GPP stands for general physical preparedness and is often referred to as work capacity. It is a foundation of fitness that you can build your training off of. This is how I view GPP and is the underlining reason(s) why I put my trainees on a mandatory 2-3 month S&C phase prior to addressing their specific overall goal. These blocks I design builds their aerobic and anaeobic endurance, local muscular endurance, strength, power and flexibility. Without a solid base in fitness, you will not be able to tolerate the training loads and volumes necessary for optimal performance. I’ve seen countless members on the bodybuilding & strength training boards using full 3-5 min rest periods and/or completely neglecting any other conditioning work. They explain this by passing along the myths that picking up the pace will interfere with their muscle or strength gains. Nothing could be further from the truth and my clients are living proof of that. To take this argument one step further, just look at the thousands of people who follow guys like Jim Wendler and plug in something as simple as pull-ups between every pressing set and/or take the North of Vag approach doing hill sprints, bleacher runs, or Prowler intervals postworkout. Back when I benched 410 I was doing the exact same things and I’m here to tell you that’s A LOT of pull-ups!
One of the major reasons why I love GPP training is that you can really get outside the confines of the gym and get creative with it. While I’m not an ardent believer in Crossfit, there’s a lot of good to take away from their workouts (minus the high rep O lifting). Don’t believe me? Check out our WOW list at the top of the page and try one of those timed workouts on an off day. Something as simple as setting your stop watch on countdown from 10-20 minutes and going for max rounds of the following: 5 dead hang pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 sit-ups. Sounds simple, but I suspect the vast majority of trainees would take the foot off the gas after a half dozen rounds and quit before the time expires. Worse than that would be 2/3 of them probably had to stop because the dead hang pull-ups are too hard which is sad considering all of them have been training for at least 3+ years, yet decided to master the pulldown station vs. their body weight. Just sayin’!
SPP stands for specific physical preparation and is what everyone and their mothers jump straight onto at their local 24 Hour Fitness. This phase of programming should not be considered unless there was a “graduation” from the GPP phase. Most online trainers and coaches don’t bother putting any time in with the GPP phase in favor of providing their clients with exactly what they want vs. what they need. This is something I discuss with every potential trainee up front and everyone on my roster agreed 100% with my approach. One of my many goals with this programming is to build upon the foundation we laid out in the preparation phase. There should never be an “either or” which is what puts me off from block periodization, but rather smart programming that continues to build upon their current physical preparedness, addresses specific goals, and weaves in sufficient conditioning elements which is typically scaled back with the goal to at least carry over their GPP.
It is during this SPP phase where we start moving away from my S&C block set-up and onto more advanced programming which is dictated by a trainee’s past history of what has worked and not worked for them in the past. Things such as my non-competing full body templates, split overlapping routines, intensification techniques option (rest pausing, drop sets, ect), planned overreaching / super compensation / peaking cycles, and many more. It sounds like I’m all over the map and that would be accurate seeing as I operate on the Law of Individual Differences aka there is no one size fits all which Wesley / IA made famous on the boards. No matter which route I go in, everything fits my personal belief system and I never stray from that.
So when should you move from the preparation phase to the SPP phase? There’s no answer to that, just my assessment to be conducted at the end of each block that gets turned into me. Those trainees that come in at a very high level of conditioning may only need one block whereas others may need multiple blocks before their balls drop. To provide some idea as to what I believe defines “adequate”, here’s an old post of mine here.
Body Weight – Minimal Standards
* Pull-ups – 5 reps dead-hang
* Push-ups – 30 reps (chest on floor to full lockout)
* Sit-ups – 40 reps (60 sec)
* Squats – 50 reps (non-stop – low as your body naturally allows)
Strength – Minimal Standards
* Squat – 1.5 x BW (200 pound male should be able to squat 300 lbs)
* Bench – 1.25 x BW (200 pound male should be able to bench 250 lbs)
* Deadlift – 1.75 x BW (200 pound male should be able to DL 350 lbs)
Aerobic Endurance – Minimal Standards
* 1 mile run – 10 minutes