it quite obvious the kind of benefits GPP can offer. But where exactly does it fit into a power lifter or a bodybuilder’s routine?

If you’re involved in power lifting, practicing the three basic lifts should be the meat and potatoes of your routine. However, at some point, accessory lifts must be added in to offset the weaknesses causing the progression to slow down. To increase strength levels (especially in a strength-based program) the volume of work (i.e. number of sets) must eventually be increased. And to successfully increase the volume one must be able to handle it! Performing GPP will establish such a base foundation.

Another area where many powerlifters falter, is in overall conditioning. Conditioning plays an important role on the day of competition. To endure throughout a competition is of vital importance. How many times have you read or heard of powerlifters who’ve complained about being fatigued by the end of the day? This is where GPP can also be quite useful. Using a variety of movements to complement the current program being employed will improve body awareness, and also improve strength qualities, if properly implemented (i.e.: proper care not to overload the body’s systems so that recovery time is increased).

If you’re a bodybuilder, GPP focuses on all general aspects of training. It can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, strength, speed and endurance. For example, in the off-season, a bodybuilder program revolves around heavier training sessions and, to a lesser degree on cardiovascular work. Instead of spending extra time on the cardio equipment, a series of exercises can be performed that not only serve to increase the cardiovascular system of the bodybuilder, but also allows for some variety. What other type of training allows you to train up all these qualities simultaneously?

How to Do It

GPP exercises should revolve around incorporating as many muscles groups as possible. Integrated movements require multiple muscle groups to act together which in turn places a greater demand on the cardiovascular system.

In addition, it will serve to increase the efficiency of various movement patterns (an increase in coordination will lead to an increase in strength levels).

GPP can be broken down into two movements. Non-weighted and weighted movements. Below is a list of exercises (note: this list does not cover all the exercises that fall into the two groups)


  • Push Ups
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Body Weight Squats
  • Walking Lunges
  • Jumping (variations)
  • Burpees
  • Skipping
  • Mountain Climbers


  • Sled dragging
  • Plate toss
  • Medicine ball throws
  • Tire flipping
  • Pushing cars
  • Sledge hammer work
  • Wheel barrow

The list can go on and on.


GPP can be very useful because it’s simple and effective. If you’re bored with your workouts, as Emirl Lagasse says, “it will take things up a notch.” If it’s a change in body composition you’re looking for, hanging with GPP several times a week can have a dramatic effect on body fat levels. If you need to increase your wind or your rate of work; GPP is your hook-up. All this for the low price of free.

So, if you aren’t acquainted with GPP, now’s your chance to introduce yourself.

Written by Maki Riddington

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Are you down with GPP discussion thread.


1. Bompa, T. (1999) Periodization: Theory and methodology of training. Kendall/Hunt.

2. Verkoshansky, V. (1988) Programming and Organization of Sports training. Sportiviny Press, Livonia, MI.